Name | Jackie Taiwo
Tell us a random fact about yourself | I taught myself to play the piano when I was 12 and was pretty good for a few years, but I haven’t touched a piano in over a decade now.
What is your current occupation? | I work full time building my new business, Melariche (www.melariche.com), an online makeup & skincare catering to women of colour. On any given day, I may be working on web design, marketing & sales strategy, brand curation, operations management, social media…the list goes on and on. We launch in August, so everything is super busy, but it’s so fulfilling to work on a project that you’re passionate about and believe in.
Would you class yourself as an ambitious woman?| Most definitely. I’m always in pursuit of a goal I’ve set for myself whether that be in my personal life or career related. What’s interesting though is how I have been able to jump onto new opportunities without looking back. I studied engineering college, but decided to work in corporate finance after graduation. After working a few years, I then decided to pursue a joint law-business graduate degree (thinking I would move into business role within the entertainment industry), and by second year of grad school decided I just had to leave the country and was hired by an international law-firm willing to relocate me after graduation. I was able to transition at each stage because I did not believe my path was limited by my current experience at that time. And I think having ambition is being able to see a vision for yourself beyond what society or your environment says you should do.
Have you always been ambitious? If not what was the turning point for you? | I think my ambition was engrained in me early by mother, who passed away in 2002. My mother was born in the deep south in the height of Jim Crow (quite literally born on the land her grandparents were enslaved on), but she was not someone who let her circumstance limit her vision. At 19, single and pregnant, she moved to the New York by herself to give her family more opportunity. She worked hard, got married and was able to buy a home with ten years. Fast forward to 1981, five kids later, a single mother now, she decided to get her bachelor’s in nursing while pregnant with me and graduated with a degree from one of the best nursing programs in New York. I watched her step up in the community whenever it was needed. Our local HeadStart program needed a bus driver to take local kids (including myself) to the school. With six kids, a full-time job, she made to time to volunteer to drive that bus. I can name countless instances where she was first in line to help those in need. Like so many black women, she all did this without seeking recognition and was not incredibly vocal about her achievements. I doubt she would have even called herself ‘ambitious.’ She did what she thought was necessary to provide for herself, her family and her community. But her ability to see & create opportunity has had a big impact on me. She did not let her struggles define her and that’s a powerful mindset. In my toughest times, I think this type of ambition has been so powerful in motivating me to push on.
What is your biggest achievement to date? | My 4-year-old daughter has to be my biggest achievement. She’s beautiful, super smart and headstrong. Outside of that, I would say quitting my job as a corporate lawyer after 5 years. Yes, quitting was a huge achievement for me. I was so unhappy and not living in my purpose but I was incredibly afraid to quit. Overcoming that fear was huge feat and I’m so proud that I was able to do it. Fear can really cloud your ambition, so letting that go was a major step for me and has allowed me to progress to where I am today – one month away from launching Melariche!
What is your long term vision for yourself? | My vision is massive. I want to grow Melariche into a ‘Sephora for women of colour’ and really shake up the beauty industry which has ignored women with darker skin for far too long. I want to eventually build Melariche stores all around world. Our tagline is ‘Celebrate Your Beauty’ because our brand represents beauty in all colours and sizes. Women are constantly told that they need to a look a certain way in order to be beautiful or to be successful. I want to challenge that notion by encouraging women to look however they want, wear whatever makeup they want, do their hair however they want, and that’s okay and beautiful because it’s YOU and you have been and will always be enough. Live life on your own terms and break the mould!
It’s also incredibly important to give back and I’d like to start a program that empowers vulnerable women to see possibility beyond their immediate struggle and pass on the mindset that my mother gave to me.
What have you sacrificed or willing to sacrifice to achieve your vision? | I’ve given up a lot of my time. I work on Melariche in every free moment because there is always something to do. The to-do list never ends. This unfortunately means I struggle to be present when I’m with my daughter and husband, and at times I’m afraid I won’t feel the effects of this until years later. But my husband is incredibly supportive and every day I block out time that is just for me and my daughter (working on putting the phone down!).
What advice can you give to other ambitious women that want to pursue their dreams but are afraid to do so? | Optimism. Remove the word “can’t” from your vocabulary. The power of being positive cannot be understated. Talk about your vision confidently – even if you don’t have the resources – focus on what you can accomplish and make a growth plan and believe in it.
Also, I think it’s important to pause and set aside a few days to literally write down your 3-year or 5-year plan, whether it’s for your business or career. Write down what you want to achieve and be as detailed as possible about how you’re going to achieve it – force yourself to be realistic, take note on your strengths and include a plan to work on your weaknesses. Have someone you trust read it and to help determine if the plan you’ve set out will actually get you the results you seek. Also, write down contingencies for each stage, knowing that even if you execute your plan perfectly, sh*t happens beyond your control requiring you to pivot. But when that time comes you’ll be prepared because you know there’s a plan B.