It is important we take Sierra Leone with us, where ever we may find ourselves. Let allow Sierra Leone to shine through us. Let it be the glow that lights our path as we find our way in the universe. @dasalonetitiquote
This week we are looking at a young woman in the United States making strides in building the image of Sierra Leone through clothing, fashion, and other accessories from sierra leone and other parts of Africa. We had an interview with her and we are excited to share it with you. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did. You can reach her on https://www.etsy.com/shop/Leoneculture Facebook/Instagram/Twitter@LeoneCulture
Dasalonetiti- Tell readers about yourself.
Fatime: My name is Isata Fatime Gbakamara, I was born and raised in Sierra Leone West Africa. I travel to the United States at age sixteen. Went to high school and graduated in 2012. Enroll in a two years community college right after high school for an associate degree in health science. I started my career in healthcare with a big company in Virginia that provides internship training for new graduates. I had the opportunity to brush up my skills and was offered a job within the first week of my training. As a new employee I was excited because the company had so many opportunities for growth and scholarship programs for staff that want to continue their education.
Dasalonetiti- Tell us about your life as a nurse?
Fatime; I enjoy working as a nurse. It’s giving me the chance to make a change in someone’s life and create wonderful relationships as well with patients, coworkers, and families of patients.
Dasalonetiti- what brings about the thought of entrepreneurship?
Fatime: Five years into my career as a nurse I met my husband Vincent Philip Ames. He is intelligent and career-oriented, always looking for ways we can improve our careers and lives. He had a collection of books about business especially ones that talked about becoming your own boss. I picked up my first book from his collection and I have never stopped reading. After three reads of different books, I grew interested in doing business. Some months into our courtship, he was willing to share his passion for business with me. It was an eye-opening experience because he has so many great ideas and he self-educated himself on many things. He was also part of an organization called the World Financial Group. He took me to one of their meetings, giving me the platform to meet with wonderful people, young entrepreneurs that are making millions of dollars not working a nine-to-five job. They own their businesses and schedules. At that point, my mindset changed.
Dasalonetiti – how did Leone Culture came about?
Fatime: On our way home from that meeting. We discuss what I learned from the sessions. But there was a change in life situation for us when we have to relocate to Florida. That process of moving stalled us a bit. Upon getting to Florida, we both attended our first business meeting in Miami Florida, 10x by Grant Cardone ” Powerful tool”. At the end of the conference, we got back on the road from Miami Florida to Pensacola Florida which was a nine-hour drive. We talked about different business options and business names, and that, eventually help me to figure out what type of business I would like to embark on. That’s how LEONE CULTURE was born. I wanted to give back to my country by helping our local artisans. After we locked down the business name that same week, my sister, who is also part of the business, Zainab Sandi introduces two business ideas to me. We ended up going with the first idea which we thought was great and bought our first product from Sierra Leone.
Dasalonetiti- How is Leone Culture doing sales wise?
Fatime: Well we can’t complain. Our first inventory from sierra leone sold out in a week. Mostly our buyers were family and friends. More orders keep coming in and we took the next step by opening an Esty Shop and get on all social media platforms. This venture was the scariest of them all for me. As there are so many ads about buying all sorts of things online. How would I survive? Was all I could think of, but I did not let it weigh me down. I started doing research about, who are my competitors. I realized each of them is fully established with a massive following, eye-catching products, perfect pictures, so many positive reviews in their comment sections. ‘I don’t stand a chance’ I said to my self. I started educating myself about advertisements and other details I needed if I should survive in this business. My husband decided to take photography courses, while my Sister in Sierra Leone Zainab Sandi was meeting artisans in Freetown and gathering more information about their products.
Dasalonetiti- What are some of the Ups and down so far in the business?
Fatime: When we first made our social media appearance our sales initially went down and I kept wondering what was the problem because I was doing everything possible to get a kickstart on sales through social media. The thought of giving up came creeping in my mind. I decided to replace all these negative thoughts with positive proclamation over my business, by doing the self-talk like Leone Culture will rise to the top. I put my worries in prayers, follow a lot of business account on social media. Study their roadmap from their beginnings to where they are now. Within three months of being on social media, we receive our first sales. We started gaining more followers, messages started coming in about prices and shipping. We are on our way and will continue the hard work until Leone Culture is recognized the world over. That’s how big our dream is.
Dasalonetiti- What’s your advice for fellow Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora and at home?
Fatime: ”My advice to fellow Sierra Leoneans is to never give up on ourselves and our country. Let learn to work together and help support one another. Let not allow negativity to become the center of our lives, our story, and our journey to rebrand Sierra Leone. Negativity is what hurting our beloved nation’s performance and drive to go forward. If we as Sierra Leoneans make this commitment to work hard and become champions of helping one another, we would set something powerful in motion and Sierra Leone will rise again”.
Dasalonetiti- Share one of your guilty pleasure with readers.
Fatime: My guilty pleasure is me wanting to keep all the beautiful jewelry and neckpieces for myself (laugh)
Fellow Sierra Leoneans and readers, we have heard from the CEO of Leone Culture, who is flying the Sierra Leone flag in the USA. In the end, we have no excuse, you can be anywhere and lift the flag high. Change starts with ourselves. Please if you are in the United States and want items and accessories from Sierra Leone please contact her and get the total Salone experience.@ dasalonetiti
©By Rahima Vandy-Kargbo