After she died, my Grandma and I worked on creating the perfect blend of oils to help me have hair like my mother’s.

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Paving her own way and creating a brand behind her name, Erim Kaur is inspiring young women daily. Sharing ways to take care of yourself and more importantly how invest in your hair because it’s the crown you never take off…

What were your initial feelings towards deciding to launch a product with such sentimental value?

For me, I always had such a strong emotional connection to hair due to the fact that my mother was known for her long, silky hair. After she died, my Grandma and I worked on creating the perfect blend of oils to help me have hair like my mother’s. I felt incredibly lucky to have my Grandma who had all this knowledge, so sharing it with the rest of the world in the form of ByErim luxury hair oil was the easiest, most natural decision I have ever made.

 

What are some words of wisdom to young girls wanting to build their social influence online and what’s the most important thing you’ve learnt about it?

Focus on the journey. It’s so easy to get caught up with your numbers/follower count, but the beauty is that every single person who follow you, follows you for a reason. So instead of focusing on getting the next follower, hone your attention on delivering the maximum amount of value to your existing followers.

 

Can you give us one exclusive beauty tip that you haven’t shared before?

Sleep with your hair in a loose braid (with or without oil). This protects the hair from getting tangled and if you’re a fidgety sleeper, the movement can rough up your hair cuticles if left loose, so braids keep your hair neat and protected. Plus gives you a gorgeous natural wave when you wake up!

 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I want to continue being the CEO of ByErim, perhaps with some luxury retail presence, but being able to dedicate myself and my time to the branding element of the business, vs. now where I am quite thinly stretched!

 

If you had one message to share with the world what would it be?

Kindness is free. If the world showed a little more empathy, compassion and kindness to each other, we wouldn’t have to fight for basic equality.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Visit the online store www.byerim.com or follow @erimstagram to keep up![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Some would say that this is the beauty of science; the ability to take something seemingly unexplainable, wrap it up in mathematical packaging, tie a bow of physical laws around it and deliver it neatly via chalk on the blackboard.

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Childhood is always the most important part of anyone’s life. It might seem a shame as we can never go back or change it, so we often look at the world through the same childlike eyes; perhaps why so many of us feel the same as we did all those years ago. Some of us ‘grow up’, and some of us still have that child very much inside of us.

Mine was a happy childhood. I lived in the countryside, had very close friends, and played in woods, fields, rivers, and through what seemed like endless hot summers. 

I embraced everything around me with the wonder only a child can have. I collected bugs and caterpillars, raised them to adulthood, dissected owl pellets under hot lamps until my bedroom smelt like rancid roadkill, desperately tried to manufacture explosives for a multitude of failed moon shots, built radios, metal detectors and all kinds of electric devices. My dad often helped but I was never encouraged, just a natural inquisitiveness. 

It was Carl Sagan who changed my life. I watched his RI Christmas Lectures on the planets and was hooked instantly. Sagan was someone I could relate to; he had an aura of wonder… like a child. I persuaded my parents to buy a telescope and from then on, every clear night I would escape to the garden sketching celestial scenes as I scoured the night sky for yet to be discovered objects.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wupToqz1e2g” title=”Take 3 minutes to watch this video, it may just change your life…”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I ended up at university studying astrophysics. For once I was being told all the answers. Some would say that this is the beauty of science; the ability to take something seemingly unexplainable, wrap it up in mathematical packaging, tie a bow of physical laws around it and deliver it neatly via chalk on the blackboard. For me, it felt like there was so much we already knew it would take a lifetime to reach the unknown. I felt intimidated. I regret losing that child when I could have been embracing the knowledge around me.

My early adulthood was less than conventional. I became a musician and entered a strange but loving community of misfits with huge artistic talents. It wasn’t a puritanical life. I’ll leave it at that. Eventually, after fame and fortune failed to find me, I did the last thing I ever thought I would… I became a teacher.

I loved teaching science and embraced the awe and enthusiasm you get from young students. I was always theatrical, and I guess a bit of a show-off. The performer inside me used ever more spectacular ways to get a message across. I loved sharing my knowledge with students; lessons felt more like a show than a dry instructional course.

Teaching is a hard mistress though. I finished as Head of Science and as the increasing workload, accountability, and systems took over – I lost the love. Having to force me to get up every morning took its’ toll on my mental health. I lost the child within and life changed from a joyful experience to a prison-like sentence. Depression is something I never thought would happen to me and it hit me hard. It’s difficult to describe the impact it has if you have never suffered. My life collapsed around me. I find it hard to talk about without massive regret for the pain and hardship it put on those around me.

Magic became an obsession; something I could lose myself in, a way to block out the demons and give me a sense of achievement. I felt like that child always looking for answers. They say it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something… I’m now an expert. I gave up teaching and became a professional magician.

I enjoy what I do. I make people happy for a living, continue to work with children, sometimes in schools and on my own terms. It helps me to focus and I learn something new each day. Like all arts there is never an end… you can always do better… there is always a different way to do things or a new discovery to make. My inner child, the Prodigal Son has returned at last.

The funny thing is you spend hours practicing something, so it looks like you are not doing anything, and the only explanation is ‘magic’. It is the opposite of teaching. I guess life is never a linear progression. Always be prepared to step outside, embrace change, never regret, and never lose that child which is inside of you.

www.thegreatadamos.co.uk

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“Life will always be filled with problems, but that’s good because it motivates your mind and body to solve them!”

I’ll write to you about something that made a big difference in my thinking and it might even help you today…

When I was at college I had a professor from Europe and one day we were sitting, just us both.  He looked at me and said “do you know students are far more intelligent than us professors and teachers?”

I said, “that can’t be right, how can you be the people teaching us and we are cleverer than you!”

He then explained to me… 

“We give you a little bit of our knowledge and you convert that into wisdom which we can’t. You are the ones who become prime ministers, doctors, engineers, artists and everything else… Whilst we have the knowledge, we are going to remain as professors forever. It’s the children that learn new things, more advanced and better ways. Young people only need a little part of our knowledge to make something fantastic!”

I thought to myself  this now makes sense, teachers simply want to be a part of the development of young minds who can lead the world into a brighter future. 

It’s important to not judge someone from the edge and every person has something in them that can shine and glitter if we work on it. It’s not until someone helps to show them what they have and why they have it. 

I learnt from my father, that he thought simply about nature to understand his life… He would sit on the swings outside or cut the roses in the garden to really change his mood into the happiness that he wanted to enjoy, not everybody else. Sometimes we fail to make our lives interesting and joyful because we try to involve everybody else. Everyone has a different mood so it’s hardly possible to get to where you want to be by convincing everyone around you. But if you’re on your own and convince yourself, you can move far head without arguments or conflicts.

People are so busy these days, if you look at the news there are worries and problems everywhere with so much noise but no peace. I like to get away from the TV and radio, meet with myself and be calm. This is when you’ll notice the mind begins to generate good things. 

Life will always be filled with problems, but that’s good because it motivates your mind and body to solve them! Only through fixing problems with better solutions can we see a more exciting and brighter future. 

 

Humour let’s me be a more optimistic person and counteracts my anxious thoughts with positive ones…

The 2020 global lockdown has tuned in with social media followers everywhere and online videos have been creating a craze of exciting content on more platforms. Focusing on the perks of acting, comedy, and sharing positivity through her quick & witty humour,  27 year old Maryam from Stoke on Trent is planning to build an authentic following network from scratch. Featured last week on one of the biggest UK meme pages (@itsallmaad) was when the moment started!  Take a read of Maryam’s feature below to get to know more…

I am Maryam and humour is something I use as a stress reliever.

I have a lot of adrenaline and I’m generally an anxious person. Humour let’s me be a more optimistic person and counteracts my anxious thoughts with positive ones – this comes across as charming to others I guess…

I currently study psychology, I’ve seen so many individuals suffering from depression or mental health issues and I don’t like it. I like to turn people’s frowns upside down.

What a horrific time to be living in – we’re all suffering a global pandemic but it’s never been so easy to share or connect with everyone even with the social distancing measures. Social media is something that I’ve always been interested in and there was a time in my life when it would affect me so I would deactivate and take a breather. But it no longer affects me anymore. I am hoping the lockdown changes us for the better!

So I post whatever I feel like sharing on the day and it turns out people are engaged with that! My first video went viral, spotted on a shoutout page with over 2 million followers and this led to a new 1,000+ followers on my page overnight! I was hesitant to move my page from private to public, but I realised once my page was public I gained genuine followers rather than those who simply wanted to follow me on private and unfollow once they’d done their nosing around.

My ambition is to create counsel sessions through my page, to have 1-1 conversations to help others feel lifted and loved. There are different forms of treatment in psychology sometimes a talk therapy can help.. and you heal. But sometimes a patient will NEED medication and for this it’s important the right information is shared.

The message I’d share to the world is to be kind. Spread love. Think of how your negativity can impact others.

A Conversation with my younger self is don’t worry life isn’t all that bad, you’re gonna grown old, enjoy your journey!

If you enjoyed reading, follow Maryam on her IG page @x__muj_x and keep up with daily content!

“The world doesn’t need another Elon Musk. What it needs is for you to become the best version of yourself and to continue to make decisions that will take you into the resistance.”

Our initial encounter with Jeff Heilman came from Elon Musk’s biography, by Ashlee Vance.
He may be a multi-talented, self-educated software consultant who is now one of Silicon Valley’s living legends but when he started out 25 years ago Jeff Heilman didn’t even know what the internet was.
Jeff began working with the Musk brothers in 1995 for their primary company, Global-Link (later known as Zip2) – none of them had any idea about the epic journey on which they were about to embark. Working as an account manager for the new internet company and becoming their first employee, Jeff admits it was a risky move but one that eventually paid off. 
25 years on, the self-taught entrepreneur is continually innovating and when he’s not doing that, he’s pursuing his dream to become a professional golfer! Here, the father of 7 looks back on his trailblazing career working with the Musk brothers and shares with us his invaluable wisdom and advice for aspiring innovators. 

If you had one message to share with the world based on your journey so far, what is it?

The one thing I tell everyone is that the answers you’re looking for are in your power of decision-making process. I think the thing that makes us as human beings the same, is that we are all vulnerable. We may have various superpowers, but we all have some sort of Achilles heel in our lives. The thing that makes people different, are the things we want. It’s all ultimately based on decisions.

But here’s the bad news… only 2% of the world fully understands the extent of control they have and for the other 98%, it’s just entertainment.

I tell you this not to be discouraging- but to be encouraging. All the buildings we see, all the software that runs the world, all the money – may be the product of the general working population. However, it’s the vision and the manifestation of that 2 %. My turning point came when someone asked me, which side of the percentage do you want to be? (you may not have known before today that you have a choice, but you do.)

It’s fun to talk to young people about my journey because of my association with Elon musk and I do feel it’s something I can do, to make a difference in people’s lives, especially for those who are ambitious and looking for answers. I always remember that it was down to other people who made that difference for me, in my life.

My suggestion is that you focus on the thing that scares the shit out of you every single day. That’s what you should do. If it’s public speaking, then do it. If it’s building your own company rather than getting a job, then start it. Elon probably didn’t say more than 50 words to me in the 4 months I worked with him. I saw him every single day. In an office that was the same size as a bedroom. He was totally, completely and maniacally focused on the thing that was resisting him the most – which was figuring a way to get the search engines to work easier.

The world doesn’t need another Elon Musk. What it needs is for you to become the best version of yourself and to continue to make decisions that will take you into the resistance.  Then, guess what happens when you’ve overcome something that has resistance? You’ll start to become very clear and crisp towards your decisions. Eventually, decisions will be either a 1 or 0, yes or no, black or white, on or off. Life becomes very simple in that respect even though the complexities will multiply.

I choose to fill my schedule with things that scare me the most because that’s when my superpower is activated. Don’t you want to live your life when your superpower is working most of the time?

You’re someone who has experienced Silicon Valley since the 1970s. What was the atmosphere and environment like at that time and how has it changed since?

Silicon Valley has been a hub for technology since the 1940s. NASA built out its facilities here in the early days. But when I was a kid there was just Intel and Lockheed – the rest of it was just a bunch of farmlands. By the time the 1990s rolled in, the internet was in full swing so you can imagine the hotbed of technology companies.

Later, came the newly formed venture-capital companies in major universities like Santa Clara, Berkeley, and Stanford.

The biggest changes that I’ve seen in the last probably 10 to 12 years have been as a result of the absolute ubiquitous use of smartphones. These changes meant fewer requirements of being in Silicon Valley and more inclusive of the rest of the developed world.

For someone who has seen the growth of the internet first-hand, what’s next on the horizon?

My advice would be to shift the question from “what’s the future of technology look like?” to “what does the future look like and how will technology play a role in changes?”

Without gaining a higher and formal academic education to support the way through your career, how did you find this?

Earning a degree has nothing to do with entrepreneurship. Learning and experimentation and selling one’s ideas is the primary skillset.

The area I found most greatly underserved in each of the businesses I’ve helped build, was the area of communication skills. To me, explaining what a software product does is easy once I’ve done the homework. How anyone can sell something technical or non-technical without a genuine understanding or until they believe what they are selling is of tremendous value is beyond my comprehension!? Yet a great percentage of the people in sales need no such belief to solicit business.

I have worked extremely hard to understand technical concepts in software and networking products of which for the most part did not come to me easily, but only after much intense study. I did not focus on engineering in school and so, it probability took me 5-6 years of selling technology to get the basic concepts of IT and software. A lot of people did not have the willingness to put in the work to learn about how technology operates, and this has given me an advantage in my ‘lack’ of education because I was honest in my assessments early on and found there was simply no other way for me to succeed in Silicon Valley than to study.

It is true, my most advanced academic level completed is high school or 12th grade. From a formal education standpoint, I lack much of the mathematics and science classes of the average second-year engineering student. But that is not to say I am not educated. For example, can most people in business explain what it is they do for a living in such a way, where the explanation of their topic of mastery would sufficiently satisfy a university professor as well as a 12-year old to understand it well enough for them to explain it to a third party? I believe this is the genuine role of a sales presenter.

IBM hired me for my understanding of cloud computing and analytics which I gained at Intel.
Intel hired me for my experience in virtualization of the data center which I gained at CA Technologies.
CA hired me for my experience in the data center and in storage which I gained at CISCO, AccelOps and from starting Tegile.
CISCO bought Perfigo for its exceptional security product which was easily learned with my background in IT sales.

Herein lies the road map to success paved by personal development, study, communication skills, and by learning not just what a company does, but what they needed to do.

You mention the importance of mental toughness. How do you maintain such a way of thinking and for those who have yet to master it, is it simply a ‘lightbulb moment’ that clicks one day?

There is a quick moment, but it usually comes after a long period of working and training and trying to figure out details to achieve your dream or ideal future.

What was it like working so closely with Elon Musk and his brother Kimbal in those early stages?

I certainly did stumble across Zip2 – which was called Global Link in the beginning. I responded to a newspaper ad for one of the first internet companies in the valley – which is ironic (if you’ve read Elon’s story). I met with the Musk brothers and agreed to start in sales the next week. When I met Elon and Kimbal, they had a tiny office in Palo Alto. There was a desk and two laptops which were expensive at that time – maybe $3-4,000 a piece in today’s dollars. They had maybe $10,000 from their parents and had only been working for a few months. There was no product, no people, no space to work in. It wasn’t very impressive.

Kimbal was a very positive person. He and I would go to coffee each day and talk about the sales calls I was making by literally knocking on doors and asking businesses if they wanted to be able for people to find them on the internet.

The internet wasn’t anything we’d ever heard of before and no one I knew had ever used it in 1995. We were very early. As a result, it turned out, I didn’t make any sales and the guys ran out of money after about 3 months. They offered to have me stay on working for no pay until they got funded, but I had bills to pay and could not see how we would ever make it as a company, so I respectfully declined.

It was very uneventful. Silicon Valley had not been placed on the map yet. The word “start-up” was not a thing people spoke of or knew about.

Looking back, I don’t have any regrets in leaving Zip2.com because at the time it wasn’t anything. I’m certainly glad to see these former friends and employers of mine to have done so well, but my timing in working with them was so early I don’t think there was much chance for my poor sales skills, doing them much good at the time either. They were painting houses in Canada just a few months before I started working for them in Palo Alto and I’m sure even they could not have imagined at the time how far they would go.

As a father of 7 kids, what’s one piece of advice would you give to them?

The main advice I give them is to pay close attention to cause and effect and to propaganda. I rarely tell them what to do, but I’m constantly challenging them to examine how they think.

The basis for all success, in my mind, is taking consistent and repetitive action along the lines of building a “belief” that someone can do a thing. Until there’s a POP! in the subconscious which says, “I know I can do this.” Until you get to that POP! there’s always doubt, and that doubt is NEVER to have a voice in one’s decision making as to what they will do.

With a focused outcome clearly held in one’s mind at all times, with a tremendous imagination and the reiteration of the image again and again in detail with a recalling of the emotional reasons as to WHY you might do a thing or acquire a thing, there’s really no limits to what a man or woman can achieve. But without this “faith energy,” I’m not certain I could have the ability to successfully get out of bed and get to my breakfast in the morning.

 

 

“If you have a positive or creative idea, and you feel it might get somewhere – never let anyone stop you from trying to create.”

Flooding the net with his funny viral videos, featuring on BBC TV for his conscious short-films, and entering the UK’s thriving music scene with full support, Theo Johnson is an all rounded creative. Otherwise known as T1Officiall, the Birmingham-born actor, writer, musician and comedy social media personality, is a rising talent.
He’s paved his way into the UK’s entertainment industry and continues to progress with enthusiasm and an imaginative mindset. You may recognise him from his first major role as ‘Callum’ in Channel 4’s ‘Raised by Wolves’ or on the big screen as ‘Jason’ in the ‘Intent2 Movie’. Theo has featured in the awareness campaigns for ‘THINK’ adverts and more recently, released music videos in collaboration with recognisable UK artists.
How did acting come about?

I was kind of a naughty child and found school challenging because I was more into the creative arts and sports rather than the academics.

I figured that I was good at drama – teachers would tell me to take lead in acting roles, which I enjoyed. I quickly started to catch the acting bug and knew I wanted to get more involved in drama.

But I knew I had to be proactive. Once I started telling people around me that I wanted to be an actor, they didn’t understand it or thought it was impossible. My friends wanted to be footballers and my parents wanted me to go to university and get a proper job. As you can imagine, all the negative comments that come with doing something that seems to be unrealistic. It meant I had to start putting in work to prove to everyone that I could do this. I studied performing arts at college and at university I studied teaching drama because my mum wanted me to get a degree. I knew university wasn’t going to help me find acting roles, so I used to attend open auditions whilst studying.

I finished my degree with a 2:1 BA and at the same time, landed my first big break as one of the main roles on Channel 4’s ‘Raised by Wolves’ series, featuring in 3 out of 6 of the episodes.

It was only later I realised I could really make money from acting. I liked the idea of fame and all the things that come with it.

Growing up in Birmingham and coming to an industry that’s London-centric. What was that difference like?

After the channel 4 show finished reality slapped back in. I saw the money coming down and the struggles of the acting world when you’re not in full-time work.

It was then, that I turned to social media and thought it was the future. Me and Sideman decided to work together – as he was involved in stand-up comedy too and made name for himself. We would both go to networking events in London and that’s how we got our foot in the door…

The difference between Birmingham compared to London is that; when you’re driving people will stop for you and give you way, they’ll say thank you and put their hazards on… you can actually walk through the street without being barged. In that sense, it can be a more relaxed and a welcoming place.

That’s all good, but at the same time, a lot of people don’t see opportunities. They just go down the wrong path, or simply don’t know what to do so they think certain goals are unrealistic because they haven’t seen in their immediate circle. Whereas in London, everyone wants to be something, everyone’s got a plan and they’re in a rush to get there.

Acting, music, comedy – how do you balance this and choose were to place your focus?

I think my main calling has been creating my own short films. I didn’t have an agent so I always made sure I was in full control of my work and writing scripts that would show and develop my acting skills.

I see myself as an all-around creative, but I like to be realistic and prioritise what’s important at the time. At a time when everyone was listening to American artists and the UK scene wasn’t as it is now, it made sense for me to focus more on acting.

With music it’s a lot more effort, you need to have the investment and know the right people. With acting it’s about having a big enough platform to push it out on once it’s created.

Comedy is the part I like the least. It’s funny because that’s what I’m mainly known for – it’s the videos that have gone viral. It’s the easiest way to gain a following via Instagram.

Where would you like to see yourself in the future?

I would like to see, a Netflix deal or to star in my own series – that would be big goals.

Being able to show my ability and be respected for my craft in acting and be recognised for my music would be a success for me.

I’d like to become an all-round creative… People can easily put you in a box or hold you back by telling you to keep to one thing or ‘jack of all trades and master of none’. But I believe, if you’re talented and you’re genuinely good at these things, then why not pursue them?

I’d like to be a Jamie Fox or Idris Elba, where I can master my acting and be known for music too.

What advice would you give to someone in drama school right now?

Firstly, don’t get your hopes up. Once you start, a lot of people will sell false promises and dreams. Don’t believe anything unless you’ve seen it happen because of your own grind and efforts.

The best advice is don’t take any advice. People will tell you ‘it’s not going to work’ but if you’ve got that gut feeling, then go for it.

If you have a positive or creative idea, and you feel it might get somewhere. The worst that can happen is people won’t like it or you fail and move on by trying something different. Never let anyone stop you from trying to create.

Also, some advice; don’t let things get to your ego. Money comes and goes, and you’ll have highs and lows. Don’t let fame get to your head because there is always someone trying to take your place and you can only stay at the top for so long – a new flame will eventually come.

When you do reach the top… It’s not as glitz and glam as everybody thinks. It’s very fake – you’ve got be friendly, smile and wave.

Why is there always a mention of this fake attitude, and is there a new turn happening with the younger talent?

I think the world has become too sensitive, and its led to the content not being real anymore. A lot of people are easily offended these days and if you’re a comedian with good intentions – this stops your creativity.

As time goes on, I think it’s getting worse to be honest. But that’s one of the things that comes with the game, I guess. It’s called a game for a reason – it’s not reality. The industry is really an industry of entertainment and it’s not like you have to be real here. It doesn’t matter. You can take your mask and ego down when you come off the stage and live a normal life or be real with your inner circle there.

What kept you motivated and inspired?

The progression is what keeps me inspired – it’s a change that has turned my whole life around. Being at a point where I’m totally independent; waking up when I want unless I’m booked for a campaign or advert, not being worried about bills or knowing that my mum’s not worried about money.

I’m nowhere near to where I want to be, but I’m very far from where I came, and I wouldn’t want to go back there.

My family count on me a lot, anytime they ask me for something I can say ‘yes’ – and I want to keep it that way. Seeing how my progress has had a positive effect on them makes me want to keep doing new things. My nephew wants to be a footballer and my other nephew wants to be a dancer. I can see they are trying because they’ve seen its possible with me. I want to open their eyes to the opportunities out there.

——-

Keep up with Theo’s exciting new projects and follow his official Instagram account @t1officiall to check out his latest content and releases.

 

 

Cobra Beer

Known today as a worldwide name and highly awarded brand , Cobra Beer, was a idea that stemmed from a mutual opinion between two friends, Lord Bilimoria and Arjun Reddy.
Growing up in a background where leadership was a prominent status, Lord Bilimoria witnessed successful military progress through his father’s position as a General Commander in the Indian Army. Arriving to the UK at the age of 19 to study law at the University of Cambridge, proved to be a stepping stone to Lord Bilimoria’s bigger success. It was here that the concept of Cobra Beer was born, in Fulham 1989.
Searching for a suitable beer to compliment an Indian curry was the frustration the two students faced. It was the thought that the Britain needed a smoother, less gassy lager, which in turn would appeal to both ale and lager drinkers… Today, Cobra Beer has become a multinational name and competes with beer brands that have been around for centuries.
We ask Lord Bilimoria a few questions to find out more about his journey…
If you could give your younger self some advice, what would it be?

I would tell my younger self to appreciate how creative business can be. I made the mistake of thinking my lack of artistic or musical skills, for example, meant I didn’t have any creative strengths. I wish I had ignored those who told me that I was not creative. Now I know that it takes a huge amount of creativity to start a business from scratch – particularly if you are going to tackle the giants in the brewing industry, which I did with Cobra Beer.

Another vital piece of advice I would give my younger self and others is to make the best of your education. I am a great believer in lifelong learning, as a graduate of three business schools, including Harvard Business School, in the last fifteen years. To this day, I still attend regular business classes at Harvard Business School, which I value for the quality of the teaching and for the regular opportunity to see old friends, year after year.

Being able to turn a complaint into an opportunity was key for your success. Can you comment on how to maintain a mindset which allowed you to see what everyone else saw, but think what nobody else thought?

To be an entrepreneur, you have got to have guts. Perseverance and tenacity and a belief that we could really achieve what we set out to achieve – to brew the finest ever Indian beer and turn it into a global beer brand – made Cobra Beer what it is today. It may not quite be global but it is well on its way there – it is now sold in over 40 countries – and it is a household name that sits alongside brands that have been around for over a hundred years.

Entrepreneurs are always looking to innovate and do the very best that they can, against the odds. If I was starting a business today, I would not find it any easier. Arjun and I started out as two young entrepreneurs trying to sell a beer from our flat in Fulham, distributing it across West London in a Citroen 2CV. It took a lot of patience building our reputation from restaurant to restaurant, and eventually turning all the ‘noes’ into ‘yesses’.

What’s the story behind choosing the name Cobra for the brand?

Cobra Beer didn’t actually start out as ‘Cobra Beer’. Originally, we thought ‘Panther’ was a great name but our consumers thought otherwise. After conducting research into what restaurateurs thought and taking on board their feedback, we decided to change it to the more appealing ‘Cobra’.

This occurred just before we were due to ship our first batch, meaning we had to re-label every bottle before sending it off and delay that first shipment. We learned that way to always listen to the consumer and let them be the judge, however great the pressure may be.

Perseverance is vital to success; having the motivation to not give up especially when others might. You mentioned how you almost lost your business 3 times. Can you expand on this and how you were able to overcome from such challenges?

The first five years of launching Cobra were the hardest.

At the end of the 1990s Indian restaurants in the UK suffered a year-long boycott of Cobra beer following a damning article in Indian restaurant industry magazine, Tandoori. We had to think on our feet – it was adapt or die.

We ended up opening depots and increasing our sales drive to push the business forward. It was an incredibly difficult time; we were at our best and then suddenly we had to cut staff from 150 to fewer than 20.

Raising finance was one of our biggest challenges, we had to raise as much as we could from a variety of sources. This was one of the reasons for the second time I nearly lost Cobra. An agreement for new financing with one of the world’s largest drinks companies fell through, and then two weeks later the Lehman Brothers went bust. Luckily, I had a Plan B and raised the money from Indian banks.

The third time hit when we were forced to put the company up for sale and we had to go through a painful financial restructure in order to save the brand. But not once, in any of these difficult times, did Cobra Beer’s sales fall.

Alongside the loyalty of our team as well as the Indian and Bangladeshi curry houses, having a strong network of friends, family and business contacts also pulled us through the worst times. As a business, we had the right values and we stood by them with integrity, and that meant that the people we needed stood by us.

What exactly inspires you today?

I am inspired by the opportunities that the UK has to offer. I came here at the age of 19 to continue my studies as an international student and I am so fortunate to have the opportunity that Britain has given me to establish my business and represent the UK abroad, for example as Founding Chairman of the UK-India Business Council.

What inspires me today is seeing others having the same opportunities and bringing over their knowledge, creativity and talent to the UK. We need to ensure that we continue to encourage this and make sure that we are opening our borders to international students, encouraging them to come here to study. I want to see more being done to embrace international students. They hugely enrich the experience of domestic students, not to mention the £25 billion that they add to the economy each year, according to Universities UK’s estimates.

You argue and believe that Brexit is a huge mistake and won’t serve Britain many benefits, but as a businessman how do you plan on preparing your brand for such possible circumstances? Does this change the future vision for Cobra?

It is a massive mistake! Brexit will cause a long term adverse effect on the British economy.

The huge decrease in the value of the pound has caused immediate damage to the UK, a net importer of goods, and the uncertainty over EU citizens rights has already led many to leave the UK in search of jobs elsewhere in Europe. It goes without saying that we will be driving ambitious talent and crucial investors away from our booming economy that we have here in the UK.

The University of Cambridge has seen an 11 per cent fall in applications from EU citizens in 2016, meaning that even our pipeline of talent is drying up and regional economies in university towns and cities up and down the UK will be worse off without the wealth – a value of £25.8 billion and 220,000 jobs in total – that international students help to support.

I feel very strongly that, not long from now, the British public will realise that Brexit has the potential to wreak havoc on the UK economy. Once the true complexity of the decision to leave Europe is finally realised, the British public will realise that they have been duped – the Brexit Emperor has no clothes.

Having extraordinary determination to achieve your vision, which was met by the right wave of opportunities has led to the success of Cobra and where it is today. What one piece of advice can you give to the younger generation, one that may help them navigate their way through entrepreneurship?

Don’t be afraid to take risks even if the odds seem stacked against you. I had a future in finance waiting for me, I was a qualified accountant with Ernst & Young about to start my journey into M&A or finance, but I decided to embrace my entrepreneurial nature and take a completely different path in starting my own business. Through another initiative I was introduced to the largest independent brewer in Bangalore, which helped us create Cobra Beer. It was the idea that truly inspired passion in me, so I decided to get in touch with the brewer – and not once have I looked back.

“For me, I want people to take the positive parts of what my life was about. It’s all about legacy.”

From Peckham, South East London, Ashley Walters stumbled his way into acting and drama at the age of 6. Having built up his career in music and acting over the last 3 decades, his name is definitely one to remember. He’s well-known as the rapper and lyricist, Asher D. A member of the English Garage group So Solid Crew, whose hit ’21 Seconds’ was a major success in the UK; tearing up the charts in 2001.
But when neighbourhood conflict between two street crews heightened, one from Brixton and the other Peckham, Ashley was convicted at the age of 18 for possession of a firearm. Shortly after his prison release, he managed to transition back into acting. At a time when the industry was quick to reject him, he took on a role that would put him on the map. The Movie ‘Bullet Boy’ 2004, won him ‘Most Promising Newcomer’ at the British Independent Film Awards; an achievement that then fuelled his career.
From 2005, he landed himself in films such as 50 Cent’s critically-acclaimed ‘Get Rich or Die Trying’ and the action spy film, Stormbreaker. His leading role in the TV series ‘Top Boy’, which aired for 2 seasons received huge recognition not only in the UK but also overseas, with names such as Drake taking an interest in the show.
Ashley is currently working on his first project as a producer, in a Sky 1 TV series called ‘Bulletproof’. With over 10 million pound funding per season, the series is filled with action, drama and comedy. After 6 years of planning and approvals, Ashley also stars in the series with Noel Clarke; where the duo play as two East London police officers.
We sat down with Ashley to unpack more of his journey, what inspires him and his thoughts on the entertainment industry. With the recent announcement of TopBoy Season 3, it’s safe to say we’ll all be expecting some very exciting content coming!
Acting was something you were first involved with from a very young age, how did this begin?

It began by chance, when I was about 7 years old. My cousin, who was 4 years older, was interested in acting and found the opportunity for a show in the west end, a musical called Children of Eden. I tagged along to this open audition and ended up joining the thousands of kids waiting to perform. It turned out that I got the role!

From then, my mum then sent me to Sylvia Young Theatre School – one of three main drama schools for kids around that time.

Growing up in the generation of MTV raps, you mentioned how you would record their videos and imitate rappers doing ‘double time’. Which artists inspired you most and why?

It was between Busta Rhymes and a group called Camp Low. They killed that double time and that’s pretty much what influenced me…

Being a member of the So Solid Crew, you were one of the first urban groups to pave the way to into the US. But what did you think was one of the differences between the scene in the US compared to the UK?

In the UK there was no such market, nothing like there was in the States. UK rap at the time was so underground and we didn’t have an industry for artists like us on a commercial level. Getting that piece of America was brilliant; we took it and ran with it.

I would say garage was one of the first genres of music that we all felt collectively could be sold elsewhere. It existed before So Solid Crew came into it, but it was more House/Garage.

It was crazy the amount of hype and attention we received, but at the same time it was all new. We obviously didn’t realise at the time we were pioneers, and scapegoats, for whatever happened. Looking back, we are glad to have pursued it. Because I think it’s fair to say that we wouldn’t have what we have now otherwise.

How did you deal with the weight of that responsibility in those early stages?

It was heavy and confusing to deal with. There would be times when we’d turn on the TV and see Tony Blair saying, “ban So Solid!” And we would be thinking what’s the issue?

At the time, we didn’t know how responsible we should have been, and we didn’t really understand it either. The phrase ‘role model’ kept coming up and my attitude at age of 18 or 19 meant I was searching for role models myself. So, in that sense, we shied away from the responsibly a lot.

Artists today still view you as their inspiration. Considering how much the UK scene has recently developed, is there anyone that particularly stands out to you?

There’s a lot that stands out for many different reasons. I’d say Giggs, Chipmunk, Kano, Ghetts and Deviln.

Currently we’ve moved out of grime; no longer are we in that phase. I think what came out of the grime scene was the rise of some hard-funky house, which opened the door for Afro beats and artists such as J Hus, Abra and Kojo.

It’s brilliant to see the unity between artists right now – something that was lacking around the time So Solid was out.

The film ‘BulletBoy’ was about a young man who had just come out of jail trying to start a new life, a story that could resonate with your own experiences. Did this make it easier for you to play the character?

Yes, most definitely. And to be fair I didn’t know it would make it easier for me, at the time. It was the best thing for me to get that job after my release from prison. I was in such a depressed state from what I’d just been through. I remember my headspace at the time thinking that my only option was going back to the roads.

If you can catch someone whilst they are dipping into that state, and uplift them on that magnitude, you have a good chance of saving them. I still thank the directors and producers of the film for giving me that opportunity. I very quickly understood that I was back on track and had something to fight for.

People find this hard to believe but making that movie was when I first properly realised what acting was about. I’d been acting a long time before that, but not fully understanding the process behind it. After winning the award, it became more of a realisation that this was a career path I could continue.

Working on your first project as a producer along side Noel Clarke for the Sky 1 series ‘Bullet Proof’ which you also star in, what’s been some of the challenges along the way while undertaking this new role and as your career unfolds?

Parts of it have been really challenging because it does put pressure on your relationships. When it comes to success, along your journey you’ll get a lot of people waiting for you to get to a certain place, hoping that when you get there you will bring them in. I think when people see that you’re on TV and famous they automatically assume you’re a multimillionaire. So, for me thats the most difficult side of it.

There’s also a big deal with ethnicity in the UK film industry. The issues of representation right now is weak. Although things are changing, and diversity is being encouraged, we had to fight for a good 7 years to get a show like this aired.

Other than that, I’m really enjoying that side of the fence and I’m looking forward to it. It’s kind of like bringing together the audience and fans base of Top Boy and Kidulthood.

When you see the younger generation today, what challenges do you see them facing?

I think they are facing the challenges that we’ve kind of put on them. Being a dad and watching them grow up, I’ve seen how communication has changed due to technology and social media.

I grew up in an era when there were no mobile phones. We had to arrange with our friends at school on Friday that we were going to the cinema on Saturday. When I was coming through with music, we didn’t have the ability to post our songs on YouTube. We had to literary knock on doors and put flyers on cars. Those things in turn made us more well-rounded when we were leaving our teens and becoming adults.

Now, almost everything is accessible at our finger tips and the world needs to be careful in trying to facilitate that all the time. Some things you do need to wait hours for; just so you can go through the process of understanding what it’s about. So, because of that what you see is a lot of the success being short lived because these people have no experience in losing and failing.

What exactly inspires you?

I’m inspired by a lot of different things. But really and truly, it’s my kids. I love acting and what I do, but it’s more about leaving a legacy. I’ve seen a lot of people go this year and you always just want to make sure you’re remembered and that your name lives on. For me, I want people to take the positive parts of what my life was about.

And for my kids, I want to give them a platform to what they want to do – one that was much greater than mine.

Know The Origin

Style with nothing to hide. Introducing Know The Origin, a contemporary ethical fashion brand with transparency at their core. Know The Origin are a breath of fresh air in a world of fast fashion that is having detrimental effects on the environment and people’s livelihoods.
Their sleek website offers you unmatched insight into every stage of the production process of their garments. We were fortunate have the opportunity to chat to the company’s co-founder, Charlotte Instone, about the brand’s journey thus far.
Tell us about the journey towards Know The Origin?

I studied buying and merchandising at the London College of Fashion, which is essentially the process of how you create a product. When I started, my greatest ambition was to be a buyer for Selfridges. I wanted to travel all over the world and enjoy that lifestyle but in my second year of university that was all flipped upside down. Partially by a girl I met who started telling me a lot about sweatshops. I’d always been aware of them but in a very distant way and I hadn’t really considered my connection or implication in them.

Additionally, The Rana Plaza factory collapsed in that year [2012] and I think that was the real visual moment where I thought “Crap, we can’t ignore this any longer”. I remember just being in Oxford Circus and looking at this picture of the collapsed rubble on the front page of the Evening Standard and thinking ‘what am I doing with my life, how can we just be creating things when we don’t know where they’ve come from?’. That was when I had a radical shift and began to drive my lecturers crazy. From then every project at uni turned into a huge ethical crusade – I did my dissertation on whether the fashion industry could ever be ethical.

I later went out to Bangladesh where I visited several garment factories to learn firsthand the effects of the garment industry. I could spend time in the community where the Rana Plaza Factory collapsed and it was truly mind-blowing. The number of people who still haven’t received any form of compensation or who can’t go out to work because of their post-traumatic stress is unbelievable. When it came to graduating, I was sure I didn’t want to work for a brand that didn’t know where their products had come from but couldn’t find one that satisfactorily met that requirement. The more I read up, I would see brands making statements along the lines of “our threads are organic” meaning parts of the production process were ethical but none to the standard that I wanted. Ethics are obviously the most important thing to me but style is also mandatory, and I I couldn’t find many ethical brands that were offering the two at an affordable price. I was left thinking, “why is no-one doing stylish and affordable ethical fashion?” which sparked dream. So, I went out to Bangladesh and India specifically to find suppliers and things just got out of control from there. Suddenly had received investment and funding which set the ball rolling.

Had your degree sufficiently equipped you with the business knowledge to suddenly jump into your own entrepreneurial venture?

I feel as though I have always been quite an entrepreneurial person, which I think is a natural aptitude. Growing up, when we’d go on holiday my dad would say things like, “whoever can negotiate the best price for something on the market can have an extra dessert” so he encouraged that side of our character. All through university I was organising events. I organised this ethical fashion show which also got a bit out of control, it was the biggest one in London. We a discussion panel made up of six incredible people including the shadow minister for culture; Safia Minney who runs People Tree Lucy Siegle from The Guardian. I remember being in my room in my halls of residence, where all the stock had been delivered. I was responsible for over 60 thousand pounds worth of stuff so I slept on the floor in the corridor for two days, just to keep it all secure. I somehow acquired a team, models and it all went really well!

Have you faced any (expected or not) challenges along the journey of bringing the brand to life?

Everything is a challenge and I guess it depends on what your expectations are how much you find something a struggle. There are many things that have cropped up that we hadn’t anticipated such as customs codes. I think even the biggest unexpected challenge is how much time every little thing takes so even with the care label, choosing the wording for that took a whole day. Just little things you wouldn’t have anticipated would take up so much time. Another huge challenge has been celebrating where we’re at and not beating ourselves up for not being ten stages ahead.

Where are you now?

The team is gradually, there is now 7 of us. We’ve starting to get stocked on ASOS and different platforms. Little things are happening that shouldn’t be happening, like getting through customs. It has been quite a journey, but you have to start somewhere. I’m quite a perfectionist so everything has to be amazing.  It’s that whole thing of not judging your chapter 1 against someone else’s chapter 30. Some of the brands that I look at have been going for 10 years. You must be attainable and realistic with your goals so it has been a journey of celebrating where we’re at.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who have passion and an idea but aren’t sure where to take it?

Just start, don’t wait until you think you have something that’s really good. Let people shape it. Like for us, when we first started we had the worst logo and a brand name that I couldn’t even spell. The bio was really long and clunky. Getting rid of that pride of “it has to be good before people see it”. It’s been great inviting people’s opinions but you do need to find the balance. Get wise people around you who can advise you on whether what you’re doing is a hobby or a business. Advice is great but its finding that balance. And also, trusting your gut – ultimately you know what’s going to work for your idea and where you want it to be. Everyone will have opinions about what fonts and colours you use but it’s just about being wise about who you let speak into that stuff. Start, change, evolve, test things. Starting is definitely the hardest bit.

Visit Know The Origin to find out more.

“My love for acting has to do with the fact that the craft is about people. As actors, we tell stories, stories about people.”

Born in Mexico City 1966, Veronica Falcon has been in the film industry, acting and choreographing for almost 30 years. At 51 she has gained wisdom and industry experience, which has fuelled her with passion and inspiration to continue her journey as an actress. Veronica sits down with JW and shares with us what she’s learnt in the business, her views on ageism and feminism, and her advice on fulfilling your goals.
Building a career as a Mexican actress and working with some of the best directors in the country, she decided only quite recently to move to Hollywood to further pursue her dreams. Within only a short space of time she landed the leading role in the US hit series, based on the popular novel, ‘Queen of the South’. Playing the fiery character of Camila Vargas, who is the head of America’s most dangerous drug cartels in Dallas, TX.
Whilst growing up, it was your decision to leave your family to work hard on your dreams. What is it about acting in particular that made you choose such a path?

It’s simple. I just love it and am very passionate about it! I’m grateful that I can make a living as an actor. My love for it has to do with the fact that the craft is about people. As actors, we tell stories, stories about people. We play people, we become people and to do that we have to observe, travel, read, analyze, question, study and meet other people. Then we play. Like kids. So on one hand is intellectually stimulating and on the other is quite liberating. I find it fascinating. I love good stories and I am very passionate about great characters. It’s amazing for me, to dive into the complexities of us as human beings, the infinitesimal amount of stories that humans can spark and the mysteries of human nature, acting allows me to indulge in all that and to play, just as when I was a girl, well almost. As an actor I get to play in a safe “make believe” world and through that I have the opportunity to provoque, entertain or move other people.

Having left Mexico with the hopes of pursuing an acting career in Hollywood, within only a few months; you were able to land the role of Camila in ‘Queen on the South’. What’s been some of the most valuable lessons you’ve gathered being a part of the production?

I think perseverance pays off. I think one of the greatest lessons has been to never take anything for granted. You work hard for something, educate yourself, train, pay your dues, get lucky and then if you do you try to grab the opportunity & to honor it. But that doesn’t mean you are that special or that extraordinary. You can’t take it for granted, you have to wake up every day and play the character with the same commitment as the first day. Someone once told me that “The character finds the actor” I believe that can be accurate many times but I also believe that once the character found you as an actor is your job to make sure that he found a “treasure” and not a “carcass”. Maybe is not my best analogy but what I mean is that if you have the chance to play a character like Camila Vargas you better step up to it and try to deliver the best performance that you can every single time.

Being able to experience an insight into the world of Hollywood, did it match up to your previous expectations and ideas? Were there any areas of the industry that surprised you?

Yes & No. The problem with expectations is that reality usually shatters them. But that is not necessarily negative. I expected, hoped to get a challenging interesting job as an actor, I never expected to get one of the best & most challenging roles of my career within 9 months. I expected to have a hard time because I know how ageism is in the industry and so I did not expected to be playing one of the most sexually attractive roles in my career at 51. So yeah that surprised me a bit. Other expectations were fulfilled: I expected to find professional, talented peers & good scripts and I have, aside from Queen of the South I had the opportunity to work in the HBO series “Room 104” created by Jay & Mark Duplass an that was a “gift”, I knew how talented they are, I knew I got a great script and a good character to play but they exceeded even my expectations which were very high to begin with. And yes it is still surprising to see that in this day and age female directors, crewmembers & actors are still pigeonholed and fighting for equality. I was not expecting it like that, in that area we still have a long way to go there everywhere, not only in Hollywood.

What type of character would you love to play in the future?

Mostly I am interested in playing challenging roles, I love flawed characters, misfits, rebels, weridos, villains, specially when they are wisely constructed and I always enjoy very much to play physically challenging roles that require for me to transform my body. Transformation in terms of physicality is very alluring to me. But I’d also love to play a historical character and yes, I think it would be lots of fun to play a super villain in an action comic book based type film or series, I’ve never done that and I am guessing it would be a lot of fun.

Being a mother yourself, you’ve mentioned it is the thing that describes you first. But if you could have one message to give to the younger generation about holding onto their dreams, what would it be?

Well once you have a dream and you are holding on to it, grab it, hard, don’t let go and make it happen. Believe in it, believe in you despite everything or everyone who tries to discourage you. I truly believe that if the heart is in the right place, if one works hard & is focused on the goal it will happen, might take a while bit it will. But above all, once you have it, enjoy it, nurture it, share it & never ever ever take it for granted. 

“Be fearless, stay in school, be yourself and don’t let other people’s opinions change who you are.”

17-year-old Michael Rainey Jr. stars as Tariq St. Patrick on the US hit drama, Power, where he plays the son of New York’s biggest drug distributor, Ghost. The show stars, Omari Hardwick, Naturi Naughton and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, who also is the shows’ producer.
Michael made his first on-screen appearances on Sesame Street and various commercials and music videos. In 2009, the then 9-year-old kick-started his big-screen career when he was cast as the lead in Silvio Muccino’s ‘Un Altro Mondo. His first American film was in 2011, LUV, staring along side Common. Having later worked on several RECOGNISABLE films, such as Barbershop 3 and The Butler, Michael is now continuing his work on the Power series after 4 success seasons.
In his spare time, Michael gives back to the community through his involvement in Find and Feed, an ORGANISATION based in Indiana which is dedicated to helping the homeless, a cause very close to his heart. He also mentions that he enjoys making music and playing the piano, basketball and video games.
What are your favourite and least favourite things about being an actor?

My favourite part about being an actor is the travelling, you get to see a lot at the same time as working. I also like that it lets me work with different people, it’s exciting to always be involved in new projects and even when I’m not acting it’s good to meet some amazing people. I honestly don’t have a worst. Oh wait, maybe the days I have to get up extra early because I have to be on set by 7am. I love to sleep late. But seriously though I don’t have a worst.

Having worked closely with some of the most respected names in the industry such as Ice Cube and 50 Cent, you’ve been fortunate to gain a lot of insight and knowledge within the industry. But what’s the most valuable lesson you’ve taken away from these individuals?

50 once told me, ‘never feel too entitled because that can lead you to depriving yourself’. By that he meant that sometimes when we don’t get what we want or planned, we end up saying ‘forget it, I don’t want anything at all,’ and then you’re left with nothing at all.

On the Power series, the whole crew is like a family and when it comes to 50 and Omari, they are more like dad figures to me. For instance, I liked to keep brushing my hair on set to make sure it looked good. Omari told me not to worry about how I looked, instead focus on my craft.

Who or what exactly inspires you?

My Mom, she is definitely the biggest inspiration in my life.

With much success, there also comes some negativity. Do you find it difficult to deal with such comments?

No, it only really becomes an issue if you let it affect you like that. I don’t think too much about negative comments, I don’t let them bother me. People are going to always have an opinion.

The people who do show love are really supportive and push me to be better and be the best I can be heading forward with my career and goals.

If you had one message to give to the younger generation, what would it be?

Be fearless, stay in school, be yourself and don’t let other people’s opinions change who you are.

Unsplash

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Bringing you the world’s most generous community of photographers, Unsplash have created a brand that acknowledges the collective power of photography. Over 3 photos are downloaded a second from Unsplash as it’s become a source of inspiration to award-winning writers such Deepak Chopra and industry-titans such as Apple.
Starting as a Tumblr blog with ten leftover images from a photoshoot, Unsplash have now expanded to over 20 million creators from people all over the world.
With their increasing usage on global stages, you’ve probably already seen a photo from Unsplash, you just didn’t know it!

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What would you say have been the key drivers into reaching this level of success in only a time span of 3 years?

We’re strong believers in democratising creativity and a big part of this has been building something that is open and accessible for anyone from day 1. A lot has changed since we started out but one of the things that hasn’t changed is the fact that we still are utterly dedicated to being the number one place to go for exceptional photography that is free. What I think has seen Unsplash be so successful is the community of contributors that recognise this fact and support it by uploading more brilliant photos every minute.

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Supporting creativity and encouraging talent to flourish, Unsplash aims to create a representation of the worldwide community – can you elaborate on the importance of such an attitude in today’s society?

Unsplash photos have not only helped designers and entrepreneurs create demos and websites but have been a source of inspiration for everyone from teachers to nonprofits to independent creators. This inspiration has led to creativity and creativity drives the future.
You don’t need a fancy camera to share your photography with the world any more, and you don’t need money to create and that’s opened up the whole creative community.
Connecting people, many who go to collaborate we like to think of Unsplash as an enabler in the creative process.

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What is the best part of being a part of Unsplash team and what keeps the company so motivated?

Without a doubt, the community. Seeing photographers sharing their talent freely every day and creatives using those photos. A desire to promote the photographers contributing more and more, and making the experience for people downloading using the photos the best it can be is what motivates us as a team.

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If you had one piece of advice to give to young people wanting to start up their own company what would it be?

If you have a solid idea don’t wait for anything – push on and try. And don’t become solely focused on one idea, be open to side projects and experimenting with new things. It’s often how people react to a product or idea that defines new directions that it may turn.

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What exciting plans are there for the future? And what is your long term vision for the brand?

We’re currently working on a number of things, but personally these are the most exciting coming-soons:

1. Launch of a full Unsplash app

2. The Unsplash Awards – celebrating the community

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“Nature has taught and helped me so much in my life. I don’t know how many times I’ve thanked it.”

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My name is Manda. I am 73 and from Uganda, Africa.

It is said that Uganda is the Heaven of Africa, because of its people and climate. My life there growing up was fantastic. I had parents who loved me like anything. I’m sure every parent does the same thing, but my parents gave me a beautiful and loving childhood. My parents always told me that after I was born, there came a lot of luck and happiness in the family. My father encouraged me a lot. He told me; try and be a very good hearted girl, try to help, think positive and be humble. He also told me that nobody could steal my luck.

When I was very young, about 8 or 9 years old, I used to watch Hindi films and wanted to become a nurse. Because I wanted to help the sick and poor people who were suffering in the hospitals. As I grew older, I wanted to be writer. When I used to read anything good, I thought I could also do the same and write to show my feelings to the world. But, I was a day dreamer, which was no good for me. It meant I didn’t concentrate in school especially. I day dreamed a lot about my future and where it would take me. I was very good at playing badminton and tennis. I also loved dance and drama. Even though I was not clever in my studies, I was voted as head girl in my school (1966), because of my nature.

I used to always love nature. Nature is always teaching me so much. Time never comes back and whatever situation you are in, it is not going to be forever. My home in Africa was by the river, so every night I would watch the sunset and sit by the water. When the sun comes down, I thought to myself, nature is telling me: do every good thing you wanted to do and finish in time.

I then got married to a handsome and smart man who was in love with me. I couldn’t believe my luck.

In 1971, general Idi Amin came into power in Uganda and we had to leave the country. He was a cruel man. Everybody was frightened of general Amin because we didn’t know who would come to our homes at night and maybe kill us. I had one son born in Africa before we had to move, and one son here in England. Both were such beautiful children.

When we came from Africa, we didn’t know or have anything. Because we weren’t allowed to bring anything back with us, and I only had £200 and some gold. At first, I was fed up of the weather in England. It was too cold for me to go outside, because we came in the winter. I then found a job, in a textile factory, where I worked every day. I had a good English friend who encouraged me so much; how to work, how to do the shopping and speak better English. So, it became easier. And we were happier to settle in a safe country.

As years went on, I became a grandma to 4 children, which makes me very happy. It was as if it was my new birth. Only people who are grandmas can understand this and how precious those children are. I was so lucky that I could do everything and anything for my children, there was no restrictions. The happiness that I got in my life, I wanted to give to my children, my daughter-in-laws and my grandchildren.

Nature has helped me so much, that I don’t know how many times I’ve thanked it.

My Message…

Live for everday. Second by second. Don’t go to the past and don’t go to the future. Because if you waste today, you don’t know what you have lost.

 

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Ultimately, I wanted to get better. Having the aim of wanting to live my life to the fullest and do all the things I want to, was always in the back of my mind and it helped me remain positive although it was not always easy.

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I was first diagnosed with discoid lupus (a form of lupus only affecting the skin). It took quite a while to get this diagnosis as I got referred to the dermatology department at the hospital after having a bunch of tests done at my GP, followed by a biopsy and lots of other procedures. Prior to all this, I had been informed that I either had a tropical infection from being abroad or it was most likely lupus, so I was kind of aware that it may be lupus. And as my mum started doing a lot of research into the condition, all of my symptoms most closely matched those of lupus.

After about 2 months I was finally diagnosed with discoid lupus. It was a relief to know that what I had, had a name. I started to experience a number of symptoms internally as well as my rash and hair loss, which led my mum and I to figure out that I also had systemic lupus erythematosus. Again, getting an appointment slot with the rheumatology department who deal with this took a while so we went to a private hospital in London to get some clarification of what was going on in my body. It turned out to be a lot worse than we had imagined… If I’m honest, during this whole process of getting really ill I was too tired to even take an interest in lupus, and it was my mum, dad and boyfriend who researched most of it.

It’s as if I didn’t want to face it in addition to the pain, fatigue and bad mood I was experiencing. It was a relief to know what I had but also scary to know that I was going to have it for life. I kind of just felt hopeless and forgot what it felt like to just be normal you could say, as well as how to be energetic and happy.

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I felt angry at what I was feeling as well as angry at everyone around me because I felt that no one understood at all what I was feeling and experiencing every day and night. My rash had cleared due to medicine so it’s as if everyone assumed I was better but I was, in fact, getting worse. I knew that being ill and like this wasn’t going to be the rest of my life and I wanted to get better. I’ve always been quite a positive person and after doing some reading into it I knew that in order to change I had to make some changes. I made changes myself which were very hard most of the

I knew that being ill and being like this wasn’t going to be the rest of my life, and I wanted to get better. I’ve always been quite a positive person and after doing some reading into the condition I had, I knew that in order to change I had to make some changes. I made changes myself, which were very hard most of the time; for example my diet. What frustrated but also motivated me the most was the lack of medical help and information I had received prior to my hospital admission. Additionally, although I am on medication I had and still have the aim of trying to control my lupus through my diet and not medication, as I have read so many success stories about how people have controlled their lupus this way.

What frustrated but also motivated me the most was the lack of medical help and information I had received prior to my hospital admission. Additionally, although I am on medication I had and still have the aim of trying to control my lupus through my diet and not medication, as I have read so many success stories about how people have controlled their lupus this way.

Ultimately, I wanted to get better. Having the aim of wanting to live my life to the fullest and do all the things I want to, was always in the back of my mind and it helped me remain positive although it was not always easy.

What really helped me was keeping a diary throughout all of this. Not only did it keep my doctors informed, it allowed me to keep a record of all the symptoms I had, especially as I constantly kept experiencing so many different things.

Today, although I am continuing my journey with this condition, I decided to create a page for individuals like myself who are going through the same situation. I wanted to share my own experiences and pieces of advice, with the hope of providing others with valuable information which can help them in the absence of some solid medical answers.

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Blurt

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When Jayne Hardy, the founder and CEO of The Blurt Foundation, had the idea to turn the lessons from her bleak battle with depression into an enterprise to help others in the same situation, she could have never predicted the organisation’s success.
With an ever-growing online community and impactful national campaigns, The Blurt Foundation has proved that cyberspace can play an instrumental role in providing effective and authentic mental health support.

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What is the Blurt Foundation and what does it do?

Blurt exists to make a difference to anyone who is affected by depression. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and we’re working hard to get that message out there. We raise awareness, provide tools and knowledge to help proactive recovery and challenge the stigma that prevents people reaching out for help. We work closely with medical practitioners, employers, schools and companies to help them understand depression, what it means and how they can support those affected by it.

Why do you think it’s so difficult for people to openly disclose their struggles with depression?

It’s shifting but there’s still very much a societal perception of those with mental ill health which feels into the shame we so often feel when we’re struggling. Depression eats aware at our core too and we feel helpless, hopeless and worthless. Asking for help becomes difficult because we don’t want to burden anyone, aren’t always sure the help will be forthcoming and we don’t want to isolate ourselves any further by scaring our loved ones with details of the things we might be experiencing.

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What’s been your proudest achievement with The Blurt Foundation thus far?

There are so many, I’m proud of the community of people who support us and who send words of kindness our way, they also help shape the work we do with their feedback. I’m super proud of the team we have in place, they care so very much about the work we do that makes me emotional just thinking about it.

And I’m also proud of our #whatyoudontsee campaign which went viral during Depression Awareness Week 2016 as we opened the door for so many people to speak about their experiences of depression for the very first time. I really could go on and on, there’s so much to be proud and grateful for.

What, if any, challenges do you face with running The Blurt foundation?

As with everything in life, the challenges never go away. We’re aware that there’s so much more we could do to help, and certainly want to do, but it’s finding a way to finance that work and to deliver it effectively.

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And how do you balance the demands of your role with looking after your own mental health?

I get to work with an amazing team which helps tremendously – our work culture allows us to share our personal vulnerabilities with one another and to know that we’ll be supported by the rest of the team – that’s certainly got me through some dark times.

Outside of work, I am surrounded by incredible people too who can foresee when I might be overdoing things a bit and give me a gentle nudge to up the self-care ante.

What goals and long-term plans do you still have for The Blurt Foundation’s future?

We’d like to launch two more peer support networks, to work more closely with GPs and employers, and to re-launch our podcast.

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Out of curiosity, if you could do any other career for the day, what would it be and why?

I would love to work in turtle conservation on the Galapagos Islands.

Lastly, what advice would you give to people who also have unconventional business ideas that they are perhaps hesitant to pursue?

If there’s an idea that won’t go away, that gnaws at your stomach and is something that you’re incredibly passionate about – make teeny steps every day towards that. You will make mistakes along the way and it might not all go exactly as you envisage but you’ll learn so much about yourself and probably get to realise a dream you’ve had for a long while.

It’s better to try than to regret not trying.

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“It is not enough to merely have a dream, you have to act on it and then use your resources and experiences to help others to achieve theirs as well.”

Known by most as Astronaut Abby, Abigail Harrison is an ordinary young lady with a big dream. From a very young age, Abby was determined to be a NASA astronaut and has now taken that dream a step further as she aspires to be the first astronaut to land on Mars.
As she continually takes strides towards her own goals, Abby has prioritised encouraging and facilitating the resources for others to do the same. With the combined expertise of engineers, astronauts, scientists and the support from her cultivated online community, Abby founded The Mars Generation in 2015, at the age of 18. The non-profit has the mission of equipping and enthusing the next generation about STEM and space exploration. The organisation managed to reach 10 million people within a year of launching, a figure which continues to rise.

Having the dream of one day becoming an astronaut, what is it about space that excites you and keeps you motivated to adventure?

Growing up I was influenced heavily by both scifi and a wonder for the natural world. My dad was, and is, a huge scifi nerd so I was exposed at an early age to the idea that space exploration was common and cool.

I was also very interested in the natural world, like most kids, and spent time stargazing and imagining what we could discover in space.

It’s that sense of wonder and curiousity that still stays with me today.

What are the challenges you’ve faced on your journey and training towards becoming an astronaut?

Balance has definitely been my greatest challenge! When you have a dream as large and far in the future as mine is it can be easy to forget to live life now. I make a concerted effort to both prepare for my future as an astronaut and live life to the fullest in the here and now.

Creating the project known as, The Mars Generation, which encourages young individuals to take an interest in space exploration has been a huge success and achievement. But what’s the key thing you’ve learned throughout the process?

Over the past year and a half since officially starting The Mars Generation, I have learned so much- it’s hard to pinpoint.

But I’d say probably the fact that there are so many people out there who are interested and invested in space exploration! Having seen this first hand makes me hopeful for the future. On a practical side, I have learned that running a nonprofit requires a lot of paperwork. And I am fortunate to have so much support and help to run the organization as it would be impossible to do this alone.

What’s the best part of doing what you do?

Speaking in schools! I love speaking in schools because students always ask unique questions full of creativity and excitement about the future.

If you had one message to give to the world what would it be?

Dream big, act big, and inspire others.

It is not enough to merely have a dream, you have to act on that dream and then use your resources and experiences to help others to believe in and achieve their dreams as well.

BkChat London

BkChat London was born when an ordinary group of friends decided to share their unfiltered opinions on a range of everyday topics. The team couldn’t have imagined the overnight sensation they would become, with thousands of viewers not only tuning into but also getting involved in the feisty banter. We spoke to Andy Amadi, the creator, to get the BkChat London’s back story.

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The idea came about with a group of friends deciding to record their conversations. But for those who have never seen the show, what is BkChat London all about?

We decided to make a YouTube channel about real people expressing their personal thoughts and opinions on a variety of conversation topics. You’ll see a lot of agreement, laughter and challenging which occasionally spills into heated arguments!

So, it’s simply about us talking to each other and what perhaps make it more entertaining, is that we talk back at each other. That’s the reason it’s called BkChat London and also because it’s based in London and we liked the sound of ‘BkChat’ being derived from casual text lingo.

What was the inspiration behind creating BkChat London?

Bkchat fills a void in reality TV in the UK. There is nothing quite like the show and to be honest there has been a trend that’s started. To have something that is original, authentic and home-grown, is part of the inspiration behind what makes BkChat the show that it is today.

What’s the best thing about being a part of the BkChat team?

We definitely are a family, which is what makes the whole experience great. It’s laughs, fun, play and annoying each other.

Having the chance to work on new projects together is very exciting, seeing it all grow, as a team, rather than as individuals is particularly special. The positivity amongst us also makes it a good environment to be in.

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Based on the popularity of the show, what have you guys learned?

In terms of the power of the internet, it does have its obvious negatives and positives. But for us in particular, it showed us that we can have a real sense of interaction with our viewers and it’s been so crazy to see how far it’s taken us.

Especially based on the popularity of the show on social media, to have that much of an influence on the generation is quite moving. And it’s great to recognise the feedback from our viewers, who regularly ask us questions based on topics they’ve watched on the show.

A message to all your viewers?

Sit back, stay tuned, and simply watch what is about to happen!

Also, a big thank you to all our viewers for their support along the way – for making the show so popular and successful.

And finally, any exciting plans for the future?

We are planning to take the show to different regions and definitely reaching to expand the brand! So keep an eye out and expect to see us around the UK, Europe and even further overseas!


Check out BkChat London’s YouTube channel for more episodes

The Dragon Trip

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Starting off as an idea at university, The Dragon Trip has now provided unforgettable, culturally immersive and affordable tours to over 4,000 people across China and Japan. With authenticity at their core, travelers can enjoy vastly diverse experiences from Shanghai’s dazzling nightlife to camping on The Great Wall to lodging with local residents in rural Fujian.
Take a read to find out more about the company’s ethos, the idea behind it, and the exciting plans they have to offer in the future.

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What is the story behind the Dragon Trip?

The original aim of the company was to create tours, particularly for those who were looking to travel towards South East Asia but were unwilling to give China a chance based on linguistic and logistical reasons. If you don’t speak Chinese, organizing a trip to China can be challenging!

The founder of the Dragon Trip, Ramsey, and I were housemates during university. It all began with the idea to set up tours for others, based on our own passion and interests in traveling to Asia. For the first couple of years, it was a pretty small organization but when we managed to sign and partner with STA travel, that was a real game changer in terms of numbers.

Today, we have four different offices in London, Shanghai, Beijing and one in Boston. We are also excited to be opening our Japan office very soon! Although we’ve had successful expansions over the years, the ethos of the company remains the same. There is still a big emphasis on providing high quality itineraries, good prices, safe guides and real experiences.

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What is one of the most misconceptions about China?

It’s the lack of the wider perception that I think is the main reason people have a misconception about China. One of the most common view is that China is not beautiful. Not being close to the sea, sometimes makes many think that much of China is the same and dull. People can underestimate the sheer variety of China and how much natural beauty there is and how many amazing experiences you can have there.

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What is it about traveling that makes you so passionate about sharing the same experience with others?

For us, we think travelling is genuinely one of the most eye opening things that you can do. It broadens your mindset and can change your perspective on everything. It’s easy to live in the bubble of your day-to-day lifestyles, so the more you travel, the more you realise that there is so much out there and the small problems you are faced with suddenly can feel less important.

It’s ultimately all about the authentic and exciting memories you create that will stick with you. And this is exactly what the Dragon Trips tries to capture and offer to its travellers. For Ramsey, who originally worked on starting up the Dragon Trip, it’s very rewarding!

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What are the thoughts from locals who accommodate to new travelers?

I think locals tend to have a lot of interest in other cultures and their curiosity in meeting new people is something that we hear a lot of feedback from. The trip is filled with opportunities to communicate and connect with locals to understand their way of life.

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Any plans for the future?

We have some exciting plans coming up! We are launching a new trip in South East Asia and looking to expand more into the states, with our new Boston office. We are also planning a new adventure in Japan, which will hopefully be an exciting success.

We are confident these new ventures will continue to grow the company, but also not lose sight of the core ethos of providing amazing experiences for young people.


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“I said to myself; I’m going to do it my way, and create such a noise that can’t be ignored.”

Creator of Catalyst Entertainment, Guv is known to be the essence of visionary management.
Listening to some of his mates MC whilst growing up, and becoming motivated to help promote them, he managed to land his first radio song at the age of only 13. Guv now manages some of the best upcoming artists and talents in the UK music industry. Working with artists such as Mist, Tom Zanetti, Steel Banglez, Big Shaq, Swifta Beater and Lippi, to name a few.
With his own dream and goal of one-day managing artists behind the scene, Guv shares with us what keeps him motivated, his inspirations in terms of music, his knowledge of the industry, and his advice from experience…

What’s your own inspiration in terms of artists, and where did it come from?

I was a heavy grime fan in the early days of Dizzee, Wiley, Pay As You Go Cartel ect. But I think my true inspiration in terms of music would be a bhangra producer from Derby, called Tru Skool.

He taught me how to play the Dhol, which is an Indian classic drum, when I was about 7 or 8. I remember him being a master of so many instruments and he was a genius in my eyes.

Today, he is probably the biggest bhangra producer in the world. I know it’s a completely different area in music compared to where I’m currently at, but he is number one in that game and I plan on being number one in my game – hence, I draw inspiration from him. He also taught me a lot when it came to attitude in the music scene and self-belief!

As a manager, when you see what’s happening in the industry, how do you then apply this to your artists for them to grow?

I always think that it’s vital to give my artists knowledge, and not to keep them in the dark. It’s the key thing for trust and longevity in manager-artist relationships.

Obviously, there may be certain things that you want to keep away from the artists to protect them and protect their creativity, to keep them in a positive mind frame and their morale high. But I do think it’s important that they understand the business side of things. In a sense, make them their own bosses by helping them to build their own foundations.

It’s also about being selective with the information you don’t want to share, in terms of negativity. There is much of that in the industry and you want to keep that away.

At the end of the day, it all depends on how well you know your artists.

Mindset and the right attitude is key. But what advice can you give to young people who want to enter the music scene today?

After university, I applied for hundreds of A&R (artists and repertoire) jobs and graduate schemes for marketing assistants, management roles, etc. And even though  it was a rejection most of the time, that’s exactly what drove me… I thought to myself, ‘I’m going to do it my way, and create such a noise that can’t be ignored’.

And if you’re not from London, like me, you’ll realize that the industry is very London-centric. I created a noise in the north with Tom Zanetti, and a noise in the Midlands with Mist. As well as working with two of the best producers at this time, Steel Banglez and Swifta Beater. Together, creating a noise so big that London couldn’t even ignore it.

Ultimately, it depends on how deep you want to go into the music industry. Have no days off. It depends on your ambitious. Learn a lot. Read books on the industry. Just keep up to date with the music. Study marketing. Go into detail and analyse everything. And get going!

Branding an artist is important in your industry, but how do you think social media can affect a musician’s artistry?

People can do some crazy things for likes and retweets. And yes, we can be more intelligent with the use of our social media. But I think it also comes down to being truthful and real with yourself.

With huge coperations coming in and being involved, using big celebrities and mainstream artists to promote their products or get viral campaigns, it can all get a bit crazy.

For independent artists it’s great; you don’t need a label. If your social media following is that big, people will tweet out with your video, and it can go viral. I’ve seen it with Mist and Tom; we can put out a merchandise and everything goes crazy and sells out in minutes.

What exactly inspires you and keeps you motivated?

The fact that I’ve done so much, but I’ve technically done so little.

There is still so much more for me to do. I still need number one singles, I still need Grammies, and I still need Brit Award for my artists…

With music, I want to travel more of the world. I’m not really motivated by money because that’s something that comes. It’s more about success and achievements. Doubling my goals is what inspires me to be honest with you.

As you have progressed up, what have you learned about the industry, something you may not have realised before?

I’d say on the outside it looks corporate but inside it’s not so much, it’s more about maintaining good relationships. But it is definitely fast moving and evolves quickly. If your hot everyone wants to know you; if you’re not or have a bad run, it’s easy to fall out of the public eye. In that sense, it can be a cold industry.

And again, very London centric. Although there is 9 million people in London, there’s still about 50 million outside in the rest of the UK. Look at cultures outside of London, look at music trends, explore different cities and formulate your plans, structures and ideas for music from there.


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“The world is full of different people and that makes it a better place to live in.”

 


My name is Nura Arabi, I currently work as a physical education and swimming teacher in a primary school in the UAE. I write fitness columns as a hobby and part of a health research committee. I give daily health tips for kids on the radio (Pearl FM UAE 102.00)

Growing up, I’ve always loved meeting people from different backgrounds, getting to know them and being able to learn so much from them. But moving from middle school to high school was never easy, especially when trying to make new friends. I remember in high school, when I wanted to get to know some more people I had to sit down and brainstorm how I can make friends from different backgrounds . My mother advised me to join a sports team. I was not fond of sports activities but I was surrounded by a family that loved sports and grew up going with my mother and siblings to team practices like volleyball, soccer and basketball.

So I took her advice and  went to my Physical education teacher, who was coaching the cross-country team at that time, and asked him to join the team. I told him that I am interested in joining, but didn’t want to be competitive, simply a part of the team. He told me that it’s all about participation in the end and that I can join! I was so happy that day and couldn’t wait to start the practices and meet everyone on the team. I loved everything about our group, the practices, the coach and eventually even the competitions that I participated at. I got to make new friends and I loved the sport. But there was something different about me that made me stand out in any crowd. I am a Muslim girl who wears the hijab (Islamic headscarf). Wherever I go, people are concerned about my headscarf and “if I am ok in there” especially while carrying out any sports activities. I continued running, even in university. I was the only girl with a headscarf on the running track. Of course I would get the same reaction from people. Are you okay in there? Is it too hot? Are you safe? How can you run in that? And at points I would hear racist comments like go back to your country, towel head, or terrorist.

Regardless, my experience in high school with the cross-country team had inspired me to pursue a healthier lifestyle and study a health major in university. I ended up finishing my bachelors of health and masters of education both at Brock University in St. Catherine’s, Canada. But the question: “are you ok in there?” always chased me. As I was finishing my Master’s degree, I took a course about ‘Physical Education in the curriculum’. And as I was completing my Master’s degree, my professor mentioned that we never hear much about Muslim girls in physical education and so if they make it to the top in the sports field most people are confused. He asked me, ‘Why don’t you write a paper about that?’

So I decided to write a paper that differentiates between religion, culture and the problems those girls face when participating and why their contribution is low in sports. From there, I was able to see the real confusion of non-Muslims about Muslim girls in the sports world. I was able to realize the struggles that non-Muslim physical education teachers have about teaching those girls in their classes. I saw that there was a need to talk more about the topic and explain more.

I decided to take the paper out side of university and presented it to the Toronto District School Board, under the equity department. They were pleased to hear that I was there to help as they were having some problems with students in high schools specifically in physical education classes. Because of that, I ended up giving talks to high school staff that explains the situation of Muslim girls in physical education and participated at academic conferences. Along that way, my passion for pursuing a healthier life style grew bigger and I wanted to share this healthy lifestyle. Same questions were still chasing. Throughout my talks, communicating with people and sharing my passion, I had the chance of moving from Canada and being hired as a PE teacher at an elementary school in a different country.

I then got to face racism at a closer and a different level. I was not accepted for how I dress and for my ethnic background. I was told to my face that “an Arab should never be a PE teacher because Arabs are lazy”. I was being managed by co-workers who were not supposed to be doing that, trying to watch all the work I do and searching for mistakes. Changing and trying to confuse me with dates so that I would fall behind. Making plans outside of work and never share with me so I would seem like a careless teacher. I was also told that I am not qualified to do what I was doing.

Everything that was being said and done to me, I took it as a challenge. Not to prove anyone wrong but a challenge that will push me forward and make the best out of me. A challenge that helped me reach my goals quicker. Alongside with the practice and education I got in university, I went ahead and bought books about the best PE teacher practice, researched questions online, expanded my knowledge in the health field and I am still doing all of these.

I was discriminated against and stereotyped. I never let that break me or change me. If anything, stereotypes and discriminatory remarks made me stronger and made me go further by taking bigger steps. Now, I work as a Physical Education/Swimming teacher in the UAE. I give daily Health Tips for kids on the radio, I write fitness columns as a hobby and I am part of a health research committee. Currently, I am working on a new project to further share healthy living tips that will come soon called Health Holds. 

My message…

The world is full of different people and that makes it a better place to live in. Unfortunately, that scares some individuals. Be different anyway. Find something that you love to do and do it to the best of your abilities regardless of what people label you. The milestones that you set for yourself will draw out the hideous judgments from other people eventually. It also empowers you to be you.

-Nura Arabi


If you enjoyed Naru’s story, follow her on Instagram @_iChallenger to keep up!

“Last year, I came to the conclusion that I want to do music for real, and get to where I want to be.”


My name is Zie. Born in the United Kingdom in Kingston hospital, I’m originally the Congo/France. I now live in South London, Croydon.

I wrote my first song for my dad after he had passed away. And ever since then I’ve been singing and rapping, trying to pave a new way for myself. Last year, I came to the conclusion that I want to do music for real, and get to where I want to be. I also wanted to give something back to my mum, because she been through a lot and deserves more. So ultimately this is where the motivation for my music comes from.

If I had to choose an artist to inspire to, it would have to be Yxngbane. I felt that he had a similar kind of upbringing to me as he’s also from Congo. But most of all, I like his style and one day I hope to work with him in the studio and reach to the level he’s at now – on stage performing word wide.

It’s exciting to see the movement is the UK music scene right now and it has encouraged many UK artists to pursue a path that they previously may not have. I see that some U.S artist are getting involved with the whole UK sound – with some interesting collaborations. My style of music is Afro beats, and I would love an opportunity like that! So I’m focusing hard on getting there. With a good mindset, I know these kinds of things come to those who wait and have perseverance.

I see myself as an all-rounder when it comes to genres so it would be amazing to get recognition as an artist and, hopefully, one day get approached by a big name in the game! If I had the chance to work with an artist of my choice for my next track, I would have to say, Mo Stack!

In terms of challenges I’ve faced along the way, there have been times when other artists have used my beats in their songs or times when people aren’t feeling my music. But I guess that’s normal, and if someone wants to use my beats it’s cool because I’m just here to do me.

– Zie


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