In ‘The Floor is Yours’ we get to know female entrepreneurs. Powerful women who make tough choices. Who get out of their comfort zone, but als overcome obstacles. We get to find out more about how they started their business, what drives them, and their struggles? Would you like to tell your own story here? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hey Leila, you are the third power woman in ‘The Floor is Yours’. Great to have you! Tell me, what do we need to know about you before we start talking about your life as an entrepreneur?
My name is Leila Aigbedion. It has been ever since I was born 26 years ago 🙂 I have Nigerian roots. But I was born in Deventer (The Netherlands). I lived there until I was two years old. So I don’t really remember anything about that time. Heemskerk is my hometown. I left only two years ago, to get my own place in a little village next to it.
And would you say your Nigerian roots have influenced you as an entrepreneur?
Well, I’ve been a fashion model and involved in contests and pageants for years. So I know learning to love yourself as a woman is critical. And yes, also as a woman of color. I used to have this dream of becoming a doctor. But during college I found my heart belongs to the entertainment business. I had just become a nurse. And I was a hairdresser, dancing teacher and choreographer on the side. I still coulnd’t let go of the pageant business, so in 2012 I started a model and talent agency under my own name. Now ‘Leila Aigbedion’ is the main company with several subbranches and foundations. Seven years ago I started Miss Africa Netherlands. It’s a project I poured my heart and soul into for three years. But at the end of 2017 I started a new project: Miss Supermodel Worldwide Africa.
Such a noble thing to help other young women with a similar background find their way to become a pageant queen. How do you go about doing this?
Of course I have a pretty extensive background in this business. So I enjoy using my knowledge and experience to their benefit. First and foremost the focus is on building self-confidence. We, I have an awesome team behind me, actually see girls walk in here with no confidence at all. Because of a traumatic past for example. In those cases we have to start building from the ground up.
That’s how things work in the Miss Supermodel Worldwide Africa contest too. From their casting to the finals we offer our contestants all kinds of workshops. Professional skills like ‘pitching’ are part of the program. But also ‘natural hair’, ‘catwalk’ en ‘choreography’; things that matter for the appearance of our queens. We teach the girls to embrace their strength, intelligence and beauty as Dutch women with African roots. Our ultimate goal is to provide all necessary tools to be able to successfully claim their place in society.
It must be beautiful to see the girls develop all these skills.
It sure is! It makes me so happy to watch the girls blossom. Especially the insecure ones with a lot of baggage 🙂
And what is it you hope to accomplish with your enterprises?
My mission is to connect and unite all people, men and women. I love the diversity of the human race, worldwide. I strive towards a world where people appreciate the differences between them. A world full of love. Where we learn from each other, and see each other’s value. In my own way I try to have a positive impact on the lives of the people I meet. Not everyone is born with a support system, but everyone deserves a helping hand. Actually, my companies and foundations have all been founded with that exact same purpose.
I assume the road to get there does not always make for a smooth ride? How do you cope?
Of course it can be bumpy at times, but challenges are there to be conquered. I always try to see the positive side to things. And find the lesson to be learned. Of course this takes a lot of practice. Lucky for me I am a real go-getter: I know exactly what I want and quiting is never an option. I keep laughing in the face of adversity and keep at it until my dreams have come true.
A real go-getter indeed. Can you tell us more about those dreams you’ve mentioned?
I have big plans for the future. I’m quite busy with all kinds of projects actually. Unfortunately I can’t tell you anything yet though. But I promise: it’ll be good! I can assure you haven’t seen the best of me.
Any final thoughts for our readers?
My first advice: preparation is the key to success! Make lists, preferably on paper. That’s actually the best way. Second: surround yourself with people who can actually help you get ahead. And the most important one: ‘Do you!’ Do what feels right to you. Go with your gut instinct, dare to follow your heart!