An Interview with Akilah S. Richards: Author & Entrepreneur
Busy mom, loving wife, entrepreneur, freelance writer, and author, I had to put on my old roller skates to catch up with author Akilah Richards. Click here to watch video!
Sylvia: Akilah, welcome! Please tell us a little about yourself?
Akilah: My brand consists of my first book, Execumama: A Pocket Guide for the Twenty-something Mommy on the Move (Wheatmark, 2007), my Web site, http://www.execumama.com/, and my popular mom blog, Execumama Online. I produce a series of workshops and forums through which women in the 21 to 49 age group can find resources, networking opportunities and comradery amidst society’s assertion that women— minorities in particular— cannot be successful businesswomen and committed mothers if they so choose.
My goal has since evolved from focusing solely on young mothers, to providing professional and personal resources to help women embrace the credo: Define, Design, and Live your best-case scenario life. In my freelance writing and social media management mode, I—along with our awesome team—help small businesses define their brand’s voice, launch campaigns, create persuasive copy, and enhance their online presence. Oh, and I also enjoy writing articles for a variety of print and Web-based entities.
Sylvia: Ahhh, branding, very important! What does your brand consist of?
Akilah: My brand consists of my first book, Execumama: A Pocket Guide for the Twenty-something Mommy on the Move (Wheatmark, 2007), my Web site, http://www.execumama.com/, and my popular mom blog, Execumama Online. In spring of 2010, Execumama.com will launch a series of workshops and forums through which mothers’ ages 21 to 35 can find resources, networking opportunities and comradery amidst society’s assertion that women— minorities in particular— cannot be successful businesswomen and committed mothers.
My goal is to help young mothers embrace the credo: Define, Design, and Live your fullest version of Woman. As a freelance writer and co-owner of Voz Visual, a creative branding company, I helped launch campaigns, revise copy, and write articles for a variety of print and Web-based entities.
Sylvia: What inspired you to write your book?
Akilah: The Execumama Pocket Guide was written primarily because between 2004 and 2006, I was hard-pressed to find resources for young women of color who had neither the desire nor the financial capacity to have nannies raise their children while they pursued their careers. The absence of resources for women who looked like me, and had similar backgrounds to mine, who were having babies in happy, healthy unions, but did not want to release their dreams of being entrepreneurs, or lawyers, or social workers, were scarce, so I decided to use an almost two-year period to seek out and interview women who were already where I wanted to be. The result was the pocket guide, a quick stick-in-your-purse-and-go type of read, which has since been a source of inspiration for hundreds of women, me included.
Sylvia: Obviously, I’ve surpassed the age of your typical readers. Can a woman ‘way’ over 35 benefit from your book?
Akilah: Absolutely, Sylvia! The Guide is indeed a resource for women of all ages, written from the perspective of an at-the-time 20-something mommy trying to figure out her place amidst the vast options that accompany working motherhood. Since motherhood does not end when you leave your 20’s, and we evolve into saner, and more confident versions of ourselves as we get into our 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s, my book speaks to making the transition, at any age, from being overwhelmed to embracing “your particular brand of sunshine”.
Many of the women who have reached out to me after reading Execumama are well into their 40’s and 50’s—imagine how honored I was (and still am)!
Sylvia: Where are some of the places that Execumama has been featured?
Akilah: My biggest opportunity for exposure thus far was a feature in the May, 2009 issue of Essence magazine. I’ve also been interviewed by Clutch Magazine, featured on CrisSimone.com, and highlighted on MyBrownBaby and MSNBC’s TodayMoms pages, as well as some other wonderful mother and business-related web sites. I’m always excited about sharing the news that we can be our best selves while being great mothers and the proof is in the myriad other women who do it successfully every day!
Sylvia: You mention, ‘Define, Design, and Live your fullest version of Woman.’ Share with us what that means? How can a busy mom and business woman apply that to her everyday life?
Akilah: That answer is specific to each woman’s particular lifestyle. On my main site, I interview a different Execumama each month, in the My, She’s Fly section and I make it a point to ask each one of them the very question: How do you define, design, and live your fullest version of woman? For me, that answer means living in a space where my authentic voice remains unsuppressed. I am a writer, so even with two daughters to raise, a husband to remind how amazing he is, and another company to help run, plus keeping my close-knit extended family as a priority, I still make time to write, and I don’t apologize to anyone for that. When I do all those things and WRITE, I am living my fullest version of Self. I challenge all the women with whom I come into contact, to identify and pursue what feels good and right and true for them as well.I’d love to hear from your readers who embrace their “Fly” factors, because my job is to highlight them, so email me!
Sylvia: Why should we buy your book?
Akilah: The mantras are the main reasons that people should purchase this guide. They offer simple, straightforward steps for how to move ahead with babies in tow. The guide also includes tear sheets that should be pinned on bathroom mirrors to remind each of us why we are worthy of minimal stress while leading productive lives. This book came through me, for the many women who have and will read it, and I encourage women of all ages to purchase it and see the wisdom I gathered from the many women I was blessed enough to have interviewed.
Sylvia: Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
Akilah: Yes, and that would be to be the architect of your own life, with God as your Chief Adviser. There is a note to my readers at the end of the book about the concept of Divine Architecture, and that note is the essence of the Guide.
Sylvia: I believe in ‘each one-help-one’ by sharing information, collaborating and mentoring others. What tip would you give to other aspiring authors?
Akilah: IfI could offer one solid tip to other writers, it would be this: Consider yourself a life-long student in the craft of writing. Always look to learn from those who have done it well; always consider yourself a conduit for the stories that need to be told (fiction and non-fiction included); and always be true to your authentic voice. I am constantly studying the writers with whom I’m fortunate enough to be friends and the greats who have influenced millions with their commitment to the craft.
Sylvia: Please leave your contact information for your book and services.
Akilah: Certainly. My main hub, Execumama.com is a great place to start. Women who have or are in the process of defining their core values and learning how to translate that in their daily lives should subscribe to the site for updates on all our upcoming projects. Also, my book is available on Amazon.com, and my writing services are detailed on Voz Visual’s site. I can always be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org as well.
Sylvia: It sounds like you are incredibly busy. I wish you all the best. Thanks so much for taking the time for an interview with Sylvia Browder’s Blog for Women Entrepreneurand ‘Successful Women Speak’ e-newsletter.