Before you had your children and started KemiKids, what was day to day life typically like for you?
Before having my daughters, I was a Credit Risk Analyst at GlaxoSmithKline. I gave up work after I became a mother. I knew this was going to happen because before my husband John and I got married, we had a serious conversation about parenting. We agreed that one of us was going to stay at home with the kids. He earned more than me so it made sense for me to give up work. Before setting up KemiKids, I was a stay-at-home mum to my daughters. Day to day life involved school runs, cooking, cleaning, and checking homework, etc..
For those that don’t know, tell us how KemiKids came about and what your first steps were to getting started?
Before KemiKids, I had another blog called RealYvonneBlog. RealYvonneBlog was a very serious and personal blog. Writing on RealYvonneBlog was my therapy and it saved me. It was through this process that I figured out what I really wanted to do and what my purpose in life is. This gave birth to KemiKids and through writing (about my experience of motherhood) I figured out that I could use KemiKids to fulfill my childhood dream; owning a shop.
Why KemiKids? What does the name mean?
Kemi is one of my many Nigerian names. Kids mean children but in this case of KemiKids, It refers to my daughters.
You have 2 girls at school, a husband, write a blog and run a business, how do you juggle everything? What’s a typical day in the life of Yvonne?
Firstly, I must admit that I couldn’t do what I am doing without the support of my husband John and my daughters. John has always been supportive of everything I do. My daughters are at that age where they don’t need me as much. They are also very disciplined and just get on with it. In saying that, I try to be disciplined with the limited time that I have in a day. For me, waking up between 4.30am – 5.00am every day to get some things done. Since starting the KemiKids store I don’t see friends as much. A typical day for me includes reading, journaling, exercising, dropping the girls off at school, packing orders, replying to emails, updating social media, meetings with suppliers, cooking, cleaning, checking homework and taking my daughters to their extra-curricular activities.
How if at all does your Nigerian heritage shape your style of parenting?
My Nigerian heritage still plays a role in how I am bringing up my kids who are of mixed heritage. I am bringing them up as Nigerians; I feel they need to be grounded in one culture. I have discarded some Nigerian culture that I disagree with; I picked the ones that will serve them well. Like respect for elders, respect for oneself and hard work.
I don’t really have a particular parenting style since I use my instincts a lot.
Do you think that being the Mother of dual heritage children affects people’s perception of you and your identity?
I have never really thought about this before. Maybe it is because I live in England where the number of children of dual heritage is growing. However, in Nigeria, I think it would be a different story. When I was growing up, Nigerian women who were in relationships with white men were seen as ‘Cheap’. It was a taboo then but I don’t know if things have changed now.
You have mentioned disliking your typically African features in the past. What changed? When/why did you accept and embrace yourself?
How we perceive and see ourselves stem from our childhood experiences. In Nigeria, the lighter skinned you are, the prettier you are considered. I am very dark skinned. When I was growing up, I was teased a lot by my siblings about my nose – it flares when I speak. A friend also once told me that I was ugly. To make matters worse, I was a fat kid. Everything changed when I had my first daughter, something in me shifted.
I realised that I could not raise a strong, independent and self-assured girl if I was a messed up mother.
What are your thoughts on the representation of Black mothers online?
I think we still have a lot of work to do however, we are doing well. Black women are beginning to fight back, speak out and do great things using social media.
What’s next for Kemi Kids? Where do you see yourself in the next 5/10 years?
KemiKids Brand has grown tremendously since we launched in June 2016. We hope to keep growing at this rate. Our goal in the next five years is to be a one-stop shop/ household name for women who want stylish but affirming accessories.
I wish I had known that having kids strips you bare. You have to be whole to raise balanced kids.
*Quick Fire Questions*
Maverick Mama or Mama Warrior?
Jollof Rice or Plantain?
Leopard Print or Leather?
Wine Bar or Restaurant?
Cappuccino or Latte?
None – Black Coffee
Trainers or Dr Martens?
Sum up Motherhood in 4 words:
Hard work, Selflessness, Rewarding, Nurturing