I have been blogging for 5+ years and the purpose of this blog has changed a lot. I initially started LAJA because I had recently moved to the States for school and I saw how skewed the perception of Nigeria and the African continent was in the eyes of Americans I was surrounded by. I was asked the atypical questions; “Do you really live in trees?”. I recall a particular girl almost having a seizure when she saw the soles of my feet were light not black. I didn’t interpret her reaction has being bitchy so I wasn’t offended. However, I was astounded by the misinformation induced ignorance and decided to create a blog as a space to showcase Nigeria through my eyes in hopes of offering another perspective. The perspective that wasn’t represented in mainstream American media. I was privileged enough to travel home twice a year during Christmas and summer and blogged about grand and minute cultural events that made Nigeria, my Nigeria.
I eventually incorporated fashion because people often inquired where I got my ankara clothing from. I started posting outfit shots because it made sense and I had always loved photography for the longest time. I got my first camera at the age of 11. My outfit posts received a lot of positive feedback and thus, LAJA”s focus shifted into promoting a positive representation of “African culture” (whatever that means) and expressing my Nigerian-ness through ankara clothing. Eventually, I started my ankara clothing business while in college because I had built a reputation and it made sense. I created basic designs, borrowed from the bank of Mummy and Daddy (big shout out to them by the way), worked with Nigerian tailors to manufacture them, opened my e-Commerce store and also got a local boutique to carry my shit. It was groovy and even brought in enough cash for personal enjoyment and to re-invest into creating a 2nd collection.
I started seeking out financial opportunities to take it to the next level because I’m extra like that. While it all looked good on paper and I experienced amazing opportunities and success as a result of this platform, I was still unfulfilled. I had wrapped myself so much to my creation that when it was critiqued, I took it as an attack on my personal identity. I was burning out more often and not recovering as quickly. In my mind, LAJA lacked substance and this reality was gradually eating away at my love it. I struggled to define LAJA’s value proposition outside an attractive babe wearing attractive ankara clothing. I’m sure my platform means different things to different people but as the person responsible for running this shit, my current model was unsustainable passion/business wise. Eventually, I closed down my clothing business for other reasons and my most important lesson was understanding my passion was not selling clothing or apparel design. This made letting go easier.
I have always wanted to experiment with video content so I started my Youtube channel. I hoped it would add more depth to this platform by showing my mind and personality through educational videos. Lo and behold, I realized that while I loved African textiles, I wasn’t passionate about them like I thought. It was a means of expressing myself but not what I truly cared about at my core. It became more and more difficult to create content because your girl was bored as hell and I wasn’t happy with my creations.
WHAT I’M TRULY PASSIONATE ABOUT
I’m passionate about learning, creating and living my best life. You laugh but I have receipts. I have always loved creating things out of nothing. I vividly remember mixing hotel shampoos, conditioners and body lotions to create “my own product” and I would go out selling it to people in my neighborhood as a child. “It makes your skin soft and smell so good”, I’d cajoule. They played along and gave me money (enough to fund my piggy bank) because I was, well, a child but I really thought my products were the shit. For whatever reason, I interpreted this childhood hobby of mine to mean I was destined to become a dermatologist or plastic surgeon running my own clinic in Beverly Hills, 90210. This was my goal for the longest time. I loved skin, connecting with people and was good in sciences (I thought). Yes, I watched way too much Nip/Tuck & Dr 90210. It was all good until I met Organic Chemistry in college. LOL. There are several instances I recall from my childhood experiences like this that I hope to delve deeper in future posts but you get the gist.
I feel my best when I’m learning and creating in an effort to build my best life. I love process of creating something out of nothing or raw materials. It could be a product, an outfit, a photograph or a meal. I enjoy the process. I also feel excitement/satisfaction when I encourage/speak life into others and I see them take steps in improving whatever situation they confided in me about. Why? Because it’s hard to stay true to yourself in a world that constantly tells you what you should want and be. I love learning and have always known from childhood that I wanted to have and experience a multi-faceted view of life. Experience life and reality from different angles and this drives me to seek out experiences that are unfamiliar to me. I expressed this in the first post that birthed LAJA. The desire still ring true today.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR LAJA?
I don’t know. I will continue to share my ankara style but will also be writing about topics close to my heart. I will talk about what I’m doing to build and live my best life in hopes it encourages you to self-examine and make positive changes to yours. I’m a big numbers person and money is a topic that excites me. Books I’m reading, projects I’m taking on and discoveries I’m making about myself and what it means to live my best life. I curated a long ass list of blogpost topics that got me fired up for the first time in a LONG time. I will fuel that fire and see where it takes me. You’ll have to come back to see what those topics are. I hope we can connect and discuss how we’re building our best lives while wearing African textile clothing.
Thank you for hanging with me these past years and experiencing growth alongside me. Change is scary but I’ve never been happier to re-build and truly make this platform into something I’ll be extremely proud off instead of something that “just makes sense”.
Do you know what you’re passionate about? What life experiences brought them to light and if no, where are you now?