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Behind the Brand: Ready. Set. Flourish.

Behind the Brand: Ready. Set. Flourish.

January 17, 2018 5 Comments

Ready. Set. Flourish. 

Kicking off the Behind the Brand Blog Series


#BehindTheBrand

#ReadySetFlourish

Welcome to our new blog series , Behind the Brand!  Have you ever bought something you love and wondered, "Where did this come from?", "How was it made?", "What inspired the design?", and “Who started this company/brand?"  I know I have!! I’ve always found it intriguing to learn about how a company started and gain more insight into the creator and their journey.  For me, it makes what I am buying much more special and valuable.

 

It is that curiosity that inspired me to create the Behind the Brand blog series.  If you know a little bit about Asa Afrique, then you know that all of the products we sell are made in various African countries by African designers.  Yes, the designers that we work with are amazing, talented, and making major moves but they are also like you and I.  They've experienced trials and tribulations, joys and successes, uncertainty and so much more in their personal and professional lives.  My hope is that after reading about the designers we work with, you feel something good-- whether it be happiness, inspiration, excitement, or comfort and that any purchase you make with Asa Afrique becomes more meaningful. 

 

 

To kick off the series, I will talk a little bit about my journey and what lead me to start Asa Afrique.

 

In fall 2010, I entered the University of Toledo as a freshman ready to take on the world of pharmacy. Did I really know what pharmacy entailed? No. Did I have some deep interest in it? Absolutely not.  But I did not know what I wanted to do and it was what my parents suggested so I went along with it.  Fast forward to halfway through my sophomore year and I found myself in my advisors office telling her that I did not want to do pharmacy anymore. I was getting excellent grades but I was so uninterested in everything that I was learning.  And when my professors and peers would ask me "Why are you interested in pharmacy?", I literally would not know what to say but that it pays well.  Now I know some of you are thinking that I should have just stuck with it, right? But my heart and mind wouldn't allow it.

 

So after I made up my mind that I did not want to pursue pharmacy, I called my parents (I had to work up A LOT of courage) and told them that I want to switch majors, and you can already imagine how that conversation went.  When it came to school, my parents wanted my sisters and I to choose a well-paid medical profession, law profession or something that had to do with accounting and finance. So many questions arose when I told them that I did not want to pursue pharmacy.  But the real dilemma was, what else would or could I do? And that, I did not know.  At that time, I did not have a strong interest in any particular field nor did I know what I was really good at. 

 

But I ended up switching to physical therapy for a few reasons. 1. It was another career my parents suggested to me when I was applying for school 2. A lot of the classes that I had already taken counted towards my physical therapy degree and I only had to spend one extra semester in school 3. I enjoyed exercising and physical fitness so I figured that the profession was up my alley.  For physical therapy, you have to have a bachelor’s degree in something science/health related (usually kinesiology or exercise science) and then go to graduate school to receive a doctorate degree in physical therapy.  So I did end up sticking with physical therapy for the remainder of my undergrad and even applied to physical therapy school. But between my sophomore and senior year, I experienced a lot of growth and changes in the way I viewed myself and the world.  I gained more self-confidence and began feeling more comfortable expressing who I am.  I also made new friends and it opened me up to different perspectives and opportunities.  My experiences allowed me to reflect on what it is that I want to do with my life.  I became very interested in business, fashion, entrepreneurship, and creating a new path for myself. 

 

During my last year of college, I started an organization with one of my good friends, Dixie, called Saving Our Gems Foundation.  The organization is based in Nigeria and Ghana and we started it because we were ready to act on our desire to do good back home.  Starting that was my first real experience with developing a business plan and implementing it and I absolutely loved it.  I realized that I am pretty good at organizing ideas, strategizing, and leading. 

 

Come end of senior year, I found out that I was accepted into physical therapy school at Howard University but I did not want to go.  I know some of you are probably thinking, "You got into PT school and didn’t go?!" But again, it just was NOT in me.  When I got accepted, I did not tell my parents.  Instead, I thought about what I could do to get away and take some time to get my life together.  So I made the decision to do NYSC, which stands for National Youth Service Corps in Nigeria.  For those who don't know what NYSC is, it is a yearlong service for Nigerian citizens who are recent college graduates.  Theoretically, you spend your time engaging in civil duties and community service/engagement. But in reality, the program lacks a lot of structure and so you end up having a lot of time to do other things. LOL, those who have gone through it know what I mean.  (Check out a pic of me pic of me completing the service year-- I'm the second one from the right):

 

 

Spending that year in Nigeria really helped put things in perspective for me and made me mentally stronger.  During that year, I decided that I was not going to make any more excuses for myself, nor was I going to be afraid to tell my parents about my plans.  Since I had so much free time I was able to meet some amazing friends, entrepreneurs, and designers who inspired me and that is when I started developing the idea for Asa Afrique.   I came back to the states and hit the ground running sorting out my ideas.  Fast forward to now, and here I am writing our first blog!

 

This is only the beginning, but I have already learned so much.  And yet, there is still SO much more to learn, which is the exciting part. I am looking forward to growing the brand into what I've imagined it can be which is a brand that embodies design, culture, and lifestyle and I hope you'll stick with us to witness it! To end this post, I want to leave you with a quote that I love and that is fitting for anyone wondering about their own passions and dreams;

 

"You will recognize your own path when you come upon  it, because you will suddenly have all the  energy and imagination you will ever need."

                    - Jerry Gillies

 

Thank you for reading and if you have any questions or simply want to share your thoughts, please comment below! 

 

Xoxo- Nyema

 BehindTheBrand

 @ AsaAfrique 

  Asa Afrique

  @AsaAfrique

Meet The writer

Nyema Igwe

Founder of Asa Afrique

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5 Responses

Barimah Appiah
Barimah Appiah

January 25, 2018

Interesting the direction you veered from. Most would have taken that opportunity to attend Howard university in a heartbeat. Great to see that in the event you did not, you’re expanding avenues for those that dream even bigger than their assumed potential. You’re a great example of an entrepreneur. Excited to read more to come.

Barimah Appiah
Barimah Appiah

January 25, 2018

Interesting the direction you veered from. Most would have taken that opportunity to attend Howard university in a heartbeat. Great to see that in the event you did not, you’re expanding avenues for those that dream even bigger than their assumed potential. You’re a great example of an entrepreneur. Excited to read more to come.

Vivian Edoja
Vivian Edoja

January 17, 2018

This is so inspiring! I think a lot of us can relate to the struggles of finding ourselves and our purpose, so thank you for this. It’s great to see what comes at the end of those struggles with the right amount of dedication. Keep shining!

Mary tieko
Mary tieko

January 17, 2018

Great read, I loved this post, it so relatable,inspiring and amazing. I am
So proud of you Nyema ! More to come your way as this business grows ❤️??

Dixie Gyamfi
Dixie Gyamfi

January 17, 2018

Love this & love you ! ❤️ I’m so glad you decided to do what you felt right. I can’t wait to see how big and far this brand grows.. I’m so proud of you & I pray God grants you all the success in the world Nyema ✨✨

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