I'm officially running my own business, full-time! Excitement, uncertainty, fresh ideas and an unholy amount of 'things to-do' have been plaguing my mind since deciding. I'll give you a bit of my back story in bullet point format:
- 2002 - 2004 - Office Manager for Rigby & Peller - I miss those staff discounts!
- 2004 - 2018 - Worked at London Borough of Hackney - A temporary stint (or so I thought)
- 2005 - Decided to start-up my own swimwear business...whilst still working
- 2005 - Designed and built my own website, raising the initial capital
- 2006 - PEEPING-T was formed in June with an impressive swimwear line up; Aguaclara, Vix Swimwear, Melissa Odabash, Banana Moon and Watersun Australia...
- 2018 - 12 years on, still working full time and running PEEPING-T, been lucky enough to work with some of the worlds most amazing swimwear and clothing brands.
- 2018 - Underwent a myomectomy procedure in November laid up for 6 to 8 weeks
- 2018 - Contract with LBH naturally ended in December
- 2019 - New Year, New Start - Decided to go full time at PEEPING-T
Everyone knows, "You only get out, what you put in" and that is pretty much how it has been for PEEPING-T since starting back in 2006. After long consideration lying on my back (part of surgery recovery of course) I’ve decided that I would actually like to give the business that I've worked and continue to work hard for, my full and undivided attention. "About time" many said, especially from within the industry.
However, my great plan to go it alone has been met with silent and not so silent scepticism from some friends and family. For any woman who never felt that having children was their destiny and was repeatedly asked "Are you going to have kids?" or better yet being told to just have a baby for your parents...you may understand my frustration and sadness when even after my declaration of independence I am being asked;
- are you working yet?
- so when are you going to start working?
Do people really think this about business owners or female entrepreneurs? Is it their personal perception of me; that I am not the type to be able to succeed alone? So many questions...but I had one more, is it perhaps cultural perceptions from our parents? I am black if you didn't know. A female black entrepreneur, and there are a lot of us. Have they received skepticism from family and friends about going alone and being their own boss? The majority of my friends and family are black Caribbean, unlike African cultures I sometimes feel that we as Afro-Caribbean's sell ourselves a little short and don't necessarily push ourselves enough.
The need for taking chances and doing bigger and better than others gets a little lost in translation when you're told at a young age that you must work harder than your other friends because you are black. So when you do work hard and want to excel, then why are you asked or expected to stay in your lane?
FEAR: It's one of those emotion that can literally stop you from pursuing your dreams, even more so when your mum voices hers about your ambition. That is probably the one voice that you hope is always on your side and fighting your corner, letting you know that you can do anything that you want.
When your friends and family look at you with the look of skepticism, I know it's not them I need to convince time and time again, it's myself.
Life is scary and so is change. Whatever happens from this point forward I would like to know that within myself I tried and I tried my best. Fear of failure is right up there with blind ambition. As I write this, there is a level of sadness, because these are my friends and family who I've known and who've known me for the best and not so best parts of my life. There is also a determination within this blog and it's not to prove everyone wrong. It's to one day look back at this page and be proud that even without support from some of my closest and dearest, I believed in myself and that's more than enough.
What are your thoughts, has your family supported your ventures? Does cultural differences hold us back? Would love to hear your stories because it can't just be me!