A couple Sundays back, my sister friend, socialpreneur mentor and avid Iya Henry Supporter, @beeba.com and #AraLagos were exhibiting at the #Ecobonk #Adire fair. It was a rainy day which means only one thing to me, my bed, but I had given my word so I had to go out and support a sister.
I walked into the hall and immediately knew it was not my scene. It was a vendors dream and a Fire Marshall’s nightmare. There were at least 5 times more human beings in the building than its’s capacity was designed for. There were drummers and dancers at the entrance not afraid to elbow you in the face in the name of the show must go on. There was a camera crew floating around and #BrotherShaggi adjusting his agbada in the corner. I braced for impact as I stepped into the crowd. My bum was the true victim. I stopped turning back every time I felt a touch, there was no point, I was too stressed to fight.
I finally made to the stand, out of breath and ready to go home. The music was so loud, one was unable to think about people’s total disregard for personal space. But it was the pungent aroma of body odour that was soul destroying.
Beeba fully enthralled by the chaos and surge of people, welcomed me with open arms, placed my hand bag on her newly purchased adire print poof and handed me a chiffon/cotton blend, bright yellow sundress and put me on the sales floor. I was a trooper. I smiled, I welcomed, I oohed and aahed as customers tried on several outfits and then purchased the first 2 items they picked. It was going swimmingly.
That is, until, she came along. Like a dark cloud that is ever hovering on the horizon in rainy season, she should have kept her distance but this one had the boldness to approach my circle of sunshine. I can only describe her with one word. Struggle. Her 3 sister locs held in a pony tail and her handbag strap were all hanging on a wing and a prayer. Her beauty and goodness were so perfectly veiled by her attitude that a de-masked Darth Vader would have effortlessly beat her in a beauty contest.
Despite appearances, I put on the charm offensive in greeting her. That was my bad. It was obvious she had no intention of buying anything and that was fine. Her friend on the other hand was enamoured by the garments. Unable to contain her outrage on the pricing of the items, Aunty S turned on me.
She started softly, telling me we should’ve discounted the items as we were coming for a fair. I said we did and explained the items on the website were 25% more expensive. Aunty was enraged at our audacity to offer a ‘common thing like adire’ as a luxury product. As if LV isn’t selling Ghana-must-go bags. “Do you know the whites go straight to Osogbo? They won’t buy from you. Do you know how much I’m making from Air b’n’b?” I stood and smiled as she shouted at me to “shut up” and let her the customer speak.
At first I was ready to snatch her last standing loss but then I realised, she was just upset because she had met young women who were winning in a game she didn’t believe they were qualified to play in. These women actually believed in themselves enough to sell this common thing as a luxury product, and people were buying.
The truth is Gucci and Primark both make black straight leg trousers that make my bum look like fire, but one is confident enough to demand a premium for their trousers, while the other tricks me into buying 5 pairs because they are affordable. More and more I see that those that soar are not more skilled or even luckier than those who don’t, it is simply a belief held by the few, that “I deserve to be seen, heard and bought”. Many women are taught as little girls to be humble and to wait to be invited to the table. We are taught rejection is the worst thing that can happen to a woman. It is that fear of rejection that tricks us into playing it safe and patiently wait for our party invite. Yet the difference between the top salesperson and their colleagues is to face rejection and keep pushing on.
Today I encourage every lady to rise about the anxiety induced discouragement and fear of rejection. Today have the courage to believe your own hype and give yourself permission to win.