Name: Stephanie Quaye
Degree: Applied Psychology
Career title: Coach, Mentor Unaccompanied Minor for Refugees (UMA), Founder & Headwrap stylist Naa Duku
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself and your academic background?
Stephanie: My name is Stephanie and I was born and raised in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. I currently hold a Bachelor degree in Applied Psychology. Years back I used to work as a passenger service agent at Schiphol airport for 3/4 years.
However, I always had an interest in the human mind and behaviour, due to my passion to help people deal with practical problems and to gain more understanding of why individuals behave in a certain way. Hence the reason why I studied Applied Psychology. I graduated last year June 2017.
Q: What inspired you to start your brand and business, Naa Duku?
Stephanie: In 2015, I started wearing head wraps more often. By doing so, I started to become more skilled in creating new headwrap styles by using colourful fabrics. People always loved the vibrant and creative presentation of how I wore my headwraps, which is basically suitable for any occasion. Wearing head wraps made me feel (proud and) connected to my Ghanaian Heritage and that inspired me to start my brand, Naa Duku.
So in 2016, I wrote a concept for by business and organised my very first Headwrap styling workshop with my sisters before the official kick- off in Sept 2017. Ultimately, I would love for my brand to grow globally and reach other ethnic groups as well.
Q: What are some of the challenges you faced when you started Naa Duku? And how did you overcome those challenges?
Stephanie: In the year when I wrote the concept for my brand, I was not really sure if I was ready to launch it. However, in 2017 I decided to go for it. I noticed that I needed more skill when it came to managing the digital marketing platforms, PR and content in order to advertise and promote my brand online. So I pushed myself to learn the basics – which I honestly struggled with.
I tried to follow seminars and virtual sessions to make something out of it. As a matter of fact, I met a wonderful coach from the US who took her time and shared her knowledge and experience through consultation by WCA creatives. Through WCA creatives I received appropriate and excellent guidance to develop a solid brand concept & strategy. That motivated me to clarify my brand identity.
During this process, I learned that it’s not healthy and helpful to criticise yourself too much. If you do so, it becomes harder to adopt positive behaviour towards your work. And yes, it is good to set goals and to be driven in a way to achieve them all. However, rather ask for help, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Personally, I love to do everything by myself but that is not possible. I understand now that you need feedback and advice to build up your brand. Have patience with yourself and reach out to those who are experts. Focus on how to improve and move on.
Q: As you mentioned, you organise interactive head-wrapping workshops in Amsterdam. What are some of the key things you want your clients to take away from attending your workshop?
Stephanie: I want my clients to feel empowered, energised and ready to use their own capabilities to wear head wraps in creative, classy, and comfy styles. I also want my clients to have a fun, meaningful and interactive experience.
Q: Next to your brand, what socially-focused endeavours are you engaged in? What do you do to inspire and contribute to the well-being of your local community?
Stephanie: Naa Duku is an empowerment and lifestyle brand which aims to bring women together in order to equip them with the art of African inspired headwrap styles. Secondly, it is a space for women to have a deeper connection and build community with other women.
Also nice to share…
Since last year, I have been taking part in a project regarding the Exhibition of the Material Cultural Heritage collection of Ghana through the Imagine IC (an institution that documents and showcases cultural activities in the Netherlands). The Tropen museum collaborated with Imagine IC to set up a collection by involving Ghanaian youth in Amsterdam. Through my participation and involvement, the Ghanaian ‘canoe’ was selected and brought to the public library in Amsterdam to be showcased for 10 years.
Q: In your opinion, what are some of the main skills aspiring female entrepreneurs should acquire to become successful in their career or business?
Stephanie: Be open-minded, disciplined and committed to whatever you are involved in. To become a successful entrepreneur, you need to develop great listening skills. I believe it makes you a good business partner. Especially, in the first phase of your start-up, you need a healthy and rich environment. For example, it’s very important to have trustworthy people in your life who can counsel you along the way.
Secondly, networking is a skill that you will develop through experience. You literally have to push yourself into the masses to connect with people within your field and outside as well. Also, don’t be afraid to present your brand with confidence.
Q: What advice would you give to young women who want to start their own brand or business, but still feel quite doubtful about becoming an entrepreneur?
Stephanie: You don’t have to wait until your plan or concept is perfect. Even with the basic necessities, you can start something. Surround yourself with like-minded people, be willing to learn, because learning does not stop when you hold an academic degree. Entrepreneurial lifestyle is a journey, which asks for a lot of patience, motivation and hard work.