Vannessa Amadi-Ogbonna is a woman with many titles that, ultimately, equate to her being a boss! A child of God first and foremost, Vannessa is also a mother, a wife, a business owner, a manager and a PR guru with past and present clients including Estelle, Davido, Usher and the legendary Whitney Houston, to name a few.
While juggling so many hats might seem daunting to some, Vannessa takes it all in her stride. I caught up with the lady herself to see just how she does it and why she doesn’t encourage women to strive for the title ‘superwoman’.
How many children do you have and how old are they?
I have two; a son who is three, and a daughter who is seven months now.
What’s your typical day-to-day like from the moment you wake up to when you sleep?
There really is no typical day. Typically I’ll be up at about 5.30am. I only really started that a few years ago because I wanted to get more out of my day, and because I wanted that time in the morning when it’s just me, the house is quiet and everyone is still sleeping. The first thing I do when I get up is have some sort of conversation with God, a simple thank you for waking me up or I’ll read a passage, then I try to go to the gym or train with P Mac Fitness – if I have the energy!
Once that’s out the way and my children are up, I organise breakfast and get them ready for school. Then I’d get myself ready for work and literally run or sneak out of the house whilst my husband takes them off to school.
Once I arrive at my VA|PR Publicity office, I’m usually filtering through a mass of emails and checking into any client activity which may have occurred overnight. There’s usually always some sort of trouble I have to get people out of! I then get started on the campaigns I’m working. My days might include a press photoshoot or interview, organising an event or launching a product. It just depends what’s going on, but there’s always some client activity.
I run another business as well called Ink Calligraphy which is a calligraphy business so I check in on the freelancers and how they’re getting on there. When I’m home I’ll cook – if I haven’t already cooked on the weekend – switch my phone to silent so I can spend quality time with my children, then, once they’ve gone to sleep, I rest. I always try to sleep before midnight.
What does being a superwoman mean to you?
A superwoman to me, is a super strong woman who can pretty much do all things.
She’s a fixer, a negotiator, a problem solver and is able to carry the weight of the world on her shoulders. I’m not entirely sure being called a ‘Superwoman” (or even a ‘Superman’) is necessarily a good thing – more so because it suggests that you are not human. I find it can sometimes carry an unachievable expectation and a whole of a lot of stress so I try to avoid the superwoman tag.
I try to emulate the qualities in women I’m inspired by. Women like my mother. She is someone that is able to literally juggle everything, I don’t know how she does it. So whenever I feel like life is hard, I just think “she did it with 5 kids so I can do it”, and that’s always been my drive.
What’s your greatest superwoman quality?
I’m quite a good multitasker. Sometimes I think I’m not but when I step back, I realise I’m actually quite good at that.
What’s the best thing for you about being a mother?
My children. The fact I even have them is a huge blessing. I was quite ill 10 years ago and I was told during treatment that there was a possibility I couldn’t become a mum as the treatment I was having could cause early menopause. I was only 26 at the time. So just the fact that they came and there were no problems, I just look back and say God is so good. Now I have an amazing son and an incredible daughter.
How do you find balancing being a mother with your career?
It’s tough, and it’s hard work, but you need to be organised. I find when I struggle it’s because I wasn’t really organised with the situation. Those are the times I find things really hard. I have to dedicate time to work, time to my children. But not just time for my children; time for my son and time for my daughter specifically. Then there’s my husband who I have to dedicate time to, too. So it’s really just about being organised. It’s not easy and I think a lot of people make it look easy. People say to me all the time, “it’s amazing how’re you doing it” and I’m like it’s only the grace of God because it’s tough. But I know how blessed I am to have what I have.
What’s the most difficult part when it comes to balancing your career with motherhood?
The demand. I have international clients who are very successful clients and as much as my clients are very supportive, ultimately I still have to deliver. I can’t say oh my daughter was crying and I couldn’t leave the house that’s why I’m late, I have to show up and show out all the time. I think the hardest part really is always delivering to that level that my clients are used to and maintaining it. It’s hard, but you’ve got to get it done.
What would you say to other superwomen trying to juggle motherhood with a career/entrepreneurship?
I would say calm down, don’t stress, it’s going to work out. Sometimes it’s the thought of all the things you have to do that makes you panic, when actually you can do it, you’re already doing it. Just trust you can do it, because you can; you wouldn’t be in this position if you couldn’t.
If you find that you are really struggling at something, just stop and rest. Everyone will be okay, including your kids. Take time for yourself. A lot of the time we don’t stop and chill. We’re trying to get everything done but it’s not a race and if it is – it’s your own race. Don’t try and do it all in that moment, spread it out. People will work with you, including your children. But they’re most important in everything so prioritise them because that time with them, you won’t get it back.
Which other superwomen inspire you?
There are a number of women who inspire me but one really stands out. She’s a dear friend of mine called Jessica Huie. Jess is just incredible. She became a young mum at a time when usually society would just write you off. But she finished all her studies and became a successful publicist. After spotting a gap in the greeting card industry, she founded Colour Blind cards – a line of multicultural greeting cards. From there she went on to became an incredible businesswoman, was awarded an MBE from the Queen, married the love of her life and has just written her first book Purpose which will be released this year. I look at someone like her and her journey, and it just shows me there is nothing that can’t be achieved if you work hard at it. She’s truly an inspiration!
What’s your favourite thing to do to relax?
I like to go on holidays when I can but, if I can’t get away, you’ll find me relaxing in a spa or even dancing to music in my bedroom!
What book are you and your children currently reading together?
We are absolutely reading My Daddy Does, Peter Potty and a number of Peter Rabbit books. My son really loves books and he has so many! We’re also reading some phonetic and Leap Frog learning books.
What are your thoughts on diversity in children’s books? Do you feel you and your children are properly represented?
We are not properly represented but it is much better than it was some years ago. I think it’s extremely important that we are. I want my children to see images and stories of things that relate directly to them. I have another friend, Jeanette Kwakye, that wrote a book called Femi the Fox: A Pot of Jollof. This is one of my sons favourite books as it’s focused around a popular West African dish which he eats so he gets it. I’m just so happy I’m seeing all these great books coming through. There’s another one that’s been quite useful for me called Micah’s Meals that was written by a fantastic mother from Nigeria called Amaka Benson. It’s focused around weaning and the food she gave her son in his early years.
It’s been so useful because now I have an daughter who has started eating solid foods so I’m utilising some of the recipes in the book. It’s important we see images that look like us, and stories that sound like us and tell our journey’s. I think it’s really key. There’s not enough but it’s definitely better than when I was younger.
Words by Casey Elisha.