F E A T U R E F R I D A Y
MEET LULU KITOLOLO
Say hello to Lulu! This rock star lives in Nairobi, Kenya and has founded multiple platforms for women in Africa to thrive, flourish, and empower one another. She's done so much for W O M E N and we couldn't wait to share her story!
Tell us more about what you do and how you empower the community of women around you.
I like to leverage the power of creativity in my work. I work a few women's rights organisations on branding, graphic design, illustration and graphic recording. And in the stationery and lifestyle products I design, I like to represent women in all our diversity and amazingness. I know the power of seeing people who look like you!
In all my business endeavours, I aim to serve women first.
I run a bi-annual festival, Afri-love Fest, celebrating creativity and our vendors are primarily women-owned creative businesses. I created an online course called Soulful Branding, to help people find their voice and deliver their magic when it comes to how they present their businesses to the world. All my students so far have been women.
Around 2 years ago, I started an online community called Afri-love Women. It's a safe space for real talk, for those who identify themselves as creative, African, women… who care as much about professional excellence, as they do about health and wellness.
I created this group because I was craving a space to be real with like-minded ladies. I’ve been running my own creative business since 2009 and it’s been tough! And also wonderful. I’ve learned so much about myself, about my craft, about business, about the world, about life … and every day I’m learning more. A big part of this education has been thanks to the amazing women I’ve engaged with over the years: friends, family, clients, business acquaintances; women in my mastermind and networking groups; women I follow on Instagram…
There are several great forums but, I felt the need to create one that particularly involved women in the creative industry, where wellness was an integral part of the discussion. A space for us to support each other and to share and exchange our experiences – the joys, the challenges and the lessons.
Last May, I co-founded the Afri-love Connection Club, a more formal and in-real-life network, for female founders to come together to transport their businesses and their lives. We offer business learning, dialogue and strategy support, as well as self-care experiences. We now have three chapters in Nairobi and one in Mombasa.
What is something you've overcome as a woman that you feel has made you stronger?
I have a toddler and balancing motherhood while building a business with so many new, moving parts has been difficult! I am constantly challenging myself to find ways to be more present for and to spend more quality time with my son.
This has forced me to really reevaluate my priorities, set better boundaries and say "no" more. A bi-product of this is more space for me-time which, has been wonderful. Not only has it helped me be better myself but, also better for my family, my friends and for the people I serve through my business.
It's so interesting how addressing our personal challenges has the power to bring value to so many others! I strongly believe that, to change the world, we have to first focus on ourselves – it starts there.
Who or what inspires you?
I'm especially inspired by female creative entrepreneurs who have achieved success and made a name for themselves, by being unapologetically who they are. Wangechi Mutu, Andrea Pippins, Justina Blakeney, Lisa Congdon, Anna Bond are some of those women.
What are you most proud of in the work that you do?
I love receiving feedback that I've inspired somebody, and furthermore that I've inspired them to be true to themselves in their journey.
Share with us more about your passions.
This year I'm really focusing on being intentional and being mindful. I believe that every thing and every being is connected. It only takes a fraction of additional time to pause, think and then act with more consideration. To ourselves, to others and to our planet which… all circles back to us.
One last thing to live by,
"Beware of enterprises that require new clothes" — Henry David Thoreau