This is the eighteenth post in my series of posts where I speak with people in the creative industries and ask them questions about the things that "I Wish I Had Known" when I started out as a creative myself.
Today, I have a chat with the power-machine that is Bami Kuteyi, founder of Bam Bam Boogie, a London-based Nigerian-Canadian fitness instructor who turned her fitness frustrations into a global movement:
1. You and I share a common past because we both worked in corporate before becoming freelance creatives. What made you quit your job and embark on this journey?
I knew that I had something bigger that I could give to the world - I never wanted my dreams to die at my desk, so I took the leap of faith to leave my job and start my own business.
2. How was the transition from financial security to freelancing?
I started working full-time at 22, so I was never really financially secure [she laughs], even though I was making a lot of money I would spend it frivolously on holidays and partying in order to escape the reality that was working full-time in a role I was not passionate about... Nevertheless, not having a monthly pay-cheque didn't affect me as much as I thought it would.
I planned to leave for some time, so I saved enough money to last me for a whole year, after which my business started to pick up enough for me to live. I read somewhere that after the basic necessities of life are met any income above that only increases happiness marginally. I really learned that this was the truth when leaving my full-time job.
3. Your business is not just a regular fitness business like others because you also aim to have a social impact. Why was that important for you when you came up with the concept?
Yes, 100%! It's always been top of my priority list to give back to my community. That was important for me because I didn’t come from a particularly wealthy family growing up but was around other children who did. Seeing that difference, I knew I wanted to give back to those who had less than me in any way, shape or form.
Apart from empowering people via twerking, I've been involved with supporting refugee children and fighting period poverty here in the UK and Africa. Also, in the future, I would like to have my own social enterprise which focuses solely on helping young girls from low-income homes with high potential to get into the creative industries from a young age.
4. It seems to me that you are trying to fill the inclusiveness and empowerment gap that exists in the fitness industry. Have you found any resistance?
To be honest, not really. I truly believe that your vibe attracts your tribe... and everything always works out in the end. Even if I have ever encountered resistance, it hasn't impacted me or my business enough to remember it! My business is growing and glowing with all the right people joining and supporting this movement.
5. What has been the most challenging aspect of running a creative business?
The most challenging aspect for me is doing the stuff that I really don't like doing or want to do. When you sign up to run a business, no matter how much you love the craft, creativity and freedom, there will always be parts that are needed but aren't so interesting. For me, some of these things are admin, sales and accounting, so I find those areas the most challenging and I’m planning to outsource them sometime in the near future.
6. What made you choose twerking as your focus?
Twerking, as it's called now, is and has always been a part of my culture. I'm Nigerian, so I remember my Grandma "twerking" as a child at parties, and I always loved it and thought it was so much fun. As I grew older, I realised that there really is something so empowering for women to twerk and move their bodies in this way.
7. What inspires you when you create your routines?
I think it really depends on what I'm going through at the time I create them. I tell stories through my routines, so it depends on what I'm feeling or what I feel like the girls really need at that point in time. For example, during International Women’s Month, all my routines were really strong and powerful.
8. Who is twerking for?
For everybody! Literally, everyone can twerk! They just need to embrace their body moving in ways it hasn't before.
9. Where do you see Bam Bam Boogie going in the future?
WORLD DOMINATION ... I See it being surpassing Zumba one day, with everyone knowing a BBB Instructor or having tried a class before.
10. How can people learn more about you, about twerking and about Bam Bam Boogie?
Bami, you rock! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions about what twerking is all about. It is everything that I Wish I Had Known! Keep inspiring!
Thanks a mil for this JC!