Entrepreneur Nana Agyemang started in the world of fashion journalism. From coldly emailing editors she admired to running social media for The Cut, she worked her way up, building her own social media empire – EveryStylishGirl – and interviewing thought leaders and celebrities for national publications.
During one of those interviews, Nana received crucial advice from actress Gabrielle Union: “Don’t wait for someone to invite you to their table. Create your own.”
Since then, Nana has been doing just that: in 2020, during the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, she grew her brand into a platform for black and brown women who want to change the world of business. EveryStylishGirl is a home for aspiring entrepreneurs and creatives. EveryStylishGirl’s mission is to hold employers accountable for their commitment to diversity and to empower black women – who have faced disproportionate job losses during the pandemic – with the tools they need to thrive in the media industry.
Between growing her business, hosting the 2022 Yelp Black in Business Summit and hosting her first international Sip ‘n Slay event in Accra, Ghana in December. This is how she makes the most of every day as a founder, CEO and multimedia journalist.
First thing I do in the morning
The first thing I do in the morning is pray. It prepares me for the day, it keeps me grounded and it’s a form of meditation for me. I like to focus my prayer on what lies ahead that day, so I manifest a successful day for myself, manifest the partnership I am proposing, manifest successful growth for my business. I manifest everything I need to do that day in this prayer.
I think so many of us pick up the phone so quickly, but I sit there with my thoughts in the morning before I pick up my phone — even if it’s just for two minutes. Two to three minutes of discipline in the morning will get you much further than grabbing your cell phone.
We have two business accounts, EveryStylishGirl Biz and EveryStylishGirl, and we have social media managers for both of these accounts. So I check in with them daily to say, ‘Hey, can we get started? Did we have more recent content that needs to be uploaded?”
For example, last weekend at the Emmys was such a phenomenon because we won so many black women — it was back-to-back-to-back, [Sheryl Lee Ralph, Quinta Brunson, Lizzo, and Zendaya] Finally got the flowers they deserve. Let’s say we had a social media post that should go online, an inspirational quote, or some kind of career learning. We will pause this and push the more contemporary content. That’s why it’s always so important to check in during the day and find out: What are our goals for today? What is the focus?
My DMs are always open. I’m not kidding, people close deals in their DMs.
For my personal Instagram I have [check it for] maybe 10 minutes in the morning and then I move on [for two hours] in the course of the day. I try to respond to DMs, whether they’re questions about my career or questions about something I’ve worn. On my Instagram I give insights continuously. I always try to be a vessel for resources, support or whatever. My DMs are always open. I’m not kidding, people close deals in their DMs.
How I prioritize
I divide myself into three categories: lifestyle and fashion, media and business, and then social media strategy. Before I post content, I ask myself: does it hit one of those three buckets? If not, I won’t work with you.
I recommend people carve out a niche and ask themselves if [an opportunity] meets all your niche needs. If not, then it might not be best to work with this company. Most of the time you’ll see me doing panel engagements, hosting events, creating lifestyle and fashion content, or speaking about social media strategies. That’s what I care about.
My favorite form of self-care
I like to build regular breaks into my day. I’ll probably work hard for an hour or two — whether it’s emailing, pitching, creating content, reviewing deals — I’ll do it for an hour or two, but then I have to make my mind up close laptop. I have to go away. I go for walks, I grab yogurt and granola, I make a nice lunch, I listen to a podcast that I know can build that momentum for me. It really motivates me to keep working harder.
And for self-care, I honestly love a good spa day. It doesn’t have to be a full spa. You could just get a pedicure with a five minute massage. I try to get that every two weeks and these little things mean so much to me. It gets me out of my work mentality. I try very hard not to think about work, emails and deadlines. Self care to me means being in the moment and not touching your phone – I really try not to take my phone to the nail salon and just enjoy the experience as I don’t have much time for myself throughout the day.
My work-life limits
So many women, especially women of color, are pushing to become CEOs and work for Fortune 500 companies [make their] Goals and hit the salary. And it’s so exhausting. I think since COVID a lot of people are taking time to reflect on themselves and realize that mental health is way more important than getting to the bag, you know? I’d rather have a happy home, a happy life, than be a top CEO at any company. If it means sacrificing my sanity, I don’t want to.
We are no longer sacrificing our sanity for business. We are in the time to put ourselves first.
I’m a big advocate of doing what’s best for your mental health. If you need to get out of a job that is weighing you down, stressing you out, belittling you, keeping you up 24 hours a day – then you need to get out. We’re not killing ourselves for corporations anymore. We are no longer sacrificing our sanity for business. We are in the time to put ourselves first. This is so important to me right now, and it’s important to my community [on EveryStylishGirl]. Whether it’s Gen Z black women or millennial black women, we see this message across the board: mental health first, my happiness first, and your business second.
How I make connections
[For networking,] You would think my immediate way of connecting is Instagram, but it’s actually LinkedIn. Back when I was in grad school [at Columbia University School of Journalism] When I was really trying to transition from working in hard news to working in fashion media, I told myself that my goal is to have one coffee a week with someone who has a job I want to work in. I sent a lot of cold emails and LinkedIn messages. Many like, “Hey, nice to meet you. Here’s a little about me. I would be happy if we keep in touch. Can we get some coffee?” I feel like it’s really hard to deny when someone offers you coffee. It’s a small gesture – a small way to sweeten the deal.
You’ll get a lot of no’s in your life, but you’ll be surprised — those same no’s will turn around a few years later and say, “Yeah, hey, I remember you.” I can’t stress this enough: relationships are the most important thing to the company growth. It’s hardly a qualification, to be honest. It’s that manager who remembers you from a great conversation in a coffee shop. So make sure you talk to as many people as possible and get out there and build those relationships.
And then don’t be afraid to network with your own colleagues. This is called horizontal networking. I wish I had known that earlier. I think people are so focused on vertical networking, but it’s really the people around you that could one day help you advance your career.
Last thing I do in a day
There’s one thing I breathe a sigh of relief at: At the end of the day, just cross my to-do list. Oh my God. It’s like getting a hundred dollars. Every time I cross it out I think I’m so proud of myself like it’s such a great achievement. I’m not kidding – it could be as little as opening all my PR gifts for the week. But being able to check that off gives me a huge sigh of relief. It’s fulfillment. It’s just such a good feeling.
See more of Nana’s journey below: