How to build your network and take risks with Dior Bediako #motivationmonday
Taking Risks and Building your network with Dior Bediako of Pepper Your Talk
This week, I’m excited to be starting a new series for Fashion Originators – #motivationmonday web content! As much as I (and hopefully you) love my 1 hour episodes, I often crave not only consuming written content, but also creating it. Before my interviews, I always write out detailed questions and notes. Doing this allows each episode to be more concise, and for the information to stick in my brain. Because I’ve gained so much value from my note-taking and research, I naturally want my listeners to experience a similar brain-stick.
Of all people to kick off this series with, Dior Bediako of Pepper Your Talk couldn’t be a better fit. With amazing fashion credentials and a positive spirit, her endeavors are serious #motivationmonday inspiration.
After leaving her job at Burberry HQ, Dior turned her YouTube Channel, Pepper Your Talk, into a full-time business. Pepper Your Talk is a digital platform that boosts the knowledge, confidence and connections of young people entering fashion. Whether its events, online articles, or her network for young fashion creatives, The Junior Network, the rest of 2017 looks wicked-exciting for Ms. Bediako.
Dior, I have to know – what are you reading right now?
The Career Code, a book by the founders of WHOWHATWEAR, and a Christian book called Make Your Last Count.
Your name is Dior. How did your parents know? Your interest in fashion seems predestined.
Actually, my mom thought I was going to be a boy. She just picked my name from a magazine – really. Since then, I’ve only ever been interested in fashion.
Did you ever deny your own interest in fashion, or were you always so decisive?
I didn’t really know what I was going to do – that’s the thing. I literally thought I was going to morph into Naomi Campbell when I was five. After that, I thought I wanted to design. Later on, everyone always told me I should consider PR because of my talking and presenting skills. After constantly hearing that, I really took on their advice – it became my next ambition.
When you started your YouTube, Pepper Your Talk, do you recall the experience of making your first video?
I wasn’t nervous – I knew my message would help people who are feeling scared or confused about the fashion industry. Deep down, I knew I was blessed with a message, and that I just needed to get it out there. The first video I did in three takes, edited it, then put it out the next week – it wasn’t scary for me at all.
What has been your main focus lately?
The Junior Network has been my main focus right now! TJN is an extension of Pepper Your Talk – it’s a private members club for entry-level fashion professionals. How I distinguish between the two is that Pepper Your Talk is for fashion creatives (students with little to no experience), whereas TJN is for people who are already employed. It’s a way to build a peer network. I guess it’s for people who don’t have an aunt who works at Conde Nast Traveller. In the group, we have people from companies like Net-a-Porter, Browns, Karla Otto and Vivienne Westwood.
Each year, TJN enjoy four top-tier panel discussions. For our first event, we had Henry Holland, Clara Mercer, the Fashion & Beauty Editor of Refinery 29, Pip, Founder of The Dots, and Adam Shapiro – the king of PR in London.
When you mentioned not having an aunt who works at Conde Nast Traveler, I’m getting the sense that comes from a personal experience?
As much as I always loved fashion, I didn’t really understand how the industry works. I started hearing stories about how people got their jobs, and how most ended up coming from connections. I realized that because my didn’t, I was really lucky. After realizing this, I began to think “what about people who are talented but don’t have connections yet?” I’m not mad that people have great connections – I think it’s amazing if your family has worked hard enough to be in that influential position. However, I still think that people who don’t have those connections deserve to be helped too.
I’m in your network. I think it’s great, and I’m excited to see what the future holds!
Going back to your job at Burberry, a lot of people I know view Burberry as the ‘be-all-end-all’ of fashion jobs. Is it?
I think a job is only what you make it. Personally, I think it doesn’t matter where you work. Instead, what matters is what you’re trying to get out of that job, and what your personal goals are. For me, Burberry was the only place I wanted to work. How I got it was really weird and unconventional. I stayed there for 2.5 years in a very junior position. But it was amazing – I got to meet Cara Delevigne and Jourdan Dunn, great people, photographers – it was amazing! I got to go to all the shows – all that really cool stuff. At the same time, fashion is fashion – bloody hard work. Burberry is an amazing company – that’s where I got my big break.
In one of my favourite videos of yours, entitled ‘PepperYourStalk’ – you tell a story where your industry idol essentially rejects Pepper Your Talk as a concept. After that experience, how do you cope with criticism now?
The only way to protect your happiness and your sanity is to not get too excited or too sad about anything. In the past, I read my own diary from 2015/16. I’d get super excited about things, then super down when they wouldn’t work out. Now, my approach is to just be pragmatic with everything. You just need to put your head down and get to work. Don’t get too excited, just start jotting ideas down, weighing pros and cons – what are your contingency plans? Write it down, make a plan – know how you’re going to execute. The highs and lows will be even worse if you’re not just super busy doing the work.
What I like about what you just said is your ability to reflect honestly on your emotions through journaling. A lot of people don’t even try to improve their self-awareness.
I read one of Oprah’s books recently, What I know for sure. The only way she was able to write that book was because of her journals she looked back on. Throughout this process of building my business – a beautiful and scary process – I want to be able to go back and remember everything and tell my kids about it. I want to be able to hopefully write books later on, and be able to accurately reference specific moments of my journey to help other people later. I have some really great entries that allow me to remember the important times. WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN.
Are there any other mindfulness tools you use besides journaling?
Prayer, church, writing down things I’m grateful for – anything big or small. This allows me to reframe my experiences.
Because you run your own business. You also run your own days. How’s that going?
I have realized that if I don’t work – nothing happens. It’s just me. However, that’s my biggest motivator. I wake up between 6:15 – 7:15am, shower straight away, have breakfast (hot water and lemon), then get started on my emails and a massive google drive to-do list. Each day demands something different. If you don’t work, your business doesn’t work.
Besides finances, the most common hurdle in starting a business, what has been the greatest challenge you’ve faced whilst starting Pepper Your Talk?
It really has been to stay inspired every single day of the week – if I’m honest. However, you’re not going to be – it’s normal. I just want to help people – and it’s a very people-driven business – and you start to wonder if its resonating with people. Do I even have an audience? Does this make sense to them? Ultimately, I want to build an audience that loves the brand and my content.
Monetization is a challenge – you need to think about it early on, yet you have to focus on giving more than receiving. People smell money-grabbers miles away. Thoughts?
People go into business for different reasons. Everyone picks their primary focus, but mine personally isn’t money. If it was, I think I’d forget about the people. I want to make the people the top thing, and everything else directly under. Because my priorities are this way, I’ve cut my lifestyle back to the necessities. To me, however, it’s worth it –I see the business growing and the difference I’m making in people’s lives.
On your YouTube, you say that it’s important to be your own #bae and #goals. Even though those hashtags annoy me, I think you’re so right. Tell me – how did that whole thing come about?
People would always message me “Dior you’re my inspiration”, which I love because these messages give me energy. However, I think it’s important to get up and work. Be inspired by people, but also inspire yourself. The other day, I had to do a really awkward interview with these hairdressers and go into their territory. It was really weird for me, but I didn’t feel confident in that space per se. During the interview, I had to give myself a pep talk continually. Just keep encouraging yourself, dig deep within. Find what you love about yourself and champion that.
Even for people who aren’t entrepreneurs, the idea of focusing on yourself is challenging enough. When you’re starting a small business, do you think one needs to have a particularly strong mental foundation?
I don’t view other people as competitors within the fashion space – no one is really doing what I’m doing. There’s no one providing young people with the information they need to start their fashion careers. In order to run a business you believe in, you have to lose your mind a bit – lose your inhibitions – start building again. 2016 was a loopy year, but this year I have a solid foundation and I feel like I can do anything.
Based on the young people you’ve spoken to, what do you feel is missing from their education that Pepper Your Talk provides them with?
Young people don’t know about corporate settings, company culture, policies – from my experience. They have all this ambition and some knowledge, but they don’t know how to make that work for them within a corporate setting. I want to build articles, programs and workshops that will allow my audience to understand what a fashion office is really like. People aren’t confident in the office space, and don’t know how to gain respect for their ambitions– some don’t even read their contracts. I’m less about fancy stuff in fashion, and more about understanding the corporate side.
If you could talk to the younger version of you, what would you have to say to her now?
I would tell her it’s going to be ok – even though it’s not even okay now. Just keep going and stay in your lane – you have a job to do on this earth.
I hope you enjoyed my interview with Dior! If you want to stay up-to-date with Pepper Your Talk and The Junior Network, check out the links below: