Monday 30 March 2015

2Inspire Inspirational Woman: Filmmaker Waiki Harnais

2Inspire meets Waiki Harnais who taught herself how to make films and who strives to be the one of the very best in a fiercely competitive industry.
Image By Martyna Przybysz
What made you start making films and how did you get started?
I studied Media and Mass communication, and my degree included a couple of filmmaking modules. That was when I first became familiar with the art form, although film was something I had always been interested in. I also enjoyed creative writing so I decided I would try my hand at screenwriting. A friend of mine convinced me to get my screenplays produced and that was when I slowly started to team up with upcoming directors, who took on my ideas and worked with me to turn them into films. The more I wrote, the more I grew and developed my skills, including my camera skills – I spent hours teaching myself the fundamentals of filmmaking so that I could be behind the camera a lot more. It paid off – today I shoot the majority of my own work under my own film and video outlet called Lusterworks Media.

What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment to date?
I guess for me, every film that does well with my audience and that gets a bit of recognition from film outlets such as festivals or film institutions (e.g. the BFI), or film screenings across
Still from one of Waiki's Short Films
London… I consider a huge accomplishment. This is a fierce industry, so whenever your work gets a bit of love, it’s an achievement in itself. Whenever I receive the news that one of my film is going to be screened somewhere, it’s always a great feeling. I think about all the hours I spent working on the piece and it makes it all worthwhile.

What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Every production is a challenge, however the biggest one was a series I produced not too long ago, called “Lifeof Hers”. The production process was quite intense and challenging, but such a great opportunity for me to learn and improve. As the only producer for the show, I was faced with all sorts of issues – from last minute changes and cancellations, to problems booking the right locations… Many times I thought about quitting! But I persevered, and thankfully my team was very supportive. And in the end, seeing how well the series did was a huge reward for us all.

What are your future plans with regards to film making?
I plan to continue writing and shooting my own work, and hopefully pluck up the courage to develop Lusterworks Media so that it becomes more than just a creative escapade for me, and an actual platform for great quality film and video production. I also work alongside the talented film duo Olan Collardy and Ola Masha (also known as “Ola&Olan”). We have a few projects in the pipeline and as their producer I plan to continue on this journey with them, telling beautiful stories through film and in documentary form.

Waiki on Set
Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams?
Because unfortunately we live in a society that is still very patriarchal in many ways, with a lot of industries that are undeniably male-dominated. The film industry definitely is one of them. When I first started, I read up a lot on the industry and how it evolved over the years. The major players were all male. It was very frightening and somewhat disheartening to enter an industry where women had such little power, so little influence. But things changed over time. Today the narrative is changing. We are making a stand in very powerful ways, and women in film around the world are creating amazing work. It’s so important that young women do not give up on their dreams because somewhere, someone is waiting for that potential to be unleashed.

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a career in your industry?
If you have a story to tell, tell it. Don’t wait for anyone else to do it for you. Whether it’s through writing or film… Whatever your talent is, whatever passion you have – develop it, let the world hear your stories. In practical terms: start making the small steps that will slowly take you closer to your goal. It will be difficult at first, you may have to sacrifice a lot – financially or otherwise… the first few years will be the hardest but it will all pay off eventually. Keep working, get experience whenever you can, team up and collaborate with likeminded people. And use every resource that is available to you, especially online resources. You have to keep learning if you want to keep growing. And lastly, there are fantastic role models out there in every industry. Read up on their journeys and wherever possible, follow their advice.

What or who inspires you and why?
Lately I have been very inspired by Amma Asante and Ava Duvernay. Two very talented filmmakers/directors who are both finally getting the international recognition they deserve, because their work speaks for itself. It’s amazing how much they have accomplished these past few years, and I’m sure it wasn’t without a struggle. I recently met Amma, which was amazing. A very brief encounter after the screening of her film “Belle” in London, but a moment I will never forget. As a young black female filmmaker, I can look up to them and believe that one day my efforts will pay off too, and my work will also have the power to inspire others. I believe I am on my way there. Slowly but surely…

Twitter: @WaikiHarnais
Instagram: @WaikiHarnais

Tuesday 17 March 2015

2Inspire Inspirational Woman: Genevieve Puni, Founder of RecTrain Ltd

RecTrain Limited became a reality in 2012 as a result of founder, Genevieve Puni, wanting to bridge a gap in the employment market through providing a seamless service in recruitment in Africa. Established in Ghana, Genevieve is on a mission to showcase African talent to the world.

Please tell us, what is a typical business day for you?
My typical business day boils down to planning. I always have a “to do list” to go through which gets ticked off once it’s taken care off. Typically, it starts off with responding to emails, reading up on industry trends, returning missed business calls, attending client meetings, conducting interviews or training and planning client’s events.

What made you start the business and how did you get started?
After having worked in the HR for 12 years, I felt the need to return home and set up a HR consultancy firm to help show case African Talent can be sourced in a more modern effective way and by so doing helping companies achieve their goals with the right people using the competency based recruitment approach as opposed to the more traditional way of recruiting which was being used in Ghana for that matter as far as selecting candidates are concerned. Also wanted to help and act as a mediator between The Diaspora and potential clients.

I started off by doing some research work on the HR services and most importantly the way in which is delivered to clients. Attended workshops on how to start a business including things to consider at the initial stages & post launch of the business, drew up my business plan and set timelines to start operating. It was through networking and speaking at events that I secured my first client.

What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date?

Being voted in the category of “International Business Woman of the year” by the Women4africa ( in February 2015 with the help of my PR company
ARIATU PR. The awards ceremony takes place in May of this year.

Also being able secure my first business office a year after business operations. For most businesses, it takes anything between three to four years and in some five to get their first office.

What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?
The biggest challenge has been the speed in which suppliers/ vendors respond to enquiries or provide service in order to ensure you deliver your services on time to clients.

What are your future plans for the business?
For short to medium term plan is to grow within the regions of Ghana and long term, RecTrain Limited to become a well known brand within the West African sub regions the best provision of services to its clients in terms of its relationships with clients.

Personally be seen as a mentor for the up and coming youth in terms of helping prepare them for the working environment.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
I would say nothing per say because my passion lies in being of service to others where you meet people from all walks of life and make an impact in their lives. With recruitment services for example by finding them the ideal job as one would say their dream job puts a smile on my face.

Nothing beats “Genevieve thank you so much for finding me work” by a candidate or in the case of an employer for “finding the perfect candidate”

Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams?
Being an independent woman as well as an African entrepreneur comes with challenges. Our African society expects that as a woman, your place is taking care of the home. Times have however changed because everyone has a dream irrespective of the gender through the passion of what you have in mind to do.

I am a typical example of someone who has achieved what I set out to do in setting up my business against all odds i.e. relocating to Ghana after 12 years of living in the UK and leaving the UK to follow my dreams.

Young women in particular are the future generation where young ones will look up to as a source of inspiration and by so doing can achieve what is set out irrespective of the challenges along the way. 

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry?
My advice to anyone irrespective of which part of the world you come from, where you are now or whatever stage in your career you are at, my advice is to make sure you are certain about your passion in setting up a business in the chosen field, speak to people in the industry with regards to how they started, read about the trends in the industry, ensure you have the basics to start business, get the website sorted out, know the terrain wishing to operate in, most importantly network extensively and finally chase your dream because the sky is the limit. It is scary but once you take the plunge you will be fine.

What or who inspires you in business and why? I would say my sister. She is a true example of a wonder woman who is married with three young kids and works full time as a PR entrepreneur for international sports clients. She is a go getter who refuses to accept rejections, will fight tooth and nail to achieve what she sets out to do. She is the driving force behind my passion of achieving all irrespective of the challenges that get thrown in along the way.

What is your favourite inspirational quote?
I do have a few but will share three with you as follows;

“Miracles start to happen when you give as much energy to your dreams as you do to your fears” by

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it” by Maya Angelou

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate but that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us”

Contact Genevieve:

Thursday 5 March 2015

2Inspire Inspirational Woman: Iman Ogoo - Imanmade

Iman Ogoo is a mother of three from East London and launched Imanmade, a range of gentle natural skincare products in 2012 after successfully creating products at home to care for her family’s eczema and dry, sensitive skin.

Please tell us what is a typical business day for you?
My days are always busy. I work from home so I’m always juggling running Imanmade with mummy duties, household stuff and other family errands. My eldest son (12) is an actor, and has been playing the role of Young Simba in Disney’s the Lion King for over a year now, so I also have to work around his theatre schedule.
On an average day, after the school run I check emails and social media before settling down to paperwork, or if it is a mixing/bottling day I clean the entire work area and sanitise equipment and utensils before the magic happens. My favourite part of my job is creating Imanmade goodies for my customers. It’s very important to me to create my products with positive vibes so I always play music from my favourite artists in the background or inspirational audiobooks/ podcasts. I also love to fill the air with the wonderful aroma of essential oils. On a mix day my workspace smells so heavenly!

I try to stop working after picking up my younger two sons from school so that I can be fully present and engage with them, but sometimes the work just has to get done and I end up multitasking. There are often times when I have to stay up all night to mix, bottle or label products, as I work alone most of the time. If I need an extra hand, my friend Anne comes over to help, and she also assists me with sales at some events. 

What made you start the business and what steps did you take to start operating as a business?
I initially started making natural skin care products solely for family use at home, as I have a lifelong history of eczema and extremely dry, sensitive skin and my youngest two sons inherited my skin conditions in addition to life-threatening allergies.  
I had absolutely no intention of selling anything, until friends and family noticed our skin improvements and started requesting jars of my concoctions for themselves, while suggesting that I turn my skincare ‘hobby’ into a business. I laughed off the suggestions at first, as I didn’t really see how it could possibly happen.  At the time I was a ‘stay at home mum’, highly stressed out, sleep deprived and having a hard time coping with my youngest son’s severe allergies. There was no worse time to start a business, but I warmed to the idea and started doing research, later seeking business advice from local schemes. I had no savings, and didn’t want to put myself into debt, so I took my time and purchased the things I needed bit by bit; equipment, ingredients, packaging, safety assessments, insurance, etc. Just enough to get me started. 

What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date?
I’d say my greatest business accomplishment so far was seeing Imanmade products being sold at the Established East London pop up shop in Westfield Stratford City Shopping Centre. Imanmade was such a big hit with Established East customers in summer 2013 that I was called back to supply their 2014 Christmas Store. It really was a confidence booster, and a big opportunity for a small business like Imanmade.

What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?Actually I’m in quite a challenging position at the moment: Figuring how and when to expand the business. 

What are your future plans for the business?
I’m in the process of reworking my long-term plan and fine-tuning my next steps, but my focus at the moment is launching a few new products for the range and reaching as many people as I can through my website and online store.

I’ll be starting my studies in Herbal Medicine and Naturopathy later this year, so that will open up some opportunities for growth of myself as an individual and Imanmade as a business.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
I think I’d take a little more time before launching the business publicly, and I’d
most likely team up with a business partner rather than do it all alone - preferably someone with a passion for doing accounts! 

What’s the best compliment you could receive in business?
The best compliment I could (and already do) receive is that Imanmade products are helping to improve someone’s daily life.  I know the difficulties and discomfort of dealing with my own skin problems and also the stress of caring for children with severe eczema. So when someone tells me their skin condition has cleared up it really makes my day!

Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams?
I do my best to inspire young (and older) women around me to pursue their life passions. Especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Having real role models, and watching them achieve success instils confidence in these young women, encouraging them to make the most of their abilities, and exceed expectations. 
It’s also important that young women understand their own power; the power of their thoughts, words, and beliefs. Knowing they can be everything they want to be, with focused actions and the right mindset. Though there is still a certain level of inequality in the workplace, young women are now in a position to create opportunities where they see none. Modern technology and social media especially play a huge role in this development.

Just over a year ago, I took on two female college interns from Paris for a six-week period to support their Business Management studies. Though there was a slight language barrier, I was able to guide them to learn new skills and explore first hand how to run a small business. Their internship at Imanmade made a big impact on their grades and the experience really boosted their confidence. One of the interns has now gained full time employment in Paris and keeps me up to date with her new career on a regular basis. I in turn continue to support her with motivation and advice via email.

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry?
Make sure you are fully aware of the European Cosmetic regulations first and foremost. Many people think its just a case of mixing up some oils, putting them in pretty bottles and selling, but there’s so much more to it. Meticulous record keeping is essential, and there are strict guidelines on both the product formulation and labelling. There is so much that the general public do not see.

What or who inspires you in business and why?
I have various business inspirations. Lisa Price of Carol’s Daughter (Skin and hair care) was my main inspiration when starting Imanmade, but most recently, I have been inspired by Myleik Teele of curlBOX (beauty subscription box). Her work ethic is admirable; she motivates you to make that extra effort, to go that extra mile. I love what she is doing with the curlBOX brand, and her podcasts are very useful. She gives great, no-nonsense advice.

What is your favourite inspirational quote?

I always like to say:  ‘Trust your instincts’. 
Intuition is everything.

Imanmade is offering readers 15% off (minimum £10 spend) until 06 April 2015 using code 2INS15

Iman Ogoo
Imanmade Natural Skin Care
Twitter/Instagram: @imanmade