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Some months ago I spent an inspirational evening in the company of some of the creative entrepreneurs featured in my book, Contemporary Design Africa. Creative conversation was the main theme with the discussions flowing around comparing and sharing the experiences of running a creative business. Running a business, especially if working alone or as a side hustle is hard work, and in the early days especially when you have little or no experience, is a process that sees you finding your way on a steep learning curve, making and learning from the mistakes that inevitably occur along the way. An experience I know all too well, going through it myself!

In 2004 I took up jewellery making as a hobby. Soon after I turned it into a small business, becoming a creative entrepreneur and faced the challenges of creating and maintaining a sustainable business that generated an income. In 2008 the effects of the global recession made themselves felt and finding it difficult to make my business viable, in 2009 I made the difficult decision to close the doors.

The experience of running a small business was highly rewarding, and sometimes frustrating as I navigated the highs and the lows, doing things I never ever thought I would do such as having my jewellery displayed at one of history’s most momentous moments, the inauguration of Barack Obama as America’s first black president, to taking part in leading international trade shows.

Shutting my business, however, marked a significant beginning into a journey of discovery that I would not have had the courage or even motivation to have taken without first having had experienced the world of entrepreneurship.
Uncertain of my next steps, I returned to uni where I studied a masters that focused on Design Management, specialising in Creative Enterprise, a course I initially hoped would equip me with the skills I needed to go back and build a great jewellery-making business.
However, instead of continuing in the path I had planned, my course instead led me to start a blog that rekindled a passion for design and especially a reconnection to Africa, the continent where I grew up and its creativity. This, in turn, led to me becoming an author with one of the most respected publishers in the world. Something I never imagined ever happening to me.
For me facing your fears is a lesson in what happens when you open yourself up to the opportunities that come your way! I still make jewellery, but as a hobby, and the lessons and skills I learned whilst running that business have remained with me to this day, influencing how I approach and plan my work. That, and my career as a graphic designer and brand guardian, fuels my interest in branding and better business, having since ventured onto new business ideas.
So, for this reason, I wanted to use my blog to share and record some of the experiences, thoughts, and ideas marking and motivating my entrepreneurial journey, in the hope that the lessons I have learned may inspire other budding creative entrepreneurs to reach for their dreams.
– Tapiwa

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