Welcome to Unapologetic, a monthly series designed to introduce you to millennial leaders doing badass things in the world. Unapologetic women are fully owning their space, their voice and their vision for a better world - and taking massive action to bring those dreams to life. They also believe in building up other women along the way, and are kind enough to share their life lessons with us here!
I've been a fan of Nadeena's work at Art and Anthem for a long time now - her creative eye is truly unparalleled (I mean - how beautiful and buttery is the image below?!), and I really respect how she uses her digital platforms to share her voice. Today, she's giving us a behind the scenes look at her life as a creative entrepreneur and what keeps her motivated and inspired. Spoiler alert: it's pretty simple and magical stuff.
What does being a leader mean to you as a creative entrepreneur? Standing for something. More than just the work I create, I think being a leader means caring about the world outside of my industry. How can I make it a better place? What groups of people can I help? How can we use our voice? Also, in relation to people who are closer to me --being someone who motivates them to grow and reach their full potential. Where is this person struggling? What can I do to help facilitate his/her growth while strengthening their belief in themselves? What are they afraid of, but need to face? How can I help them with that?
What keeps you inspired and engaged in your work? Two things: people and art. The creatives I’m surrounded by and cross paths with whether in real life or virtually. They have something they want to put out into the world, what they feel is their purpose and that alone, being surrounded by people like that -- you feel like you’re surrounded by kin. I think this is why it’s important for us to be really intentional about the people and forces we allow to influence our lives--personal or work. Understand who you are and understand what you need.
Second is paying attention to what I consume, what I let filter into my mind. I like reading autobiographies, watching documentaries, visiting art galleries. Giving myself a day to pick a random stop on the train and bus, getting off and exploring it, taking pictures. Not for anyone else but me. Most definitely not for Instagram (ha!). Photography is my mode of expression (there’s the commercial aspect of what I do, then the creative + personal that I have to always be mindful of) but people, humanity---our world, I think that’s what ultimately inspires me. It’s my job and responsibility to keep reminding myself of that or I’ll get lost in the world of creating simply to make a profit which is soul sucking work.
How do you start your days? Walk us through your typical morning routine. Oh I love this! I love morning routines and my days have definitely gotten better after I attached some structure to them. So after waking up I normally grab a warm cup of my AVC drink and head up to my little work space. My desk is right by the window so at this point I have natural light soaking up the entire space and it just lifts my mood right up (unless it’s the dead of winter, but let's not talk about that).
I turn on the Deep Focus playlist on Spotify and use this time to brain dump into a notebook which can take anywhere from 30-45 mins some days and 10 mins on others. I then read for about 15 minutes--I have a specific criteria for books that I read during this time--they have to be mentally stimulating but also motivational (simply reading positive quotes doesn’t do much for me). I’m currently reading The Success Principles by Jack Canfield. Ignoring the cheesy cover and title, I’m completely in love with this book and plan on ordering a copy for my personal library. It’s slated to become a morning routine favorite because it’s concise, to the point and packs a whole lotta knowledge that gets my mind working.
After that point it’s movement/exercise time. I’m not super strict on this area, the main thing is I’m just supposed to move my body so it’s either between circuit training, yoga/stretching or going outside for a walk. During this time I’ll probably listen to a podcast--never about work but about things I care about outside of work (ie. Pod Save America, Pod Save The World, 2 Dope Queens, Help Me Be Me and a bunch of others I can’t remember right now). Then I shower and sit down for about 7 mins of quiet + meditation before grabbing breakfast and starting my day. That’s it!
What role does personal development play in your life? Huge. It has to be a constant and it shows itself in the books I read or the podcasts I listen to. It’s important to me that I keep growing as a person--for myself, the people around me and for what I put out into the world.
What's the most valuable thing you've learned from a mentor? 1) Trust my gut. 2) Have 3 people in the industry you listen to, turn everyone else off. 3) Focus on profit generating tasks.
What are you unapologetic about in business? In life? There’s this popular opinion that on social media, if you are a business or a freelancer then you should only share things specifically relating to your work. It works for some people. I’m trying to find a balance between sharing my work and speaking about the issues we are surrounded by everyday that deeply affect us. I think the era of drawing those strict lines between work and social issues is slowly coming to pass.
When I do address something, I try to talk about it in a way that either educates or inspires action (I can only hope). And it’s not just about hot button topics but just sharing more about the world I see, because I think it’s different that the world you or someone else sees. I’ve learned so much because of social media and this digital era we live it. It’s up to me to decide how I want to use it. If there’s an issue I think people need to hear about I talk about that (ie. the refugee situation in Paris, a fellow photographer who is a domestic abuse survivor and wants to help other women learn to love their bodies through self portraiture, the topic of inclusion in the beauty industry, etc).
I’m taking my time to understand how to use my voice most effectively and how to marry it with the art I create (outside of my client work) but it’s something that gives me a deep sense of purpose. There was a quote by Nina Simone that I stumbled across recently and it settled right into my heart-- “You can’t help it. An artist's duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times.”
Thank you, Nadeena - for sharing your thoughts, photos (all photography in this post is Nadeena's!) routines and lots of new podcasts for me to get caught up on! I so appreciate and am inspired by you! If you don't already, make sure you give her a follow on Instagram.
P.S. Do you know someone that HAS to be featured on an upcoming edition of Unapologetic? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!