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06 | Steph's Diary: From High School to Now, Keeping The Dream Alive

06 | Steph's Diary: From High School to Now, Keeping The Dream Alive

The seeds were planted in high school—the thought of starting a fashion brand. Who knew that would stick with me. A thought that seemed so far fetched for a young girl from Texas City is starting to shape up as I mold this fashion brand, Pamoja, into something great.

Topics Covered:

  • My daily affirmation
  • One thing leads to another, the journey
  • Thoughts being the pre-requisite to manifestation
  • My daily affirmation
  • One thing leads to another, the journey
  • Thoughts being the pre-requisite to manifestation

Featured Products

The Pamoja Tote - Ebony



Stephanie: I am Stephanie Evans, and this is Diaries of a Modern Trailblazer. Take note of the journey and be inspired to forge your own amazing path.

It is already April and I cannot believe how time is flying. As I think about the last conversation I had on this podcast with Joanna Maiden, the founder of Soko Kenya and the Kujuwa Initiative, my biggest takeaway was to take the time to pause and say my affirmations daily, and I was doing that, but I stopped.

And then after that conversation, I was motivated to pick that back up, and so I wanted to kick off this episode and share what I read out loud every day as far as my daily affirmations. So here it goes.

I will remain focused on my goals, even if I have a moment of difficulty, I will not give. I know success comes with consistency. I know that I will make it. Things will get better. No problem, no challenge will stop me. Everything I deserve is coming my way.

If I told a younger version of myself, I would be doing this today, I would be very proud of myself. The fact that I'm sitting here and doing this podcast is it's, it's still a challenge to get on here and speak, even if I'm interviewing someone, and especially when I'm solely on here sharing my story and what I'm going through, but I'm out here doing it. And I'm continuously working towards challenging myself and learning and growing.

But it was back in high school where the thought of creating a fashion brand was first brought to my attention. It was like the first time I actually started thinking about it, and it really came from a classmate. And it stuck with me.

It was in my Algebra II class, um, my sophomore year. I don't know, we would always find some interesting fashion, some fashion finds at Charlotte Russe or something like that. And it just popped up .Like she said something like "One day you'll be creating your own brand," and I was like, oh, okay, cool. Like sure, I can see that happening and it just always stuck with me.

Just to give you some context, I was raised in Texas City, Texas, which is located in the Gulf Coast, part of Galveston County and near Houston. It's known as an oil refinery town, and now there's a Tanger Outlet mall. But it's a place I call home and I wouldn't change that for anything.

It's funny because when I left for college, I told a classmate where I was from and he did not believe me, like he had to look it up to see if I was legitimately telling the truth. It has small town vibes with a few claims to fame. Like I found out from some friends in LA that a movie was filmed there not too long ago called Red Rocket. And then Drake mentioned our little city in Certified Loverboy album.

But just going back to my high school times in the early 2000s. When the thought of me creating a fashion brand came up. The name was 2020 because it would be something that was forward thinking, and so visionary, but for me, at that time, it just felt so farfetched, because I didn't see anybody around me doing anything like that. You know, entrepreneurship in the sense of creating a product, a physical product to sell was not visible to me. But still it was in the back of my mind.

It was, you know, something when I applied even in undergrad, when I applied to college, I alluded to entrepreneurship as an area of interest, which is why I decided to do business in undergrad.

Um, and when it came time to look for a job in college, I was very interested in a fashion. Even though I was in school in upstate New York, I was like, Hmm, I could live in New York City and work in the fashion industry. It just seemed like an amazing thing to do, and when I was looking for jobs, it was shortly after the financial crisis and retail companies were not recruiting on campus.

I did the whole on campus recruiting thing, and I got no offer. And so I was back to the drawing board, still looking, and I knew I didn't wanna move back home and live with my mom after college. I had to start living my own independent life as a young adult in the city of my choosing. And I was pretty open about it.

I was open-minded in terms of where I would be geographic wise, but I didn't know how it was going to happen. I didn't know where I was gonna be, and I applied for multiple jobs and no movement was really happening at all. I was even entertaining the thought of going to culinary school in California because that was something of interest for me as well.

But I was very fortunate. I was fortunate. My mentor, Zawadi Bryant, who was the first guest on this podcast, her cousin was working at macys.com at the time, and through her I landed my dream job working at macys.com which is amazing. You know, I got the referral, um, when I submitted my application and my interview process was, it went really well. It was great. It was awesome, and it was cool to go to New York City and interview in person and just be in that space. And then I hit the ground running and I loved every bit of that experience working at macys.com. But I knew I wanted to go back to business school after four years.

And when I applied to business school, I wrote down on my applications that my goal was to create my own fashion brand. And that still felt far-fetched because I didn't know how that was gonna happen. But I knew that was an industry I wanted to be in. And in those type of programs, there's so much opportunity for career exploration in so many different industries.

I remember going to an event, a recruiting event early on in business school, and Google was interested in having conversations with me and it was nice. I was like, oh, wow. Okay, so I'll have the conversation and things were going great, and then I had to stop and pause and reflect, you know, and I said, like I had to say to myself, wait a minute, this is not what I came here for. This isn't going to fulfill the need to help me move forward in the way that I want to move. And so I had to stop those conversations. And for me it was just like, I don't want to be one of many employees. I don't wanna be one of 200,000. I wanna create my own at the end of the day.

I spent the time in business school just gaining broad experiences in the industry that would help me figure out how I was going to pivot career-wise still within the same industry, and also try to learn as much as I could about entrepreneurship and the inner workings of what I need to do to launch this brand.

And also just have those initial conversations with the right people, with manufacturers for instance, to understand and learn like what are the proper next steps, because it was all new territory for me. And I was just getting started in terms of conceptualizing the brand and figuring it out. And because I knew that I wanted to do something in fashion, I knew I was narrowing down the category.

I ultimately landed on leather goods and. I, I still felt like, you know, I wasn't really ready to take that step, um, fully, and I ended up working for America's House of Leather, which is Coach, and for me it's been, it's been about getting paid to learn how to build. That's how I've been looking at it in terms of working for someone else while building. At this point.

Shortly after I started working after business school, I decided to take the next plunge and create my LLC, and I did that in 2017. And you know, it was kind of scary. It was like, all right, this is me. This is me making a commitment to make that next step. And I told myself, this is a full circle moment. I told myself that I was gonna launch this brand in 2020, which is the exact name that I talked about in high school, but that definitely wasn't the name of the brand that I ultimately landed on.

And three years later I did that. I launched Pamoja in August of 2020. And when I created that LLC a couple of years, I didn't know what I was doing. I didn't know how I was going to create this product. I actually had in mind a bag that I wanted to launch with and I didn't launch with that bag. Still haven't launched it.

I didn't launch with the name that I thought I was going to name this brand. Ended up being Pamoja. And so, you know, it's been, it's really been about being persistent, persistent with the goal in mind, and just not letting those barriers and hurdles defeat me.

So as I sit back and reflect on those times and where I'm at right now, one of the biggest life lessons for me thus far is the greatest power I have is the power of my thoughts. My thoughts are essentially the prerequisites to the actions that I'm going to manifest, and so I'm sharing tidbits of my venture as an entrepreneur in building Pamoja, because I believe in myself and I'm happy with the progress made thus far.

There's certainly been struggles and I face challenges in building this brand up quite frequently, but I don't see myself giving up because I believe God wouldn't put me in this position if he didn't have something great for me to execute with solid purpose. And oftentimes I, I sit and I reflect and I'm like, wow, how am I doing all of this? Like, how am I doing all of this independently?

And I honestly don't know, but I have the wherewithal and I'm remaining focused on my goals. You know that daily affirmation, it's powerful and it keeps me going. And I also know that there's a higher being that is greater than me guiding me in the right direction.

I feel like I'm entering a new phase, both personally and professionally with a lot more intent, and so, there's most definitely a lot more to come.

And that's a wrap. So own it and make moves. One day, I wanna share your journey on this podcast.