On Monday 14th July, I’ll be sharing my journey of moving from business models as a Banking Director to models of a different kind as a Fashion Entrepreneur with invited guests and staff at JP Morgan’s headquarters in Canary Wharf, London.
Sapelle will also be showcasing the current range on the catwalk with JP Morgan’s own staff acting as models. This is under the auspices of JPM’s Black Organization for Leadership Development (BOLD) Business Resource Group.
JPM’s BOLD provides employees, particularly those of African descent, with an empowering environment that helps to foster their professional and personal development and simultaneously support the firm’s business goals and initiatives.
In a way, I’ll be coming back full circle, having left The City in late 2012 to pursue the growth of Sapelle. And now I’ll be sitting in front of my former industry peers, the best of their trade and people I admire, telling my story.
It will be a huge honour for me to speak about my experiences:
- moving from Banking in Malawi to The City and working with world-class organisations including leading retailers,
- the soul-searching that led me first to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro for charity,
- and later gaining the courage to branch out on my own and establish an ethical fashion company that would not only shine a light on Africa’s emerging talent, but also provide a trading platform from which producers could grow and create employment for their workforces.
As I reflect on the journey ahead of the event, I’m awed at the support we’ve received along the way:
- Our customers, who fall in love with our vibrant and unique products that merge a touch of African flair with Western aesthetics and styling;
- Our fans who’ve been with us from Day 1, knowing it’s about time we heard a different rhetoric about Africa;
- Our producers, artists, artisans, designers and businesspeople, all who share our ambition to participate in the global marketplace as equal partners, and be recognised for the beauty and quality of our output, not out of charity.
Without this kind of validation, the journey would have been tougher and lonelier – and probably it would have ended prematurely. On the other hand, with this support, we move forward with more purpose and optimism, aiming for more, building upon our baby steps. Our dreams become that much more achievable, and we tell our story louder and with more pride.
And getting invited to speak at JP Morgan’s European headquarters, with people signing up to come and listen, it hits me with the realisation that our venture is worthwhile, worth talking about and worth pushing hard for.
Whatever ills the banking industry has been guilty of, my experiences and the lessons learned within that industry inform a lot of what I do today – for good. The work ethic, the determination, the stringent investigation of opportunities and risks, the viewpoint of the world as a global marketplace, – all of these things are assets I have gained from my years as a banker, which I am happy to share with the people we work with.
So I’m thrilled and excited to be speaking on Monday, and thank the BOLD team for giving Sapelle a platform to tell our story and spread the word. If our story can inspire another person in whatever way to follow their calling, whether it’s by supporting businesses like ours or even starting their own venture, than that will be truly amazing.