Do you have aspirations of running your own business empire? ‘Sleeping is for the dead’ is how Deborah Willam approaches her work. House of Coco talked with her about how she runs a charity, publishing business, a beauty brand AND works in real estate and marketing consultancy. Phew! She really is a female warrior.
House of Coco: You are prolific in your businesses, running a beauty brand, publishing books, running a charity and working in real estate and marketing consultancy, how do you do it all?
Deborah: Having worked in Corporate for years, I felt undervalued as an employee. I wanted more for myself because I was confident in my abilities and skills. Although I brought values to the companies I worked for, I always felt I could do more than I was doing. So, upon completing my Master’ degree 18 years ago, I moved my Son and I, as a Single Mum, from the safety of our home, family and friends in London, and moved to Orlando Florida, USA, where I knew nobody, to start afresh.
After working for a company for a couple of years, I decided to embark on investing in Real Estate properties, then I got licensed as a Real Estate Broker, in Florida, and Georgia. Simultaneously, I was writing books under the pseudonym of EM.EM.GENESIS, and publishing them to raise funds for my Charity organization, a Florida 501c3, Educate the World Inc.
Many years ago, I discovered that some of the hair & beauty brands I was using may have been causing me health problems, so, I created and developed hair products with natural ingredients, from my kitchen. A year ago, my husband and I sold our homes, and investments, and moved to Dubai/Sharjah, UAE, to oversee the manufacturing of our Hair Care products, created with natural & safe ingredients.
“It’s all about enjoying what you do!!!”
I had always been interested in Ancient Female Warriors and Women who made impact on our World. I came across the DAHOMEY Warriors when I was conducting research for my book, Ancient Female African Warriors. They were also named AHOSIs hence my Hair & Beauty Brand, AHOSI BEAUTY. I believe Women are Warriors by nature. We navigate through life being overly judged on a daily basis – judged for our looks, our parenting abilities, professional life etc.
Running all of my businesses is natural to me. I don’t get bored working for myself, because I enjoy what I do. I’ve always had excellent organisational skills, and I’m able to organise my schedules, so I can devote time to each of my businesses, with my lovely husband, Hubert, right by my side.
HoC: Who are the Dahomey Amazons and how do they inspire your beauty business, Ahosi Beauty?
Deborah: As I intimated earlier, the DAHOMEY AMAZONS, I discovered during research for my book, Ancient Female African Warriors, were an all-female military regiment of the Kingdom of Dahomey in the present-day Republic of Benin, which lasted until the end of the 19th century. They were also known as “AHOSI”. I understood that the story of the Women of the recent Black Panther movie, was based on the AHOSIs.
I choose the name AHOSI, years ago, as a Brand name for my Hair & Beauty Products, because I’m a Woman, and, a Warrior!
HoC: Tell us about Books By EM. EM. Genesis, what books do you publish and what inspired you to do it?
Deborah: I’m a product of Boarding Schools. When I needed to escape the loneliness I felt, I would wonder into a different world, through writing. I’m a Story-teller. I am inspired by the on-goings in our World, and particularly, my desire to raise funds to help those less fortunate than I am. There’s no particular style to my writing. I write books for children, young adults, and Adults. I started publishing my stories to raise funds for my 501c3 Charity organisation.
HoC: What is the mission of your charity Educate the World Inc and how did it come about?
Deborah: The Mission of Educate the World inc.. is to Change our World positively, through promoting Education, and tolerance. We go directly to underprivileged children and youths, and dilapidated Schools in poorer parts of the World, from Africa, to Asia and do the little that we can for individuals. We also visit schools to speak to young people about the importance of Education and how it useful to help get them out of poverty. We are a small organisation, however, we have changed many lives for the better.
I have always been an extremely generous person. I would give unreservedly. I had a lot of compassion for the sufferings of others and that’s what led me to set up Educate the World Inc, and do things the right way. We are all volunteers. We do not take salaries, and we pay our own expenses. We raise funds by selling books, which can be challenging at times.
HoC: What do you think are some of the challenges of running your own business in 2019?
Deborah: Running your own business is an extremely FULL-TIME, 24 HOUR DAY work. You’re constantly working, even when you’re sleeping. You’re constantly coming up with creative ideas of how to do things better. That’s why it is important to enjoy what you do. It takes the pressure off.
HoC: What are your future aspirations, is there more you want to accomplish?
Deborah: My aspirations for the future are to ensure that my brands, especially AHOSI BEAUTY products becomes the norm in the sense that Hair & beauty products created with natural ingredients /chemical free, are not a specialty, but the norm.
HoC: What piece of advice would you give to our readers who want to set up their own business?
Deborah: It is important that you understand what your skills are. What are your passions which could translate into a profit-making business? For instance, if you enjoy baking cake at home, and for friends, are you skilled enough to attract consumers to your products?
I enjoy baking cakes but I know that my skills in that arena, are limited. So, I will not attempt to run a cake making business. Do what you love, enjoy and skilled at.
HoC: What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given in setting up your business?
Deborah: Not everyone gets business related advice. Some of us have had to discover the hard way, through trial and error. Adversities and challenges equal growth – for me! Someone once told me, do what you can now, with the time you have. When you die, you have plenty of time to sleep!
“Live your life on your own terms. Be a Female Warrior!!”