The greatest gifts my mother gave me: style and class
Growing up I used to joke around with my sister saying “How fortunate are we” in a fake English accent. We would say this to each other laughing as we acknowledge our poverty but recognised we had some class and style. I would say that my family was upper-class poor (yes, their are different tiers in classes), and despite our limited financial security, my parents made sure we dressed well, spoke well, and participated in activities that would make us well-rounded, like cheerleading, track, student council, and volunteering. My mom, was so determined to make sure our English was to the highest standard that she didn’t teach my sisters and I Haitian-Creole, furnished our home with a plethora of classic literature novels, French music, and classic American movies, took us to museums, and constantly corrected our speech. She wanted to make sure that we had a clear American accent and proper speech so our poverty would not be affect our chances of “moving up the social ladder.” So, yes friends and other family members in my community were bilingual and shopped at popular department stores like Macy’s, TJ Maxx, and Lords & Taylors, but instilling social and culture into our home was how we would be able to move of the social and professional ladder in America.
By the time I reached university I saw the benefits of my mother’s culture and social taste. I took advantage of the free networking events, banquets, dinners, and even discounts to attend the ballet and symphony so I could practice what I learned. I tried to share my knowledge with my friends to attend or invest in buying quality clothes for future internships and jobs, but for many of my peers they didn’t see the importance. And by the time I finished university and studied abroad, I really got a taste of the world outside I read from the novels and movies in my home.
Being an entrepreneur is a privilege: How do I do it?
When I read stories of successful entrepreneurs and how they started many fall into 3 categories: they funded their venture with family money and/or connections, they worked in very lucrative industries and used their savings to start their own venture, or were clever and worked smarter (not harder) to build a successful business. Guess which category I fall into? I’m in category 3.
See, I purposefully left the US because I couldn’t afford to build this business, while paying off my student loans, rent, and build a lucrative network. Moving to Israel was my first step, and next traveling in Asia and settling in Bangkok was the next step because of the cheap cost of living and building a business in SE Asia which is experiencing exponential growth. I chose to work in a flexible career, I stress flexible because teaching gives me enough time to invest in building Healthy Hair Asia, and while teaching doesn’t pay that much, it pays enough for me to live a middle class lifestyle. Next, friends, I believe who you surround yourself around is important, so most if not all my friends are successful entrepreneurs, small business owners, or high level professionals, who are all happy to give me (free) advice, constructive criticism, and support by buying my products.
Lastly, dating (I plan on writing a blog post about this!), it’s very important to date the right type of person who will deal with your crazy schedule, spontaneous lifestyle, and can support you while you build your business. Now, Thailand is not the easiest place for foreign women (or Farang women as they call us) to date, but a clever and smart women will find a good partner. Let’s just say I have a very supportive, stable, smart partner, without him I would not have made it this far.
My greatest assets: social fluidity, professional and personal network, and attitude
I still have a lot to learn when it comes to socialising, conversation, and networking, because I don’t know everything. But I believe my mother gave me a good start, and Bangkok is an international city that allows people across all classes to connect and socialise. About a month ago, I created The Women’s Afternoon Tea Network, for amazing entrepreneurial women who are too busy to genuinely get to know each other, so once a month we get together over tea at a beautiful Tea House in Bangkok to catch up. In addition, I share interesting events for members to attend since there are so many amazing professional, social, and cultural events in Bangkok. It’s not an easy job, but I thoroughly enjoy bringing like-minded and ambitious women together. Aside from this group (I have many other groups, I guess that’s what expats do lol) I organise brunches for my “Afro-French” group, all young professionals and entrepreneurs, and my Jewish group where I help with events, celebrate holidays with, and managing their website and Facebook page. It took about 1.5 year to make friendships, a professional network, and join a community, not easy!
Bangkok has enabled me to grow personally, socially, and professional, despite my low-income background and under-appreciated profession (well teachers are appreciated in Asia, but not in the US). But most of all, I’m happy my mother has given me the necessary tools to succeed. Thank you mommy!
Thanks for reading, stay tuned for next week as I discuss dating!