The International Women's Day campaign aims to share the stories of hidden female figures in the digital fashion world.
A CONVERSATION WITH IFEOMA NWOBU
Ifeoma Nwobu, an ex-model turned digital entrepreneur, is the co-founder of Sendstack, a technology-powered delivery and logistics firm that helps businesses develop by delivering the most dependable, economical, and effective delivery service. She learned some programming and digital marketing, which helped her break into tech and accelerate her 360-degree career pivot.
Ifeoma is passionate about developing innovative methods for issue-solving for SMEs across Africa, as well as promoting innovation and growth in the supply chain arena. She is passionate about forming high-functioning teams and hopes to establish more strategic enterprises for Africans throughout the world.
Can you tell us about your journey in the digital fashion space?
I got into fashion in 2015 as a model - I walked runways for some of the biggest shows then including Lagos Fashion Week by the way and I was the face of a number of remarkable fashion campaigns. This started to translate into an online audience because a lot of those shows and campaigns were promoted online, so this sparked general curiosity in people, brands, and organizations to find out about me, get to know me, and share my story. My journey, I would say, has been a pretty natural one and now with the growth of the creator economy, it’s a no-brainer to build on top of that foundation by sharing bits and parts of my life especially as it relates to my style, who I am and some values I stand for.
What inspires you every day?
God inspires me and this is not me trying to be religious for the sake of it. The day I realized that in the grand scheme of things, my life is too small to be the centre of my purpose, I started to approach life differently. Believe it or not but every single thing I now do is inspired by God - the way I look, the clothes I wear, the shoes I like, you know, my style in general. We have that kind of friendship. Also, the people around me inspire me a lot to be consistent with things needed to be done to maximize and exceed my potential. I love my dad, my siblings and my friends a lot, there are so many things I want to do because of them so I just get up every day and know that I have to keep pushing. Lastly, there are some people I don’t necessarily have a personal relationship with that I am greatly inspired by. Off the top of my head, people like Dupe Olusola, Onyeka Nwobu, Laju Iren, Chimamanda Adichie, Temilade Salami, Odun Eweniyi, Bidemi Zakariyau…to mention a few, show me endless possibilities and it’s interesting because they’re all women as well. I’m forever grateful to have great examples I can observe and learn from, sometimes from afar.
Have you ever faced discrimination because of your gender, and how did you overcome it?
Beyond the general practices that unfortunately have been ingrained into our everyday world, I have not yet experienced this in any remarkable way- at least, not to any degree that I am personally aware of. I have felt discriminated against because of age though but maybe we’ll address that on International Youth Day. Lol. However, I know women who face or have faced gender discrimination blatantly, especially in workplaces places and one thing I would say that may be helpful to those trying to overcome such discrimination is that we have to understand that such things are fundamentally done to make us unsure of our identities and prevent us from basking in the greatness of who we really are. So, while it’s easier said than done, we should make conscious efforts not to continuously think of or treat ourselves as victims, even in cases where we objectively might be. I must admit that it takes a lot of mental, emotional, and sometimes, physical strength to get to this point especially when there are no outward, obvious improvements in our environment but I also find that treating ourselves solely as victims for a prolonged period of time mostly attracts sympathy rather than practical solutions that will be helpful to get past the situations that got us there in the first place.
How do you empower women in your line of work?
For me, the first way is that try not to create gender stereotypes for certain roles. For example, when I’m looking to fill a position, I do not automatically assume that a role is better off reserved for a man or a woman. I prioritize competence and if that comes in the form of a woman, that’s great! For the women I get to work with, I also try to practice listening to their individual needs and motivations. I think sometimes in a bid to help people, we assume that one size fits all and I have been guilty of this a lot too. I have now learnt that a great way to empower anyone starts with a proper understanding of their needs, personalities, and motivations so that we are able to help them bloom into who they want to be, not who we assume they should be. Lastly, I empower women by being myself and making myself a positive public example - in my opinion, this is the most effective way because people want to feel represented and in the end, there’s only so much we can directly do in people’s lives. I have learnt that people eventually adopt what they see repeatedly. So, in a world filled with so much evil and pain, I do my best to remain a light to everyone, including women who come in contact with me. I hope that’s empowering enough.
What is your advice to young women who want to be successful in your field?
Seek God first. There’s a lot of direction you will gain from doing that and I say this confidently because that’s what I do. Learn fast and fail quickly too - you don’t want to spend too much time trying out something only to discover that you would have been better off doing something else and this largely ties back to my first point, to be honest. Also, be confident! It’s okay to not know but the best way to know is to be comfortable in the midst of those who know. You’ll feel like you don’t belong there a lot of times, I think we call it imposter syndrome, but soon enough, that feeling eventually dies when you realize that everyone you look up to is almost just as clueless as you are but the difference between where you are and where you think they are is the confidence to roll up their sleeves, get into the field and do the work.
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