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Inspirational Woman: Ronke Lawal | Founder of Ariatu Public Relations

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Ronke-Lawal

Ronke Lawal photographed by Emerzy Corbin

Tell us a bit about yourself

I founded RSL Management Services in 2004 at a time in my life when I was hungry for change. I wasn’t satisfied in full-time employment; working in a role that was not really for me but it paid the bills. I had suppressed my entrepreneurial spirit for a long time and so when I chose to start RSL Management Services, a marketing management business, I was realising my dream and creating my own journey. I started the business whilst I was still working and saved money from my job before going into work full time. I drew up a concise business plan and got to work from there – my main focus at the time was to network (even though I was never taught how to network I understood the principle) my research showed me that networking was crucial in growing my business. In 2014, as part of my 10th anniversary of being self employed I rebranded RSL to Ariatu Public Relations which undertakes PR and marketing for international clients, particularly those from the African/Caribbean Diaspora, increasing their visibility & brand recognition to potential customers. Between 2010-2012 I was the CEO of The Islington Chamber of Commerce, a challenging but worthwhile position which taught me so much about business, life and myself.

Most importantly be courageous; a member of the chamber’s tagline is “I go where there is courage” – I think this should be everyone’s tagline.

What else do you do outside of business?

I joined the board of Trustees of Voluntary Action Islington in 2012 and am currently on The Employers Panel for the National Employment Savings Trust. I am a Mentor for The Cherie Blair Foundation.

I love to travel and spend quality time with friends and family. Life really is meant to be explored to the fullest which means prioritising how one can help to enrich the lives of others through acts of service and giving; and also finding out what really makes us happy. This is why I started my food blogger www.whosfordinner.co.uk which came to of my love for food. It is true what they say, do something out of pure love and miracles happen! I haven’t been promoting the blog as a business and yet now I get invited on sponsored trips, restaurant reviews, receive food to try and have a small group of reviewers to help me cope with the influx of opportunities. I know that the moment I move it from a hobby to a commercial entity Who’s For Dinner will flourish. For now, I’m just enjoying eating!

What has been your biggest challenge?

I have often been my own biggest challenge. I had to constantly coach myself to believe in myself and in all honesty I think that there have been stages in my business life that I have actually sabotaged my own success. I got in my own way because I felt like a fraud when I started to become successful in business. Perhaps other women can relate to that feeling of constant self-doubt and uncertainty. It can be the most detrimental of all obstacles, everything else can be overcome through practice but it takes a lot to silence that voice that tries to convince you that you’re a fraud with your own success. It may not always be silent but I recognise it now and know what to say when it starts up again….”I am worthy”.

Though I have never been scared so to speak, it can be lonely if you don’t have a business partner. Even undertaking the rebrand to Ariatu PR was scary, I held myself back from undertaking it for far too long because I allowed my doubts to be my distractions. One of my former clients called me after I made an announcement about the re-brand and asked me why I changed and what the impact was for me and the answer allowed me to recognise how inauthentic and stuck I had been feeling for a while. How something as simple as staying under a label/in a position/in a place that no longer suits you can restrict your growth. By her asking me that question I felt empowered by what I was doing. I reclaimed my power.

Of course there are absolutely no guarantees you have to create your own path and follow it; learn from mistakes and pick yourself. I have had to repeat that mantra to myself; even whilst it has seemed that I’m not moving forward I have been able to stay focused and motivated.

Be brave in your career and don’t ponder on mistakes for too long, learn from them and move on. You can reach anywhere in your business if you so wish – don’t let anyone hold you back, least not yourself.

What’s been your greatest achievement personally?

My biggest achievement is staying in business since 2004!

I’m only as successful as my clients’ say I am. It’s not just about money it’s about the lasting legacy that I leave with my clients, when they offer referrals to people they meet who need my services then I feel truly successful.

By being totally authentic I can become and remain successful in all aspects of my life. By being authentic you can really give life your best, if you’re spending time trying to be someone that you’re not (which SO many people do) then you’ll never be truly successful, you’ll only be an imposter in your own life story. Imagine waking up one day and realising that you have been lying to yourself in order to impress everyone else!

If you weren’t doing what you do, what would you be doing?

I would be a travel and journalist or counsellor. I would also find a way of having food as part of that! I would also be a Wedding officiant, I LOVE weddings and I love love.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

Being happy inspires me! I just seek joy and fulfilment in everything I do; as well as achieving my goals. I am very passionate about my path in life, knowing that passion, consistency and integrity will enable me to reach me goals. Lots of people inspire me, the obvious being Oprah, Mellody Hobson and Lord Alan Sugar. There are also so many UK business owners who inspire me on a daily basis, they keep on striving to succeed and are continuing to break the mold.

The London Borough of Hackney has also inspired me to aim high; growing up in a poor area did not hold me back; in fact it empowered me because I did not want to remain trapped in the story of the streets. I wanted more for my life and am realising that dream each and every day.

What’s the best part of what you do now?

The independence and the power that comes with that independence.

What is the most important lesson you learned along the way?

To trust myself, knowing that I am doing the best that I can do and that I am worthy of greatness.

What piece of advice do you have for business owners out there?

I would say follow your passion and stay focused. Make sure you actively network in your business and professional life and engage with the right people, but be sure to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. If you can get a mentor, or at least surround yourself with a positive and powerful circle of people who will champion you in your career journey. Seek continual business development through training and seminars; education is important but only if used actively. Use education wisely as part of your long term professional strategy. Most importantly be courageous; a member of the chamber’s tagline is “I go where there is courage” – I think this should be everyone’s tagline. Be brave in your career and don’t ponder on mistakes for too long, learn from them and move on. You can reach anywhere in your business if you so wish – don’t let anyone hold you back, least not yourself.

Life really is meant to be explored to the fullest which means prioritising how one can help to enrich the lives of others through acts of service and giving; and also finding out what really makes us happy.

What does the future hold for you?

The exciting aspect of the future is that there are endless opportunities, endless chances to start afresh. I am at a stage in my business career where I am excited about the future. I have some interesting choices ahead of me and may choose to change direction slightly which is fine because I know that whatever path I choose will be one filled with intentional purpose.

@ronkelawal

@ariatupr

www.ariatupr.com

Ariatu-PR-Logo

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