09 | Steph's Diary: What Showing Up For Myself Looks Like | Pamoja Bags 09 | Steph's Diary: What Showing Up For Myself Looks Like

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09 | Steph's Diary: What Showing Up For Myself Looks Like

09 | Steph's Diary: What Showing Up For Myself Looks Like

In the ninth episode, you’re hearing from yours truly, Stephanie—the Originator of this podcast and the Founder of Pamoja.

I'm being honest on this podcast about where I stand and what I'm going through because I want to share this journey. I want people to understand where I started, where I'm coming from, and witness the great progress of what it is I'm executing.

Not everything is rosy. Not everything goes as planned. But it’s not an excuse to throw in the towel and give up. Failure is inevitable, but it is also a great opportunity to learn and grow for the better.

So what are you waiting for? Sit back. Have a listen. And be inspired.

Topics Covered:

  • The key is persistence
  • What I’m reading
  • Walking blindly in faith doing what you’re called to do
  • Where I stand with the vision I set for myself in 2023
  • The importance of not holding out on opportunities for yourself
  • The key is persistence
  • What I’m reading
  • Walking blindly in faith doing what you’re called to do
  • Where I stand with the vision I set for myself in 2023
  • The importance of not holding out on opportunities for yourself

Featured Products

The Pamoja Tote - Moss


The Nia 3-in-1 Bag - Mustard



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.

This episode marks my ninth episode. And I just want to start off by saying I am so grateful to every single one of you who taps in and listens. It means a lot to me. And I truly hope that you're gaining nuggets of knowledge, and you're inspired with this podcast.

And, you know, to be quite frank, I would think by now, putting out podcast episodes would be a pretty seamless and an easier experience. But for me, I still have to push myself to execute each and every one of these episodes. And one of the most important things that I remind myself is that every time I put out an episode, it's me taking the action to show up for myself.

As you may know, I'm the founder of a leather goods brand, Pamoja, which is Swahili for the word togetherness. One of the most important aspects of this brand for me is to build a community around it and have purpose. And that's what led me to create this podcast.

Right now, I'm currently reading the book called Draw the Circle, and it's a 40 day prayer challenge. I'm halfway through it on day 20, and it's so ironic because this day focuses on the fact that we're never prepared to do what God calls us to do.

In fact, some may end up spending their entire lives getting ready for what God wants them to do, but never end up doing it because they never come to the realization that they'll never be ready.

It's so important to not be stuck, but to rather just do it.

And I'm still blindly walking in faith as I'm building out this brand, but I believe that there are many great things that are yet to come.

A few weeks ago, I got an email from my mentor, Zawadi Bryant, who happened to be the first guest on this podcast. And she shared with me her recent trip to Kenya to visit a school that her church opened. They ended up partnering with the Kujuwa Initiative, which is the charity a portion of Pamoja's proceeds goes to, to train and educate young women and girls on sexual reproductive health, which, by the way, the founder, Joanna Maiden, who has also been a podcast guest on here, extended as part of Soko Kenya. So, if you haven't listened to those episodes yet, I highly encourage you to browse through the previous episodes and take a listen because they are phenomenally amazing women with great stories.

So anyway, this for me, this is walking by faith and this is what it means to create community and what it means to live in purpose. By creating that connection between Zawadi and Joanna, over 400 children's lives have been touched, learning the importance of feminine hygiene, given the tools and resources to have more confidence to move forward and not to be disrupted on a monthly basis when it comes to their education, just because of a period.

And it started with this realization, to execute on what God has called me to do, to step in faith, to launch Pomoja, and to continue to carry out the work that I'm doing with this brand. And it's so exciting, because, like I said, there's so much in store, and this is just the beginning.

And with that being said, we're over halfway through the year now, which is insane to me. Like, time just flies by. Um, but anyway, earlier in the year, I worked on a vision board. I attended a vision board event, which was really amazing. And it's just always really great to take the time to reflect on what it is you see for yourself. You know, what you want to accomplish and putting that vision out there.

And so there are really two components, there was a written vision board and there was also a visual portion. And so I'm going to share what I wrote on the written version. And at the top of it, I just wanted to highlight with these words, I want to walk in the fullness of my blessings. And there were nine different prompts in this um, written vision board.

Excuse me. Uh, the first one being, I want to create this. I want to create an iconic heritage brand and that is what I'm doing as I'm building Pamoja.

I want to improve this skill of networking to build brand partnership opportunities. And I'll circle back on that one because that's what I'm really working towards building up to right now.

I want to become better at this. I want to become better at podcasting and I'm doing, I'm practicing that right now by working on my ninth episode and practice makes perfect. Like you're not going to be great the first time. So like consistency, um, Making the time, carving out that time to do it. I just know I'm going to get better at this. I'm really excited to see what this molds into in the future.

I want to build this new habit of seeing mistakes as learning opportunities and not being critical and hard on myself when I make mistakes.

I want to earn this amount of money and on this one, I put, I want to earn an abundant amount of money through multiple sources of income. I'm not putting a cap on that because what I have in my mind, it may be a limiting number and so I'm just putting it out there. An abundant amount of money through multiple sources of income. I want to be able to be at a point where I can financially support dope initiatives, you know? Um, organizations, entrepreneurs, and all of that. And that's gonna come by having an abundant amount of money through multiple sources of income. So, yeah.

I want to commit to a healthier lifestyle. So I would say that I generally eat pretty healthy, try to have a balanced diet, and I work out. But one thing that I will say I focus on in terms of building out a healthier lifestyle is focusing on the mental health piece. Because... the way I feel, the way I perceive myself and think really impacts me, you know. It impacts each and every one of us. And I, I did some therapy this year and it was, I would say it has been life changing for me. Acknowledging that I needed the help and seeking it was critical and really focusing on my mental health is, it's definitely. I know it's a game changer for me.

I want to learn this new thing. And for me that has been learning about Web3, and how I should be thinking about utilizing it for my business. And in particular, I wanted to learn more about NFTs. Why not learn from the best? And I purchased an NFT that LVMH offered through one of their brands, Hennessy. It is called the Cafe 11 Project, um, that Hennessy offered. It's been a wonderful experience just seeing how a heritage brand like Hennessy just navigate new territory and build a unique community on Discord. I went to an event in Miami during Art Basel that they kicked off the project with, which was a really great experience.

And right now we're co-creating a Hennessy, well really the artwork for the box and the bottle with an artist that we selected. And it's, it's really cool to see what a brand like that is doing in this space. And this is the new wave as far as web goes. So really taking the initiative to tap in and learn and see what others are doing has been a really cool experience for me.

I want to try being in spaces and places full of opportunity. And sometimes it may happen through coincidence, but I want to be intentional about that. And there's two big things this year for me. One of them was attending Monique Rodriguez's Secret Sauce to Success retreat. And Monique is the founder of Mielle Haircare, which she had recently sold, she sold this year to Procter & Gamble.

That event was phenomenal in terms of meeting like minded individuals, entrepreneurs, and being inspired, and just coming to the realization that, like, this is all possible. I just have to keep at it. And I actually pitched my brand to her and, yeah, it was, it was really cool.

And the other thing is, being in a showroom in New York in September to present a collection that I'm working on, to take hold of some opportunities in the future.

The last item on my vision board is I want to start doing this new thing. And that is weight training. This is the only thing on my vision board that I have not touched on yet. And, um, I know I'm going to get there. I try to work out five times a week, but the range is like three to five times, and I want to incorporate weight training.

So, just circling back on building brand partnership opportunities, to give you an update on my progress, I'm currently sampling into a few new bags and a card case to be added to my collection, because I'm going to achieve that goal that I set out for myself, which is to present a collection in September in New York, in a showroom, to be picked up by some amazing wholesale accounts, as I mentioned.

It's never an easy route to bet on yourself, and to have the wherewithal to push through. Trust me. I know because I initiated conversations with a manufacturing partner in December of last year to sample two of these bags. And to say the least, it was a failure in my opinion. I didn't receive those samples until May, and they didn't meet my quality standards.

I actually thought I was going to go to that secret sauce, secret sauce to success retreat with these sampled bags and, you know, just show them off and get feedback, but they weren't even ready in early March. I didn't get them until May, which was insane.

For these type of things to happen and be executed, communication is key. It was pretty much radio silence when I reached out to them for updates, and I wasn't at ease. I didn't even think I was going to get these bags to be honest with you. But instead of feeling defeated, throwing in the towel. You know, it literally felt like I threw money in the trash, which is so hard, because this is my hard earned money from my savings that I'm putting in to get these samples produced. Although these things happened, I went back to the drawing board and I started over. I reached out to a large number of manufacturers across the globe, trying to filter out someone who would be able to meet my quality standards, had great communication, and overall just a great partner to work with.

And that's a lot to filter if you're only gaining a sense of who this manufacturer is via email and a Zoom call. So I had to go with my gut. And it had to work, because time is of the essence. You know, at the end of the day, I have to be in New York in September, presenting a collection.

Fast forward, I am blessed with the manufacturing partner that I'm currently working with in Romania.

So, I know you may be wondering, like, why, why didn't you just sample with the manufacturer who makes your current bags? Well, I most definitely wanted to sample with my manufacturer in Spain, but, you know, you, you learn these hard lessons and challenges as you continue to grow and move forward.

I was told at the time when I reached out to them, I was told that they have large orders with Chloé and Poline, which are really great quality leather goods brands, so you know at the end of the day, I don't play when it comes to quality and craftsmanship.

They just weren't willing to work with me on my sampling unless I committed to place an order with them. And at this point in time, the purpose of my sampling is to present a range of product to wholesale accounts in order to gain large orders, to grow the distribution of the brand, to create more awareness and gain a customer base.

But, sometimes, that long term vision is blinded by short term expectations. You know? And my manufacturing partner in Spain was like, you know, during COVID, our factory had capacity, because orders weren't coming through at that time. We don't have capacity unless you're going to bring volume.

So, that was a tough pill to swallow, but I had to figure out a workaround, and... Huh. I'm working, I'm working towards getting to that finish line. It's so much that goes into sampling. I have such a newfound respect for... for that process overall. You know, I've seen it working for Coach as a merchandise planner, but yeah, there's, there's a lot that goes into it.

But, yeah. I just, I wasn't going to allow the short term. I just wasn't going to allow that to defeat me because I'm building something great. I'm building something that is here to stand the test of time that will be impactful. And that is way bigger than me and what I'm imagining now. And trust me, I have big plans. I have very big visions for the future.

I'm being honest on this podcast about where I stand and what I'm going through because I want to share this journey. I want people to understand where I started, where I'm coming from, and witness the great progress of what it is I'm executing. And I also want to be able to sit back and reflect on these moments, because it's not easy.

And it will never be easy right now, and it will most definitely not be easy going forward. But I'm up for the challenge, and I will continue with a strong faith that I have to push through.

You know, I was really struggling with what I was going to touch on for this podcast, and it's just crazy how I had this aha moment and just realized, and just decided to sit down and talk while reading this book. It's crazy and it's wonderful how God works through us and I'm just grateful to be a messenger.

Like, a few minutes ago, I mentioned how daunting it can be to put out these podcasts. But, just In the spur of the moment, it came to me, and that's kind of what life is about. You know, you just gotta get to a point of not being stuck in our own heads, and preventing ourselves from seeing the greatness that lies within us.

I'll leave you with these questions that I just read. Why do we operate with this red light mentality? Why are we waiting for the green light we've already been given?

Let this be a moment to encourage you to go out there and push through on those things that you've been holding out for yourself.

Because the real question is why not?

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