EXPEDITO was a great East African Artist...and a good friend who really helped me. Without him, I dare say there wouldn't be any Inspirit Arts.
When I saw the Kenyan number on my caller ID, I thought it must be Expedito calling to tell me the dates of his art exhibit in Boston. We were both excited about reuniting after around twenty-five years of loosing track of each other. It wasn't Expedito on the line, but his son who thought I'd want to know that Expedito died last month of a heart attack.
I feel extremely grateful for what this man did for me. He trusted, helped and believed in me, when nobody else did.
Way back in the early 80's, I tried to get Kenyan artists to work together and replace the imported European made greeting cards in stationary stores with African made art cards. After doing a market research and developing a business plan, I tried to give the project away, just to get rejected by all the artists I knew.
Greeting cards weren't used in Kenyan culture, so none of them believed that little pictures on folded paper was a viable product. People got really suspicious of me when I showed how they could earn incredibly high profit margins from selling locally made cards at the inflated imported prices that foreigners and tourists were used to paying. This seemed too good to be true, and I was labeled a swindler. Since I couldn't even give away the business plans, I decided to do it myself, if I could convince a famous African artist to collaborate with me.
At that time, I only knew Expedito by reputation. He was probably the most sought after artist in Nairobi, and considered very elusive (because he shunned the lime light) , and also very exclusive because he habitually turned down lucrative job offers that most artists spend their entire lives dreaming for. I knew that if I could get Expedito to design greeting cards for me, the other artists would pay attention and eventually agree to work collectively.
I'll never forget the day Expidito showed up at my door, holding a note I'd written practically begging him to give me a chance, even though I had very little money, and no experience. I remember how excited and nervous I was meeting with a genius of his caliber. After thinking I'd made a total fool of myself trying to explain my vision of unifying artists, Expidito asked when I wanted to get started. I screamed and he laughed watching me do the happy dance. A few days later, he returned with a pile of drawings for me to choose from, and take to print. It was hard to believe.
I decided to elaborate the greeting cards by attaching hand made earrings to them. Being known for his carved wooden combs, Expedito offered to make some miniature ebony comb earrings for me to put on his drawings. I gave him some money as a deposit. He came back with a few hundred pairs of extremely intricate combs that he had hand carved for me. They were super thin and about the size of my big toe nail. I had never seen such quality craftsmanship before. I remember being awe struck, and asked to return them because they were worth so much more than the price we'd agreed upon. Expedito just smiled. He had a certain smile that communicated, "... and this too, shall be continued , my dear'. At that moment that I realized how much he wanted to support Inspirit Arts.
In the following years, Expedito and I spent time together and developed a solid friendship. before we lost touch when I moved from Kenya to Swaziland. He was always so mysterious and spiritual, clearly connected to another plane of existence. No matter how hard I tried to get him to explain his poetry and other things to me, he always forced me to wait for his answers, while encouraging me to try intuiting answers for myself. I always wondered if he'd ever make a pass at me, but he was more interested in talking about ways to mobilize artists and improve the world. Despite his generally serious demeanor, we always found something to laugh about. Yes, we sure did laugh a lot. I'll remember him with a smile on both our faces.
Here are some links to the Kenyan media.
This blog is about being wealthier than you think.
BETTER CASH FLOW is one of the main reasons why entrepreneurs eagerly take my vendor courses. When small business owners need more money, they’re often desperate to quickly learn skills for selling 3 to 5 times more product. The dilemma, or catch 22, is when there isn’t enough money in the bank to pay for the education. Ironically, everybody can afford our tuition fees here at Inspirit Arts Academy, and by the end of this blog, you'll understand why and how.
Some people get really surprised when I don’t give them scholarships. It seems out of sync with my obvious generous and non-materialistic nature. I have a long humanitarian history of offering compassionate commerce solutions to support needy people. My work with artisans in developing countries shows me what REAL need looks like. The last thing I want to do is impoverish a cash poor American, by labeling them a charity case, who is not capable of compensating me fairly for my classes. Cash poor people don’t need charity. They simply need opportunities to cash in their talents and prove their resourcefulness.
THE REASON WHY I insist on being paid fairly for my educational products, is because
MONEY IS A HOLDING DEVICE FOR TALENT. The more someone develops their skills and talents, the more products or services they can exchange for money. For example, Inspirit Arts Vendor Academy can charge students, because I started developing my vending and teaching abilities over 30 years ago. Since my business activity revolves around teaching vendors profitable ways to make a living, my income level is a direct expression of how talented I am at reaching my goal. In other words, my abundance grows in proportion to the number of students I help become successful vendors. If I don’t have enough money, then I need to develop more talents and abilities, perhaps in marketing, to address the deficit. When I have enough money and go out spending it, in essence, I'm handing over my talent that was converted and stored as currency. Simply said, talents are circulated in the form of money.
HAVING GOOD IDEAS FOR MAKING MONEY is quite typical of all entrepreneurs. Unfortunately ideas can’t be deposited into the bank. Fortunately, however, optimism and creative thinking are powerful resources that don’t cost anything. Besides learning and developing talents, sometimes getting more money is just a matter of taking action and applying more effort to convert whatever is readily available into cash. It’s an invigorating experience to recycle or sell something you don’t need, to get money for something you really want. I remind myself not to rob people of that empowering experience when they come asking for scholarships.
WE SUPPORT THOSE WHO SUPPORT US. Inspirit Arts has programs that pay commissions to apprentices, micro franchisers, meetup hosts, and sales reps who promote our products and classes. They get priority treatment because they bring a wealth of energy to our programs. The only qualification needed is getting involved. Once they show some dedication, Inspirit Arts accepts alternative forms of payment, and bartering for talents that normally cost cash (such as landscaping, coaching, computer work, odd jobs, graphic design, photography and more). Ironically, some people who ask for freebies are not interested in reciprocating. They simply want to consume my talents without compensating me fairly.
RECIPROCATION IS SO IMPORTANT that ancient Egyptian Kemetic philosophy associates the Maat principle of reciprocity to foundation of order, balance, truth, balance, harmony and justice in the universe. Every religion known to mankind has a version of The Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Karma has become a household word, however it is often wrongly interpreted. Karma simply means ‘cause and effect’. From a physicists point of view, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction” according to Newton. Even without understanding the underlying scientific and spiritual principles, most people would agree, through everyday observation, that “what goes around, comes around”.
I invite entrepreneurs to take a moment to apply this common knowledge to their own situations.
Get the message. How you pay, is how you receive. The universe reflects your actions back.
THE PLIGHT OF CASH POOR STUDENTS is that even if I give classes free without reciprocation, they are still not off the hook. The universe is always in integrity, and seeks balance in one way or another. What you take without paying for, will eventually be taken from you. It’s wiser to pay upfront, pay it back, or pay it forward. That's the way of Maat.
I DON'T FEED POVERTY CONSCIOUSNESS and false beliefs that a person can’t pay. I’ve noticed that 99% of people who say they can’t pay, in reality aren’t willing to make the effort because they just don’t want to hand over their hard earned cash. Is bartering time and talent any different than paying with cash or credit? Whenever paying is a priority, I know it doesn’t take much time or creative effort to find a way.
PAYMENT PLANS TO 'BUY NOW PAY LATER' are a helpful way for eager and optimistic students to start learning right away. I'm confident that when anybody puts a 50% deposit down on our Headwrap Business Start-Up Packages, they can easily pay the balance if they also join our Customer Coaching Community to learn The Headwrap Vendor Method. Any student who makes an effort, will probably recoup their investment in just a few days of practicing head wrap styling skills on their friends and family. I'll show you how.
I hope this blog explained why instead of giving charity, we benefit students more by acknowledging their ability to pay through talents and resourcefullness. That's why we offer programs that are more honorable, more empowering, and better karma.
Feel free to contact me for guidance.
Sylvia NebSa Harmon
"Don't be misled by this newspaper article about me".
Is it true that 'all publicity is good publicity'? This newspaper feature article doesn't expose any damaging rumors or negative gossip. It's just think the focus of this news paper article should be on what Inspirit Arts Academy is doing NOW, rather than elaborate upon my past.
It seems that people find my history as an African American living in Africa and Europe for 18 years is quite interesting to read.
What do you think? I'd love for you to read it and comment here on this blog.
Before I write how and why these students impressed me so much, let me first express that I’m used to people professing good intentions and reasons why it’s so important for them to learn from me at The Inspirit Arts Vendor Academy. Despite their enthusiasm, unique opportunities are easily taken for granted, and people often won’t make an effort to read the website, let alone get started at www.InspiritArtsAcademy.com We offer a general vending study group, and hands-on headwrap vendor training at HEAD WRAP HUMP DAY in Cincinnati the first Wednesday every month. We also offer self paced online courses that are so convenient that it’s easy to procrastinate, despite the best of intentions.