What does it feel like to be a CEO of an African Fashion Brand

My dream or passion (beside being a writer for Vogue Magazine more on this, this Thursday) is to one day go on Shark Tank and say, hello my name is  Isioma and I am the CEO of an African Fashion Brand inspiring young people in African to create sustainable fashion etc. Wouldn’t that be great. I can only dream with inspiration from Liya Kebede with her Lem Lem brand and in case you don’t know I love to dream (plus I am only fulfilling yesterdays post of writing ones goals down). But since we are on the topic of being a CEO, my thoughts today are centered around what it must feel like to be a CEO of anything. One thing I like about Quroa is that anyone can ask questions and you get answers back from real people. For example, there are 100+ answers to the question “What does it feel like to be the CEO of a startup?” The answers provided have relevance for anyone interested in becoming a CEO of an African brand. Read 4 below that I thought were inspiring:

  1. In my mind, the most distinctive characteristic of that job is the constant seesaw of worry and euphoria.  There is nothing so frightening as looking over the edge, and nothing so exhilarating as making it over a hump. You climb a wall of worry almost everyday, but you also experience highs like you’ve never felt before. It can jangle the nerves (I had chronic insomnia for months), but it is tremendously fulfilling. I suppose that’s logical.  The best stuff never comes easy. Tim Westergren, Founder of Pandora
  2. Let me just throw out a few things I learned that being a CEO of start-up isn’t, or isn’t as you’d expect:
    It ain’t glamorous until you are At Scale and Hot, at the very minimum.  At $10m+ in revenues, maybe.  Maybe not even until pre-IPO.
    The Zero Cash Date when you run out of money will be burned in your brain.
    You are never recruiting enough because you always need at least one more amazing person on the team and it just isn’t getting done and this is the most important thing so somehow you have to find a way even if you aren’t.
    You can’t really share, not really, because your team doesn’t really understand what it is to have all the 100% responsibility for everything, and your spouse/ S.O./ whatever can only hear about 58 times how you are about to fail before they naturally start to tune out.
    You will become a leader no matter what your background is.  Even if you have never scaled before, never hired before.  You will know so much, about everything, about how it is all done.  People will gravitate to that, and follow you.  Not everyone.  But more and more over time.  You will find a way here.
    People will actually care what you think in a way you’ve never experienced before.  Even if you are just a CEO of a 10 person company, your customers will care, even if they are 10,000x bigger than you are.  Your team will care.  The CEO matters to whomever the product impacts.
    You will think about stepping down at some point, no matter if you never admit it.  There’s a reason Elon Musk didn’t start off as CEO of Tesla, nor did Marc Benioff start off as CEO of Salesforce, even though they wrote the first checks.  Dude, it’s hard.  Don’t tell anyone when you have these thoughts.  Except maybe your one closest advisor.
    You’ll be in the Founder CEO club if you have any success at all.  And it’s a fun club because it lasts for life as long as your startup is at least somewhat successful.  You’ll have your own language, own shared experiences, and be part of a special club that no one else really can be a part of.  It’s a pretty cool club.  Jason M. Lemkin, Co-founder/CEO EchoSign, acq’d by Adobe
  3. It’s roller coast ride – the highest highs and some tough lows but it’s the most thrilling professional experience I have had thus far.    Being able to create something from nothing is an unbelievable feeling.   It pushes you to see what your potential is versus letting others determine that for you.   There are the shitty days where everything seems to be going wrong but those happen whether you are the CEO or not.   Having people that share your vision and are willing to sacrifice with you is an incredible high and comes with a huge amount of responsibility.   Being poor again sucks but you learn to adapt to that as well.   In fact you quickly realize how wasteful you were in the past and become more resourceful – which is a skill that has increased tenfold since you had that crazy idea to chuck it all in and pursue your dream. Tamara Lover, CEO of Bottle Rush
  4. It’s exhilarating and frightening and lonely and frustrating and addictive. It’s a job you can’t quit, not really, because your investors put their money on the line, and employees quit their high-paying jobs to take less money to work with you, and customers put their reputations on the line to give the contract to a little company, and your wife let you put personal guarantees and a second mortgage behind the lines of credit, and everybody’s looking to you for inspiration and comfort and assurances. One day you may be wealthy beyond your dreams and celebrated as a great success, or maybe bankrupt and humiliated, or maybe just limping along never quite failing but never really succeeding and just wasting your talent. Proportionally, you take the greatest risk of all, and in exchange as the company becomes more and more successful, you own less and less of it. Or maybe you don’t get more and more successful and you can’t get rid of any piece of your stake no matter what you do. You’re in charge of everything and in control of very little, and you can’t share any of your gnawing uncertainty with anyone because nobody wants to hear that you aren’t sure what you’re doing, not investors, employees, the board, or your spouse. It’s profoundly lonely, and yet the camaraderie is the best part. You’re  at the top of the pyramid, and yet everything rests on your shoulders.  You’re almost certainly going to fail, and confidence is an absolute requirement. Michael Fergusson, Founder and CEO of Ayogo, Kinzin, Enfolding Systems.

Source: Quora


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Isioma's Style Report

Isioma's Style Report is an online platform dedicated to providing high end content for African women that includes fashion, beauty, culture, people, news, career, and travel. We aim to take an intelligent approach to cover a broad range of issues African women face in their personal and professional lives.

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