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Exploring Life & Business with Nyema Igwe of Pop of Culture

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nyema Igwe.

Hi Nyema, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I used to have an online boutique called Asa Afrique that enabled me to participate in various popup shops and markets. I realized that I enjoyed the experiences and wanted to recreate them for Black entrepreneurs and creatives like myself. There was something empowering and dope about creating safe, fun, and progressive spaces for Black entrepreneurs to represent their brands, network, and connect with the community. It has always been about building community. So in 2019, I tested it out and had the first one in Brooklyn, NYC. It was a small and intimate one (there were 7 brands), but it was a good time. From there, I did one in the Bay Area, Atlanta, Houston, and Columbus (OH) and did Brooklyn again, all in 2019. It was a test year for me to see what it took to curate these events. Some were flops, while others were pretty decent, but I knew I was onto something and have been building since then.

Can you talk to us about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I don’t think having a smooth road when building a business is possible. Things will always cause frustration, setbacks, disappointments, losses, etc. One of the struggles that I think most entrepreneurs can relate to is the need for funding. Starting a business requires money, and scaling a business requires even more money. When your financial resources are limited, it can be difficult and take much longer to get things done. I’ve made several mistakes because of the need for funding, such as maxing out credit cards just to be able to pay for things. Another major struggle is finding people who can help you build. As a small business, I don’t have many benefits or financial resources to offer team members. It has been an ongoing task looking for special people who believe enough in what Pop of Culture is building to dedicate their time, network, and ideas to grow the brand. But the more interviews I conduct, the better people I find.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Pop of Culture?
Pop of Culture is a community that supports and celebrates Black entrepreneurs and creatives through events, networking, and marketing. We curate social and lifestyle events, such as pop-ups and artist showcases, and provide resources that encourage networking and business growth. We started with and will continue to do pop-up lifestyle events that showcase local Black-owned brands and incorporate food, drinks, music, and fun activities. But we will soon offer other types of experiences and opportunities, such as our monthly Talent Palette event to showcase local musicians, workshops that encourage learning and growth, mixers that provide quality networking opportunities, mini-grants, and more! Our goal is to uplift and strengthen small brands, provide unique and memorable experiences, and create a global community of Black entrepreneurs and creatives that fosters collaboration, growth, and prosperity.

What sets us apart is that we are on a mission to build an ecosystem in the U.S. and worldwide. Everything we do has a clear purpose, and we’re passionate about providing valuable opportunities and resources. Even though I still have a ways to go, I am proud of my consistency. Despite the obstacles and setbacks, I find a way to push through. If something is not working, I re-strategize and think about how to be better. I make many mistakes, but I also believe strongly in what I am building and I will always find a way to make my visions possible.

What matters most to you?
My well-being matters most to me–physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Even though it sounds cliché, health is wealth. You can have all the ideas and ambition in the world, but if your body and mind cannot carry you, you are going nowhere. Over the past two years, my well-being has been challenged. I’ve experienced anxiety unlike before, I go through bouts of depression, and in the past several months, I haven’t felt motivated to be as physically active as I usually am. But I am learning to control things better and weed out anything causing me to stray away from who I want to be. Choosing yourself is something you have to do daily.

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