Lady Boss with Purpose: A Chat with Sana Akibu
One of my pleasures is identifying diverse lady bosses across the country who are trying to leave their marks on this world. I've enjoyed chatting with them about their purposes and their plans.
Meet Sana Akibu! Sana has held positions in many areas of the beauty industry and has worked with clients such as Seventeen Magazine, Macys, Refinery29, Century 21, and many others. She's the creator of a natural hair and skincare line, a contributing beauty writer for Buzzfeed.com, and featured in We-TV's "Hustle & Soul".
What is purpose? A couple of definitions I found online are, "a person's sense of resolve or determination" and to "have as one's intention or objective."
In simple terms, when you and I talk about our life's purpose, we are talking about what we believe we were created to do, and this is usually doing something that is larger than just making profits. Your purpose can lead to profits, but your purpose and living purposefully should be your driving factor. Here is an excerpt from my chat with the beautiful Sana :)
Sharon Gill International: How did you decide and then break into your career in the entertainment/beauty/fashion industry?
Sana Akibu: I started in the entertainment industry at the age of 13 working as a promotional model in Maryland, then went on to sign a modeling contract with Wilhelmina PA.
It was an amazing experience that taught me so much about beauty, fashion, and self image. With modeling under my belt, I began a new journey in 2011 as an entrepreneur. I started a women’s clothing line company centered around my Nigerian culture that was well received internationally.
I then moved to New York in 2013 where I continued to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. After working in the industry for a while, I utilized my network to become a cast member on WE-tv’s “Hustle & Soul..
Sharon Gill International: How successful was your clothing business?
Sana Akibu: I started the clothing business in 2011 out of my mom’s basement and worked at it for about 2-3 years. I had the opportunity to showcase at festivals, college fashion shows, styled local celebs, and even got to style a few Nigerian superstars.
I left the fashion business in 2014, and it wasn’t because of lack of creativity, but because I had lost the passion for it and I wanted to pursue something that was more of a "need". That’s when my skincare line was born, and I hope to launch it in the next 6-12 months.
Sharon Gill International: What are your immediate plans for the future as it relates to your skin care line?
Sana Akibu: I want to get ahead of the trends and focus on African-American skin using specialized skin care products. I believe there is a market for natural skincare and the growing love of chemical-less products. Eventually, this millennial generation, which wears a lot of makeup will grow older and take their skincare more seriously.
There will be a strong need for natural based products that do not pose harm to our skin. My main focus right now is preventative care, as well as dealing with skin conditions such as psoriasis/alopecia.
Sharon Gill International: Skin care is a complex business that requires research and a bit of science. Are you working with anyone with a skin care background?
Sana Akibu: Well I am working on getting my medical esthetician license, so my audience will feel more comfortable knowing that I have studied this and will be qualified. I already have my aromatherapy certificate since I work with a lot of natural oils.
I am currently in talks with a natural skin care company to see if they can formulate the products and eventually manufacture them for me.
Sharon Gill International: So will you be working with partners/investors?
Sana Akibu: I would love to have partners to help shoulder the responsibilities. There is an African Proverb that says, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."
I want to have a team, but I want partners not just investors. I actually want partners so we can motivate each other and we can bring our different strengths to the business.
Sharon Gill International: As a lady boss do you see any potential downside to partnership?
Sana Akibu: Yes, I wouldn’t want to partner with a friend, because when disagreements arise, it can be taken personally. Another downside is having to wait on consensus and agreement from your partner.
When you are alone you can make all the decisions, but with a partner you have to take their feedback into consideration. Nonetheless I have to make sure my future partners share my values.
Sharon Gill International: As a person in the "beauty" business, where makeup is a way of life, how do you plan to promote "natural" skin care?
Sana Akibu: Seeing that I am the brand behind my business, I try to post pictures and videos without filters or makeup, so so people can see my skincare actually works. We all wish to be perfect, however I believe when you ALWAYS use a filter, it gives the wrong perception of beauty.
I can’t knock people for doing whatever they need to feel beautiful, but I plan to educate my audience on proper skin care (and its importance as we age) so they do not need to rely on artificial beauty.
Sharon Gill International: We noticed on your Instagram @sanakibz that you use the hashtag #Godmade. What part does faith play in your life/business?
Sana Akibu: Faith is the reason I’m here. This is why my hashtags include #GodMade instead of #SelfMade because I credit my success to my beliefs and this is how I choose to represent myself to the world.
Sharon Gill International: My final question is this- on what basis do you make your decisions?
Sana Akibu: Everything is filtered through faith. “If it doesn’t sit well with my heart and my soul then I won't do it.” There are a few things in my career that I wish I could’ve done differently, but I am aware of those mistakes now and have made necessary changes.
One of the most important mistakes I made along the way of my career is giving up when the work gets hard or boring. I no longer do that, I may take some time from it, but I never stop pursuing my goals.
Sharon Gill International: Thank you Sana, it was a pleasure catching up with you. I know you will be successful in what you put your hands to. Can you leave us with a fashion tip so we can look as fabulous as you?
Sana Akibu: Thank you! My best fashion tip is to choose and coordinate your outfit the night before. This way you are ready and not rushed the next day. Also, always keep it simple and comfortable.
Here are some quick business tips I took away from my interview with this beautiful entrepreneur:
Educate yourself on your craft/product/service. Get additional training and licenses as needed so you are "qualified" to do the job.
Choose your partners wisely. If possible avoid close friends. Make sure your partners share your values. If you start a business and you are no longer feeling creative or energized by it, change it.
Your faith, values and purpose should guide your decisions.
To connect with Sana on Instagram she can be found at:
Follow her for inspiration on how you may also boldly go after your dreams.
If you are a business owner or looking to up-level your leadership skills, I invite you to join my new leadership community, COMMUNALLY! This will be a safe place for entrepreneurs, executives, and leaders to come together for leadership training, mentorship, and community.
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