LLA #10 Questions with the Lady Boss Hajara Pitan – “I will do work that adds value and a lot of beauty to humanity”
Female entrepreneurs are taking over the world and we’re taking you behind the scene to see what life as a Lady Boss really entails. Our Lady Boss today is Hajara Pitan who has several successful businesses. She takes us into her world as a female entrepreneur and reveals the fuel that ignites her passion.
- Can you briefly describe yourself and your business?
My name is Hajara and I like to describe myself as a multi-passionate entrepreneur. I run two businesses, one is a digital & marketing consultancy and the other makes the most beautiful scented candles in Nigeria! I also love to write and travel, so I write a blog where I share all my travel adventures and musings. I also looovvveee to read and I share that love with everyone on a Facebook page called Radical Reads with Hajel.
- What is it like being a female entrepreneur, and why did you chose this path?
Hmmm, I am not sure I can say what it’s like being a female entrepreneur. It’s the only type of entrepreneur I have been you see? And I have never thought of it in those terms, I am female and I am an entrepreneur, I have never seen the entrepreneurship in terms of my “femaleness”. LOL!
That said, I would say I approach entrepreneurship from the perspective that I am me. That what looks like “success” at the things that I do, are defined by me and not defined by the outside world. I approach entrepreneurship from the perspective of “I will only do work that feels purposeful”, “I will do work that adds value and a lot of beauty to humanity”. “I will do the work at my own pace, make great wealth with integrity, with joy and on a schedule that allows me to also enjoy all the other things my life is blessed with- family, my children, my writing, causes that matter to me.”
I think Entrepreneurship chose me and not the other way round. You know how in life, you have a ‘deliberate strategy’, my deliberate strategy was study law, do great at Law School, become a trial lawyer (thanks to the movie “A Few Good Men”, series like Ally McBeal and Danielle Steele’s books), become a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and live happily ever after. Deliberate Strategy.
So I studied law, did great at Law School, and started practising Law, about 5 years into Law Practise, some of the matters I had the privilege of handling in court in the first year were still being adjourned, I wasn’t saving any lives or actually wiping out injustice as I had imagined I would! So Entrepreneurship for me became an ‘emergent strategy’ that allows me pursue and grow every gift and talent that I am equipped with towards making a great living for myself and benefiting man-kind.
- What new innovation have you introduced to your business?
At everything that we do, we are constantly innovating. Constantly asking how we can be better, stay ahead of the curve and deliver services and products that are as unique as each of our clients are. In the current economic situation in Nigeria, a lot of our innovations are around how we deliver cutting edge products and services in such a way that our clients are still getting the very best that’s available worldwide while charging creatively in a way that enables them take advantage of the services we offer.
We also spend a lot of time thinking and innovating around our business processes and our people. For us, its always people first, we believe work has to be joyful and we are set up in such a way that everyone in our Team feels like they are doing work that matters to them first as individuals and so they take personal pride in it, then second that they know, that everything they do matters to us and our collective success.
- What will you say is responsible for your success so far?
Love! I love all the things I do. I love my clients, I like it when they are pleased. Love allows you put in the work without getting tired. Love gets you off your feet when the feedback is negative or when there’s not enough money. The love for the craft keeps you curious, “how can I improve”, “how can this be better?” Unconventional I know, but that’s what I would say is responsible for staying in and growing all my entrepreneurial endeavours. That, and the feeling that this all ties in with the purpose for which I was created.
- Are there any unique challenges that female entrepreneurs face generally?
As it relates to me, I would say the unique challenges I have faced would be ones of balance. I am blessed with a one-track mind. When I focus on something, I stay “locked” on that thing till it’s done. So with candle making for example, I find so much joy in it, in the alchemy of playing with various scents and oils to create candles that evoke different moods and the like. Because I started that business from my kitchen, I could actually be home with family and not be home.
So I recall a conversation with my son one day where he said “Mum, I wish you’d have more time for me” (kids ehn! They just know where to put the knife in and turn it for maximum effect), anyhow, my quick retort was “what do you mean by that? I take off 2 days every week where I am home with you all day!” and he says “nope, you are home with the candles”. I have had this same conversation with my spouse about making the candles at night. I have this same conversation with my family on my love, zeal and dedication to Church or the Inspired Women of Worth Network (iWOW) where I have the privilege of serving as its International Coordinator.
As you can imagine, this is quite a struggle for me, so what I have done now, is to work on being present where I am. On my 2 production days when I get to be at home, I have a scheduled time for candle making, when son is in school and hubby is at work. When my son returns, I give him full attention and let a Team Member finish up any outstandings. I also put my phones on silent and put them away, so that I don’t Instagram away his time (I may be a little addicted).
The other thing I do to address this, is I focus on “be-ing” not “do-ing”, so I prioritize activities that help us be together, above activities where I do things for the ones I love. So I would not be caught cooking while my nanny plays with my son for example. I will do the playing and kicking the ball, while she preps his lunch.
- What values and principles have helped you so far?
Integrity, Excellence, Love for what I do, that “Failure is not an option” and a fundamental belief that “all of creation is falling over itself to favour me” so even when it’s tough or difficult, I feel like its serving a purpose and growing me. These continue to keep me.
- What’s your five-year plan for your business?
For Arial View, our digital marketing company, it would be to cover most of Africa and have connectivity across all of the telcos operating in Africa. We just opened an office in Kenya 2 weeks ago and have services running, we also have Services coming up in South Africa and digital products like the Fela Anikulapo-Kuti & Naija Talk BBM Sticker packs that are available on BBM across Africa. We would like to see exponential increase in these areas.
With Tes Amour and Owambe Candles, we would also like to have franchisees all over Africa, have our candles and scents bringing peace beauty and tranquillity to homes and public spaces in Africa, all made with African scents and exporting Africa to the rest of the world.
My one major dream for 2017 is to work with one of the States in Northern Nigeria and get a chance to teach 1000 internally displaced women, the art of soap and candle making. My company Arial View already works with the Red Cross to send clothes and provisions to IDP Camps in Adamawa and Maiduguri, and that is so fulfilling. I want to take it further and teach women life skills that will enable them make money, use resources that are locally available, empower them and give them a higher chance at re-building the lives that have been so brutally interrupted. Wish me luck with this!
- What do upcoming female entrepreneurs need to do to be successful in this path?
As with anything, I would say heart first. Know your why! The line of business you are considering, do you love it? Does it help you meet a need (both personal and for your clients)? I ask that because I am a believer in both purpose and congruence. Sometimes the opportunity that you see may not be one that you say “I absolutely love” but it’s an opportunity that you can take, that you know where to pool resources to take advantage of it from and that will make you money. In that case, you may not feel like that line of work is “your purpose” but is it congruent to your purpose? Does it allow you feed your family, take that Masters, get your foot in? Then by all means take the opportunity, just make sure that you incorporate what makes your heart sing into it, do it with your unique flair and do it excellently.
I also believe success is personal. My idea of success for example is a life that allows me the freedom of being me- that allows me write, allows me travel to places where I can enjoy the sea, that allows me time to be with my family, that has space to read… that is not rushed… that does not require me to become “manly” or catty… my idea of success is beautiful and relaxed and of course wealthy, so that money does not hamper my ability to make choices.
I would be super successful in my view when I have a life that allows me live 6 months of the year in a place like Tuscanny or Santorini, writing my books and enjoying my family, while all my businesses are thriving, serving the world and I am feeling happy and fulfilled! So I would say to upcoming entrepreneurs, take the time to define what success looks like to you, what would your company look like, who would it serve? What beauty will it add to the world and when you are done dreaming and visioning, go out and make it happen! And don’t despise the days of humble beginnings, the days that are hard initially, they will only make the road ahead sweeter!
Catch up with Hajara’s work here: www.hajelpitan.com
Follow her on Instagram: @hajelpitan and @owambecandles