Bukola Ogunrinde is a woman of many parts; she is the Creative Lead of Shawttynatt Media, founder of Shawttynatt Foods Hub, seasoned blogger/new media expert, celebrity manager, publicist, public speaker and the co-author of social media as a business tool. In this interview with YEJIDE GBENGA-OGUNDARE, the former Public Relations Officer of the Digital Media Practitioners of Nigeria speaks on the need for women to create strings of income for financial empowerment, her passion for new media and life as an entrepreneur, among other issues.
Tell us a little about your background.
I am a graduate of Business Administration from the Lagos State Polytechnic, Isolo, Lagos. I am also a Google certified digital media strategist. I also did more of logistics, warehousing and customer service. All these are playing perfectly well in my current career.
You are an influencer, advocate and you run your own business, how do you connect this to create an equilibrium?
This is not the easiest to merge; I use the same physical space to run the three careers I’m passionate about. I make a list and I follow them strictly, prioritise what needs my attention most. I keep reports separately to maintain accountability. Timing is the main factor and I manage it perfectly.
Which aspect of what you do is most enjoyable to you?
I would say influencing. I am able to connect with new people everyday and with a lot of people that do not agree with your shared thoughts. It’s interesting because you meet a lot of people from different backgrounds and different ideologies. It’s fun to me and also a learning ground.
Which did you start with?
I started with brand influencing on social media in 2012.
How easy was it starting your food business?
Easy? No matter the capital, either large or small, it is not easy starting a business. Starting Shawttynattfoods wasn’t on a silver platter. I started this food business in 2016 and it was unbranded. I had to drop it in 2017, I knew I wasn’t ready. But what helped me was the platform I had created for myself through influencing, if I could sell other brands, why not my own brand.
What are your thoughts on women striving for financial independence?
The smarter the better, a lot of women need to educate themselves to make smarter choices, step by step plan is needed and staying true to their plans. Women also need to invest in themselves, either skills or courses, knowledge is never excessive. This way, we can stay relevant and be able to generate a good income at any stage in life. And we must be comfortable with any financial decisions we make in life. It won’t be an easy ride but it’s totally worth it
What is your opinion on the spate of abuses especially of children and women in Nigeria?
It is a condemnable act and it’s sadly on the rise. I was abused as a child and I understand the trauma. There is also a need to evaluate the effect of different intervention programmes, the non governmental organisations (NGOs) and so on. It is important that the education system, the health sector and the judicial system are motivated to recognise that they have not only the opportunity, but also the responsibility to take action against physical and sexual abuse. A multidisciplinary and multiagency perspective is needed in approaching this issue. All of us, especially educators and clinicians, are in a position to address abuse and ultimately to reduce violence in our society. Abuse is everyone’s business.
How do you balance all the things you do without getting overwhelmed?
Time management, I try to manage my time judiciously and I have assistants in all industries. I also try to keep up positive vibes and set realistic goals. Most times, I feel I need a vacation and I realise that my business, especially the food start up won’t survive without me. I eat right and connect with friends; that helps ease out stress.
How can women create strings of income and market themselves?
There must be a driver, something must drive a woman to want to create multiple strings of income to begin with, that alone is a motivation.
Now there must be a platform, I have a group of women named “Girl Geng”, we meet weekly to discuss underlined topics and we set goals, we support each other aggressively. You need to come out of your shell and join support groups. Creativity and stability is very important and we all need encouragement. Nothing is easy, seek for knowledge and you shall find.
What would you say is the problem facing women entrepreneurs in Nigeria?
The major issue is lack of female mentors, it is not easy to find a mentor in your industry, there are also the basic issues of lack of funding, work/family struggle; I had that challenge as well, when one is torn between family and work. And we are in a country where they believe in a woman needs to be at home, taking care of the family or have a small shop where she sells wares and nothing more, but there are a lot of women who are desirous of more. In this instance, there is need for a female mentor and a support system.
Women are faced with specific gender-based hurdles and that can be frustrating enough to want to quit, but none of these barriers is insurmountable. Empowering yourself to succeed doesn’t mean you have to follow the well-travelled path, it just means you have to stay true to yourself and your passion.
Do you think it is possible for a woman to take on too much while creating strings of income?
Women are unstoppable. We tend to go all out for our desired aspirations. No breaks and this is not good for our mental sanity. I always advise proper planning, step by step. This way, a woman won’t have to take on too much. There will be a balance or a crash.
You seem to have a passion for marketing, how does it help you?
Marketing is in the veins. I worked with a few financial institutions as a marketer; I can sell anything. The passion for marketing is helping me with my food business, I can walk up to anybody and I am very expressive. So it is an asset.
What inspires you?
My mother is my inspiration. She supported me on every important decision in my life and at every point I need support. She is very hard working, my mother is a retired civil servant and she takes care of the entire family. She always says that life is all about work and one needs to work hard and be happy.
What are the challenges you face as a business owner?
Employee capabilities, this is a new business and I am looking to explore and expand but I can’t look elsewhere now because I have to supervise and monitor round the clock
Another one is cash flow. For expansion, I would need investors to come on board which is quite uneasy to get. The bigger a business is, the better for the owner. I will get there, slowly but surely.
What is your guiding principle?
Staying responsible and focused on the growth of everything I set out to achieve.
What advice do you have for other women with similar vision?
I would advise women, both old and young, to stay true to their dreams, nothing comes easy. Be grateful and appreciate what you have, set goals and realistic targets. Don’t compare yourself with others and ensure you get mentored; it is important.
If you are not doing this, what would you be doing?
I would probably still hold on to blogging and brand influencing or sell something else.
What in your background prepared you for this?
Well, I studied Business Administration in school, and it’s of great use to me now, though I didn’t prepare for this, it’s something that I’m growing to love and own.
How long have you been into this?
I started with Ofada Rice in 2016, when I moved back to Lagos from Warri, I was trading the unbranded version till recently when I rebranded and launched into the market. And it’s been great; in one month, I sold over 800 cases of all my items.