I know my different avenues of passions can be traveled at the same time. – Ify Yvonne
One of the most common obstacles I hear from aspiring career changers is choosing what career path to take when you have many interests. Ify Yvonne smashes that limiting belief by building a portfolio career that includes a day job as a pharmacist with two side hustles: 1) as a social media influencer (millions of YouTube video views and tens of thousands of Instagram followers); and 2) as a co-founder of fashion line, Nkeoma By Ivy & Livy, with her sister.
Yvonne’s goal with Nkeoma is to celebrate the culture of Africans (Yvonne is Nigerian-American) through fashion — smashing another limiting belief that you can’t combine money and meaning. This multi-hyphenate is building a portfolio career that melds several interests, both business and creative.
My 3 favorite takeaways from our exchange:
1 – Pay attention to your market because your audience tells you what they need. Yvonne developed a new product based on customer feedback: “With the success of my businesses, I had a plethora of friends, family and my followers asking for help and guidance in building their own businesses. That is how my business launch academy, Hustle & Glow was born.”
2 – You don’t have to quit your job to start your career change: “During my first year as a pharmacist, after I finished my shifts at the retail pharmacy I worked at, I put in the hours at night building Nkeoma By Ivy & Livy.”
3 – Be choosy about the advice you take: “Don’t consult with people that aren’t where you want to be or doing or have done what you are trying to do…Their advice will always be guided with words that take you on the safest path.”
Our full exchange below:
Caroline Ceniza-Levine: How did your varied portfolio career, and particularly the pharmacy plus fashion industry change, unfold?
Ify Yvonne: Since I was in high school, I always knew I wanted to have my own business in the fashion industry, but also knew I wanted to have a professional career in the medical field. I am a woman, a Nigerian woman to be more specific, so I know my different avenues of passions can be traveled at the same time. After receiving my doctorate degree in Pharmacy and starting my pharmacy career, it was now time to pursue my dreams of having my own clothing line. As I was still a budding influencer at that time, I built a business from the ground up. Along that journey I learnt a lot, especially the textile and manufacturing industry. With the success of my businesses, I had a plethora of friends, family and my followers asking for help and guidance in building their own businesses. That is how my business launch academy, Hustle & Glow was born. In my business launch academy, I help women go from 0 to launch in just a few short months.
Ceniza-Levine: What prompted you to finally make the leap, or was it a gradual move?
Yvonne: It was a gradual move, however, always preparing and anticipating the next step. My vision and dreams for myself have always been my focus in everything that I do. Being immersed and happy doing work in my areas of passion while still helping and motivating others to pursue the same as well. There were definitely leaps with each stage. I committed to new concepts and figuring it out as I experienced each project was my method of action.
Ceniza-Levine: How did you decide on influencing and then e-commerce?
Yvonne: I started my hobby as an influencer at the end of my studies in Pharmacy school, it really kind of just happened and grew from there. Still keeping to my vision of what I wanted for myself, I knew growing an authentic and loyal audience was key to all the business endeavors I would be pursuing eventually. Then, when it was time, and I figured out e-commerce, I launched my loungewear brand, Nkeoma By Ivy & Livy.
Ceniza-Levine: What resources were particularly helpful in making the change – e.g., courses, books, mentor or coach, professional association?
Yvonne: For the new project in creating my business launch academy, Hustle & Glow, I sought masterminds, mentors and coaches to really help me build the systems and processes I needed to be able to efficiently and effectively help my clients launch their businesses….[Specific examples include] Julie Solomon, Lauren Tickner and Jen Sincero’s series of books.
Ceniza-Levine: When did you feel like you had changed careers – i.e., you identified as an entrepreneur v. employee?
Yvonne: During my first year as a pharmacist, after I finished my shifts at the retail pharmacy I worked at, I put in the hours at night building Nkeoma By Ivy & Livy. That’s when I truly felt the word entrepreneur was part of my name and title.
Ceniza-Levine: What, if anything, about your old career was helpful to the new? What, if anything, did you have to unlearn or drop from your old career?
Yvonne: I am grateful for my career and experience as a pharmacist, because it taught me the importance of quality control and workflow. When filling prescriptions from doctors, I have to make sure that the medication the doctor ordered is what I am dispensing and giving to my patients. All the steps I take as a pharmacist to ensure accuracy and safety are the same steps I apply when fulfilling orders to my customers. This greatly reduces returns, exchanges and money losses within the business.
Ceniza-Levine: Were friends and family supportive? If not, how did you find the motivation to work through your career change?
Yvonne: My immediate family, my parents and siblings, have been so supportive throughout my journey and I am grateful for that. I met my husband in the thick of building my businesses and he has been such a cheerleader and support system as I became a wife and mother during all of the chaos. And then all my followers and supporters that have seen me grow throughout the years have been my motivation and inspiration to keep going and provide knowledge and entertainment for them.
Ceniza-Levine: What advice would you have for other professionals who are thinking about making a pivot?
Yvonne: My advice to those that are thinking about making that pivot is to just go. Don’t hesitate or wait for permission. Get your mindset right (read a lot of books to help you in that department!) and just do it! You’ll figure out all the details on your journey to new levels. As you’re reading this you’ve made it past your darkest day or toughest time. Everything always works out at the end. So keep your vision and goals for your life in the forefront and take all the opportunities that get you closer to that goal of yours. Invest in coaches and mentors to teach you new skills and concepts. Don’t consult with people that aren’t where you want to be or doing or have done what you are trying to do. Unfortunately, they won’t give you the proper advice or strategy to get there. Their advice will always be guided with words that take you on the safest path. To be successful you have to get uncomfortable and navigate unknown territories.
Ceniza-Levine: What’s next for you?
Yvonne: For me I will continue to grow Hustle & Glow and help women all over the world launch their businesses, gain financial freedom and live abundantly. I am writing a business launch playbook that will provide great value to those that need help and guidance on entrepreneurship and really building a profitable business. In August 2021, I held my first ladies retreat in Waikiki Beach, Hawaii and I am excited to start planning the next one for 2022!