This is the thanksgiving and festive season all over the world. Americans celebrated by sharing turkey amongst friends and family. In Africa, it is always a celebration on days leading up to Christmas and being around family is equally important as we count our blessings. Among people of Faith, every day is a thanksgiving day as long as you wake up in good health and peace of mind. I consider myself to be part of all these groups both by origin and by association, and i believe i have every reason to celebrate and be thankful, ESPECIALLY THIS YEAR.
My love for culture runs deep: African, European,American...notwithstanding. The truth is I respect a people who take pride in their cultural heritage, although i am more attached to the African culture by origin, it forms my identity.
Growing up, i loved dancing and poetry. I was in my element participating in cultural festivals, traditional dances, wearing different costumes that highlighted our ethnic wealth. In Kenya, these festivals are held every year and schools all over the country get to participate from the district level all the way to the nationals. Moving on to college i studied Communications, Literature and Sociology, though i still needed to participate in cultural activities.
I remember taking part in a Miss Tourism pageant whose aim was to share with both local and international tourists the beauty of the different provinces that made my country whole. You can imagine my pride and joy when I was given the opportunity to market my province for a full year. Getting to not only talk about it but also to literally transport visitors to these little treasures that were hidden in my home was something I could not get over. When the year ended, i still had the hunger and thirst to do more,learn more and honestly to be more.
Becoming a flight attendant right after college, i knew an opportunity had presented itself yet again for me to learn other cultures that were different from mine while traveling the world. Having breakfast in Nairobi, dinner in Amsterdam, crisscrossing the markets of Mumbai 2 days later... And I took it all in: the differing culinary delights, fashion differences, behavioural differences you name it. It has been an eye opening experience, one destination at a time, from Inside the hearts of Africa, to the streets of Europe, to the oriental loves of Asia... and i have loved every moment of it.
Looking back i realize that it is this passion for my culture that gave me the freedom to embrace and celebrate other cultures.
I moved to France a few years ago (4 to be exact). Love brought me to the city of Lights😎. For a minute i did feeI like fish out of water. Despite the fact that I had visited the country one too many times before, this time was different. I was going to settle here, i was going to have to change a lot if my daily habits, get the language right,embrace the weather changes (my country Kenya lies on the equator, so we dont have extreme weather conditions and seasons).This was the tip of the iceberg as far as change was concerned (the chronicles coming soon in my future articles) and I needed that "thing" that spoke to me more intimately. Something that could transport me to my happy place just by looking at it. This was the Kitenge or Leso as we call it back in Kenya. Wrapping it gave me the warmth and feeling of being home away from home. It brought the laughter i shared with friends and family to reality, the quiet moments i treasured from our extended families were beautiful memories and I had the strong urge to share this in my country of adoption.This is what led me to entrepreneurship. I needed to tell these stories boiling hot in my belly and the best way to do it was going to be through "the fabric that speaks" as we call it back in Kenya.
I knew what i wanted to do, i just did not know how to go about it, when and where to begin. There is a lot i needed to learn to put the pieces of the puzzle together: Accounting, Marketing, Market research,Legal requirements, product development and management... Coming from an English speaking country,the business rules are different in France and rightfully so. I count myself lucky, i was introduced to different organizations to help bring my ideas to life. Aksis and Positive Planet held my hand when it came to personal development and account management. Then came BGEPARIF or Boutique de Gestion Paris together with Les Ateliers de Paris who opened my eyes to the world of business, through rigorous training that lasted a few month's, but left me equipped with inside knowledge on how to run a business.
You know the stars are shining down on you when on a journey like this you fall on a person who not only has the technical know how, has walked the path before you,but is also ready to walk the path with you under her wings to mentor you, these are rare gems in life (hi Elodie).
I feel like my heart is full, family has been my pillar.
My parents always say "a grateful heart never goes out of style", i am my parents daughter. As we endeavour the festive season, let us remember to thank and celebrate those who have moved us a step or two further than we were last year. Happy holidays to you and yours.