Before I left for a Hawaiian vacation with my family two years ago, I never could have predicted that I would make a decision that would change my life. While in Hawaii, I saw a friend’s post on Facebook about a new jewellery brand coming to Canada in April 2016 and that this company was looking for new Designers. After doing some research and talking it over with my family, I realized that this was the extra income opportunity I was looking for. Before I flew home from Hawaii, I had purchased a starter kit full of jewellery I had never seen before, I created a business page on Facebook and I started to share with my networks that I was launching a new business. I had taken a leap of faith and what is often the hardest part—the first step!
Before I share more about my boss babe journey over the past two years, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Andrea Nwobosi and I live in Sherwood Park, Alberta with my husband and our six-year-old daughter. I have a background in marketing and communications and I work full-time in Human Resources communications at an oil and gas company. In my “spare” time, I am a Founding Leader with KEEP Collective Canada and I help women make more money by designing personalized keepsake jewellery. Since launching my business, I have had the opportunity to tap into my entrepreneurial spirit as part of a movement to share happiness and change lives.
A lot of people ask me how I have the energy to grow a side business while working full-time and supporting my family as a wife and a mother. To be honest, it’s a challenging balancing act! But there are a few things I’ve found that work for me. Fortunately, I’m able to work my side gig on-the-go, so I sneak it in where I can—messaging customers while on the bus on the way to work downtown, posting on social media during my lunch break, and coaching my team members or hosting jewellery design sessions in the evening.
Being an entrepreneur doesn’t leave much time for my family life, so I do my best to be present with my daughter and to make the most of our quality time together, and I schedule date nights with my husband so we maintain precious one-on-one time. Weekends with my family are sacred time, so I schedule my family commitments first before I offer time on weekends to my team members or customers. Fortunately, my husband and I are both very organized, so we coordinate our schedules on a shared iCal calendar, which is especially important since we share one vehicle. I feel like I’m getting better at saying “no” to events or commitments that don’t bring value to me, to my family or to my business. When you’re an entrepreneur with other responsibilities, it’s important to figure out what your boundaries are and stick to them so you’re in control of your schedule and so your schedule doesn’t control you.
The past two years I’ve spent building my business hasn’t come without ups and downs. And I’ll admit, a year ago I almost gave up. After a busy Christmas season, I questioned whether this was the right business for me. But I took time to reflect and I gained more self-awareness of what I wanted to achieve with my business and how I wanted to approach it. I decided that I needed to have more fun and that I would only do things related to my business that make me feel happy. This shift in mindset yielded great results, which included hitting a huge team promotion and earning an all-expenses paid trip to Los Cabos.
The biggest challenge I’ve faced so far in my business is finding creative ways to build awareness of a brand that’s new to Canada. KEEP Collective is a sister brand to Stella & Dot jewellery, which has been around for over a decade. Many women I meet are familiar with Stella & Dot; however, KEEP Collective is a new personalized jewellery concept that most people have never heard of. I have an online boutique and digital design studio that are open 24/7, but I’ve found that connecting with people in-person and sharing the collection at local business pop-ups, at vendor events in my community and at in-home design sessions have been most effective for my business. Designing one-on-one with people allows me to connect with them and their story on a personal level so I can help them design a keepsake that best represents their family members, treasured memories or special milestones that are important to them and that is an instant reminder of what makes them happy.
I’ve also been intentional about branding my business to differentiate myself from other Designers. My business name, Park Girl Designs, pays homage to my Sherwood Park roots and reinforces my passion for connecting with my community. By bringing the KEEP Collective brand to life in-person, I’ve been able share KEEP Collective’s mission to give every woman the means to design her one of a kind life.
What began as a way to earn extra income to pay down debt has turned into something that’s so much more. For one, I’ve never before felt that I’ve had as many friends as I do now! I’ve created lasting relationships with customers, local business owners and team members, all because I now have a reason to connect with others by sharing something that brings me and others so much joy. This personal connection is why I love being a boss babe. Our supportive community of KEEP Collective Designers shares together, learns together and grows together. We share a deep belief that living a happy life comes from always keeping in mind what truly matters: love, faith, family, friendship and adventure.
I have the honour of mentoring a team of independent business owners who are making more money for their families while sharing happiness through meaningful jewellery. As a leader of other business owners, my role is not to be their “boss” because we’re each our own boss. It’s a different type of leadership. I’ve learned to lead by example, to share my experiences with them so they can avoid making my mistakes, and to coach them to achieve what they want from their business.
So far, my journey as an entrepreneur has opened my eyes to what is possible. It is possible to give back to your community in your own unique way, it is possible to achieve goals you never thought you could, and it is possible to earn an income doing what you love. This adventure has been worth every ounce of risk I took when I decided to take that initial leap of faith. I’m so excited for what’s next.
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