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This episode brings us to the end of season one. And what a season it has been.

Experiences have been shared, nuggets of wisdom and inspiration have been given. I don’t know about you but I’ve learned a lot. Firstly, I want to thank each one of my guests for taking time out from their busy schedules to chat with me and give us an insight into what goes on behind the scenes in their studios and careers.

One of the biggest highlights and observations from the season is that business is not built in isolation. Support whether from family, your peers or industry is so important. Moreso if your family and friends are not fully supportive of what you are trying to do, this is usually because they do not understand. And it is for this reason that a positive mindset and tons of self-belief are superpowers every entrepreneur needs to keep moving forward.

Culture was another common theme, and not just talking about heritage but the culture of family too and how that provides a foundation to face the challenges business brings. Family can be our biggest supporters but in wanting the best for us they can also be our biggest dream blockers. I mean explaining what you are trying to do is hard enough as it whilst going through the process of figuring out it yourself. This is one of the challenges faced by Edith Tialeu. Building a business in front of loved ones, family and friends, and at times failing along the way is no picnic.

Which brings me to another common theme, that of failure. Everyone makes mistakes and falls down. Some falls can be harder than others and when you fall in front of the world it can be embarrassing, crushing, soul-destroying, you get the picture. But failing is not the end of the world, it is how you choose to respond to failure that determines how you pick yourself up to move forward.

Failure is a necessary part of learning and growth. We are taught failure is a bad thing, but there is a saying that ‘failure is a part of success’. So we instead need to learn to reframe it and see it as a positive tool. A tool for doing better. I mean my past is littered with the debris of broken dreams, but after mentally beating myself up each time something went wrong, I made a conscious decision to see my failures for what they are, the courage to try something new and taking away the lessons they have given me to build on. Reframing failure is one of my favourite topics because once I understood and eventually accepted that failure is a part of life and business big mindset shifts started to take place, and I’ve found it’s made me bolder and braver to go out there and share my work with my world.

And in speaking of sharing your work and getting noticed both Eva Sonaike and Akosua Afriyie-Kumi spoke of their big breaks in working with stockists happening as a result of being in the right place at the right time. But being in the right place at the right time can only come about if you take action. There is a quote I heard that says ‘keep showing up and eventually your audience will too’. You need to take the necessary steps to get you in the path of opportunity. Those small steps you have to take every day. But not just any steps, the right steps in the right direction. And how do you know if you are moving in the right direction? Well, it’s a combination of trial and error and research – knowing your market and the needs of your audience.

For any business, as highlighted in my chat with UX designer Farai Madzima it is not just about connecting to any audience but finding your right audience. And for most of my guests’ social media has enabled them to do just that, exploding their growth, visibility, and reach. The extent to which social media has helped small brands promote themselves cannot be denied, but as I discuss with communications specialist Kwabena Oppong Boateng there are downsides to solely relying on a platform that isn’t your own to build your business.

I am always going on about the importance of having your own website, a space that you can control and put your brand stamp on to suit your needs. The reason being if you are looking to attract stockists or press features the vast majority of retailers, journalists and editors will still check to see if you have a website because it holds an unspoken value in the fact that you are serious and committed to what you do.

And commitment requires being selective about the opportunities you say yes to because if you keep saying yes to everything then what is the value of your no? As a new or growing business, it can be so tempting to say to every offer that comes your way because of the fear of missing out on an opportunity. I put both my hands up to doing this. But saying no to what doesn’t align with your vision and values frees you up to accept and fully commit to the things that do. And it helps stop those pesky doubts and questions over whether you’re doing the right thing, if you have enough time, and so forth. Not to mention avoiding burning out because your plate is overflowing with stuff you don’t really want to do. When your heart is in something, no matter how physically or mentally difficult the task it can feel effortless. And your passion shows up in your work, you only have to listen to Bunmi Adeyemi to hear how it has shaped his work and aesthetic.

In the description, I talk about ordinary men and women doing the extraordinary. By referring to them as ordinary I am highlighting the fact that they are just like you and me, and by sharing their experiences they show us what’s possible when we put our minds and efforts towards bringing our own dreams to reality and that by doing so we too can be seen as doing the extraordinary.

So as Siyanda highlights keep celebrating your successes. Because when you are in the messy middle you can forget that you are doing so much more than you realise.

That’s it for this season. Thank you so much for listening and downloading the episodes. And I look forward to welcoming you to the next. If you haven’t already done so do get on to the atelier 55 mailing list to be notified when the next season launches.

In the meantime, if there are any specific related topics or guests you want to hear from on the show or questions you need answering drop me a line with the details and I will do my very best to get you answers in future episodes.

And whilst this episode brings season 1 to an end, it doesn’t mean it’s the end. Let’s keep the conversation going, the atelier 55 website has lots of resources to dig into for inspiration and to help you start, grow or develop your creative business, and you can connect with me on the usual channels Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Bye for now!

– Tapiwa

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