A Business Born Out Of Challenging Stereotypes

“Freedom is seen as an illusion not many can obtain, but freedom comes in little pieces of self-acceptance, higher self-esteem, being truly yourself and living out your true potential and talent.”

Dynamic Namibian woman, Zodidi Gaseb, has been racking up the accolades internationally for her challenging of the status quo when it comes to natural hair. Last year she wowed audiences everywhere with her TEDx talk titled, I am not your Stereotype, I am not my hair. That talk was selected as one of only fifteen talks from around the globe to celebrate TEDx’s 1 billion views and today as an advocate for woman everywhere to embrace their natural hair, Zodidi is running a successful business based on her passions and drives. 99FM’s MYD Smart sat down with Zodidi to talk business, hair and knowing yourself as a business owner.

99FM’s MYD Smart asked :
Tell us about your business?

African Naturals“African Naturals is a business I started a few years ago to promote natural hair products, made in Africa, in particular unrefined Shea butter. It expanded into events where naturals gather and exchange info and tips. I also have customized painted tote bags and tees.”

How did you get into this line of business?

“I got into it because I need Shea butter. I had accidentally bought a batch a few years back and it was amazing for my hair, unfortunately the store I bought it at no longer sold it and I went into an extensive journey to find Shea butter and share it with others. The events were a need as many people requested for a place to meet other naturals and share experiences, it grew into a community.”

SB 3How are you challenging the status quo with this business?

“I encourage people to not only embrace their beautiful coils and curls but to wear it proudly at work, their communities as it’s viewed as untidy and unkempt, so depending on the topic, we showcase what styles people can wear to work without having to change who they are. I also encourage others to share their stories and realize that they can actually change their communities’ one strand at a time.”

What has been your greatest learning as a business owner?

“It’s ok to make mistakes. I can be a perfectionist and wait until everything is sorted but the market doesn’t allow it, I have to be fast, creative and patient. Sometimes my providers can’t deliver and I just have to make a plan. What is a very important part of this journey for me is that one needs to communicate with your customers and say thank you to add that personal touch.”

SB 1What is the most important thing you need to start a business?

“I have a one pager business plan, I don’t believe in writing out pages and pages of something you don’t believe in. Keep it simple and let passion be your cup of daily tea. Connect with like-minded people, listen to your customers and always have a bigger vision. Paperwork is half of the business, money is a small part. Passion and vision, that’s where the magic is.”

Would you advise people to venture into their own business?

“Oh yes, definitely! It’s challenging, but so rewarding to have something you can build, a legacy of sorts. If you can get a mentor, do so, it’s all about learning, and when you feel you are ready to teach others, take in as many mentees as possible.”

SB 2How does being yourself allow a person freedom?

“Freedom is seen as an illusion not many can obtain, but freedom comes in little pieces of self-acceptance, higher self-esteem, being truly yourself and living out your true potential and talent. When one is oneself, other’s views of who you should be and what you should be doing with your life are not important because you can confidently say what path you are following and not get distracted. That is freedom, and once you have it, you do things with no regret, you pursue your dreams with no apologies and as challenges rather than with fear.”

How can you be yourself and still be a business owner?

“People tend to forget that you are your brand, how and what you portray can impact your business. My advice would be to be as authentic as possible. Clients are partly attracted to your product or service, but more so to your brand and personality. If you come through as unauthentic, it shows. Balance of both worlds is also quite crucial.”

Watch Zodidi’s TEDx talk, I am not your Stereotype, I am no my hair, here : Zodidi on the TEDx Windhoek Stage

Connect with Zodidi’s business, African Naturals, through their Facebook page, here : African Naturals