Her-Story Spotlight: Kemi Oshimokun

 

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Kemi Oshimokun- Khonsu Travel  www.khonsutravel.com

 

This month on the Her-Story Spotlight, we are featuring Oluwakemi “Kemi” Oshimokun.  Kemi is the owner of Khonsu Travel, a full-service travel agency and tour company.  This 22-year-old, Chicago native went head first into the travel world and never looked back.  She started her business when she was 19 years old and decided to use social media to build her business and form relationships rather than catching up on the latest gossip.  This young lady is a go getter in her field and her main focus is to allow people the option to affordably travel abroad without breaking the bank.  She offers reasonable payment plans for group trips to locations such as Ghana, Cuba, and Benin, just to name a few.  If you are not looking to travel abroad just yet, Kemi can also help you find the most affordable rates for local trips across the country for you and the family.  Keep reading to find out more about Kemi’s journey to beginning Khonsu Travel.

 Where did the name Khonsu Travel come from?

When I was thinking of the name of my business, I had just come back from studying abroad and I went to Egypt while I was there.  Khonsu means the Egyptian God of travel.  The Khonsu guided night travelers on their journeys.  I liked the concept and decided to name my business Khonsu travel.

Why did you become an entrepreneur?

I became an entrepreneur by accident!  I studied biology with a minor in Arabic and Middle Eastern studies in college. I wanted to work in global public health and tackle the many issues underserved communities around the world experienced. But studying abroad in Morocco changed my perspective forever. Living in Morocco was such a liberating and eye-opening experience that it altered my outlook on life. In particular, one night changed what I wanted to do with my life and career. While traveling with my new friends I made in Morocco, we took a long walk one night that landed us in a new area in the city we were living in. Somehow, we got on the conservation of what we will do when we go back home. My friend, Paloma, said she would love to get paid to travel the world and photograph her experience. We all nodded our heads in agreement and talked about how amazing it will be to have a career in travel. We all laughed at the end and walked back to our college campus.

That conversation resonated with me throughout my duration abroad and when I came back to Chicago, but I was unsure on how I was going to have a career in travel. So, I put it in the back of the mind. One day while scrolling through Facebook, I saw a post regarding becoming a travel agent and I was in disbelief that travel agents even existed with websites like Expedia, Hotwire, and such, but I wanted to learn more about how I can start a career in travel.

The following Monday, I took a one hour bus ride to an information meeting. I was so shocked to see all the African Americans who travel agents were making great profits in the industry and helping others travel more. I loved the energy in the room and I felt this was something I had to do. I encountered many people after I studied abroad who wanted to travel more, but fear, lack of funds, and misconceptions held them back from experiencing the beauty of life. By becoming a travel agent, I could take them by the hand and help them from being skeptical and nervous to becoming confident and having the experience of a lifetime. That night I started my travel business, Khonsu Travel. Six months ago, I launched Khonsu Tours and we will be taking our first group trip to Ghana in October 2017.
What piece of advice would you have given yourself prior to starting your business?

If I could tell my 19-year-old self anything, I would say a couple of things:

  1. Do not wait for your friends and family to support your business.

The gold mine is in the strangers who will not have any issue working with you. One of the first frustrations I encountered in my business was that many of my friends and family did not book their vacations with me. This disappointment paralyzed me for almost a year. My mentors told me that strangers will happily support my business, but I didn’t listen to them. I wish I would have listen to them. I would have made a lot of money that year.

  1. Do not be afraid of your greatness.

I am type of person that embraces my ADHD because it works in my favor as an entrepreneur (sometimes lol). There are times where I am super focused on a task and I can finish it through. But there are times that I cannot and my mind races with brilliant ideas that I can use to enhance my business. I use to be scared of the ideas I had because I felt like they could not come true and doubted myself. For example, I’ve had the idea of starting a tour company for over a year, but I was afraid it would fail. One day, I took a leap of faith to start my tour company and we sold out our first tour!

  1. Surround yourself with eagles and not crabs.

When I first started my business, I surrounded myself with a lot crabs who told me my business would not work and I should quit. Crabs like to bring people to their level. I was not born to a crab. I am an eagle! I started to surround myself with people in my business who making money and I became a sponge. I wanted to know everything they knew and how they worked their business. They pushed me to be creative and ambitious. Eagles soar with other eagles while crabs hold each other back in the bucket.

How has your faith attributed to your journey as an entrepreneur?

My faith kept me in business this long. It was times I wanted to quit because no one booked trips with me and I was not making any money. Also, I had crabs in my ear who told me that I should quit. It came to a point where I had to look at myself and see how I was contributing to my lack of success. Once I look at myself in the mirror and realized it was me that was holding my business back, my mindset changed. I increased my belief in what my business can produce, I sought out help, and I became creative in my marketing strategy. Also, I started practicing the Law of Attraction and being more grateful with what I had. I’ve been doing that ever since and my business has been overflowing with new clients, great partnerships, and many vacations booked.

Speaking with Kemi was truly inspiring to hear so much ambition and drive come from someone so young.  I learned so much from her in the few conversations that we’ve had and she has inspired me in so many ways. Although she has pursued a career in travel, Kemi has decided to travel less and save more as she prepares to purchase realestate.  She calls this current time her “building season.”   Kemi makes travel look easy and so accessible for everyone.  If you’re looking for some assistance on your next weekend getaway or want to take a tour outside of the border, contact Kemi for all your traveling needs.

www.khonsutravel.com

IG: @khonsutravel

FB: @khonsutravel

 

Her-Story Spotlight: Flaunt Ya Faith

Her Story Spotlight- LaQuonda Rene
 “Purpose is never easy, but it’s doable.”

This month on the Her-Story Spotlight, we’re shining light on the beautiful Quonda Renee, founder of Flaunt Ya Faith.  Flaunt Ya Faith is an inspirational online jewelry shop for women.  Her shop includes items such as clutches, makeup bags, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and tote bags.  Quonda is originally from Connecticut, but currently resides in Riley, North Carolina.  This thirty-one-year-old entrepreneur on the rise has only been in business for four years and has seen tremendous growth in sales, but it wasn’t always this way.  As we got further into our interview, Quonda expresses more about her humble beginnings.

Why did you become an entrepreneur?

“I was laid off from my healthcare job.  It was unexpected.  I was not prepared financially and I lost everything and had to move back in with my parents.  At the time, I needed inspiration so I used the little unemployment money I had and started Flaunt Ya Faith.”

Quonda discussed how she was not financially prepared and looked for a job for almost a year.  After soul searching and spending time with God, He revealed to her the vision of Flaunt Ya Faith.  She created the jewelry for herself initially as a small reminder of her faith to push her through her current situation.  She saw that there was a lack in that industry when it comes to inspirational jewelry and felt that she would be able to fill that need and did just that.

Quonda mentioned that about 90 percent of the jewelry has inspirational message on them and that her bracelets are her top sellers.  Not everything is handmade because she is beginning to be a bit overwhelmed with production, which is a good thing.  She has been outsourcing with some private label designers so that she can focus more on the business end as Flaunt Ya Faith continually grows.

She believed she could so she did leather bracelet

How has your faith attributed to your journey as an entrepreneur?

“Faith is the only way I have made it this far.  It keeps me grounded.  I mean the name of my business is Flaunt Ya Faith.  It takes a whole lot of faith to start a business with an unemployment check.  Anyone who has been unemployed knows that’s not a lot of money, especially when you have other bills.”

Jewelry making was not the business that first came to mind.  “When I first decided I wanted to be an entrepreneur before I lost my job I was thinking about selling t-shirts.  The concept that I had at the time was so worldly that I would probably be a millionaire by now if I would have gone with that, but that wasn’t who I was.  I think purpose is more important than popularity.”  We discussed how it is sometimes harder for a faith based business to thrive and do well because it may not be as accepted compared to others.  “When you are operating in your purpose and in your gift, money will come.  God always provides” It’s not about the money.  It’s about the message.

The Tribe

I loved that Quonda called her followers her tribe in our interview.  It made me feel like they were so much more than customers or numbers on social media.  We discussed the necessity of being transparent in business during the interview and how it helps to build a better following.

“I think being transparent has definitely helped me with my business.  I consider Instagram my family.  There’s times you can go back on some of my posts and I’ll tell them like I’m going through this and I know someone going through this and people will DM me saying thank you for posting that or I needed that word of encouragement.  Social media has helped a lot because I’ve could reach and ship to people who don’t even live in America.  I don’t think my business would be where it is now without social media,” said Quonda.

One thing that I love that Quonda mentioned is that she doesn’t use her e-mail list solely to sell to her customers, but she tells them a story.  She gives transparency for situations that have happened along with resolutions.  “I’m not going to be something I’m not or pretend to be at a place where I’m not.  That builds a community with the people that you serve,” said Quonda.

 What are your goals for the future of your business?

“I definitely want to grow a little bit more.  I would love to hire people.  There are so many people that need jobs.  I’d like to do that before the end of the year.  I would at least like to have one part time person there all the time.  I would like to be in some stores like Macy’s or something like that. I Would love to have a brick and mortar because there aren’t very many stores you can walk in that are full of inspiration.  Quonda also mentioned her desire to vend at pop up shops in the mall. Her products are currently listed on Overstock and ASOS.

We discussed the necessity of taking a break from your business.  While owning your own business, you must be able to regroup and revamp so not to let yourself become overwhelmed with the ins and out of daily operation.   Quonda mentioned that it was necessary to take a break from her online shop for a few months to get things in order.  Her website is currently up and running now and ready for sales once again.

What piece of advice would you have given yourself prior to starting your business?

“Don’t try to be everything to everybody.  Find a niche or a tribe and connect with them,” said Quanda.  Often times newbies in business tend to follow the crowd and lack their own identity when starting out.  It’s important to be original and maintain your own identity in order to be successful.

It was a pleasure interviewing Quonda Renee.  I was so inspired by her journey in business and I am excited to see where God will take Flaunt Ya Faith.  Her original pieces are beautiful and so is she.  Quonda is proof that faith can bring you through any situation as long as you are fulfilling the purpose God has set before you.

You can follow Flaunt Ya Faith on:

Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest @Flauntyafaith

To purchase go to http://www.flauntyafaith.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kalilah Wright: “Mess in a Bottle”

 

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http://www.messinabottle.com

In the times that we live in, merely working at a typical 9-5 just doesn’t cut it anymore.   More women are leaving their cookie-cutter lifestyles and branching out on the path to becoming an entrepreneur.  Some talk themselves out of their dreams because of the fear of failure, while others muster up enough faith and strength to push through their passion.  I decided to seek out and interview amazing, everyday women who have made it their duty to push the envelope of entrepreneurship despite the challenges. It would only be fitting to feature a few of these women creating history or should I say “her-story” here on the blog once a month.

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I conducted my very first of many interviews with the beautiful soul Kalilah Wright. She is a single mother of an 3 year old son, hustler, and CEO of the T-shirt company “Mess in a Bottle.”  Per Wright, her company creates products that are “emotional, thought provoking, and expressive to the current climate of the world.”  Her products include, but are not limited to t-shirts, mugs, pillow cases, pens, and jackets.  I stumbled upon Kalilah after being added to a closed business branding group on social media and her posts were so inspiring to me that I felt the need to interview her as soon as possible.

The name Mess in a Bottle derived from Kalilah’s desire to display messages on her products.  Kalilah explained that the name “Message in a Bottle” had already been taken when she initially started her business, so she decided to coin the name “Mess in a bottle” and ran with it.   “Mess” would represent the good, the bad, and the ugly,” said Wright. In our interview, Kalilah stated that she wanted to create messages to allow people to be vocal without saying anything at all. She accomplished that and so much more with her catchy phrases and original designs.  Kalilah’s messages through her apparel are both innovative and creative and always up on the times.  They reflect both political and social aspects of the current events.  She is always quick on her toes when it comes to new phrases on her products and her advertising is always on point, visual, and relatable.

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Now what I love most about her product is the packaging.  Mess in a Bottle isn’t just a cute name for her online t-shirt shop.  Her shirts come inside of a cute reusable bottle. It’s very reminiscing to the message that would travel in a bottle through bodies of water.  Except in this case the messages are printed on stylish t-shirts and are sent via USPS.

At the age of 4 years old, Kalilah’s parents decided to immigrate from Jamaica to Brooklyn, NY. She moved to Baltimore, MD 8 years ago and frequently visits New York.  Wright earned her master’s degree in architecture and design.  With her degrees and skills, Kalilah managed to land a job creating interior store layouts for Under Armor for two years.  Now I know what you may be thinking, who would leave Under Armor?  Well, some people just have that entrepreneurial spirit and Kalilah is one of them.  When I asked this question, she explained that at the time, she owned a baby furniture company and needed some extra cash flow to maintain the business.  She learned that selling t-shirts would yield a faster turnaround time and help fund her original business.  Her side hustle became overwhelming over time and it began to interfere with her day job at Under Armor.  She eventually made the big decision to step out on faith and make the pursuit to turn her side hustle into a full time her business.  Kalilah currently has two assistants and up to five virtual assistants who all play a part in customer service, responding to emails, and invoicing to maintain the flow of Mess in a Bottle.

Kalilah was featured on the variety talk show “Harry” hosted by Grammy and Emmy winner Harry Connick, Jr. and it has made a difference in sales for Mess in a Bottle.  Wright said that the experience was an amazing feeling and it wasn’t planned at all.  It was initially orchestrated by a friend of hers that was looking out.  She said that everything seemed to happen within a matter of days.  Her friend told her that the Harry show was looking to feature entrepreneurs for the next episode. After getting wind of that info, Kalilah called and spoke to the casting director to find out about getting on the show.  When the episode aired, she received an enormous amount of attention and a big jump in sales.

I asked Wright if there are any ethical concerns that she might deal with while running her business.  She mentioned that she does run into some difficulties when creating her political shirts.  Her overall brand supports others opinions, but sometimes they may not agree with her own.  Since this benefits her business, she is willing to overcome that difference.

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She sees Mess in a Bottle ten years down the line as a big corporation and not just a T-shirt company.  Wright mentioned that she’d like to be able to go outside of shirts one day and expand to other products as well.  She is working on a few projects currently that will assist in leading Mess in a Bottle in that direction.  Kalilah is also transitioning into preparing her business for the uncertainties of life.  I asked what she thinks would happen to her business if she was no longer here.  Kalilah said that she is in the process of putting together a mess in a bottle handbook on how to operate the business that would also include her vendor information so that the business would continue to run smoothly whether she is here or not.

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As we closed out our interview, I asked Kalilah if there was any advice that she would give anyone trying to start a business of their own.  She said that someone new to the scene should stay true to their process. Kalilah mentioned that the biggest issues that she has run across in business are finances, minimal capital, and time management.  So many people have their own answers to how their business works.  She said that it’s necessary to figure things out on your own.  What works for one person will not always work for the next.  Kalilah said that the amazing part about building a business is that we create our own path with no formula.  She mentioned that she sticks to using her own intuition and gut feelings to make her decisions.  I must say that I completely agree with this way of thinking.  You won’t get too far trying to be like anyone else but yourself.  No two businesses are going to be alike even if they are in the same niche.  Do you boo boo!

 

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I’ve got my “Mess” in a Bottle. “Get Your Life Write. Bloggerlife.”

Grab yours at www.messinabottle.com

You can also follow Mess In A Bottle on:

Instagram @messinabottle and Facebook @ MESS in a Bottle

I’m so happy to have been able to speak with this queen and “mompreneur” about her prospering business.  She kept it real and let me know that it’s no walk in the park or for the faint of heart.  If I hadn’t mentioned this enough, Kalilah Wright is an inspiration on every level. She embodies what the definition of a true hustler is.  Watching her grow and expand her brand over time is like watching one of your home girls finally make it to the top.  Her small wins are big for all of us.  She literally started from the ground up and can only go higher from here on out.

This interview is the first of so many to come.  If you haven’t followed the blog already, go ahead and do so to keep up with the latest and greatest as Favored Freauxs continues to grow.  We’ll be featuring a new woman creating “Her-story” each month.