As you dressed up this morning, how many of you grabbed the easiest thing you have to wear: that same old comfy suit or pair of black pants and nearest top on hand, quickly brushed your hair and then rushed out the door? How good can you feel about yourself the whole day after such a rush job? No time, you say? You’ve got more urgent things to deal with? Excuses, all excuses, is what we learnt at the Storymoja Women in Leadership Forum last Saturday. We all have 24 hours in a day – each and every one of us. Those who always look their best decide to do so.
Two image consultants shared invaluable advice at the seminar on February 28th in Spring Valley, Nairobi. More than 30 women attended the event, women who realize the value of taking time for themselves for a change, rather than taking care of everyone else, as women tend to do. The topic was social and business etiquette: how to present yourself in the best way possible.
The main thrust was that we are walking advertisements of ourselves, everywhere, all the time, and so must look and act our best at all times – even for a quick trip to the supermarket. You’ll never know who you might bump into. “There is no second chance to make a good first impression” said Mildred Awiti, the main speaker. It was quite clear why she was Kenya’s first super-model; she still looked like one, casually elegant in the striking Storymoja colours: magenta and black. She asked the audience to guess her age and no one could even guess the right decade! Who wouldn’t take tips from her? Ms. Awiti is an experienced sales trainer and entrepreneur.
The other presenter, equally elegant in a flowery, summery dress, was Nthenya Mesyuko, an events manager and singer. Her liveliness and sense of humor kept the audience engaged throughout as she passed on very practical information about the best way to wear clothes, hair, shoes and so on. Two lucky women were made up by her, and looked gorgeous afterwards in an understated way. We were showed in action that make up is supposed to enhance your features, not scare people away. I wish more women knew this!
The session was highly interactive, which made it all the more fun. At one point we were divided into groups for a competition on which group carried the most useful things in their handbags. A list was read out that included items such as safety pins, IDs, tweezers, books, lotion, etc. The rarest item was shoes – who carries shoes around? Apparently one woman did! The lesson was that ladies should be prepared for any eventuality with a hairbrush or mint or pads or business cards. At the same time, we were warned against really huge bags, because the bigger the bag, the more stuff one put in, and this was not good for the back and posture.
Oh yes, posture. Ms. Awiti had a lot to say about it: how to stand well (tuck in that ass!), walk right (tuck in that ass!), sit right (tuck in that belly, hold up your chest, keep your legs together). This is why this session was so useful. It was not full of airy notions about feeling good about yourself, but practical doable tips on how to achieve this. We learnt what colors went with what skin tones, how to shop for shoes (a bad shoe shows on your face!), and how to behave at a cocktail party, from greetings to handling food and drink, to moderating your voice (watch those drinks or you’ll be shrieking!), how to switch from an office to a cocktail look, and much more.
From the way the questions kept flying, it was clear that women are thirsty for this kind of information, and yet there almost no such forums where women can gather in a relaxed safe space, exchange ideas and learn from the experts. This is why Storymoja organizes such events: we are committed to enriching the lives and minds of young, old and in-betweens by providing venues and books that provoke thought and inspire change.
It was great to hang out with like-minded women interested in self-development, and we had fun to boot, including mingling over tea and snacks and buying books after the talk. I’m sure most of us left refreshed and with a renewed resolve to be the best that we can be, inside and out.
Whilst this session dealt mainly with re-vamping the outside, Storymoja is planning another on working on the inside: doing a personal audit of your life. Watch this space for details of our next Women in Leadership forum. This will be yet another must-attend session for anyone determined to achieve her life’s goals – don’t miss it!