Our very first guest feature in July! Is simply an amazing fire spirited lady who has been tossed back and forth by the raging waves and currents of life’s turbulent seas and despite the entire storm, she finds peace or should we say she made peace? And she soars! We here at Team LR have learnt many a lesson from her story. We hope you will find resilience and motivation from the story of this Lady, born of Sierra Leonean parents, who has further exemplified the resilience that abounds in people from that part of the world and their rebuilding spirit – we all remember the civil war and how the people are working hard at healing, national reconciliation and international relevance.
My name is Anaya Hajah Yabome Isatu Kamara aka Anaya Kamara Entrepreneur; I am a Multi Inspirational Entrepreneur in Public Speaking, Hair & Beauty Specialist, Hair Care Consultant and Faith Networker.
You see folks; I was not always all of the above and I do sometimes wonder if this is really me or if I am still ‘lost’ in memory land’? Then, I pinch myself and ouch! That hurts – it really is me, alive and well, not dreaming, memories intact.
I actively worked hard and made choices that have landed me where I am today. My leadership journey started shortly after I gave my life to Christ in the most turbulent and lowest ebb of my life journey. It was the sum total effect of the work of a few good friends. They also introduced me to network marketing in 2003 via Amway products. They made me an initiate and disciple of self-development. For me, it was like I just found the light. I began to read. I mean actually began to immense my self in books such as Rich Dad Poor Dad, How to win friends and influence people, amongst many others. These books were my first proper encounter with developing my inner strength and key to my world of becoming a leader. They changed my mindset.
To be honest, the transition did not come easily. Positivity, leadership and effectiveness skills are habits we have to develop with determination and doggedness. Working at them always and willingly applying them on a daily basis in order to be consistent. It is the consistence that helps you turn the bend. It took me about four to five years to achieve a changed mindset before putting the knowledge into action. I have worked on so many things like communication skills, peoples skills, timing, under promising but over delivering, following up, sales, managing money and clients, planning and executing plans to mention a few. There were a lot of trials and failures, loosing potentials clients, promoters and sponsors due to lack of accurate and punctual character. That was the learning curve for me then, via network marketing and here it is, “if it has to be, it’s up to me”. Leadership is your character and consistency in who you are and what you stand for. We all need that insight, to understand and utilise our learning curve. We need to see from within!
The Birth of Anaya Hair and Beauty
At 23 years of age, I was blessed to get my first IT job as IT administrator and next was upgraded to IT Officer. I was trained by the company on several relevant current programming and databases. Then I went on to do a Masters Degree in Information Systems Development at the London Guildhall University.
After my Masters Degree graduation back in December 2005, I travelled home to visit my parents as my ex boyfriend then wanted to ask for my hand in marriage – life was so good, things could not have been better for an upwardly mobile me!
Then, from nowhere, the unthinkable happened. On our way back from my Dad’s hometown to Freetown, we had a gruesome accident and my dad died on the spot. The driver and my ex-fiancé sustained minor cuts. My dad’s friend, who was also with us, died a few years later due to brain damage – bless his soul, he never recovered from the memory loss following the accident. I, on the other hand, obviously lived to tell my tale otherwise, you all would not be reading this.
As for me, I suffered severe bodily and head injuries. The veins were popping out and bleeding on my right leg and required to be sewn back. I also lost my memory. With leg scars, terrible side and back pains as well as barely knowing who I was, I retuned back to the United Kingdom. Several months down the line I continued to battle with my memory loss and depression kicked in. Then, the stress, the isolation, being immobilised from pain as well as broken heart, completely plunged me into the abyss. I did not remember I even knew how to use the computer. Who am I? That was my question every day.
I even stopped going to church. I could not be bothered with that guy up –there. I was angry with God. Where exactly was he when all the things they now tell me happened? However, God in his infinite mercies sent me healing. The light came when I started doing my own hair in braids and my neighbours started coming to my flat to get theirs done, all this I did just to get my mind active and not to feel sorry for myself – so I can weave hair I thought to myself. Gradually, through this skill I had learnt as a child/teenager, I gradually began to rediscover my memory and myself.
The few clients then started to spread the word about my talents and skills in braiding and hair extensions and within six weeks it grew beyond description. It kept growing. I put my network marketing skills to work. I put all I had acquired from all the books I read in my dark days into action. As the flood gates of my memory opened, so did my energy. I went for a 4-day course on business start up and seminar with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on self-employment.
So it was, that I went back to school! This time to study all hair types as I was beginning to get clients with different hair types and texture, i.e. Afro hair, Asian and Caucasian hair, I gained level 2 & 3 Diploma in all hair types then level 2 Diploma in Beauty Therapy. I was also introduced to Mary Kay cosmetics UK, where I became an Independent Beauty Consultant, working with a multi-culturally diverse group and learning about team building as well as enriching others.
My journey so far is an inspiration, faith in action and hope to humanity that anything broken can be fixed. It is a message that God already ordains your destiny but you decide its manifestation. Leadership is tough and it’s an embodiment of character, integrity, perseverance, planning, giving, impacting, humility, sharing your vision and most of all becoming who you are. I decided to rise again from my rock bottom. I decided to climb out of my valley. My situation at the time was very, very ugly and made me feel humiliated as well as broken. I chose to find my self. I’m a living survivor and so grateful to God, my Dad and myself for not giving up.
My mission today is sharing my story and encouraging the younger generation and anyone who has been through a lot that we are powerful beyond measure and we can be better individuals and role models in using our skills and gifts to overcome darkness. I used my skills in hair making to overcome memory loss and severe trauma. It was not my formal education and certificates that saved me (an educated Information systems developer in IT who could not understand what a computer was anymore?). It was the lowly, humble skill of hair making that came to my rescue. Now ten years later, my memory is back and it’s still a blessing as to how I married the two skills together.
I encourage students to finish their degrees, MSc and PhDs and all that jazz, but at the same time, they should not neglect any innate skills they posses. It may be baking perfect cupcakes, cooking, playing an instrument, singing, designing machines or clothes, or braiding skills. As the superior book says: “your gift will make room for you and see anyone diligent in his or her business, they shall stand before kings, they will not stand in-front of mean men”.
African hair – no one does it like Anaya Kamara and her team
As an Award Winning Inspirational Entrepreneur
It hit me as a surprise last year August 2015 when I received an email from the REEBA (Regional Entrepreneurs Empowerment Business) Awards organisers about my story and how it inspired them. The rest has been history and since my very first award as Inspirational Entrepreneur 2015, doors have opened. I have suddenly become a role model in my family. My clientele and profile is being looked at differently, the community, other organisations, universities etc are inviting me to share and run workshops on Entrepreneurship in the 20th century. Who am I to have all these opportunities?
Do not allow your situation to define who you are, you are powerful beyond measure and your mind has the capacity to transform what life throws at you into diamond and always remember, that pressure forms diamonds.
Currently I’m working on becoming a successful Leader and Mentor via Alpha Saba Kamara Foundation in memory of my Dad and younger brother. In Leadership, you never stop growing and gaining more truthful knowledge and insights so you can pass it on to the next generation for a brighter future, nation and world. Who am I? Who are you? Who are we?
The rest of us at Team LR, could notice the change in demeanour of the LR Team members who worked directly with AK as we fondly call her. When asked what was wrong, one said: “If I lost my memory today, what would I do? What would happen to me? This is bone chilling!” The other team member exclaimed, “Well, I see where AK’s humility stems from. You cannot just be picking up award after award and yet manage to look so ordinary and normal- you have to have been at rock bottom, to remain unmoved by apparent glitz, glitter and glamour of lime light – you have to have developed substance, you have to have understood who you are and to desire to help others out of their valleys”.
Let AK know if she struck a cord within you by dropping a line in the comments box. See you next week.