Sandra Areka is a woman who was born and raised in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. She is passionate about working with girls and women, inspiring them to discover their personality, passion and purpose. She is also a professional counsellor, motivational speaker, author, event planner and entrepreneur.
I caught up with Sandra to what drives her to to be such a pillar for so many others.
What inspired you to pursue these ventures?
God is my greatest inspiration. I believe God created me on purpose and for a purpose. My gifts, talents, education, family background, personality are all intricately and meticulously interwoven for me to achieve my purpose.
Becoming a counsellor was something I discovered a few years ago. Throughout high school, college years and early adulthood, I was always the go-to person when someone had a problem. My friends and colleagues would say they found it easy to talk me and that I was an attentive and good listener.
With my family, I would always be in the middle of a crisis or problem that needed to be solved well beyond my years. I had experienced grief, depression. Losing a parent at a formative age is never easy. I had survived and I was willing to help others who had experienced loss [realize] that with God, it was possible to heal.
Events planner – I love exquisite events. “Top Billing” has always inspired me to dream of having events that would cause my guests to feel beautiful, special, honoured, respected and blown out of their seats! My dream is always to give my guests a reason to dress up and create a memory that will still linger long after the music has faded.
What were some of your biggest challenges before, while you built your businesses and now? How did you overcome them?
Getting started was difficult, but I’m still building my business and learning about entrepreneurship. Living in Zimbabwe has forced most people to be creative and work with their hands. It’s a journey which has provided me with opportunities to learn daily. I overcome these challenges by taking each day as it comes.
Did you have any experience?
In events, I had no experience. It’s a passion and I’m still learning. When I just walk into a room, I just look around and I can visualize how I would like to decorate the room and the atmosphere I would like to create. It’s like when I decorate a cake. I start out with a picture in my mind and just work on from there to create something that also gives me goosebumps of excitement when it’s done.
In counselling, yes, I had wide experience. Some years ago, I set up some counselling rooms at the Mpilo O.I Clinic for children and adolescents, which are still running up to now.
What were your fears when starting out?
Fears are always there. Thoughts like, “I don’t have money. I have no capital. Will anyone attend my functions, counselling trainings or sessions? Will clients buy my products?“
Some people will always try to discourage you, but remember there are always those who are cheering you on and waiting for you to join them on the other side of your fear.
I always tell people: you are not for everyone! Simply put, don’t stick around people who trivialize your dream or who speak negatively against your dream or business. They will suffocate your business. You need to jealously protect your dream or business as a hen broods over her chicks. Always surround yourself with people on the same road with you and those who will celebrate your dream. They are the oxygen to your dream and business.
What keeps you going on tough days?
I love Psalms 46, which talks about God being my refuge and strength. He is my ever-present help even in the midst of COVID-19. Also, having a strong support system – my family, friends, mentors and mentees. It’s always a beautiful day when I reach out for my phone and see messages from someone who says something I “said” or “did” was their lifeline when they felt hopeless. Or sometimes, someone just calls to inspire me. It’s so refreshing. No tough day can stand the power of encouragement!
Do you have some advice for women who want to pursue their passion?
Working with people is never easy. One needs to be adaptable, able to work with different kinds of people.
For counselling, one needs to be patient, teachable and an attentive listener, which is a rare ability. One should be able to learn even from a small child or an elderly person; there is no one you cannot learn from. They have experienced something you have not and have a different story to tell than yours.
Don’t be afraid to tell your story. Some people may try to hijack your story or interrupt your story, [override] your story or overlook your story. Sometimes your presence can just intimidate others. But tell your story anyhow. You lived through it. You are here today for a reason. We want to hear you tell your story. Tell it in your own special way; tell it how you like. You earned the right to tell it.
What do you consider to be some keys to your success?
3. Learning from other successful people
4. Asking questions, especially in the presence of those who are in the same business.
5. In events, be creative, dream big, think outside the box. In fact, there is no box. Don’t take no for an answer.
Remember there are those sitting on the sideline always telling you no, but you are on the track running the race. Focus ahead and run. Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t be afraid to shine and make a statement and take up space and dominate in your territory. Be bold. Be brave. Be strong. Build your brand.
You can contact Sandra via:
WhatsApp: (+263) 0716191795
Facebook: Sandra Rejoice Areka