Client Profile: Yayra Tamakloe

Have you met Yayra? If not, you should!  

Yayra is a Kent State alumna (2019, BFA Fashion Design) and has been an exuberant client of LaunchNET for over 2 years, having explored multiple venture ideas and placed in the 2018 Idea Olympics as well as earning a Venture Fund award for her herbal tea infusions idea [which was delicious, btw! -tm.]. 

Her latest project, which is bringing storytelling from Africa and the Diaspora into multimedia formats accessible to people around the world, recently earned a spot as a finalist in the SEA Change social enterprise accelerator and placed with a number of awards. Even after graduating from Kent State, she continues to be involved and in communication with her LaunchNET advisors. 

As she works to establish and grow the P.A.L. Project, she took some time to talk to us and share some of her experiences.

Yayra and her P.A.L. Project won mentorship and services from the SEA Change competition in 2020.

Talk about what you're working on now & how you got involved with LaunchNET.

For a long time I didn't know there was a name for wanting to do your own thing, which is to be an entrepreneur. I remember the first time I walked into the LaunchNET office asking for advice. After that encounter, the world lost me to the life of being an entrepreneur. 

It has been a really interesting ride, with attempting a couple different ventures and life happening, but at some point something had to give, and here I am. Still working on putting pieces together in something I am passionate about—culture—and how to make that easily accessible for people to learn about the diversity within the global Pan African community. This is what the P.A.L. Project is about. From conceptualization and all the countless pivots to get to where I am today, LaunchNET has been one of the most instrumental resources that I have been able to rely on during this journey.

 

What's the best entrepreneurial advice you've received? 

“Until you ask, the answer is always no”
 

Give us three of the most important skills you think an entrepreneur should have.

  1. Be persistent: The journey is far from predictable and even when you think you know, you don’t, and you need an unwavering will to take every day as it comes and keep pushing.

  2. Talk to people: This might seem counterintuitive since people think others will “steal” your ideas but first you need to remember no idea is original! It is only through communicating what you are doing and where you could use some help that people will actually know to direct you to resources. Unless of course you are one of the fortunate ones who don't need to talk to anyone because everything has been put in place and even so, you need people to make it happen so TALK to people. THEY will point you towards doors and ideas you couldn't have found on your own.

  3. Have a reason: This goes along with the first advice. If you jump on a bandwagon, it's easy to roll off the wagon during an uphill climb so if it is selling pastries, building an app, making custom shoelaces or doing something unique that has not been done, you need to have a “WHY”. That will build your will and keep you going when it gets hard.

 

Who or what motivates you? 

This might sound silly if you know me but my will to succeed motivates me. That will comes from seeing, knowing, and being part of things that I know could be better not just for me but the world around me. It's about setting a solid foundation for my family and loved ones, and it's about knowing that I do not want to leave this world not having tapped into my full potential to actualize something positive for this world. 

Plus I’ve worked too darn hard for so darn long to settle for anything beneath what I know I can achieve!

 

What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear? 

My greatest fear has always been the fear of failure. It was thinking that perhaps I was fooling myself to think I could do something important, and this made me feel like I was mad A LOT of the time. It took surrounding myself with like-minded people to help me face the truth, which is that society has put us all in boxes and when you decide to be an outlier you will feel crazy but that is okay. 

Great people were never normal anyway! LOL

LaunchNET in particular has been a great support system for me, those S.O.S calls and texts to Tabitha and other mentors who reminded me that what I might call failures are actually just hiccups and that I am not crazy. 

Plus words of advice: “fail fast, learn quick.” So now we welcome failures because they show us what NOT to do :)

 

How do you express your creativity?

Practically in everything  I do. Creativity is the air I breathe. In short, you take that away from me, you’ve extinguished my life-line.

 

What made you laugh today?

Oh gosh! A dear friend called me from home (Ghana) going on a rant about how they went hunting for a barber because their barber flaked, and they could not afford to look a hot mess—SMH. I had just woken up, so imagine picking up a call to a barbershop rant session!