Are your conversations with other women inspiring?
I’ve given much thought to my initial conversation with Dominique of Melanin Mind & Soul, and now it’s time I invited you to indulge in her responses. (If you haven’t already seen the introductory post, feel free to read it here before you dive in.)
Though we spoke a lot about our collaboration, we finally arrived at the agreement that we’d set each other questions and answer these for our blogs. Connecting with this Queen resulted in touching upon various subjects, but I’d say we focused on sisterhood, business, and Birmingham.
I’d like to reiterate that the sisterhood as a whole is only as good as we are willing to make it. Dominique and I could have messed about, made false promises and delivered not a single word towards this collaboration. But we recognise and respect the value each of us brings, and were willing to come together to try something new.
And without further ado, here is my interview with Dominque.
What was your overall aim when you started your blog, and what has changed since?
The overall aim of my blog was to empower people to make a difference in their lives, one conversation at a time, just as people have done for me, often without realising. I’ve always loved to write. More recently, when I didn’t understand why I was feeling low, so I’d write down my feelings and my emotions. Every so often, I’d look back at my journal and read about how I was feeling at a particular time; reflect on how I’d overcame it; and how far I’d come, and I would look for patterns.
For so long I kept asking for an epiphany, a shining light to tell me what to do next. But when I look back on my journal the answers were always there. I just needed to have the confidence to put actions in place to change certain things. I started talking to openly to people and they always told me that I inspired them, I was open about my emotions so that other people didn’t need to be ashamed of theirs. I started my blog because I didn’t want to tell people to go down a road that I hadn’t travelled myself i.e. doing the things that fear held me back from doing. Since starting my blog, my confidence has grown so much. I feel so happy that people enjoy reading my posts and it has helped them to make small changes in their lives that make them happy.
You’re originally from Birmingham, living in London but due to make a return to the land of 0121. What are you anticipating on your arrival? And what are your plans for when you get here?
I moved to London because there were more opportunities for career progression, better pay and most of my friends and my family peers were there. Birmingham has always remained home, no matter where I lived. I must admit, I am very apprehensive about moving back to Birmingham. Partly because I don’t think I am done with London and partly because I don’t have a network in Birmingham outside of my family. Also, a lot of people I do know are still living in the past – gossip that was trending in 2011 is still news whereas my mindset has moved on.
In London, I had several networks or groups of friend. I could ask a different group of friends spontaneously if they wanted to go for a drink, bite to eat or even a fitness class after work and someone would be available. In Birmingham, I don’t have this network and I’m not sure people are that spontaneous. When I return, I plan to open a retail shop. At the moment I am working on becoming a #GIRLBOSS and I want to see what Birmingham has to offer by way of collaborative working and networking.
What do you think of the idea that Birmingham doesn’t support? And what are your suggestions to make a change?
In London, people will go out of their way to support a new business, even if it means travelling an hour. When I left Birmingham, I left because I had a job as an employee, so I wasn’t thinking business, social networking and collaboration. However, when I return, I want to be an entrepreneur.
I want to bring some of the culture that I experienced in London, back to 0121. That spontaneity, go-getter attitude, and empowerment. I truly believe we can all do whatever we put our minds to. Fear leads to excuses which hold us back. One conversation at a time I want to empower people to change their thinking so that they have a growth mindset.
What attracted you to the idea of collaboration?
Queens supporting Queens. People say women don’t support each other, or that black people don’t support one another. Queens ARE supporting other queens and black people are becoming more conscious and supporting one another. The idea of a collaboration is build a new network with people who share the same vision. After just one conversation with Annika, I was like ‘girl power’. Women are smashing it right now, we are breaking those glass ceilings and those stereotypes.
People shouldn’t see others are competition that will harm their business but should look at the opportunities to work together to achieve a common goal.
At which point did you realise that you could make an impact on the world around you?
I realised that I could make an impact on the world around me when people started telling me that I had inspired them to do the things that they had been putting off. I realised I had a gift and enjoyed networking, collaborating and bringing people together, even if it didn’t benefit me it made me happy to know that I’d made a difference. My blog is me being honest and open but it’s really a chronicle of conversations that I had with people who inspired me that have helped with my personal development, often unknowingly.
What has the last 12 months taught you about yourself?
The last 12 months has taught me that Life. Is. Short. I experienced a number of bereavements and it made me think about my legacy; what am I leaving behind; what puts fire in my belly? This is when I decided to become al go-getter and encourage others to do the same. At times I didn’t even know WHAT I wanted but I made an effort to remove what I DIDN’T. This was a good approach for me because I knew I wasn’t happy with certain things but I didn’t know how to change them. The answer was to eliminate them from my life. Once I did that, I had more clarity and I was able to put actions in place to focus on how to become happier. Self-care over selfishness. putting me first, more often.
What has the last 12 months taught you about your relationships with others?
That women ARE powerful. Networks are important. Family is love. I have met so many inspirational women over the past 12 months, I am part of a women in business circle, and I have met so many women at work that are ‘officers by day, CEO by night’ and it empowered me to be the best version of myself because we all support each other. Building networks help you up when you down, make you smile when your unhappy and can be the voice of reason when your judgement is clouded. My family are very important to me. I also come from a family of strong, bold, women – my grandmothers, mother, cousins, aunts are all loving and strong.
Do you believe in the power of sisterhood? Where has this had an impact on your life/or where do you hope it has an impact on your life?
YES! YES! In my Lisa Nichols voice. I have one particular friend who I used to just say hi to in the office. However, when we got talking – it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. She is so direct and to the point and she has a positive impact on me. When I had writer’s block, she was the one that told me to write about it and ask others how they overcome it. She’s always the voice of reason.
If you could give advice to your younger self, say about 5 years younger, what would you say and why?
I would advise my younger self of two things 1) do what makes you happy 2) Be your own boss. Firstly, don’t do what society glamorises as happiness because it means different things to different people. Secondly, I would encourage myself to be my own boss. I don’t like being told what to do but I do like to co-ordinate, organise and network. Being your own boss doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work for a company but it does mean that you should also have a company, a business venture or something of your own. Something that makes you happy and you can call your own. Something that relieves you from any stress from whatever else if happening in your life.
Connect with Dominique via her blog, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
ARTICLE GRAPHICS DESIGNED BY ANNIKA SPALDING. PHOTOS PROVIDED BY MELANIN MIND & SOUL.