“Firsts” is a series of conversations where women share moments that aren’t always talked about, in the hope that they inspire, encourage and comfort.
This week we’re talking to Londoner Florence Adepoju. Founder of MDMflow, a beauty brand with the cult-like golden bullet lipsticks, and Flow Beauty Co, a skincare brand, Florence, or Flow, is someone I’ve been photographing for a few years now. Every time we see each other, Flow has reached a new level in her business life. Most recently, she joined marketing agency, Fanbytes, as a Gen Z retail expert, so it makes total sense to have her as our latest guest on Firsts to find out how she balances a business and a full-time job.
The first time I… felt like, ‘yes, this is what I’m meant to be doing’
I feel like this right now! I’ve just finished my first full month as Head of Retail Partnerships at Fanbytes, whilst running my businesses as side hustles. Prior to this, I’d been working for myself full-time for five years. The last 18 months before joining Fanbytes were super intense. I had some real low points and it feels great to be back in my happy place.
The first time I… had to say ‘no’ to an opportunity.
I can’t remember the first time, but I do remember the last time, it was in 2016 when I was asked to speak on a panel with a successful American female entrepreneur who I really respect and look up to. For some reason I didn’t think the opportunity was right for me at the time; I turned it down and I felt so much guilt about it for a long time. I wondered if I’d missed my big break or a vital opportunity to connect with a massively successful role model. But if that same opportunity came up now I’d find it so easy to say no – my default response to things now is no! I trust my intuition, and only take on opportunities that I cannot refuse.
The first time I… failed at something – and what it taught me.
My first failure, or rather learning lesson in business, was my first solo business venture Flow’s Boutique, which I launched in 2010. It took me many years to take in the insights and learnings from that venture as well as other things I’ve done. Learning from failure can be difficult because first, you have to deal with the shame and other negative emotions that come with not completing something you set out to do. After many years of designing my life and trying different things, I realise that you only fail when you don’t try.
The first time I… felt vulnerable.
Vulnerability is something I continuously have to work on. It doesn’t come naturally to me and I think that has to do with being a black British daughter of Nigerian immigrants. However, I think vulnerability is closely linked with compassion and empathy, and I think great leaders need a fair amount of both.
The first time I… felt inspired by another beauty boss.
So many beauty entrepreneurs inspire me; in the UK I’m inspired by bosses like Marcia Kilgore (founder of Bliss Spas, Soap & Glory, Beauty Pie and more), Sharmadean Reid (WAH Nails and Beauty Stack) and Thea Green (Nails INC). Recently American beauty entrepreneurs Supa Cent of The Crayon Case and Courtney Adeleye of Mane Choice, have really inspired me. They are so radically authentic and connect with their audiences in ways I’ve never seen before.
The first time I… cried over a job.
The only job I have any memories of crying over is running MDMflow! Starting a business is so painful and frustrating. I often joke and say I make it look easy, but I think this is the case for most entrepreneurs.
The first time I… created a product.
I felt so much pride. So much satisfaction comes from making something with your own two hands, and then to have people finding value in it and supporting it with their hard-earned money? It’s a feeling I think everyone needs to feel that at least once.
Image Credits: Charisse Kenion