We are honored to have a growing list of African women and men (via Man-Alogue) who have supported us by continuously sharing with us about their inspirational lives. As an organic skincare company based in Africa, we believe that beauty is what comes out from inside you. This is why we share deep and inspirational messages from fellow men and women of African origin as a means to say that humanity is beautiful in all tones and shapes. This month, we have a beautiful woman by the name Binja: the African Cocktail.
Why the name African Cocktail? What is the story behind it?
When I was about 16 years old, I started using the name Africancocktail as a conversation starter when I met people. I am half Kenyan and half Congolese (DRC) and I had always wanted to find a way to introduce myself and my diverse background right from hello! So, at 16, I started introducing myself as Binja: the Africancocktail. I felt as though it automatically described me as a person and also invited others to find out more about me – a conversation starter – if you will.
We love how you incorporate colour and print to your everyday style. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Everywhere! I have lived on three continents: Africa, Europe and North America. My African background definitely inspires the vibrancy in my wardrobe but to say it is completely African-inspired would not be a fair assessment.
I draw from the structure and sometimes muted tones of many European styles. Finally, I draw the fun-loving and free –spirited nature of my style from the North Americans. This amalgamation inspires my everyday style!
You and two other amazing women run the blog The Fearless Self to inspire women. Tell us a bit about what inspired you to start this.
I was a twenty-something year old African woman who moved away from home at twenty to go to school over 10000km from home and hasn’t returned beyond some vacations. There are so many life situations that I have had to navigate (cultural differences, being an international student, visa issues, professionalism – the list goes on!) and learn from and I felt like I needed to ensure that any other young woman in my position – of which there are plenty – at least had a ‘cheat sheet’ of some sort. A guide on how to navigate through life, love and everything in between – in your twenties and beyond!
So, I called up Bianca and Patience. Now, I went to Northeastern University in Boston with Bianca; however, she is younger than I am. I met Patience as she was running a Liberian NGO with a friend that I had also graduated university with. Patience is closer to me in age but has a vastly different background than mine. I figured why not create a space where women can be inspired and not only learn from me but also from these two women! We are three women at varying stages in our lives, with the converging perspective that women can be the architects of their own lives. And thus, The Fearless Self was born!
As a content creator, how do you use your creativity to inspire women?
Originally, I did not consider myself a ‘creative type’ in the artistic sense: I don’t paint or draw or sing or even recite poetry; however, I find that I express my creativity through my writing and the visual journey that I like to take my followers and our readers through. My Instagram @Africancocktail, for example, tells the story of a young woman who loves to see the world, laugh and inspire others through vibrant images along with catchy and pithy captions.
I use the platforms that I create content for (Instagram and The Fearless Self) to inspire women by capturing images that take my followers on a visual journey with me.
Never been to Dubai? No problem, let me take you to the souk (local market), the mosque then maybe a desert safari and wrap the day up on a sunset cruise? Sure! Come along with me! Once I have Instagrammed the adventure, I take my readers and followers to the blog where I can tell you how to do all those things on a trip and not break the bank! I think many times women are afraid to appear to do things alone or outside a large crowd. I use my platforms to inspire women to be fearless. I travel solo many times – actually heading to Geneva after I finish this piece! And traveling alone reveals many insecurities but also brings out the warrior woman in all of us, as you have to be alert and rely on your instincts. This is how I creatively inspire as a content creator: I show women that living fearlessly isn’t beyond their reach!
Whole body wellness is very important. What is your daily beauty regimen?
I cleanse my skin using the Simple Replenishing Rich Moisturizing Facial Wash then I apply the Simple SPF 15 protecting light moisturizer. I am usually ‘bare’ faced during the week and will only apply makeup when meeting up with friends, before important meetings or when attending special occasions. I prefer giving my face time to breathe by not continually wearing makeup.
However, you will always catch me wearing lipstick. I use lipstick as my trademark: I see it as ‘war paint’ – I am after all a fearless warrior!
In the evening, I usually wipe my face using Neutorgena Makeup Remover Cleansings Towelettes. I start with the wipes to take off not only any impurities that may have landed on my face during the day but also to take off the lipstick. Then I use the Simple Foaming Cleanser to nourish my skin and take away any remaining impurities. Finally, I moisturize with the Neutorgena Oil-Free Moisturizer (combination-oily skin).
I use the L’Oreal Paris Detox & Brighten Pure-Clay Mask, which I absolutely love! It tightens my pores and removes any deep-seated impurities that may have been missed by the cleansers. This also feels like a treat – a quick trip to my very own home spa – à la Africancocktail.
How do you pamper your hair?
I must admit that I am not much of a hair person – to many people’s chagrin! However, I do believe in maintaining my hair in protective styles. So, you are sure to find my hair braided or plaited as I prefer not leaving it open or in a weave.
Where do you see yourself and your brand in the near future?
I definitely see myself as a venture capitalist. I believe in funding small to mid-size ventures and watching the entrepreneurs grow and achieve their potential. I know the impact that the right amount of capital can have on an individual’s business and I love to see people launching into the unknown – taking that step of faith to start something.
I believe in supporting this entrepreneurial spirit especially among African based ventures. I would like to be one of the most prolific female venture capitalists on the African continent.
As for Africancocktail – the brand – I see it diversifying into becoming a household name that promotes and encourages the Fearless woman to thrive – through literature, travel and merchandising. My ultimate goal is to become a brand that supports and uplifts other brands.
As an African queen, what can you tell other women out there who are working hard to make it in life?
Be undeniable. There will always be someone who can do what you do but be the best at doing it!
Put in your 10000 hours (Outliers, Malcom Gladwell) so that once you get your seat at the table, you are able to have something to say with an oeuvre backing you! Nothing is worse than being unprepared in the face of an opportunity: preparation and presentation are key! Secondly, live #fearlessly … stop doubting yourself! Go on that solo trip, start that business! So, what if you try and fail? Fail fast! Just pick yourself up, learn from your errors and pivot! The faster you learn that failure isn’t a bad thing, the faster you learn how to recover from unsuccessful endeavors. Finally, be gentle with yourself, many times as women we are the hardest on ourselves and the most critical of each other. Remember to cut yourself some slack. Pole pole ndio mwendo my dear. Take some time for yourself. Treat yourself when you do something great! And be kind to yourself when you fail. Don’t forget to celebrate the women around you.
We all need another woman in our corner cheering us on. At the end of the day you need to be a warrior and a fearless one at that – the world needs you!