While I was in New York working on the business and NBA range of handbags the FIFA offices contacted me saying the agreement would be ready in a month. As a requirement I would also need to provide them a business plan so that they can structure my agreement based on my projections and target retail categories. The FIFA licensing process was different from the NBA licensing process. Both processes were very intimidating and motivating at the same time. It was very educational for me, especially because I was still in the early stages of running a business.
Now that I was back in NY I started to promote the NBA bags. I prepared press packages that included information on my company, the product and also included a sample of the bags. A few months later ESPN magazine had a contest and a feature that included my LeBron James bag as the winning prize. I also managed to get the bag in one of basketballs top magazines Slam. The best part is the NBA flagship store on Fifth Avenue featured the bags in the front window display and mannequins!!!
When I was a student at FIT I used to dream of having my bags featured in the front window displays at the NBA flagship store. I would go to the store every week worried that some company would come up with my concept and beat me to it. To have my bags retailing in the NBA flagship store and displayed for everyone outside to see a few years later was a very big deal to me. I had a lot to look forward to and the FIFA licensee was going to be a great addition to growing my business.
The NBA and FIFA were not the only projects consuming my mind. My family started absorbing a lot of my mind too. I found myself thinking about them most of the time. Some of the thoughts were happy thoughts and others were negative thoughts. There were days I would brag to my friends about reuniting with the family and then there were days I would find myself walking down the street in Brooklyn fuming, thinking why couldn’t they have reached out to me?!?!
My mother was also starting to pick up that I was embracing the relationship with my fathers side of the family and it didn’t help our relationship. Her insecurities started to kick in and with our lack of communication I did not lean on her for emotional support. I really tried to managed the relationship by sharing the bad stuff because I knew the good stuff would not fell good to her. My mother has never really spoken much about my fathers side of the family and sometimes thats enough for a child to know the topic is off limits. The deeper my relationship got with my fathers side, I would see sides of my mother that I never saw before. This wasn’t just a journey affecting me but it also affected my mother in ways that I never could have imagined and probably never will get to fully know.
Then there was Dineo, with her brother very ill I would check in on her regularly. Lazy was out of the hospital but still very ill. Dineo and I planned for my next trip to visit her mother, aunt Grace. My aunt Grace I remembered very well. She was my favorite aunt and she would call us often while growing up. My memories of her were very positive. She still lived at my grandparents home in a small village called “ My Darling” located in there northern province of Limpopo. Even though I was not thrilled about going to my darling because it is a very rural area, I was looking forward to seeing my aunt. One of my last memories of my darling was that the toilets were outside and we had to fetch water outside. It was going to be the experience. Granted this is now eighteen years later, surely there should be some improvements.
At that particular time I don’t know what was consuming my mind and time the most. Was it business or the family? I found myself trying to build a company, managing new personal relationships and dealign with countless emotions all at once. I just managed everything that was happening without stopping to process and deal. You can say my survival instincts took over.
Growth can only come when you are uncomfortable. This was the beginning of me being uncomfortable for a long time. I was growing. The beautiful thing about growth is that it has taught me options about life that I never could have imagined possible.