We were early fans of Otegha Uwagba’s Little Black Book, the toolkit for working women. Named in this year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 list, Otegha’s empire has since grown into an empowering community known as Women Who which encapsulates weekly newsletter The Roundup, monthly podcast In Good Company, new Roundtable career workshops as well as a rolling series of sell-out talks on hot career topics like Building a Personal Brand and How to Get Published. Here we ask the Streatham-ite about building a network and getting the best out of working in London:
Streatham, South London. I am a die-hard South Londoner, and won’t hear a bad word said about it in my presence. It feels like ‘proper’ London to me, and it’s so fun and alive.
How has growing up in London shaped your attitude to life and work?
I think it’s made me understand the importance of networking, and being networked – the good thing about London is that there are always opportunities to meet new people doing interesting things, so if you live here you really have no excuse not to get out there and make stuff happen.
How do you deal with working alone?
I actually don’t mind working alone – I’m quite a solitary person actually (which might be surprising given I run a community), so working from home alone suits me quite well. Having said that, a huge downside of flying solo is not having anyone – whether a colleague or your boss – to bounce ideas off, and when I first became self-employed I really struggled with that. So I built my own team! My friends and professional contacts very often turn into sounding boards for my ideas and dilemmas, and that’s essentially what I want to recreate with Women Who – a forum for women to ask questions, throw around ideas and share resources instead of having to go it alone. I’m a big believer in the power of strength in numbers.
Favourite London workspace?
I generally work from home. I have a few co-working memberships, but actually my preferred workspace is my local library. I decamp there when I find that I’m not being productive at home.
How do you switch off?
Going to art galleries and exhibitions – if I could live in the Tate Modern I would. Also going for walks, it’s so soothing. Sometimes I listen to a podcast, other times I just go sit on one of the benches in my local park and take in the view.
What’s your view on social media? Help or hindrance?
Help, if you can practise a bit of self-control. I think social media has democratised entry into so many creative spaces as people are essentially now their own mini media platforms, and don’t need to rely on industry gatekeepers the way they did 10 or 20 years ago. Having said that, it can become a hugely unproductive timesuck if you’re not careful (speaking from experience here) and it often presents really unrealistic narratives of success that can be fairly dispiriting. Everything in moderation I say.
What’s your favourite place for a meeting in London?
Modern Society on Redchurch St is a beautiful boutique concept store with a little cafe inside. Their coffee is really great, and it’s a lovely plant-filled airy setting for a coffee date – people are always impressed when I take them there, and I spend a lot of time in East London for work so it’s nice to have a go-to spot.
What are you listening to right now?
I’m actually having a little podcast hiatus at the moment! I suddenly felt overwhelmed by all of them, so I’m a bit behind – but usually my favourites are Call Your Girlfriend, Keep It! and The High Low Show. Music wise I’m currently obsessed with Travis Scott’s new album ASTROWORLD.
You’re included in Forbes 30 Under 30. How does that feel?
It’s definitely a cool feeling, although I feel like it’s one of those accolades that matters more to other people than it does to me. It’s a lovely achievement to be able to claim, but I don’t really do what I do for the awards.
I’m about to release a new limited edition version of Little Black Book, which comes out on Nov 2nd and features two new additional chapters and a shiny new gold cover – very exciting. Otherwise I’m working on my next book (news of which should be announced soon), and planning a few new initiatives for Women Who I’ll be rolling out in 2019.