“Do not wait for praise from other people. At times the whole world may be against you. They may not understand your story, or where you have come from, but trust that you are on the right path, we are all on our own journeys”
Who is Sophia Ukor? She is the Founder and CEO of the Lifestyle, Media brand – Violet Simon. I had the pleasure of getting to know this fierce lady shortly after the launch of her Magazine and wow was I inspired! Beginning her journey with a burning passion for media and fashion, she spoke of her wider purpose and desire to build a brand which empowered individuals regardless of race, gender, sexuality or age. Sophia shared her experience of female entrepreneurship with me, the high and low moments. Her story is one of undoubted resilience and determination. In our discussion, we also talked about her life philosophy, self-love, sisterhood, mental health, and representation in the beauty industry.
Balancing owning your own business is a hard task to endure, but speaking with Sophia opened my eyes to how beautiful it can be. She has built Violet Simon from scratch with the help of a few close friends, talented artists and most importantly her husband. The process has not been smooth, however she makes an active effort to enjoy the journey no matter how many times her confidence has been rocked. Opening up about her struggles with mental, health, Sophia explained how she adopts a positive outlook on life wherever possible. Relying on her creativity and passion to sustain an income can be emotionally draining and switching off can be difficult; down time and moments to decompress are very important to her. As an early riser she often spends her morning meditating and tries to stay active when she can. Sophia channels resilience into her life in whatever way possible, she said, “I tell myself every day that whatever comes my way I can handle it! We underestimate how much we can handle. There is a higher self within each and every one of us that will stand up when we need it. Whenever I feel demotivated I remember that I am tougher than I thought”. One of the biggest life lessons that she has had to learn is to, “Listen to my instincts and be firm on what I want. I have learnt not to compromise my standards and not to let anyone intimidate me! I always stick up for what makes me happy and take it one day at a time”
Prior to the success of Violet Simon, Sophia like most aspiring business owners faced multiple barriers. Two failed attempts, countless time, energy and money was spent trying to see her passion into fruition. A process which is still arduous and exhausting. When I asked Sophia how her journey has been into female entrepreneurship firstly as a woman, and more specifically as a woman of colour, she noted that it’s been exciting but challenging. Early on in her career she struggled to be taken seriously because of her age. Sophia courageously spoke out about her experience of sexual harassment and discrimination throughout her journey. What inspired me tremendously was her positive mindset. She channels her life philosophy into her work and practices gratefulness for the countless setbacks. “All of the experiences I’ve been through, the pain both personally and in business were equipping me for today. They have strengthened my spirit and have empowered me to channel my passion into helping more people”.
Her biggest tip to any woman wishing to start their own business is:
“Just do it! There is never going to be a perfect time or a perfect setting or a perfect moment…there won’t always be a noticeable breakthrough moment! It’s a process. Appreciate the struggles and the mistakes you make as they are a saviour for someone else. You will not realise it at the time, but it is! There will always be things you could have changed or done differently, but from experience I wouldn’t change a single thing. I wouldn’t be where I am now if I didn’t work through the hard time”
“There is not a precise moment, but I know that I feel the most beautiful when I accept who I am on the inside, I look at myself in the mirror and say don’t worry your fine girl. Self-love takes practice”. Sophia explained her struggle as a black woman growing up in Nigeria then moving to the UK. Having recently cut off her hair, she told me about her past insecurities of entering a very white dominated industry where the lighter skin tones and hair types are celebrated and catered to. She most definitely has felt pressure to look a certain way, and fit European ideals of beauty. Her difficulty has lied in finding other black women represented and succeeding in the world of business and media especially. She still has low moments, but she works hard to overcome them prioritising self-acceptance. She strongly believes in celebrating the wins in terms of how far we have come with representation and inclusivity. When it comes to beauty and skincare, Sophia likes to keep it simple in true City Skin style. Nothing too complicated and time consuming. The one step in her beauty regime that she cannot live without is cream – no matter what day of the week, where she is going or what she is wearing Sophia will prioritise moisturising. Her go to brands are Dove, Garnier and Ors. It will come as no surprise that Fenty Beauty is the one make-up brand she cannot live without!
The Future for Sophia Ukor
“Take off the mask” – The Fearless Project
Exciting things are still to come. After Volume 1 was released this summer, the magazine will be a bi-annual production bringing together many more courageous stories and creative artistry. It does not stop there! Sophia is launching a brand-new project – FEARLESS. A private members club aimed at supporting females, women of colour especially. Sophia’s mission has always been to inspire women by providing a platform to share stories, but also to connect and support. She truly believes in the power of “taking off the mask” and revealing your authentic self in order to network and form lasting connections. This project aims to rise above societal stereotypes whilst promoting sisterhood and excellence. It will be an inclusive space to thrive, grow and learn from like-minded women. The first launch event for FEARLESS will be on the 28th of November, a perfect opportunity to come along and see what the ethos of Violet Simon is all about!
I hope you have enjoyed our first feature interview with the wonderful Sophia, I look forward to using this platform more to share the lives and important stories of inspiring women from all walks of life. The very first issue of Violet Simon Magazine is now available to buy. You can head straight to their website to purchase in digital or print. As a huge book nerd, I personally love the authenticity of reading a physical copy and this magazine does not disappoint with its sleek, polished cover and convenient travel size! The Violet Simon online shop also features T-shirts to buy along with an e-book guide to Building your Personal Style
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