Sara, one person who truly understands the allure of being a little girl in socks and having a nice shiny floor to explore, now channels this energy into showcasing her love for Zambia. Read on and find out how!
What do you celebrate abut being a woman?
I celebrate our fighting spirits, the warmth in our hearts and our billowing emotions. I celebrate our curves. That we have so much more we can wear compared to men! I celebrate the saying, ‘behind every great man is a great women.’ I celebrate that we strive for more, and that with each generation we achieve more, and more, and more.
What do you wish other women knew?
I wish all women knew how much they are capable of. Despite that I see us women taking great strides, I see many women accepting that they should do things a certain way. I see women accepting less than they should. I see women passing up opportunities because they think they can’t. I see women not speaking out. Each of us has an internal battle to fight. That is to overcome our personal insecurities, fears and limitations. When we take small steps each day towards security, fearlessness and limitless freedom, then each of us is on to something individually. Then when we group together, supporting each other and working together as one ‘womanhood’ if you like, we are incredibly powerful. There is also something else I wish women knew – that there is no need to pursue fake, that we were born with everything we need to look beautiful. We need to tell the message of natural beauty over and over again to our young girls and teenagers who are growing up now.
How do you express yourself creatively?
On the surface it may look like I have not fed my creative spirit since I graduated from my degree in Graphic Design and Illustration in 2005. I threw myself into trying to build a career for myself. Then I realised I’d been selling my soul. I wasn’t happy. So from 2009 onwards I have dedicated every spare minute to building my businesses. My roles at work require creative thinking through writing and design for ourselves and our clients.
But, aside from my creative work I have known for a long time that I need to express my creative self more. So about three months ago, I started my personal blog. That was a challenge to myself which you can read in my first post. It is a space for me to write whatever I want – no agenda, no rules, not even any real focus right now. It is literally my writing experiment. Aside from that I have dreams of writing visually expressive books. Like coffee table books – a mix of typography, image, illustration, the content of which I have decided yet. No doubt it will be an eclectic expression of the things that make me, me.
How are you making a difference in the world?
This was a hard question for me to answer because I don’t like ‘blowing my own trumpet’. But that in itself is a problem that many women have. We undersell ourselves. So I pushed myself to answer this honestly. I give every minute of every day my best shot. Time is precious and I have an obligation to use my blessings and talents to the max. I make a point of being polite, patient and friendly to everyone I meet – from the person behind a till to business leaders. A talk to a cleaner the same as I would talk to my clients. A please, thank you, have a nice day and a smile can go such a long way. I have a strong philosophy that runs through my core – treat others as you want to be treated.
Family is also very important to me. I live with my 92 year old Grandmother and 17 year old niece. In England it is culturally acceptable to put the elderly in homes. I was taught to look after your elders. My family works together – my Mum helps me with our business in Zambia, and I am here, supporting her mother, my Grandmother. My niece has dreams of being a Vet. She needs a stable home and support. My husband and I can give her that. This commitment to one cranky old woman and one temperamental teen is hard but rewarding! In the future, I want to help more young people achieve their dreams through education, mentorship and work experience.
What do you believe is your calling and what are you doing about it?
My calling is to help raise the profile of Zambia (my home) and Africa. My calling is to use my talents in communication and marketing to spread a more positive image of Africa. When I was young, I remember visiting England and seeing all these disaster stories about Africa on the TV. This was so different to the Africa I knew. Don’t get me wrong, Africa has many a challenge. But so does everywhere else! It is not my role to perpetuate the stories of corruption, political unrest, civil war, HIV, malnutrition and the general negative attitude the world has of Africa, and in fact the negative attitude many Africans have of Africa. My role is to cultivate and spread the stories of success, of economic growth, of individual success, of health and happiness. Africa suffers a bit of a marketing catastrophe. Bad things happen everywhere. Not just in Africa. It’s just other continents present their ‘brand’ better. I want to help change Africa’s ‘brand’.
What am I doing about it? Well, Something Beckons works closely with our sister company in Zambia. The Best of Zambia is currently in it’s fourth year, and it’s third website redesign. Each time we do a little more within the limited resources we have. We are getting to the stage where our product and systems are about right to test things out in other Zambian cities and other African countries. 2014 and 2015 are BIG years for us.
How do you celebrate where you come from?
I never forget! There is something about being born in Africa that seems to tug at your heart all the while. I don’t know if this is true for everyone who finds themselves in another land far from home. Who I am, celebrates where I come from. I am proud to be different – I’m proud to have the confidence to express different opinions, views and approaches. I find many people accept the norm, whereas I question it. I also celebrate where I am from through simpler things like my style, my taste in music and going out of my way to buy products like mealie-meal, rape, okra and goat meat so we can cook food that remind us of meals we shared at our Grandparents homes, surrounded by family and friends.
What do you consider to be the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome?
Limited financial resources has been the biggest obstacle by far. If banks would lend to us, if we had more personal resources to allocate, if more people would lend a hand we would have achieved far more in a shorter time period. But this is true for everyone, not just us. I hear many people say they cannot do things because they can’t afford it. We couldn’t afford to start Something Beckons or The Best of Zambia Some would say we still can’t afford it! Every day is hard and we’ve been in some real financial tangles. It is getting better but it will be years before we are fully recovered. But I believe we will get there and it will be so worth it for me, my family, our team of people who we are taking with us, the businesses we work with and ultimately for Zambia and Africa. The joy of doing what you believe in is that even before the battle is won, you have a ripple effect of positivity. I’m not sure when I will stand back and say I have won the battle, but I do want to be remembered for a ripple effect of positivity.
+Sara Drawwater can be found on twitter @sara_drawwater and @thebestofzambia. The best of Zambia can also be found on facebook