Meet Sandra, a young black female entrepreneur, who is going to make a huge impact in 2021, she founded Nwart Agency—a consulting agency that aims to celebrate the diversity and uniqueness of Afro cultures and the impacts they have globally.
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR CURRENT BUSINESS. WHAT ARE YOU DOING EXACTLY?
Three years ago, I started Nwart Agency. Nwart is a consulting agency that designs cultural and social experiences demonstrating and promoting the beauty and richness of Afro cultures and the power of the people who have shaped and continue to shape them. Through collaborations with brands, artists and institutions of the Afro diaspora. Nwart aims to celebrate the diversity and uniqueness of Afro cultures and the impacts they have globally.
Last year in November, Omek offered me to work as a consultant on the production of an online event, the African Diaspora Summit. This twelve-hour event featured over 80 speakers of African descent and comprised about twenty different sessions addressing topics like defining what it is to have a bicultural identity or how the African diaspora’s history is being told nowadays. Opportunities to build pathways towards more collaborations were also an important area of focus. It was an event created by and for people of African descent to discuss important issues that concern us.
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH YOUR BUSINESS IDEA?
I remember this moment very well. I was working as an event manager in the tourism industry and, although I loved it, I arrived at a point where I felt like something was missing. So I started to think about how I could give more meaning to my work. There I took the first step, which was brainstorming ideas with myself, and then the idea came to mind to create events around and about Afro cultures. And from there on it started.
WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE THIS, AND IS THIS YOUR FIRST BUSINESS?
I had my first real business four years ago, which was about creating activities for French-speaking tourists who want to discover Amsterdam in a fun way. Luckily, next to this tourism business, I started Nwart Agency and could focus more on it.
WHAT SPECIFIC ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR YOUNG WOMEN WHO WOULD LIKE TO BECOME AN ENTREPRENEUR?
I would say; Go for it! If it fails, at least you can say that you tried. I became an entrepreneur by accident. When I was living in France, I came to the Netherlands to study abroad for one year. I loved it so much in Amsterdam that I decided to go back to Amsterdam and settle there when I finished my studies in France. A contact I had made during my study year in Amsterdam offered me to work for him. But I didn’t know he only worked with freelancers until I arrived in Amsterdam. Later on, I realised that it was perfect. Because I don’t enjoy the corporate world and as a young black woman, you know that, you will somehow need to compromise to enter into the corporate world. You’re around people who don’t look like you and can’t fully understand or sometimes simply don’t want to understand you. And I can’t see myself working in such an environment. So my advice is; Follow your intuition. If you know that the other paths are not for you, then create your way. If entrepreneurship is your path, I do not doubt that it will work out for you.
MY GREATEST OBSTACLE AND HOW DID YOU DEAL WITH IT:
Being confident was an obstacle because it can be intimidating to be by yourself as an entrepreneur. Because most of the time, you are doing everything by yourself. Unless you are around people who are willing to help, there were times I had to deal with things that were not in my field. For example, I’m not that familiar with marketing, but I had to do it if I wanted my business to take off. And because I felt I was not so good at it, I wasn’t entirely confident, and that was something where I had to push myself and say go for it. Try it! The internet is also full of resources, so you can quickly learn new skills or find tips. Confidence was my biggest obstacle, and it took me some time to overcome it. There are still times when I am not entirely confident, but I learned that it’s always better to try than not to try and have regrets later.
MY PROUDEST ACCOMPLISHMENT:
My proudest accomplishment is when I started my first business related to tourism and then starting Nwart Agency which is very dear to my heart. It makes me proud that I could focus more and grow Nwart Agency during the pandemic to a level that I actually would not have dreamed of.
HOW DO YOU BLEND LIFE AND WORK TO CREATE THE LIFE YOU WANT:
It has always been comfortable in that area for me—most of the time, I work from home. I manage my schedule in a way that fits me. So the flow between my personal life and my professional life has always been balanced.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU:
I can’t name a person in particular, but I realized a tremendous amount of inspiration in my ancestors’ lives by exploring my roots. My family is from the Caribbean, and some of my ancestors were slaves. They have been through so many things to be free. Their lives are entirely different from mine, yet they won the prize for me, and the rest of their descendants are free. If they could look at me now, where I live in peace and freedom, earn a living while doing what I like, I think they would be proud. So that’s what inspires me.
WHY HAVE YOU CHOSEN THIS CAREER:
I have chosen it because I like to work on something from scratch and see it come to life. To work on the whole process from start to finish is what makes me very happy. And I also like to connect people – to create collaborations between people. Connecting with people have always been appealing to me. And it wasn’t like that when I was younger as people used to say that I was shy. But somehow I was always very interested in creating connections. I believe that that is why I do what I do but with a lot more confidence.
HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR SUCCESS:
That is a good question. Well, I would say that I don’t prepare for success directly. Whenever I do something, and there is a good foundation, the dots are connected, the logic is there, and if I’m satisfied with the outcome, it has been successful.
DID YOU WRITE A BUSINESS PLAN? WAS IT AN EFFECTIVE TOOL FOR YOU?
Yes, I started by writing a business plan. It helped me to refine my idea and to have a more concrete plan to develop Nwart Agency. But the pandemic has forced me to change my plans and surprisedly made me reach goals way faster than I was expecting.
ARE THERE SPECIFIC ADVANTAGES, DISADVANTAGES TO BEING A WOMEN BUSINESS OWNER?
Advantages: I believe that women are better at creating contacts. I’ve come to realise that empathy is an essential tool when you do business. And I think for women, in general, that we have that more developed than men. Not all of them, of course. Disadvantages: That is, and especially as a black woman, men don’t always take you seriously.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BUSINESS TOOL?
Google Suite. You can find all the tools you need to collaborate with people whom you can’t work within-person. You can find tools like Gmail, Google Drive and Documents.
THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE I HAVE EVER BEEN GIVEN IS…
I’ve often said that before; “Just do it, don’t be afraid to do it”. Because whenever I have an idea and pass it on to certain people, they would often tell me that it is a smart idea and that I should go for it. And that to me, is a simple, but excellent advice. Most of the time, if you are passionate about an idea, you just need to hear that validation from people that matter to you and will make you feel empowered enough to “just do it”.