Pharmacist, Influencer And Fashion Entrepreneur: A Real-Life Portfolio Career

I know that my different passions can be pursued at the same time. – If Yvonne

One of the most common obstacles I hear from aspiring career changers is choose a career path if you have many interests. If Yvonne shatters that limiting belief by building a portfolio career that includes a day job as a pharmacist with two side hustles: 1) as a social media influencer (millions of YouTube video views and tens of thousands of Instagram followers); and 2) as co-founder of the clothing line Nkeoma By Ivy & Livy with her sister.

Yvonne’s aim with Nkeoma is to celebrate African culture (Yvonne is Nigerian) through fashion – thereby shattering another limiting belief that you can’t combine money and meaning. This multi-hyphenate is building a portfolio career that combines multiple business and creative interests.

My 3 favorite takeaways from our exchange:

1 – Pay attention to your market because your audience will tell you what they need. Yvonne developed a new product based on customer feedback: “Through the success of my businesses, I have had an abundance of friends, family and my followers asking for help and guidance in building their own business. That’s how my Business Launch Academy, Hustle & Glow, came about.”

2 – You don’t have to quit your job Start your career change: “During my freshman year as a pharmacist, after finishing my shifts at the retail pharmacy where I worked, I spent the night hours building Nkeoma By Ivy & Livy.”

3 – Be selective about the advice you take: “Don’t consult people who are not where you want to be or who are doing or have done what you are trying to do… Your advice will always be guided by words that you adopt the safest way.”

Our full exchange below:

Caroline Ceniza-Levine: How has your varied portfolio career and especially the pharmaceutical and fashion industry developed?

If Yvonne: Ever since I was in high school, I always knew I wanted to have my own business in the fashion industry, but I also knew I wanted to pursue a professional career in the medical field. I’m a woman, more specifically a Nigerian, so I know my different passions can be pursued at the same time. After my doctorate in pharmacy and the beginning of my pharmacy career, it was now time to realize my dream of my own fashion line. Since I was still a budding influencer back then, I built a business from the ground up. I learned a lot on this journey, especially in the textile and manufacturing industries. With the success of my businesses, I have had a plethora of friends, family members, and my followers asking for help and guidance in building their own business. This is how my Business Launch Academy, Hustle & Glow, came about. At my Business Launch Academy, I help women go from 0 to launch in just a few months.

Ash Levine: What made you decide to finally take the plunge, or was it a gradual step?

Yvonne: However, it was an incremental step, always preparing and anticipating the next step. My vision and dreams for myself have always been my focus in everything I do. To work immersed and happy in my passions while helping and motivating others to do the same. There were definitely jumps with each level. I embraced new concepts and figuring out how I experienced each project was my approach.

Ash Levine: How did you decide to go into influencers and then ecommerce?

Yvonne: I started my hobby as an influencer at the end of my pharmacy studies, it really just happened and grew from there. Still holding on to my vision of what I wanted for myself, I knew that building an authentic and loyal audience was key to whatever business endeavors I would eventually pursue. Then, when the time came and I discovered e-commerce, I launched my loungewear brand, Nkeoma By Ivy & Livy.

Ash Levine: Which resources were particularly helpful during the transition – eg courses, books, mentor or coach, professional association?

Yvonne: For the new project to launch my Business Launch Academy, Hustle & Glow, I was looking for thought leaders, mentors and coaches who would genuinely help me build the systems and processes I need to help my clients efficiently and effectively launch their to help company…[Specific examples include] The book series by Julie Solomon, Lauren Tickner and Jen Sincero.

Ash Levine: When did you feel that you had a career change – ie you identified yourself as an entrepreneur vs. employee?

Yvonne: During my freshman year as a pharmacist, after finishing my shifts at the retail pharmacy where I worked, I spent the night hours building Nkeoma By Ivy & Livy. I really felt like the word entrepreneur was part of my name and title.

Ash Levine: What, if anything, about your old career has helped your new one? What, if anything, did you have to unlearn or drop from your old career?

Yvonne: I am grateful for my career and experience as a pharmacist because they taught me the importance of quality control and workflow. When filling doctor’s prescriptions, I need to make sure that the medication the doctor prescribed is what I dispense and give to my patients. All of the steps I take as a pharmacist to ensure accuracy and safety are the same steps I use when fulfilling orders for my clients. This greatly reduces returns, exchanges and monetary losses within the company.

Ash Levine: Were friends and family supported? If not, how did you find the motivation to work through your career change?

Yvonne: My immediate family, my parents and siblings have been so supportive throughout my journey and for that I am grateful. I met my husband in the middle of building my business and he was such a cheerleader and support system as I became a wife and mother in all the chaos. And then all my followers and supporters who have seen me grow over the years have been my motivation and inspiration to keep going and bringing them knowledge and entertainment.

Ash Levine: What advice would you give to other professionals who are thinking about making a pivot?

Yvonne: My advice to those thinking of doing this pivot is to just go for it. Don’t hesitate or wait for permission. Get your mind in order (read lots of books that will help you in this area!) and just do it! You will find out all the details on your journey to new levels. As you read this, you have survived your darkest day or time. In the end everything always works out. So keep your vision and goals for your life in the foreground and take advantage of all the opportunities that bring you closer to your goal. Invest in coaches and mentors to teach you new skills and concepts. Do not consult people who are not where you want to be or are doing or have not done what you are trying to do. Unfortunately, they don’t give you the right advice or strategy to get there. Her advice is always guided by words that lead you down the safest path. In order to succeed, you need to be uncomfortable and traverse unfamiliar territory.

Ash Levine: What’s next for you?

Yvonne: For me, I will continue to grow Hustle & Glow and help women around the world start their businesses, achieve financial freedom and live in abundance. I’m writing a business startup playbook that will offer great value to those who need help and guidance on entrepreneurship and building a truly profitable business. In August 2021 I held my first women’s retreat in Waikiki Beach, Hawaii and I look forward to starting planning for the next one for 2022!

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