Presenting My Non-Profit, Style Lottery

Check out my nonprofit, Style Lottery! Style Lottery combines my love of fashion with the desire to uplift young women in the community. Style Lottery, through nominations from community members, selects hardworking young women from low-income communities and surprises them with the gift of a free shopping spree.

Go to stylelottery.org to visit the site:

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Website Designed by Timi Komonibo & Featured Picture by Bunmi Ishola

Quick Guide to Seeing South Africa Like A Local

O N E  D R O P (3)

After coming back from my Spring Break trip with my friend Jennifer to Johannesburg and Cape Town, I was excited to share my adventures with friends and family. It wasn’t until I started comparing notes that I realized we had packed an insane amount of activities into the 3 days we spent in Johannesburg and 2 in Cape Town. I’ve pulled together some tips to help you see South Africa like a local. May they serve you well on your journey!

Disclaimer: This is not a paid review. I just believe in giving credit where credit is due.

1. Stay with Curiocity Backpackers

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The Curiocity guys (l to r: Bheki, Tshepo, and Bonnie)

When I told my good friend that I was traveling to Johannesburg, he told me that there was no better place to stay than at`1` the Curiocity Backpackers hostel located in the Maboneng Precinct. Their website and Facebook page highlighted game nights, clean bunk beds, an in-house bar, and a prime location in an eclectic neighborhood. We were sold. The Curiocity team were extremely helpful at all points of our trip: they arranged for a driver to come pick us up from the airport (Ask for Arnold, he’s our favorite!), Dudu (sweetest girl ever) was at the front desk to greet us with a warm welcome and show us our room. First thing that struck me about the hostel was that it was the kind of place I would see in a cool urban magazine. From the graffiti wall with “Curiocity” scrawled across it to the upper deck attached to the kitchen, there wasn’t a design element the guys hadn’t thought of. The second thing that surprised me was how young the guys are (pictured above). Bheki Dube brought together a group of entrepreneurial friends and merged their ventures into one awesome experience for young travelers.

#2. Explore local neighborhoods

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Sign language sculpture spelling out “Vilakazi”

In my opinion, the best way to see South Africa is through a guided tour with someone who will show you the historical sites as well as the quirky spots in the area. I will admit that upon arrival at Jo’Burg, my main objective was to soak up the sun and eat South African food. So when I signed up for the Inner City walking tour with Bonnie from Curiocity, I had no real expectations other than to have fun.  I’m pretty sure Bonnie took us EVERYWHERE in the city and I’m equally sure he knew EVERYONE in the area. We were always greeted warmly because we were with Bonnie. Most of the pictures from my South Africa photo gallery post were taken during Bonnie’s tour. His extensive knowledge of South Africa’s history and connection to the city of Johannesburg helped us understand the significance of the sites we were seeing. We ended the day on a somber note at the Apartheid Museum (which has a student discount if you present your ID). Our town to Soweto the next day was led by Tshepo. His tour “Sowe2 With Love” took us through historical area of Soweto. We walked on Vilakazi Street, the only street in the world to have housed two Nobel Prize winners (Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu). We also visited the Hector Pieterson museum while we were there. If you’re interested in taking the tours, click on the links above to get more information.

#3. Do something you’re afraid of

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Tshepo just happened to know a woman who tamed snakes

As we were wandering through the streets with Tshepo, my friend Jennifer had the insane idea to stop at a place where you could hold a snake. As you can see in the picture above, I had no chill about the entire situation. I did manage to touch the snake and then warm up to the idea of letting it drape over me. This speaks to how comfortable I was on the tour and how confident I was that Tshepo wouldn’t let me die in Soweto. Because Tshepo is very familiar with the area, we were able to see some great spots in area. Just as was the case with Bonnie’s tour, everyone greeted us warmly and invited us into their stores and their home.

#4. Enjoy the scenic routes

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Street view of the Orlando tours

After our Soweto tour, we headed over to the Orlando Towers. In between the two towers, you can see there is a small red platform for bungee jumping. I really wanted to do it, but after the snake incident I figured I’d had enough excitement for the day. Behind the wall was a great hangout spot called Chaf Pozi where people were eating braai and jamming along with the music. Braai is South Africa’s version of barbeque meat and it is delicious! I was so busy savoring the flavor and enjoying the atmosphere that I don’t remember to take a picture of the inside. But that’s a good problem to have. This was a great people-watching spot where we could see the young and old dancing, eating, and laughing together.

#5. Ride public transportation

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Jennifer and I on our way to Soweto

When we were on Bonnie’s tour, he showed us different hand signs you could use to hail a city van in Jo’Burg. Most of the time, when the van pulled up to you it was typically jam-packed with people. It was a cool way to see local people and feel like you were part of the hustle and bustle of the city. Jennifer and I always went around together and we had the help of our new friends to tell us where we were going and . I do not recommend going on the bus alone. It was a little overwhelming and easy to lose your way. The van pictured above taken during our Sowe2 tour where it was just us, Tshepo and our driver friend. We lucked out and just happened to be the only ones on the tour that day so we had to whole van to ourselves that day. Special thanks to Ayo for letting us borrow his GoPro and selfie stick!

#6. Sample the local cuisine

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Trying “bunny chow” for the first time

We were given a some good food recommendations of things to eat while in South Africa. The top three things were braai, bunny chow, and an ostrich burger. We got to try all three and they were all delicious. It wasn’t hard to find braai, but we had a little difficulty tracking down bunny chow. We finally found it at the Eastern Food Bazaar when we visited Cape Town. Bunny chow is a hollowed out loaf of bread and filled with a stewed/curried meat (chicken or lamb). The little Nigerian girl in me was taken back to the days of dipping agege bread in stew. This meal was genius and I’m going to find a way to have it again in the States.

Here’s a list of the restaurants we ate at while we were in South Africa:

  • Little Addis (Ethiopian food in South Africa. Seemed pretty authentic and spicy…very spicy lol)
  • Cadillac Jack’s Roadhouse (The caramelized onions & sauce with the cheeseburger were perfect)
  • Soul Souvlaki (I recommend the “mixed grill” with chicken, lamb, and bisteki)
  • Fabulous Burger Boys (Try a tasty ostrich burger)
  • Chaf Pozi (Enjoy some great braai and great music)
  • Truth Coffee Roasting (We didn’t even eat here. We just wandered in and sat down. By the time we left, we’d had a deep conversation about race with an American PhD student we randomly met.)
  • Eastern Food Bazaar (Get the bunny chow. Make sure you have a lot of room in your stomach!)
  • Little restaurant attached to Curiocity (I forget the name of the place, but we had breakfast there twice and dinner once. The meals are simple and low-cost. The staff is always friendly and willing to feed you early or late. Great place to eat if you’re in a pinch for time or money.)

Word of advice: If you’re trying to sample as many dishes as possible, I suggest that you and a friend order different things and share with each other. This is Jennifer’s style and since she’s been to more than 20 countries already, I think we can trust her advice.

So now you’ve seen all of my trip to South Africa. I already miss my Curiocity brothers and am scheming to return soon. If I didn’t have the travel bug I definitely got it after this trip. I hope this post helps you see the real South Africa, rather than the packaged tourist version. Cheers to more trips in the future!

In case you missed it, check out Part I: Naturale Chronicles Goes to South Africa.

Naturale Chronicles Goes To South Africa

O N E  D R O P

My favorite purchases from last year were my red Hershel dupe knapsack and my secondhand cafe-brown Levi jeans. Naturally, I brought them with me on my week-long vacation to South Africa last week. The cafe pants a great staple piece in my closet and were very comfy to walk around in through the city. My knapsack held all my essentials (passport, money, IDs, water bottle, sunscreen, etc) and allowed me to explore the city hands-free. I will let these two items tell the story of my trip to South Africa.

JOHANNESBURG (JO’BURG)

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When we first landed in Jo’Burg, the first thing I felt was how much I had missed the African sun kissing my skin.

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There was art and beauty around every corner.

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There was so much to do and see but most of the time, I was content to just sit still and be present.

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Every inch of the city paid homage to history’s greats.

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Each neighborhood reflected the interests of its eclectic residents.

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Depending on where you stood, and from who’s perspective you were looking from, the city looked completely different.

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Despite years of adversity, the African pride could not be smoldered. It was prominent in every space we entered.

 

CAPE TOWN

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A greeting is enough to spark a friendship

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The weather in Cape Town does as it pleases– sun one minute, wind the next.

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The streets were marked so that no one could erase their history.

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I could never take for granted the kindness of strangers (especially the ones letting me take pictures in front of their houses)

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I allowed myself to relax in my new surroundings

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I witnessed the nostalgic blend of the old and the new.

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I experienced the adage that “it’s not the destination, but the journey that changes us.”

Special thanks to Bonnie, our tour guide in Johannesburg from Curiocity Backpackers. Stay tuned for my part II of this post, giving more details about the places I went, things I did, and people I met in South Africa.

Have any of you traveled to South Africa? Leave me a link to your blog post below. I’d love to see what you saw!

(Photo cred: Jennifer Osias)

5 Lessons of Leadership from the Weekend StartUp School with Paul C. Brunson

Hi, my name is Timi Komonibo and I am the founder of a fashion philanthropy startup called “Style Lottery.” Our mission is to “Restyle, Reuse, and Reward” with fashion.

I rehearsed my introduction in the mirror at least 20 times before I headed off to the Weekend Startup School. I knew that this weekend would be a game changer for me and my startup, Style Lottery. I would be rubbing elbows with creative thinkers and entrepreneurs who would help me overcome imposter’s syndrome and realize my potential for greatness.

There were so many great words of wisdom at the weekend that I couldn’t capture all in one post, so please make sure you check the #WeStartUp hashtag for all the tweets from the weekend. I boiled down my experience into 5 key lessons for starting up. Enjoy:

1. Do what you do and do it well

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Do you have a topic you could talk about tirelessly? Do you know how to use engaging storytelling to bring an issue or a product to life? All of our guest speakers had their individual niche areas and they had learned to convert their experiences into areas of expertise. Not sure where to start? Ask your friends and family what good things you’re best known for. From there you can pick an area of interest to learn more about. Remember to “be world class at all things” and develop a standard of excellence for yourself.

2. Plan Ambitiously

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When you plan for next business idea or event, plan thinking what’s the BEST that could happen? There’s something empowering that happens when we speak good things into existence. I’m not suggesting that you be unrealistic or irresponsible, I’m talking about entrepreneurial confidence. I once looked over a friend’s resume and saw that she wasn’t framing her experiences as well as she could. For example, she used passive voice which implied that she was just going along with the requirements of the job. She didn’t mention that she had driven sales and poineered a new team in the department. Often times, we sell ourselves short by how plainly we describe our ventures. Next time someone asks you about your business, challenge yourself to describe it as colorfully as you can.

3. Build a team that is for you and with you 

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One of the guest speakers, Tionna Smalls asks us to think about 10 people who would promote our businesses without being asked. Immediately, the names and faces of a few close friends and family came to mind. These are the people who invite their friends to my upcoming events; the ones who make email introductions to people they think would be good potential partners. You can’t pay to have people like this in your life, you can only recognize them and support them like they support you. People who are with you are along with you in the journey of your business– from the time before you figure out how to generate revenue to when you can afford a salaried team. There are people who are bring up your name and business ideas in their social circles when you’re not even around— these people are for you. As entrepreneurs, we must be vigilant against toxicity that threatens to compromise our company culture. Although it may be difficult at times, it’s important to cut out negative relationships, connections, and ties that may be detrimental to our businesses or your physique as an entrepreneur. Not everyone that approaches you is worthy of being involved in your idea. Toe the line of being a networker and a protector of your business idea. On the rare occasion when you find individuals who are with you and  for you, you must nurture that relationship and never let them go.

4. Invest in yourself

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A lot of entrepreneurs get so nervous about potentially disappointing investors that they let that fear paralyze them into inaction. In the start-up world, failure in some form is inevitable. That’s why experts recommend that you fail fast and early in the game. In the infancy stage of your business, explore and take calculated risks. Learn from the giants and success stories around you. I always appreciate how transparent entrepreneurs are. Cake Love owner, Warren Brown, will tell you himself that the concept for cake in a jar was not made in a day. It took a lot of research, as well as trial, and error. We have much to learn from the people who have gone before us and there are plenty of resources that share those lessons regularly. A few of my favorites are Inc. and Fast Company. Make sure you attend conferences and workshops that feed your mind and develop you. Remember to weigh the price tag with the benefit you’ll receive from the event.

5. Begin with no end in mind

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What would you do if you could not fail? Our business ideas are often finite and limited by our inability to predict the future. What if our business models became about forming precedents and leaving legacies? As we look into how we conduct business in our community, let’s start looking at long-established community organizations and studying their best practices. How about we aim to be game changers and industry interrupters! In fact, how about #WeStartUp together!

If you’re interested in jumpstarting your business, I highly recommend you attending the next Weekend Startup School on June 13th & 14th, 2015.

Here is the lovely March 2015 #WeStartUp group:

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Photo cred: #WeStartUp team

For other great recaps, check out these posts by:

Leave a comment below. What are you most interested in learning about, as an entrepreneur?

What’s In My Bag TAG: Long Weekend Trip

I’m taking a long roadtrip via bus from DC to NYC to SYR. It’s a mixture of business and pleasure. Since I’m learning to be more minimal, I thought I’d show you what’s in my bag. I’m only packing a backpack and a purse.

In my backpack:

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1. Medium travel cube- it was part of a set of 3 in different sizes. It’s my favorite travel accessory. In there, I have a pair of pants and leggings, 4 tops, pjs, 4 days worth of underwear, and a pair of black booties. They all fit!

2. My glass water bottle- I can use water fountains to fill up

3. Book- reading up for Style Lottery

4. Umbrella

5. Small travel cube- full of snacks

6. Makeup bag

7. Toiletries 

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In my purse:

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset1. Organizer- for business meetings

2. Cash envelope- I do the cash envelope system. I designate a specific amount of money to different categories (food, fun, apparel, etc.) When the cash is finished, I can’t spend on that category anymore.

3. Wristlet wallet

4. Idea journal

I love traveling lighter. It makes life so much easier. This is my travel backpack. It’s a Hershel dupe but a lot of people mistake it for the real thing! I got it a few months ago and I have used it for all my trips. Great accessory to have.

Click picture to find a similar backpack.

Click picture to find a similar backpack.

Do you travel light? What’s your favorite travel bag? Leave me a comment below!

“So Lonely”— An Original Song Written by Uche Aguh & Performed by Timi Komo

Who can tell where love begins or ends or even where it’s going? A love story can change in an instant. Watch as this couple journey through this tricky thing we call love.

So Lonely on Vimeo.

Song written by Uche Aguh and sung by Timi Komonibo. Video directed by Toni Akindele.

What If Zero Waste and Minimalism Had a Baby?

Little [Red] Panther in DC

For me the challenge isn’t to be different but to be consistent. – Joan Jett

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The year has just begun and I’m already experiences a lot of changes in my life. I recently moved to DC and started working at a great company. I dyed my locs red and finally realized my dream of becoming a redhead. I had the chance to see some sights in DC and pose for some pictures with my brother and his friend.

Check it out:

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IMG_2379Thanks for the great shots, Ye. You can find more of his work here.

Living Tiny for a Week

I was house-sitting for my friend in a tiny house this week. It was nice having a cozy little space to myself where I was undistracted by clutter and excess. Everything in the house had a function and it had exactly what you needed (nothing more, nothing less). I was taken back at how simple the tiny place was and how content I was with that.

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To make matters more interesting, I had chosen to bring only a small duffle bags of clothes with me for the week. Although my clothing choices were restricted, I started to see my style staples make themselves known. As much as I like to think my style is nuanced and intricate, I am really just a girl who enjoys high-waisted pants and collared shirts. When I get the rest of my luggage back, I’m going to re-evaluate what I bring with me on my move to DC.

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The house was stocked with dishes and a full kitchen, but I went grocery shopping for the week. Ever since I started living on my own, I have had trouble shopping for one person. (For some reason, my mind thinks I’m shopping for a family of 5 and I keep reaching for gallon-sized milk.) I limited myself to pre-made Trader Joe meals and oatmeal. Not my best, but at least I’m getting the hang of single-person shopping.

unnamed-1This house-sitting adventure has been great. It has challenged me to reconsider looking at “less” as lack. In the case of this tiny living adventure, less is definitely more. This year will be a time for me to explore minimal living. I want to be conscious and present in the lives of the people I love. I want to have more adventures and less possessions. This was my first test and I think I’m up for the challenge.

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Repost: 5 Zero Waste Tips from Style Lottery

I recently wrote an article for StyleLottery.com about the Zero Waste movement. I once went one a mission trip to Mexico where we visited a very poor slum where people basically lived in a landfill. To this day, I have a very visceral awareness of the impact my consumption has on other people. The idea of producing zero waste has been fascinating to me since I first heard about it a few weeks ago. It’s a interesting challenge that can overwhelm you if you try to do too much at once. 

Here is my article:    

So, what is Zero Waste? A Zero Waste lifestyle encourages individuals to live more sustainably by reducing, reusing, and recycling. It is an extension of minimalism and environmentalism. So of, course we’re all about it here at Style Lottery.

I see Zero Waste as a challenge for us to take a critical look at our consumption. Are our lives filled with things or do we focus on the people we meet and the experiences that we have with them? Sometimes we have to start small in order to lessen our environmental footprint without going insane. Here are some ways to start:

1. Switch to a bamboo toothbrush

Picture from trashisfortossers.com

Picture from trashisfortossers.com

I recently switched over to bamboo (Brush with Bamboo) toothbrushes and I loved it! Although I did feel like a hipster brushing my teeth with a wood handle, it felt good knowing that my toothbrush was compostable and would be returning to the earth from where it came. I’m so excited about these toothbrushes that I’m putting them in my family’s stockings this year.

2. Toss out plastic tupperware

As I was moving, I had to decide whether to keep my mountain of mismatched tupperware. I decided glass was a better option because it was more durable and could be microwaved without melting. I also find that glass containers look more aesthetically pleasing when filled with leftovers in the fridge. The price might be a bit higher than plastic, but at this point, I’m looking for a quality option that will last me for a longer time. Glass is it for me. (Hipster tip: Mason jars can also be a good alternative). If you’re someone who likes their food separated, you might want to go for a stainless steel lunch box with sections.

3. Invest in a reusable water bottle

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Hydrated cool kid alert!

I am a juice fiend. I don’t drink alcohol but I drink juice like it’s wine after a long day. I realized that I wasn’t getting enough water. At first, I would fish for some change and would buy some from the vending machine at school. Then I decided to invest in a reusable water bottle. I chose the Takeya brand because it was on clearance at Ross and it was glass! I was worried I would break it or chip my tooth on the mouth somehow, but I’ve had no trouble with it. The silicone case keeps it from slipping out of my grip. To help me drink more water and less juice, I got the free Water Your Body app. It’s the most annoying and useful app on my phone. It reminds me to…water my body and keeps track of how much I’m drinking every day. I’m very competitive with myself so I always try to beat my record for how early in the day I can reach my water goal. (Hipster tip: You can use a mason jar for hot and cold beverages).

4. Switch to a reusable shopping bag

My friend Julia got me stuck on reusable shopping bags. My mom had given me one a year ago and I always forgot to bring it with me to the store. Julia always had hers tucked away in a pocket of her purse. I noticed that she always got the right amount of food for one person because when her bag was full, she stopped shopping. I, on the other hand, shopped like I was feeding a family of five. Something else that helps in this area is going to farmers markets. Not only is it a great way to get the appropriate amount of fresh produce and veggies, it’s easier for you to buy what you actually need. If you need 3 apples, buy 3 and not the jumbo bag of 12. (Hipster tip: bring mason jars to fill with granola or nuts).

5. Swap your clothes

Shoppers at a Style Lottery swap event using reusable bags

Shoppers at a Style Lottery swap event using reusable bags

The hardest thing for me to down-size on was my clothing. In trying to fit all my possessions into 4 suitcases for the move, I realized I had too much stuff and most of it was clothes. It was so surprising and frustrating because hello I’m the sustainable fashion girl! I’m not supposed to have excess clothing. (Those of you interested in down-sizing your wardrobes should check out the Unfancy blog’s Capsule Wardrobe. It challenges you to pick 37 articles of clothing to wear for 3 months. Think you can do it? Check it out here.) I looked through my wardrobe one last time and donated clothing items that I knew I wouldn’t and shouldn’t wear anymore. Two huge piles later, I was finally able to fit all my things into my suitcases. Those of you attending the 2015 Style Lottery swaps will thank me later ;). Donating clothing is a great way to make room for clothes that you actually want. Swapping is an even better option because you give and you get. To check out Style Lottery’s past swaps, click here.

FYI: Trash is for Tossers has a great list of Zero Waste Alternatives. See the full list here.

Would you try some of these zero waste tips? Let me know in the comments which ones you like and which ones you’re already doing!

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Click here to read more about sustainability on stylelottery.org

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Pep Talk: Finding Your Success

This is a little encouragement for everyone who is out there looking to find their passion and place in this world. Our value does not come from our the degrees behind our names, careers that we have chosen or the zeroes in our paychecks. Our worth is in our impact, in how we touch the world and leave it for the better. 
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