Microaggressions: Those Pesky Slights That Damage Workplaces

When someone asked Carol, (not her real name) “Have you eaten dog?” she felt deeply offended. As she spoke up and let her feelings be known, she was furthered hurt by having her feelings minimized. How do we stop this kind of microaggressions that permeate our organizations and society? Here are some key insights.

The woman in the story is an Asian – New Zealander who lives in New Zealand, a country where 74 % of the population is of European descent, 14.9% of Maori descent, 11.8% of Asian descent and 7.4% are non-Maori Pacific Islanders. But this kind of microaggressions based on cultural differences and, I pose, on power differences, happen all the time around the world.

What are microaggressions?

Comments, questions and behaviors such as the one Carol shared with us are commonly referred to as microaggressions. This is a term coined in the 70s by psychiatrist Dr. Chester Pierce and borrowed more recently by Teachers College, Columbia University psychologist Derald Wing Sue, PhD.

Here’s Dr. Sue’s definition: “Everyday insults, indignities and demeaning messages sent to people of color by well-intentioned white people who are unaware of the hidden messages being sent to them.”

I believe that when some people are faced with any sort of difference they don’t clearly understand (or admit,) they may perpetrate microaggressions. And although microaggressions are often unintended that doesn’t minimize their impact.

In the workplace today many people suffer microaggressions on a daily basis as a result of their gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, a disability or any number of reasons. It makes diverse talent feel unwelcomed and pushes them out the door.

What are microaggressions? A definition

What are microaggressions? A definition

Now, in most microaggression situations there are at least two forces at play:

1The aggressor is someone in an ethnocentric stage of intercultural sensitivity. (Read my post, What is cultural sensitivity? for a full understanding of Milton Bennett’s theory of intercultural sensitivity.) And although Bennett’s theory refers to intercultural sensitivity, I believe the stages he described apply equally well to sensitivity towards other people’s gender, sexual orientation, etc.

So, being in an ethnocentric stage means being in one of the following stages:

Denial—people don’t recognize cultural differences and experiences.

Defense— people recognize some differences, but see them as negative because they assume their own culture is the most evolved, the best one. Equally, I pose, they may feel their gender or their sexual orientation is superior.

Minimization—Individuals at this stage of cultural sensitivity are unaware that they are projecting their own cultural values. They see their own values as superior. They think that the mere awareness of cultural differences is enough.

2In the context of the microaggression, the aggressor has more power than the person on the receiving end of it. And this is what I’d like to focus on here, as I believe many microaggressions experienced by women are due to their low power in organizations and society.

Power balance and microaggressions

As social psychologist Adam Galinsky’s research has demonstrated, when it comes to women, many of the differences in performance attributed to gender can be traced back to power differences.

In most of our societies, women have less power than men. And, as most people with less power, they are expected to behave in a certain way: Be nurturing, conciliatory, submissive, etc. So when women show ambition, assertiveness, confidence, competitiveness, and so on they are often penalized. (And this happens despite current efforts to get more women into leadership roles.) In other words, they are subject to a double bind. Otherwise known as: “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

What I’m posing here is that many of the microaggressions directed to women in the workplace come not from the fact that they are women but from the fact that they have less power in the company. The same can be said for all the other non-majority groups. It’s always been easier to prey on the weaker members of society, hasn’t it?

Having a diverse leadership team should lead to an increase in acceptance of others and a reduction of microaggressions

Having a diverse leadership team should lead to an increase in acceptance of others and a reduction of microaggressions

Microaggressions directed to people with less power

So let’s look at a couple of examples.

You are in a team meeting with 10 people, 8 men and 2 women. Julie, a manager and the person with least seniority in the meeting, voices her opposition to a new strategy and is interrupted several times while doing so.

When 2 of her male colleagues speak, everyone listens attentively even though they take much more time than Julie to explain their points of view. These interruptions are the kind of frequent microaggressions people like Julie experience daily. Now, my question is, Was Julie interrupted because she was a woman or because she had less power than anyone else, therefore they felt entitled to interrupt her?

Another example. In Latin America, women say that if they seek career sponsors they are perceived in their company as seeking special favors. Yet men don’t have the same issue with seeking sponsors. Is the perception connected to women seeking sponsors due to the fact that they are women or because they have less power and fewer connections in the organization? So if a woman is sponsored to a leadership level, people in the organization feel that the only way for someone with such low power to get to that position were through favors?

Microaggression are damaging to our workplace environment

Microaggression are damaging to our workplace environment

How to help your team move away from microaggressions and embrace a more inclusive culture?

There are two good ways to stop microaggressions.

1Educating your team members to help them move to an ethno relative stage of cultural sensitivity. As follows:

Acceptance — People are able to shift perspectives to understand that the same “ordinary” behavior can have different meanings in different cultures. They are able to identify how experiences are influenced by one’s culture, background, gender.

Adaptation— People become more competent in their ability to communicate with people who are different.

Integration— People are able to shift easily from one frame of reference to another. They develop empathy for people who are different.

2Having a diverse and inclusive leadership team. One that is made up of similar parts of men, women, people from various ethnic and racial backgrounds, with different levels of ability, who come from a variety of schools of thought, socio-economic backgrounds, and so on.

When everyone feels represented, the workplace becomes more welcoming of differences and as people become more curious about each other, the threat of the unknown starts to disappear and so do microaggressions. The best part is that your talent feels valued which in turn helps improve engagement, retention, and promotion.  A win-win all around. Ready to try it?

 

 

How to Achieve Success in a Male Dominated Industry

What does it take for women to be successful in a male dominated industry in 2018?  In some industries achieving professional success means learning to thrive in a male-dominated workplace. Here are some practical tips to help stand out and succeed!

When working in a male dominated industry, hold yourself to a high standard

One of the best things you can do for your career is to become a respected expert in your field. This is achieved by holding yourself to the highest standards and being willing to put the time to develop your knowledge and skills. You will find that having pertinent information at your fingertips is a major asset in meetings and discussions. Continued learning and personal growth, combined with a positive, confident attitude, will take you far. But keep in mind that male dominated industries may make you feel like you have to know more than everyone to even raise your hand for a challenge or to voice your opinion. This will only hold you back. So find ways to step out of your comfort zone and become visible.

Keep in mind that non-verbal communication is always important, particularly in a male dominated industry- Photo Credit: burst

Keep in mind that non-verbal communication is always important, particularly in a male dominated industry- Photo Credit: burst

Non-verbal communication matters

You should also hold yourself high in a more literal sense. We demonstrate our status and authority nonverbally through our posture and body language. So sit up straight, keep your shoulders back, and hold your head high. It all contributes to projecting gravitas and authority.

When it comes to speech, keep your tone as deep as possible. Research shows authority is conveyed by deeper voices. When you become angry, sometimes when you laugh and talk, or when you are upset, your tone tends to raise and your message becomes less clear. Breath deeply and find a lower register.

Continue to share your points of view in a concise and direct way, and remember that should you be interrupted, it’s important to keep your cool. You may use humor as a way to let your interruptor know that you want to finish your thought and avoid any confrontation.

Read about how Captain Kate succeeded in a male occupation!

Don’t give into traditional ‘roles’ particularly in a male dominated industry

Given the social norms many women and men grew up with, it might still be expected that women will be in charge of tasks like picking up lunch or coffee. Don’t continue to give fuel to this narrative by offering yourself (even before you’re asked) or by quietly accepting an unfair request time and time again. Suggest instead that women and men colleagues take turns to do these tasks and share them in a more collaborative manner. Each team is different, but structures like rotas can be helpful.

During meetings, make sure male and female colleagues share in tasks like making coffee and taking notes

During meetings, make sure male and female colleagues share in tasks like making coffee and taking notes

In male-dominated industry you may need to stand up to sexism

Sectors such as finance, technology and construction, for example, regularly make women fight twice as hard to earn the respect of their male clients and colleagues. It takes steady grit and polite perseverance to overcome this boys’ club mentality.

So how to keep your head above the water? First off, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and your opinions. Confidence is essential– get used to speaking up in meetings and at conferences. Stand up for other women and men when you see them being mistreated. Creating an environment where everyone stands for everyone else will go a long way to improve your workplace and it will send a message to the men in the room of what is expected of them as well.

Also, seek to educate. After all, nothing will change if we aren’t willing to explain to our male peers how specific situations affect and undermine us in the workplace. Including, remainig a bystander in complicated situations. In bringing this to everyone’s attention, you become an advocate for other women in your industry and help make things better for everyone.

Don't miss Bia Figueiredo story, a woman in car-racing! Talk about a male dominated field!
If you don't stand up for yourself -and for others when you see them mistreated - it will be hard to succeed in a male dominated industry or in any other for that matter.

If you don’t stand up for yourself -and for others when you see them mistreated – it will be hard to succeed in a male dominated industry or in any other for that matter.

Be professional and develop a thick skin

Yes – women in the workplace are sometimes treated differently to their male coworkers. If you work in a male-dominated industry with a boys’ club mentality, it’s important not to be over-sensitive. Again, using humor to let men know that they are making a sexist joke, or are asking you to do something they wouldn’t ask of a male colleague, can be a good way to difuse a situation while educating. If you want to be accepted and promoted for your achievements and you work in a male-dominated field, you can’t get horrified when you hear a swear word, for example. You don’t want your colleagues to change the conversation when you approach. And for this to happen, you may need to put your sensitivities aside. Learning about sports to understand many of their conversations is another way to break into their club.

Now, it’s equally important to know when to say “that’s inappropriate.”  You have every right to be treated as a professional and respected at your job. And to get there, you have to be willing to stick up for yourself. Act, speak and carry yourself in the way you want and expect to be treated. Cultivate your executive presence.

In a field that’s mostly male, there will always be critics and people who cross the line. You mustn’t let this stop you from going after what you want and focusing on building your career.

Motivational quote about confidence

Motivational quote about confidence

Start your own business

Thinking of becoming your own boss? I say go for it. More women than ever before are becoming aware of the opportunities available to them through entrepreneurship. Generally speaking, women are open to learning and good at working with others – two vital ingredients needed to run a business.

Naturally, there are startup costs involved – you’ll need a sound business plan and financial order, and you may not be able to pay yourself much of a salary in the first year if you’re starting a business from scratch. The alternative is to buy a business that’s for sale and get a jumpstart on things like branding, processes, and building a customer base.

Over the last three years, the number of women-owned firms launched each day has doubled. Women are now launching an average of 1,200 new businesses a day, which is great news if you’re looking to become an entrepreneur yourself.

In conclusion, to achieve success as a woman in a male-dominated industry, be ready to work hard every day. Never lose confidence or fail to stand up for yourself. Remember that you earned your role for a reason, and know that if you’re prepared to be professional and work hard for what you want, you will eventually overcome any obstacles. Above all, never stop fighting the good fight – because things are definitely getting better.

4 Insights on How to Take a Seat at the Table

My fellow corporate millennial divas, we often think it takes an executive title to empower us to take a seat at the table. I want you to know that you have the power, the voice and the means to take a seat at the table now. To quote the Glinda, The Good Witch from the Wizard of Oz, “You always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.”

At one of my previous employers, an SVP advised our team, “You have to take a seat at the table and then earn it.” Over the years I’ve lived by this motto. It has led to my presenting to CMOs, regional presidents, obtaining sponsorship to attend an international meeting with marketing partners, being appointed to work on corporate strategic initiatives, and many other opportunities.

As we all know, female representation at the highest decision-making positions is low. So, how do you take a seat at the table when you are not invited to the meeting?

You can take a seat at the table even if you don't have an executive role

You can take a seat at the table even if you don’t have an executive role

Four insights on how to take a seat at the table

1First, get out of your own way. At this very moment, stop giving life to the emotions you feel in connection to not getting the invitation to take a seat at the table. As Melissa Raffoni wrote in the Harvard Business Review, “Check your ego at the door.” The emotions cloud the actions you need to take to grab your seat at the table.

Let’s face it, when we don’t get an invitation to a meeting where our hard work will be shared, it’s inevitable to have feelings of rejection or of not being up to par. The lack of an invitation, however, could be due to reasons completely unrelated to us. For example, that the presentation is to a senior executive who only wants direct reports. The truth is that you will seldom find out the exact reason why you were left out, so don’t dwell on it because your emotions can hurt you from being a regular at the table.

The negotiation book, Authentic Negotiating: Clarity, Detachment, & Equilibrium, by Attorney and negotiating strategist Corey Kupfer, explains that even major deals are lost because emotions get in the way.

Best thing you can do is prepare for when you take a seat at the table so you can take advantage of the opportunity.

Best thing you can do is prepare for when you take a seat at the table so you can take advantage of the opportunity.

2Prepare to take a seat at the table. To take your seat at the table, you will need to have a conversation with the organizer to understand the details of the meeting and your role in it. Be clear and succinct with your points. And be sure to do a bit of prep work. According to Corey Kupfer, the majority of people bypass this preparation which is a mistake as it will keep you grounded on the message you want to communicate. You will avoid filler words and, as Kupfer says, ‘with preparation you’re much less likely to get triggered into emotions.’

Take a moment, even if it’s 10 minutes, to objectively write down the reasons why you think you should be part of a particular meeting. I have no doubt there are dozens of reasons why you should have a seat at the table, but you need to narrow them down to your top three. The point of this exercise is not to email your top three reasons to anyone. The point is to give yourself clear, concise talking points when you speak to the meeting organizer.

Here’s a great piece you may want to check out on moving from peer to team leader

3Time to Speak up. Once you have your top points reach out to the meeting organizer for a quick chat. Do it in-person if you happen to be in the same office. When you speak to the organizer, ask questions to understand what’s going on in the meeting. For example, what’s the meeting agenda, what is the main objective and expected outcome, who will be present, etc. Once you’ve heard the answers, you can begin to raise your talking points. Speaking up does not always guarantee you’ll take a seat at the table. The reasons why you may get turned down are too broad to even suggest here what to do if that happens. When I’ve gone through the above steps and was still told I could not attend the meeting, I took a step back to evaluate my next move.

FYI, in one case, I went through the steps I listed above and the business partner told me that the senior executive only wanted direct reports. But there have been other occasions in which the business partner “assumed” the senior executive only wanted direct reports, which turned out not to be the case. So after a little insistence on my part that this assumption be clarified, I was able to go.

Make your opinions count. No sense in taking a seat at the table if you're not going to use it to propel your career forward.

Make your opinions count. No sense in taking a seat at the table if you’re not going to use it to propel your career forward.

4Now you’ve got a seat at the table- It’s time earn it. Once you have the seat at the table it’s time to speak up – ask questions, share your point of view. If you are like me, a woman and Latina and non-senior executive yet, you might find yourself as the minority at the table. Now, in a room where 75% of the talking during an average business meeting is done by men – what are the odds you’ll feel confident to chime in?

I was fortunate to have a mentor a few years ago within a former company who helped me breakout of this fear. The mentor was a senior executive and Latina and her words of advice were: “prepare, stay grounded on the facts, you were not invited to look pretty.”

So I share the same advice with you. Once you take a seat at the table you can’t waste the chance to let your voice be heard. You must do it not just for you but also for all the other women, particular non-white women who are out there without that opportunity. And for the benefit of your organization which can sure use a wider diversity of thought. If you stay quiet or just focused on fitting in all of your efforts will have been worthless. Ready to take your place in writing the next chapter of your organization?

If you’re ready to move to the next level and need a bit of help, check out the Red Shoe Movement Step Up Plus program. That’s what they do best!

The Best Advice I’ve Had As a Female Business Owner

As a female business owner I can attest that as a group we have been an underrepresented for a long time. But gradually, and thankfully, this trend is starting to change — in fact, women are now opening businesses 2.5 times faster than the national average with 11.6 million women-owned businesses, generating more than $1.7 trillion in revenue.

As a female entrepreneur myself, I’m aware of some of the specific and arduous challenges that we often face when launching a business – especially in areas that are typically dominated by men. But lucky for me, I’ve been given some valuable and formative advice along the way – advice that I plan on sharing.

Join the sisterhood of female business owners

For female startup founders, there’s much to be said for making an effort to network with other women. Not just fellow female business owners, but suppliers and vendors as well. Any seasoned business owner will tell you that success is just as much about who you know, as what you do. Together, you can share and solve mutual challenges – and most importantly, you’ll realize you’re not alone.

Start by searching for a women’s business network in your local area. Dedicated groups such as Everywoman are also worth looking into, as they’re aimed at advancing women in business. You may want to try a website like Meetup to discover female business owner groups near you.

Both joining a group and networking one-on-one can really boost your confidence and help you get into your stride as an entrepreneur. If there’s a specific business woman you particularly admire, don’t be afraid to connect via email or LinkedIn to suggest meeting for a coffee. Best case scenario, you end up with a new mentor!

As a female business owner, you have a world at your fingertips. Don't forget to network with others in and out of your field.

As a female business owner, you have a world at your fingertips. Don’t forget to network with others in and out of your field.

Successful Female Business Owners Seek feedback

If you want to be sure your business is heading in the right direction, gathering objective feedback is essential. You need to test your business idea and concepts with the market — it’s the best way to ensure that you have a good enough idea that’s going to galvanize a customer community around it.

Not sure whether your idea has merit? Nowadays, it’s easy to test-run an idea without spending a lot of money. If you’re getting into ecommerce, a subscription CMS like Shopify will only set you back $29 per month – and the first 14 days are free. Crowdfunding is another great way to assess demand for your idea, with websites like Kickstarter and iFundWomen aimed at providing a launchpad for new small businesses, along with coaching.

When you start out with your first business iteration or crowdfunding campaign, be honest with your audience about your journey. Seek feedback on products, branding, and service features in exchange for exclusive deals or ‘grandfather rights’. Make it clear to early adopters that part of your whole launch strategy is gathering their feedback in real-time.

Another form of feedback gathering comes from concurrent competitor analysis. By closely analyzing what your competitors are up to, you can start to form a clearer idea of what your customers look for. A strong analysis means more than simply browsing your competitors’ websites – you need to read their reviews (both positive and negative), scrutinize their web presence, and find out what their customers are saying about them online.

By doing this you can uncover their strengths and weaknesses, and in doing so, make strategic decisions about how you can fill in those gaps for your customers.

Once someone gives you some important feedback, re-invest in that relationship. Open a dialogue with them and make them feel valued as an advocate.

Be giving with your personal brand

It’s important to be strategic about how you come across — your personal brand will have a big impact on your success as female business owner.

Devote time and effort into crafting a mission statement and go all-in when it comes to creating an engaging personal brand. Not only does it paint you in a good light, it can also pave the way to new leads and opportunities.

Make an effort to actually get involved in communities – both on and offline. What subjects and causes are important to you? Join the conversation and speak up. Make the most of networking and speaking opportunities. Get involved in Q&As and expert advice sessions to help solidify your reputation. Volunteer with nonprofits and community groups to give back.

Focus on finding a specialty or a unique hook — this will help you stand out. From your website to your business cards and social media profiles, cultivate a coherent and compelling message.

Keep notes of great ideas you hear or you think about. Successful female entrepreneurs are always on the lookout!

Keep notes of great ideas you hear or you think about. Successful female entrepreneurs are always on the lookout!

Financial Matters Every Female Business Owner Should Know

One of the best pieces of advice I had starting out as a fresh-faced, idealistic female entrepreneur? Live below your means and save money. Frugality is one of the best skills you can master as the mistress of your own financial destiny. As your business expands, you will need to keep investing as new opportunities and ideas arise. Make sure you have the ability to do that – aim to save and/or re-invest around 50% of your earnings within the first few years.

What about when you need a financial injection that you’re unable to provide yourself? Raising capital is, unfortunately, one of the biggest barriers that female entrepreneurs can come up against. So another word of advice: if this is the case for you, seek the help of a professional investor. A pro investor not only validates your business venture, they may also offer useful feedback along the way that will make your business stronger. At the same time, they will also want to see evidence of your profitability and current financial standing — don’t seek investment without doing some number-crunching yourself first.

Find a mentor

I cannot overstate the value of having a trusted advisor in the early days of running your business – right when there’s a million and one things to do, and only you making the big decisions. Not only will they train and support you, they will also be there for you to call on in a tricky situation. After all, they’ve seen it all before.

Naturally, as a female business owner, I would recommend finding a female mentor who has herself experienced similar challenges associated with starting a business, such as gender discrimination. Without my own mentor, Jennifer, I highly doubt my own business ventures would be where they are today. Having also a male mentor, however, can help you with any gender-related blind spots you may have.

So how do you find a mentor? If you don’t already have someone in mind, try reaching out to your existing contacts for referrals. LinkedIn is an excellent place to start – this is how I found Jennifer, who was a 2nd degree connection I was able to forge an introduction with. Alternatively, you may want to look into services aimed at matching mentors with entrepreneurs, such as MicroMentor.

Being a sponge is critical to your success as a female business owner. From podcasts to books, find your poison and stick to it!

Being a sponge is critical to your success as a female business owner. From podcasts to books, find your poison and stick to it!

Be a sponge

As a female entrepreneur, you need to learn to soak up knowledge. Not just at the start, but consistently throughout your business journey. We must never stop learning and growing.

We all learn differently: you may prefer books, audiobooks, videos, or interactive learning. Personally, I favor podcasts and extensive reading. I had no idea how enlightening podcasts can be – or how many of them are out there – until relatively recently. It changed my world.

Below I’ve listed five of my favorite podcasts for women in business, along with five of the best books I’ve read on the subject of being a self-taught entrepreneur.

Podcasts

  • Being Boss – a podcast for creative entrepreneurs
  • The Great Girlfriends Show – personal and professional development
  • Raise Your Hand Say Yes – behind the scenes of creative businesses
  • She Means Business – incredible stories of female entrepreneurs
  • Women of the Hour – a podcast about friendship, love and work

Books

  • The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay
  • Female Innovators at Work: Women on Top of Tech by Danielle Newnham
  • If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You by Kelly Cutrone and Meredith Bryan
  • In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs by Grace Bonney
  • Worry-Free Money: The Guilt-Free Approach to Managing Your Money and Your Life by Shannon Lee Simmons

I believe that when we equip women with the necessary tools and knowledge, we will be closer to achieving an equal and innovative business landscape that will make the world a better, more vibrant, and more tolerant place. Why don’t you tell us about your journey? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments below.

 

Female Entrepreneur Takes on Shoemaking in Nigeria

We live in a time when it seems to be getting a little easier to be a female entrepreneur in many areas of the world. Yet in Nigeria, for a courageous, passionate shoemaker, building a business in a male dominated field is still an uphill battle. Don’t miss this inspiring interview with Olamide Ogunsanya!

A creative and versatile footwear innovator and trainer with a fantastic eye for detail, product design and development, Olamide Orgunsanya is among the very few female entrepreneurs in Nigeria that is pursuing shoemaking while empowering young people and women to acquire the right skills to become financially stable.

Committed to education and knowledge transfer, Olamide is a seasoned trainer with The Lifematics Center. She uses an experiential and engaging approach in delivering content. She is a dynamic educator, lover of children and runs training and workshop for math educators across the country. She volunteers with One African Child Foundation where she helps in the development of training curricula and serves as the head trainer. She’s also a certified educator with The Teaching Network Foundation. Today we talk to her about her love for making shoes and helping others discover their own passions.

Olamide Orgunsanya shows her showmaking skills

Olamide Ogunsanya, a female entrepreneur, shows her showmaking skills

How did you start in your path as a female entrepreneur? Tell us about your business and why you chose shoemaking.

I started my path as female entrepreneur years back as an undergraduate. I loved making shoes, so I went ahead to meet a trainer who gave me an outrageous price, which I could not afford as a student. It was really a hard time for me because friends and family didn’t see what I was seeing. I saw myself in an unusual profession for ladies.

So I took up the challenge to start selling plantain chips and some other items just to raise funds for my training fee to realize my dream to be a graduate of shoemaking and acquire skills in footwear production from an institution. I couldn’t afford the training fee until I graduated from school. I kept my money to be able to attend the training after graduation at which time I enrolled and was trained by one of the leading shoe making institutions in my country. I will be forever grateful that I was able to achieve part of my big dream as a female entrepreneur.

Today, as female entrepreneur I own a training base and solution hub for a beauty brand that deals with shoemaking and makeovers. I focus on two key areas: production and training of women and unemployed youth. Our company helps bring out the essential beauty in every individual. The target audience for our products and services are children, youngsters and adults. We specialize in building different kinds of slip-ons and unisex shoes. We create a memorable look for our clients through our makeover.

Understanding the true essence of looking good in this 21st century our vision is to give essence to beauty. The company is called Beauty Matics and it’s registered under the law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

I hope to acquire more skill in shoemaking and footwear production from a world- renowned shoemaking institution.

Here’s a great organization for Latina entrepreneurs in the U.S.

Shoemaking in Nigeria by a female entrepreneur

Shoemaking in Nigeria by a female entrepreneur

What’s unique about your designs?

When it comes to designing, I try to use color, a mix of materials and to modify existing designs. And most importantly, I take into consideration the style and expression of my target audience. They like elegance, simplicity and comfort.

We know you train people in your field. What does it take to become a really good shoemaker?

To become a good shoemaker, you have to really have a thorough knowledge of your materials because materials have a lot to do with the outcome. The second thing I will highlight is having an eye for detail. Making sure that your final product has the kind of aesthetic appeal that will get the attention of your client. For that, you need to be detailed oriented in your design and production. Lastly you need a lot of practice, particularly when you are a female entrepreneur. Practice is like polish; it will ultimately make your skill glitter. 

Olamide Orgunsanya of Nigeria teaches children

Olamide Ogunsanya of Nigeria teaches children

Do you know a lot of other women shoemakers? Who are they?

Yes quite a number of females are becoming shoemakers and for me as a female entrepreneur, that is inspiring. I have female shoemakers who I trained as well as others I met in various networking platforms. They include Bunmi Giwa, Otobe, Christy Ezemba, Adebukunola, and Choima Madueke of Madulabels.

How common is to be a female entrepreneur in Nigeria?

There are quite a number of female entrepreneurs in Nigeria and I believe the level of interest is very high. You can find them in occupations that are natural to women such as fashion designing, makeover, hairdressing, and male dominated occupations such as shoemaker, mechanic, etc. What has been a challenge is having an environment and the funding that enable these female entrepreneurs to thrive. I use myself as a case study of female entrepreneur in my country Nigeria.

Olamide Orgunsanya a Nigerian shoemaker offers inspiration to female entrepreneurs

Olamide Orgunsanya a Nigerian shoemaker offers inspiration to female entrepreneurs

Female entrepreneurs helping each other

Where do female entrepreneurs get support to carry out their business in your country?

We rarely get financial support because nobody is ready to invest in startup businesses. So most female entrepreneurs end up giving up their dreams due to lack of financial support. Emotionally it’s not always easy to combine the pressure from works, family and friends who don’t belief in our dreams. We end up being a mentor to each other or to ourselves.

Tell us about your network of female entrepreneurs. Do you attend conferences together, collaborate with one another?

I’ve being to several conferences. The most recent one that I attended was at Addis Ababa where I was able to connect with like-minded people. Now we are able to assist each other through mentorship and support strictly for women via our online platform. I can say it has been effective and tremendously helpful for empowering women ever since I returned to my country.

If you could give one piece of advice to a young female entrepreneur, what would it be?

Keep striving hard and don’t give up on your dream because people are watching you.

Connect with Olamide via Twitter  Facebook or via email at ogunsanyaolamide@ymail.com

And as always, if you’re ready to pursue your passion and need to build some skills, join our Step Up program. We have individual memberships. 🙂