Before we begin, let's set the stage. The purpose of this interview series is to inspire and encourage millennials to take the leap into entrepreneurship or give advice to those currently on the journey.
This series will highlight millennial entrepreneurs in a wide range of industries who are offering services, products and resources to their audiences.
Throughout the next couple of weeks you will have the chance to read the stories of millennial trailblazers who are designers, social ambassadors, photographers, and more. I hope you are inspired!
In this Mindshift Interview, I have Zakiyrah Ficklin of Her20Somethings + H.E.R. Foundation. During this interview, we deep dived into all things business, influencing the future and more. Zakiyrah is an entrepreneur who has the heart to see young women succeed. She's all about using her God given purpose to spark others to live a purposeful life. The journey of entrepreneurship isn't always glamorous, but she's giving you the gems she's learned along the way.
Behind the Person
Tell a little bit about yourself and what you do.
I like to describe myself as “A Voice For The Millennials”. I am an extremely talented young lady who understands that my purpose is to serve others. I am a firm believer in building my lifestyle based on my passion and purpose. I am very hard working, loving, and ambitious.
Which is a 501(c)(3) organization that works with young ladies who have absent fathers, and focuses on personal development in the areas of education, financial literacy, and health/wellness.
What is one quote you live by? Give an example of how you’ve applied this quote in your journey.
Living out my purpose which includes impacting, inspiring, and helping ladies reach some of their personal goals has taken precedence over a lot of other things in my life because I now understand that we are here to serve.
What’s one habit you have developed that you feel as though has aided in your overall journey?
I truly believe that consistency is a main ingredient to success. Me developing a consistent schedule for everything that I had to do as far as reading, writing content, nurturing relationships, and constantly speaking has contributed to my success thus far.
All Things Business
How did Her 20 Some Things come to form? What was the idea that started it all?
After going through my own experiences and learning and growing into my purpose I wanted to help other young women grow into their purpose.
What’s the purpose of the H.E.R Foundation? What problems or pain points are you looking to solve through this platform?
H.E.R. Foundation is one of my passion projects. The purpose of H.E.R. Foundation is to reach young women with absent fathers. We focus on building those broken relationships and personal development in the areas of education, financial literacy, and health/wellness.
There are a lot of misconceptions about running a personal brand or being an entrepreneur, like lack of freedom or difficulty growing income. What’s the biggest myth you’ve learned to be untrue?
I totally disagree that it takes a lot of money to build a business because I started my business with no money.
As an entrepreneur, often times you are required to make tough decisions.On the topic of: Competition vs Collaboration. What is the biggest myth you’ve learned to be untrue?
Some women think that they are in competition with each other and that they can’t share their ideas and resources with one another. I truly believe that when women support other women amazing things happen. We are a much bigger force and can accomplish way more together than we can competing with each other.
Give an example of how collaboration has benefited the H.E.R Foundation.
When we first began our organization in 2015 we did a lot of networking and connecting with different people and organizations. When January 2016 came around we were able to partner with the WNBA Atlanta Dream basketball team to do a holiday party at the Atlanta children’s shelter, which turned out amazing. We collected winter wear and went down to the shelter, played with the kids, ate, and gave out everything we had. That was a great partnership that grew.
In order for a business to thrive the leader must thrive as well. What self – care routines or rituals are a necessity for keeping you sane while growing your business or brand?
In order for me to thrive each day I have to start my mornings off praying and spending time with God. That will set the tone for your day. I also like to read and learn something new each day, even if it’s only for 10-15 mins.
What marketing strategies have you used to attract and find new leads for business growth?
Social media has been great for marketing!
- I use my social media to engage with a lot of young women in my target audience. It’s good when you post content that requires a response so that you become interactive with your audience.
I also use word of mouth a lot.
- So, everywhere I go I’m selling books. LITERALLY! The gas station, restaurant, grocery store, dmv, anywhere you can think of. This allows me to connect with people offline and also helps with referrals.
Customer Service or the customer’s overall experience is crucial when it comes to brand longevity. What experiences have you created for your clientele or audience?
I’m very personable, so when someone orders my book I reach out to them and make sure they received it, feature them on my social media, and try to get some feedback from them on how it helped them.
As an author, what was the toughest stage of the publishing process? –Writing? Editing? Formatting?
The toughest stage for me was the writing process. I had to really discipline myself to write consistently and allow everything to flow. I got overwhelmed a lot of time during writing the book because I was working full time, obtaining my bachelors degree full, time, running a non-profit, and writing the book. Once I created a specific writing schedule and outlined everything I wanted to cover it became very easy.
What tools or systems were essential for publishing Her 20 Somethings?
A strict writing schedule was needed so that I stayed on track with accomplishing the book. It’s good to start with a template that way when you type it will already be formatted. That will save you time at the end trying to format your book. A great editor was also essential for publishing my book. A great editor will not only check for grammar, but will check for organization, structure, and flow. Making sure I set up an effective campaign for launch my book for pre-orders was essential for publishing because the pre-order helped fund my initial order.
What are some accomplishments of Her 20 Some Things + H.E.R Foundation Inc.? And where do you see its future?
H.E.R. Foundation Inc. has been extremely successful thus far. We have partnered with the WNBA Atlanta Dream to do a holiday party, we have done two annual care package drives partnering with Partnership Against Domestic Violence, this past March we sent five deserving girls from Grady High School on a prom makeover, and have been to several different group homes and organizations to serve. H.E.R. Foundation Inc. plans to go international this coming year. We are planning a service trip to Malawi, which we will eventually build a girls group home over there.
Her 20 SomeTHINGS has been very successful as well. I have had the opportunity to sell hundreds of books from when I first released it, have completed a whole college book tour with young women organizations, and have done some radio interviews. In the future for Her 20 SomeTHINGS I plan to sell a few thousand books this year, complete another book college tour, create opportunities for more exposure, and just continue to impact young ladies lives with the book.
I describe a Mindshift as a moment in time, where one realizes, there is more to life than what society has told. Can you describe your Mindshift moment?
Sometimes the media can portray women as something we’re not, or in a negative light, or that we have to be up-to-date with the latest trends. In reality, women are way more than the box society puts us in. I remember wanting to be just like the people on tv, wanted to wear the latest things, and do and have what they had. I did not have my own identity. My mindshift moment was when God started revealing my purpose to me. I was able to learn that we as women are worth so much more, and we can do and be anything we want.
What advice can you give to other entrepreneurs?
If something doesn’t work out don’t stress about it. If your circumstances seem like they are never going to change just keep pushing through it. Don’t complain about the struggles because what you learn during the process is way more valuable than the outcome.
Lastly, think about what living life on your own terms means to you. Describe your ideal situation.
There was a point in my life where I was a total people pleaser. I would do everything to make everyone else happy but nothing to make myself happy. The only person who suffered in the end was myself. I learned that we shouldn’t be living for our family, friends, or society, but for ourselves and what makes us happy.
Additional Gems from Zakiyrah:
Be Vocal. Live on Purpose. Be of Service.
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