This coffee chat is one that I have anticipated for a while. I met Christine from Motives Cosmetics/House of Ralph in a ‘Brave Ladies’ Entrepreneurs hang out at my place sometime last year and I was both intrigued and inspired by her determination to succeed and resilience in the face of what she has had to overcome in her life.
Please tell me about yourself and what you do
I am an entrepreneur, a feminist, a leader and an advocate for change and empowerment of African people.
I have two companies – a consulting firm and a partnership with some amazing African Women. We will be launching our consulting firm called Utano which means wellness in my language. Utano will be focused on developing strategies, policies and training programs that support the health and human services industry with a focus on developing solutions for migrant communities living in Australia especially those of African descent. My consultancy company is a product brokerage firm where we distribute Skincare and Motives cosmetics and I also market educational products on behalf of registered training organisations. I am a passionate public speaker and I am currently Vice President of the Queensland Chapter of African Professionals of Australia – one of the largest associations of African Professionals.
I am also a mother who is so proud to be raising my two beautiful children. One God gave me, he is my 11 year old boy Tamuka. My son is my heart, he is so smart and has a wicked sense of humour. He has a beautiful mind and is so creative – he sees the world in a very different way. My goal is to nurture that and not change him to conform to the way the world would like him to see things. He is truly the greatest gift God has ever and will ever give to me. I have a bonus daughter, my niece, who has been living with me since she was 14. My amazing sister has allowed me to co-parent her youngest daughter – such a privilege. She is so smart, beautiful and I am not biased at all. She used to be so shy but now she has come out of her shell and is really blossoming into this amazing driven focused women there is so much more to her than the pretty face people see and I feel so privileged to be part of her life and to watch her grow.
What fires you up every morning?
Connecting with people, making a difference and putting a better version of myself out into the world. I wake up every morning and ask myself – how can I make a difference? How can I be a better person? How can I connect with my Creator, be a better Mom first and a better aunt, daughter, sister, friend, cousin? How can I learn from what I did wrong yesterday and improve and do better tomorrow?
How do you achieve work [business] + family balance?
At the moment I have to confess not very well. At times my work is suffering at the expense of my business and other times my business is suffering because of my work. Either way my family is suffering because of both. So I have made the monumental decision to focus on my business. I am so scared, but having one foot here and another foot there is costing me too much and I am in danger of doing nothing well. I have decided in the New Year to focus on my business 100%. My goal is to pick my son up from school at 3:15pm every day and do homework and spend time with him improving his swimming and his sports and just hanging out with him and raising him. It scary when you are plan A-Z – being a single Mum is hard when making life changing decisions but I know so many women who have done what I am doing with three or more kids and have done an phenomenal job so I draw my inspiration from them.
What is the most challenging thing you have had to deal with?
Losing the people I love. I lost my sister who was my best friend, my father who was everything a girl could ask for and I lost the dream of always having my life partner. I never thought I would be a single parent and living life alone. I never thought my Dad would not live to see my son not even once or that I would have to do life and shopping without my sister. It’s been a huge challenge to figure out how to parent and do life on my own, how I date again and how I pick myself up without my Dad and without my sister. It hard when you lose those you love the most. It makes you appreciate the ones you have left even more.
How did you get through this challenge?
I learnt that God will never give you more than you can handle. I learnt to smile no matter how bad I felt. I learnt to ask for help from those around me. To just cry when I needed, to talk to those I could trust. At times, the challenges can be so overwhelming you want to fold in a corner and just cry and sometimes that is what you need to do and I did that a lot and I still do.
I learnt it was ok to give myself a day of self-pity, but I also learnt not to stay there. Life waits for no one and life does go on no matter how much your world may be collapsing. I learnt that no matter how much your world may be spinning out of control there is someone out there who is dealing with a nightmare far worse than yours and that gave me perspective and helped me to get through the really bad days.
I also learnt to really pray I think for the first time in my life. When those I loved died or left I learnt to connect and get closer to God. I am blessed to have the best Mother on the plant who always has my back and the most amazing older sisters and friends a girl could ask for. These people all held me together when it all fell apart on all occasions even when their world was falling apart. They all supported me and wrapped me in so much love, kindness and understanding it could only be heaven sent.
My older sister is a warrior single mother of two. I watched her raise those kids on her own and she is my hero and my inspiration – she has done so well. Whenever I feel down, I look at what she went through to get to where she is and I get inspired.
Do you ever get discouraged? How do you overcome this feeling to stay focused?
I think we all get discouraged at times. I try not to stay there for too long, it helps nothing and one of my good friends once said to me ‘the grass always looks greener on the other side because its full of shit and you only realise when you are over there just how bad the shit is to make the grass appear to be so much greener than yours.’ So I tend to just try to be positive and focus on doing me and encouraging myself in all the ways I can.
Top three dinner recipes?
- Roast Chicken, roast vegetables and potatoes and gravy (I love my Sunday roast)
- Smashed avocado with blistered tomatoes and crumbled feta
- Paprika Chicken
What has life taught you?
That I need to take responsibility for my life and not look for people to blame when things go wrong. Oprah Winfrey said it so well ‘YOU are responsible for your life, if you are waiting for someone to save you, fix you or even help you, you are wasting your time. All the time I was waiting on God I realized that God was waiting on me’… If we all got this truth we would stop playing the victim card. When I bargained for a penny life gave me a penny. Now I am bargaining for millions and believe me life will give me millions. God put it so eloquently in his word ‘Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened unto you.’
As Ms Oprah would say ‘You get what you have the courage to ask for.’ I know for sure now that my problem is not asking for enough – I asked for a penny.
One thing people don’t know about you?
I was a biology geek in high school and I wanted to grow up to be a genetic engineer and map the human genome. That project about the Human Chromosome mapping totally consumed me in high school.
Three top things that make you feel beautiful?
- Having those I love tell me and show me they love me;
- Fashion – I love shoes
- Motives Makeup