We ALL know what a shock it was when COVID-19 hit. Stuck in quarantine and forced into a life that resembles being grounded when you were younger (or now, for my younger readers). I will admit that the first couple months was a hard adjustment, as it was for everyone. But in actuality, it gave me a chance to regroup, get some rest, and put a pause on my fast paced lifestyle. Sometimes, we get so caught up in our careers, pleasing other people, our never ending to-do lists, that we forget to take time for ourselves. Now, we are being forced to think about ourselves and our well being for once.
We've found ways that can keep your mind, body and soul healthy through these times:
Read a book, listen to some podcasts and watch some good shows!
Tell us about yourself!
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, also Nigeria. So I also had a lot of experiences growing up in Nigeria as well, which is in West Africa. So that was a different way of growing up which probably taught me a lot of humility as well because my grip is kind of a silver spoon here, but there was kind of a little bit less. So my parents wanted me to be humble and show like, you know what it's like to have it all, not have it all and how to have a cold balanced Life, so, you know, you can survive with it or without it. So kind of my upbringing so that has a big impact on who I am today. I’m a creative person. I've always been into Arts. So I played Sports. I was an art everything creative. That was me. I never really could be a doctor or something that was like being wrapped to just do[ing] the same thing everyday. It's kind of what got me through modeling. I went to Barbizon Modeling School when I was 12 and I started there. I started to just work on my self-esteem at that age because I'm 12, you know how it is. But yeah, give me the confidence and once I finished I graduated at 13, got signed with an agency and started working when I was 14... I started there and then I started teaching there when I was 19. I believe I was so young as a teacher, but I was like, I love to teach, I love modeling. So why not do it, I want to be teaching it coming back.
What do you attribute your success to?
I would say my drive like [what] we were saying, [people] think I'm successful today, which I don't think I am but doing like I guess in a way, I mean, we kind of already discussed it...I dedicate it to God and I dedicate it to my mom. That's just the level of it...I just feel blessed and grateful and these things don't come out of nowhere. I feel like that was like my acceptance speech. I won an Oscar [for] business. I would say first. I want to thank God for his grace. I want to thank my mom for her resilience and her pushing me and never giving up. I think myself for being myself and yeah, I like that I would listen. Yeah, I think my friends and family, I have to give them credit. Like I didn't do this alone. I have a supportive sister who's in San Francisco. She'll be a lot of the tech stuff. [I have a] supportive boyfriend who is really really smart and really like the brains of a lot of the creativity that goes on so I feel like you just need a circle. Goal of people to make it all work. And so yeah and Mom, family, and friends.
What do you like to do for fun?
I think I like working [which is] why I got into this business. I love watching YouTube videos and cooking. That's my fun, is my passion. My job is another part of my work and I love teaching. So yeah my heart.
What does a day in the life of Fancy look like?
So my day-to-day before covid [was] very very busy. I'm going to work to teach and I'm going to auditions. I'm shooting because I'm booking and when I'm not doing that, I get to pick up jewelry or work on New Designs. So doing that and then I'm also working at my home office doing inventory. I did a lot and basically lived in my car because of all the driving. [It’s because of] how much I would drive. I would drive to North Hollywood all the way to Anaheim all the way to Diamond Bar to teach and back to Orange County. It's just I had a really busy busy life. You work hard to be where you're at. But now with this Corona...So that all changed no driving. You know now that I’m at home it's still busy, but it's busy plus anxiety. Because I'm such a busy person so I love to be active. So it has been hard. Because I go to watch shows all the time and award shows, so now it's like there's no parties. [It’s worrying about] staying alive.
What do you like most and least about your career?
Okay, um what I like most about my business at zodiacaa.com, shop now, is [well] first I love jewelry in general. So that's how I first started the company with just zodiac jewelry and I have loved astrology since I was 12. [As] a Leo I loved knowing my sign and loved to know other people's signs. I'm wearing my stuff right now. I just love combining two of my favorite things which is fashion and jewelry astrology and wearing it and talking about it. It's such a conversation starter for people in any time zone. Like oh, yeah I just bought your necklace and everyone's always asking me like what's your sign and it starts conversations going...it's nice that it brings people to actually discuss and get to know each other just based on your sign, because every sign is like a different story.
How do you motivate yourself to become better and better everyday?
Um. Well. My mom. She is like or was, she just passed away and is the reason that I wanted to go succeed and I'm glad she was alive to see my business start. I'm glad she was alive to see me work towards it and all the you know monumental things that I did in the company when I made like a nice chunk of money. I was like Mom, let's celebrate… like I love that. She saw that it was going somewhere. But now that she's gone, I thought it would take away my motivation, but it [actually] elevated because I'm like she might not be here, but I still wake up and do it for her. I'm like, you're going to see your child succeed either on Earth or in heaven. So she's my biggest motivation [and] myself too. And of course, I want to have kids one day and I want them to be proud of me.
Describe a time in your work life where you demonstrated leadership qualities.
I'm a leader at my school leadership qualities...I'm used to like let's say I'm leading a group of 30 students at one time. But I find when there's a particular student that maybe comes to me and they don't like they're keeping up or they're nervous or they don't know how to bring out their best self. I feel like that’s when I use my own personal experiences to like talk to the student and relate with them. It's another level of teaching and sense that I like to get vulnerable with those students...I can be a great leader because I also know how to be relatable and vulnerable to people who need that extra push. Oh God, it takes a lot of like, you know exposing my own insecurities, but I feel like as a strong person you should be able to, you know be vulnerable and relate[able].
What projects are you currently working on?
I'm just working on bringing more jewelry to the store, working on more apparel, more designs, and scheduling some photoshoots with some celebrities that are going to be underground, which I'm really excited about. One of the first celebrities that I talked to about ZODIACAA was Kim Kardashian. So getting her opinion on you know, the brand was really cool and it was like [a] few minutes of just talking at the thing. Goes to be amazed or something and she said it was such a cute idea, you know, she mentioned her husband, Kanye being a Gemini and it was something she agreed on with the business. And just getting that like validation and being connected with some celebrities that actually want to like wear my stuff. I am working on photo shoots getting you know people to see who is going to represent. [Overall having her opinion on the business was great], I mean yeah I have met her family several times and they are just the sweetest people.
What made you start your own business?
Well, I wanted to be a boss not to boss people around or anything like that, but I wanted to be a leader because I feel like I have a lot of leadership skills...I'm used to being an older sibling. I'm used to teaching kids. You know, I'm used to just knowing how to manage things and I felt like if I worked for a company, it would be hard for me to be told what to do constantly, especially if I have ideas and I want to bring to the table and I know it's not my place. So I was like if I have my own company and make this hobby but make this something I can make money off of, I have full control on how it works so I can wake up in the morning and I know I have to work on. So for a business, the most push you could ever have is to be a business owner because if you don't wake up and do something for the job that day your company is going to fail. So a lot of pressure helps me wake up excited.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
In 5 to 10 years, I definitely see my business being a lot bigger. Okay right now I consider my business a small business and always tried to make sure people know small businesses. I mean it doesn’t mean it’s not profitable or doing well, it just means that the company still has a little bit of like employees. It's very private still so I do see my small business becoming a big business where I have a full-on store… It’ll be a world where you walk in there and then you explore like you shop for, you know, astrology like t-shirts and take you to the nice world of like a fun experience to shop for my products. So I would love to have a zodiac store and also in five years see myself doing a lot more trade shows if that comes back after covid. [Trade Shows] are really good for meeting and networking with people. So I see that and yeah, I just need a company growing in five years...
What have you learned from your past mistakes?
Mmm, I have learned to control my emotions a little bit more. Women are a lot more emotional no matter what people say... I knew as a woman I could not be too emotional because in business, I'm dealing with a lot of men when it comes to investors...sending my business plan, we're still getting better that women are more on the top, but for right now men still dominate the industry and business so I had to learn when talking to people to not let criticism make me feel bad and still feel like Fancy. [For example, if someone says] “that's a really like ugly design.” “I can't be like really what do you mean ugly?” [Instead tell myself] okay, so how do you make ugly, beautiful? Like I just have to make sure of that. That I don't get too emotionally attached if that makes sense. So I think the question was what I've learned from my past mistakes and that would be to [not be] emotional over people giving me criticism. It's like it hurts when you know, you're working on something and people tell you things like that. I don't like it and I used to actually attack back. “Well, I don't like your shoes. Well, I don't like you and your you know, your sister can't cook or whatever.” Not learning criticism and keeping quiet about it is what I learned today, but I made a lot of mistakes talking back talking. Yeah. I always just felt attacked and I just had to realize like my business is not who I am, supposed to someone talking about my business. I should not feel emotionally attacked...You know, I think a person like yeah, that makes sense. If we have a business you see it as your baby...Still learning that detachment is so powerful, like separating yourself...
What advice would you give someone who is just starting out in the industry?
You should definitely have tough skin. So if that means doing some personal growth before you get into it, I'd recommend it because the entertainment industry is one that can be a very big self esteem killer if you are already lacking in that department, so I would just definitely recommend doing spiritual work first talking to God. Why do I want to do this art of acting or modeling that I love so much? Is this something that I would be filled privately or do I need to have it on a big scale where I'll be judged. Am I going to be okay with being judged and how would I react with failure? Someone tells me I'm not good enough. What stopped me for what is [my] motivation? So I think it's a lot of spiritual talk that I would have with myself. Yeah, if not advise anybody before getting into the entertainment industry.
What are your daily changes you face as a female entrepreneur?
My daily challenges of being a female entrepreneur is a really difficult struggle, but it makes me stronger every day. Trust me like it's not easy because you already feel like you have the lower end things and sometimes it's just so difficult to express yourself as a woman and feel like there are people not taking me seriously, or are they looking at me like she's a woman like that's what happens. So being a woman in business entrepreneurship. It's a lot of risk taking, you know to start my business. I put in a lot of money into it. So you have a terrorist and you know, I wanted to also have a business where the risk is all on me, what I mean by that is that a lot of people start businesses by taking loans or kind of crowd funding from people and now have this pressure like hav[ing] to payback...So my proudest moment I would say was from all of my modeling jobs saving up all of my money and start a business by myself. I owe nobody anything and that pressure is like who I wake up and I'm working for me. I'm growing at my time. No one's like you owe me $20,000 or whatever. So when I can take on a boss, I take a loss on my own so that would be the easy part for. But I know it's not always easy for everyone to, you know, get a bunch of money to start the business. So I am blessed by that. But what else makes it hard? I don't know. It's just I think being taken seriously. It’s my biggest thing as a woman. I feel like it's just insecurity like do they take me seriously is a big thing. So when I get endorsed by brands like recently partnered with Intel you know...that was that was kind of like a boost like you're doing it and it's not always going to be the men that get the reward. So when they came to me and they're like “we love what you do, we want to just record your whole life teaching doing this and going to your jewelry store.” I was so excited. It was like the most exciting partnership I've done because it wasn't just like an Intel commercial for Fancy the model. It was about my entrepreneur life. You know, they came to the office. They came to Barbizon to actually see me teaching the kids. It was so so amazing. So yeah validation like that is great and makes me go okay, Apple next.
Do you think women feel intimidated in business?
I can't speak for all women. I think now that I've been in it for so long, well two years not that long but even as a model, I still see myself as a business person and you know, I used to teach in class to students. Yes. You're cute. Yes, you're young but I always talk business as well. [I tell them] “Listen, you're going to have an agent, they take 10%, your manager takes 20%, your publicist too...you're going to have a Coogan account.” This is where they're going to save. I love to teach business, too. Kids at a young age. But again it is you're going to be a model and actor you need to know how much you're getting paid, are your parents taking all your money? So yeah being a woman in business. I feel like I've had the experience of managing myself as an artist. And now that I'm doing it as a business woman, it is difficult, but I have no other option other than to do it…[if there is] no other option, I can't cry about it...When you realize you have only one life to live you have this mindset of like I'm going to do what makes me happy and if it works it works if it doesn't I'll still be happy because I tried so that's how I see life.
How could women be a support system to the female business owners in their lives?
Yeah, um, you know, we always have this thing but women don't support women as much as they should and that stigma is true. I feel like there could be a lot of jealousy with women and I don't know it's just something that's always been there either it's about a guy or about a hairstyle. So in business, I think it's getting better. I support women's business like my coworker, Patricia, she started a business selling candles and I think zodiac goes already a year old. The first day when we came to Barbizon...I didn't even tell her I was looking. I was just on the phone and I just ordered a candle from her and then she now saw like, oh my gosh, like I just got an order for me. I was like, I'm going to support you. Right, because I feel like getting your first couple orders is difficult, but I feel like family and friends should be there to at least get you get your confidence, boost it up, but I want her to know...I support [her]. So I have a friend who starts a business and I buy their stuff full price. I got another way to support myself. I don't like people like, oh, I know you let me get a discount. No, I think the support is really giving this person the full amount so that you know, like they deserve it. So that's how we support each other, spread the word, post her stuff. On my end if I have any friends who have a business, on Instagram,...I don't have a lot of followers or anything. But even just like the littlest, you know an act of kindness [helps them]...I don't think there's any friend of mine that started a business that I haven’t posted or promoted... So if I have a new girlfriend and she's like I have a business. What do I do? Like, let's talk business. I love it. So what made you so excited? What's your name? What are you going to do?...I want to help and want to promote. Are you having a party? I show up. I've really shown up [because it’s] exciting.
How would you expand women networking to expand all women entrepreneurs?
...[For a] friend I feel like having a mentor is a good idea. So when my friend comes to me like I want to start a business I want to help of course, but I'm also growing so there's only so much advice that I can give. I can give you my daily advice on what I messed up on yesterday and learn from that but I feel like for supporting women and networking, I would also recommend [getting] mentors much older, much more in the game because they're going to have a lot more things to tell you than I will, just being honest. I myself have a mentor as well and she was always telling me to just go keep going. Don't stop don't stop and I'm like, I don't get this. She's like Google it, Google is everything and you are in the best generation of life right now. You have the internet by your side so Google it. So someone asked me a question like that, like “oh Fancy do you know any events happening in L.A” I'm like, I don't know but Google does let's Google it together. I feel like having a mentor for me [has] taught me how to use my resources. I would give any advice to any woman who comes to me and I will see if we [can find] someone in that space. Like I'm doing jewelry and stuff, so if someone comes to me and she wants to have a video game business it might be hard, right? I would say that's my best advice. This is kind of hard in a way, you know, it's a lot of downs and falls, I just think it's important.