Hey! So, I know we haven’t spoken in a while, but I am back and here with 7 Tips for Women of Color to Elevate. A large part of the reason why I’ve been away is because I launched a new leg of Dekit and that’s Afro Rhythm and Beats. With Afro R&B I host dance/fitness classes. It took a while to get off the ground, but I am back and have some lessons to share that I picked up along the way.
I launched the 1st Afrobeat dance class in Stamford, CT and it’s steadily growing. There have been some ups and downs and a moment when I thought I should throw in the towel, but I pushed through and am still pushing.
1. Authenticity is your new leverage, use it!
Authenticity is the new black! The best thing that any of us can do is be true to who we are. There is a mindset that you must have to create in a manner that is impactful. This is what I realized sets me apart from some of my peers. I have a can-do attitude and if I do not know how, I will figure that shit out. By staying true to myself and listening to my gut, I ran with an idea to launch Afrobeat dance classes. I had to listen to my inner voice. This comes from years of not listening to my inner voice.
Whether it’s a good idea or bad idea or someone thinks it’s not the best time to launch, do you! You won’t know if you do not try. You are not learning if you are not making mistakes.
This leads to the next tip. You are going to have to be uncomfortable to grow and oftentimes that included being stressed, scared, unsure of yourself.
2.Yes, growth is uncomfortable, but comfort keeps you stagnate. Choose growth.
I started the classes because I saw an opportunity to bring something to my city that didn’t exist. I also knew that it wouldn’t happen if I didn’t do it. First of all, I knew nothing about hosting dance classes, didn’t know any instructors or where to find them and I had no idea how much it would cost.
My 1st call to a studio was awkward. I didn’t know what to expect or how I’d be received, but if the classes were going to be manifested I was going to have to go through the unknown and be uncomfortable.
When I came across a studio that I really wanted I was faced with resistance and more feelings of discomfort. This studio was beautiful and at a great location, but they had a complicated process around renting their space. Yes, it was stressful going back and forth with this studio. I mean I was trying to make it work, but all in all, it wasn’t meant to be.
In retrospect, I gained an education and learned something new about myself from that experience. I learned the power of walking away and persistence. It’s a good thing I did because I then found the Connecticut Ballet Center and they are amazing people.
Growth is going to be uncomfortable. Had I given up when faced with these obstacles there wouldn’t be an Afro Rhythm and Beats!
There will be obstacles, but I can’t stop because of the unknown. And neither should you!
3.Show up to reach your goals
Sometimes all it takes is getting up and out of bed. It takes simply sitting in front of the computer. Just showing up and getting to the spot changes things. The 1st night I was late getting to the studio, so the class got off to a bit of a late start. There were also administrative things to take care of for the studio before we could start. Given all this the 1st class sold out! What if I didn’t show up? What if Tamara didn’t show up? If the students didn’t show up to class to reach their goal of getting fit or trying something new?
After the third class the number of students dropped. Now, this has been stressful, but was to be expected I was told by one of the instructors. Like, it happens. But, damn ya’ll it does hurt. No matter how many students show up the instructor and the studio still need to be paid. I had already invested money and time in t-shirts, fliers, marketing, social media, etc. So, it was in these moments when I was thinking I should stop this and refocus my attention on Just Dekit. Despite all the fun I’ve been having I was also losing money. I thought, how long can I keep this going?
These thoughts do not go away, but I do not tend to give up easily. Now, there was a time when that was who I was; the quitter. Today, I’m more stubborn! I’m much more resilient.
I kept showing up and attendance has gradually increased. I haven’t reach my goal yet, so I must keep showing up until that happens. It’s either that or give up. There nothing wrong with having to throw in the towel, but that can only occur after exhausting all options and doing everything within your power.
4.Do not let others cloud your vision because they don’t see the big picture.
I had a conversation with a co-worker about the classes and she questioned if the instructors are African and spoke on how I am not African, how can I host these classes? A bit of context, she is from Ghana, born there and grew up there. So that’s where she’s coming from.
Aside from me responding with I am descendant of American slaves, period. I also made a point to basically say because I can, and I want to!
I have the guts, foresight and vision to create something that is not already being provided in my city. She wasn’t privy to the overall vision and that’s fine, it wasn’t meant for her anyway. She doesn’t have to know what it’s about or why I decided to do the class.
For me it’s bigger than dance class. Afro R&B dance classes are about serving a community of women who are like me and are looking for ways to add fitness to their lives and celebrate culture.
Now, instead of her highlighting her perceived short comings of me, why couldn’t she instead offer support being that she is a real African. That would have been amazing. More about this mentality in an upcoming post.
5.Make the attempts to become an expert
Now, to become an expert takes time and it doesn’t happen from only reading books. It takes action. Because of the actions I took, I now know how to start and launch dance classes. Why? It’s because I went for it. There’s still more I could learn, but I know more than the Stephanie from a few months back. If I had not made the efforts to create Afro R&B, I wouldn’t have gained so much. I gained another level of education in business. I gained a small, but growing tribe. I learned more about people. I learned a hell of a lot more about myself, as far as what I am capable of. The Afro R&B dance classes are also another example of my ability to manifest my ideas.
The next step is the experience of making it a successful Afro R&B!
There’s a long way to go. Who knows how far things will go? One thing I do know is that you won’t know, if you don’t try.
6.To elevate, you gotta walk with change
Okay so, “To elevate, you gotta walk with change,” does not mean keep them coins on you. What I mean is do not walk away from what it takes to create your life, that masterpiece, your business, your impact. Change as we all know it can be difficult, but you better become comfortable with it.
A Creator creates change, period. That’s what we are pressed to do, that’s what the nagging thoughts at night are and the painting that keeps you up is about; it’s about changing something and as a result creating an impact.
This change can be personal or a vehicle for others to experience. In my experience with Afro R&B it was a very clear dose of both. On a personal level I became more comfortable with believing in what I am capable of, pushing through discomforts, and listening to my voice.
Launching the Afrobeat classes caused a ripple of changes. In the process, through the obstacles and setbacks I grew by learning what I did not know. I met people I wouldn’t otherwise have connected with had I not started the class, such as extremely talented instructors Tamara Jones and Margaret Meghie.
Walking with change isn’t always comfortable, but it is usually necessary for growth, it helps build character and allows for us to be able to experience the thrills of life.
7.Make your habits matter for your success.
Once the numbers started to drop I knew I had to pivot. I had to adjust. I learned the more consistent and strategic I was at promoting and speaking with people about the classes the number of students each class would get better. I know it sounds like a no brainer, and don’t get me wrong it’s not that I didn’t know this, but it was putting it to practice. This has always been a weakness of mine. The dance class has made the consequence of not being consistent more tangible.
I’m down to play the long game. I do not have a problem with that, but why play long with small increments of success when you can have a steady amount of growth by doing what works.
To elevate takes time, yes. We all have time and some have more than others, but what you do with your time and how you allocate your time can be a powerful way to elevate. We all can do our part to lift each other up, but it is also most important that we take the time and our efforts to lift ourselves up.
- Be true to yourself
- Take consistent action
- Embrace change as your friend
- Do not let people shade your vision
- Develop your success habits
- Show up
- Comfort is your enemy
Lastly and as always, #justdekit!
All the best,