I’m SO excited to launch this new blog series, The Female Equation – a series highlighting female change-makers within their fields, their entrepreneurial journeys as well as what they believe makes up the ultimate “Positive Equation.”
Today, we’re thrilled to feature Jenny Nuccio. Jenny employs over fifty Kenyan men and women in Mtepeni Village and Mombasa, along with half a dozen women stateside through her organization Imani Collective, producing beautiful artisan-made homewares for shared spaces.
Imani Collective’s mission is dedicated to unleashing a woman’s greatness through empowerment, opportunity, and community, and we couldn’t be more excited to feature the incredible woman who started the movement.
Q1: When did you decide to start your biz? Was there an “aha” moment?
A1: Imani Collective started in 2013, but the business and strategy behind Imani Collective really began in 2016 when I was looking for ways to create sustainability.
My big AHA moment is coupled with my lowest point in this journey. In August 2016, I was at the NY NOW show and it was an epic fail for us in so many ways and I left that market wanting to quit and completely close my doors. It was in that (AHA) moment that I realized Imani Collective and our story is really unique because we are on the ground and we do not just source from artisans, we are a full economic empowerment program and we care, love and know our people. I wanted people to know the difference and really know what an ethically minded workshop was…but I also wanted people to love our product and love it because it was quality, consistent and our story only enhanced that.
It was in that moment I decided to rebrand and bring on a stateside team January 2017. It completely changed the trajectory of our success. It was hard to give up our “old look” because there are so many humbling memories tied to that, but now several years out, I look back and am so happy I was innovative ad shifted when things were not working. We became adaptable and rebranding was the best decision I ever made.
Q2: What challenge have you overcome and how?
A2: This is ongoing. I feel like we are still in process every. day. BUT. I would say my biggest challenge was just starting. Many people do not even start because of resources, or doubt, or listening to others. If I would have listened to the people along the way, then we would have never made it past our first month in 2013.
Everyone, even family or people I least expected it from, told me Imani Collective would not amount to anything. They told me I was crazy. They told me I did not have enough background, skill or connections to see it through. They believed it would fizzle out and I would come running “home”, but what they did not understand is not just my tenacity and determination, but my heart for my friends.
Imani Collective started because my friends wanted to learn, grow and become a better version of themselves for their family and community. It started because these women had an immense amount of hope in their eyes and it has lasted because these same women have never given up on our vision, goals and me. It is because of them that we stand and continue to impact today.
Q3: Who’s an inspiration or mentor to you in this rollercoaster ride of owning your own biz + one piece of advice they’ve shared with you.
A3: Oh man. There are many, but besides our ladies being my biggest inspiration of keeping one foot in front of the other…I would have to say my coach Cathy Hawk. She reminds me every time we talk about what “lights me up.” If something is taking my lights out and distracting me then she keeps me aware and vigilant. She helps me stay on track to my goals and vision.
One thing she taught me was to start everyday by checking in and then stating your personal prayer or mantra for the day. By starting my day with the prayer I created with her, it helps me reset my day, my heart and my intentions. Keeps me calm in the midst of chaos.
Q4: We all need fuel! What’s your current go-to podcast or book right now?
A4: I truly wish I had more time to read at this time in my life but with kiddos and growing the business… it has been hard to find my balance lately. BUT my go to podcast is “It’s Time for Coffee” by Jeanette Tapley. I am always encouraged by her interviews and I just love Jeanette.
Q5: What does a “Positive Equation” look like to you?
A5: I feel like I could go several ways with this, but a “Positive Equation” is when you have passion, drive and you’re cultivating that daily in your life. It is like a sweet spot. I love cultivating a culture in our workshop that is intentional, empowering, and true. When we have these pieces, we have acquired a positive equation of sustainable impact.
Big thanks to Jenny for sharing her wisdom today! 🙂 You can find Jenny on Instagram @jennynuccio and Imani Collective at @imanicollective on Instagram and Facebook.
Click here to discover more The Female Equation features and stay tuned for future posts.