Interview with Toyin Ayedun-Alase, CEO of WomenAfterGreatness
Toyin Ayedun-Alase is an actress, facilitator and founder of Womenaftergreatness, a social enterprise in East London. She is passionate about advocacy, widening participation and creating safe spaces for women who need to be heard.
Toyin uses her love for performing arts and storytelling to deliver workshops and projects with a female focused lens.
The call to action began in 2014 and was prompted by Toyin’s challenging childhood and adolescent experiences. She felt there was a great need to contribute to the positive development of young women in Hackney as she knew first-hand what it was like to need the support and encouragement to break out of seemingly negative cycles. This led to her delivering confidence and career workshops within her local community, accessing youth clubs and other spaces to support young women aged 13-19. Her focus was clear: promoting positive representations of female role models and providing young women with practical support towards advancing their wellbeing, relationships, education and employment needs/aspirations.
WomenAfterGreatness a grassroots social enterprise committed to equipping young women with the tools, confidence and encouragement to build great opportunities.
It’s a joy to interview the inspirational Toyin here.
Describe a typical day?
A typical day for me often requires me to get up really early after going to bed really late. Once I wake up, I ensure I have some quiet time, as prayer is really important to me. My faith is important to me and prayer helps to fuel me, with what I do. Secondly, I would head straight into writing and responding to emails whilst catching up with my Social Media Manager and sorting out the social posts for the day. We are currently crowdfunding for our social enterprise so a lot is currently going on in terms of marketing.
I am trying to find balance so I drink a lot of water; I try to eat at appropriate times and fit in as much exercise as I can. However, because of the nature of my work, I spend a lot of time on my phone, computer and in zoom meetings, working with the young women that we support in our network, navigating how best we can support them during this time.
What do you feel are your greatest achievements?
I am currently learning that I do not celebrate myself enough which I need to actively do more. I probably don’t appreciate this enough but it would be starting Women After Greatness as a social enterprise. I’ve always had a vision and seeing the vision come to life has been incredibly rewarding. For example, our documentary ‘Lessons from My Mother’ which was originally an event but became a documentary, our financial workshops and mentoring sessions. Initially, it was hard to see the end result of these projects but I feel like they’re great achievements.
I am also an actress which is another great achievement for me. I love being on stage, performing, singing, and storytelling, which I want to do a lot more of. My faith is the main thing that keeps me going. Without that, I don’t think I would appreciate anything else.
What’s in your handbag/satchel?
Definitely hand sanitizer! Many pens, my notebook, my iPad and probably my laptop if I can fit it in the bag I’m carryign that day. Also water to keep me hydrated, my lip gloss, my vitamins and my wallet. There are some books which ironically I never end up reading as I’m normally in between sending emails and doing other things. All in all, it’s a full bag.
What are your ambitions in life?
My ambitions in life would be balancing pursuing my professional goals as a social entrepreneur with running my organisation that supports young women from marginalised backgrounds. I would love to see our organisation grow where we are fully functioning, delivering projects in schools and youth organisations, career mentoring for junior professionals and seeing them build and smash their goals. My ambition is to be working in film and TV as a regular series character, starting my own family one day, savouring life at every opportunity along the way, and to rest. On this journey, I’m still learning to celebrate and embrace my full identity, as I am.
What do you wish you’d known at the start of the career you now know?
That it is hard! I did know it would be tricky, however, walking it through, no woman is an island and so it is about having patience and trusting in my unique gift. There is no one like me, I do not need to feel like I am running out of time. My mistakes and past will eventually drive and motivate my future, but I should never let it hold me back or make me feel guilty or at a loss. I truly believe everything works out for good and so it is just to be patient and kinder to myself, which is something I am also learning to embrace now.
On a personal note to definitely not worry too much about makeup, my skin is cute and I love it and everyone should love theirs too! Lastly to leave my eyebrows alone, thick eyebrows will eventually come back into fashion like everything else.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
Hopefully starting a family (pausing to have a child and embrace motherhood), being able to enjoy my career as an actor, and still grow my social enterprise. Employing other women to deliver workshops in schools and youth organisations to share my passion for helping young women break negative cycles and build great opportunities. I also aim to see the fruits of my labour and take a bit of a back seat and enable other leader’s underneath and beside me to grow.
What advice would you give a budding entrepreneur?
I will say that you are in for a journey, do not doubt yourself. Yes, you will need help, correction and support but what is in you, is in you for a reason. That burden is justified, explore it, and search it through, do not be afraid, ask for help, and do not be so hard on yourself. You cannot do it alone, get people to help you, and take time off if you need to, and do it with all your heart and do it as yourself.
Peace in knowing who you really are, being a unique woman that cannot be replicated, embracing my flaws, strengths and vulnerabilities. Happiness is being kind to myself and others and enjoying each moment as it happens.
WomenAfterGreatness are Crowdfunding:
Please consider supporting their crowdfunder here.
Women After Greatness is a grassroots social enterprise that empowers and equips young women and girls through our mentoring, education and training programmes. Due to COVID 19 many of our projects have had to pause and funding has seized so we are crowdfunding £10,000 to enable us to adapt and deliver our services differently to support marginalised young women in East London.
What Will You Be Funding? As an immediate response your donations will go towards:
Our continued wellbeing & 1-2-1 services taking place on and offline.
Helping to fund our latest project DIGITAL BOOK CLUB #SHEREADS starting July:
funding books, resources,
staffing and expenses for volunteers.
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