The ‘Ladybrille Woman of the Week’ is a feature on Ladybrille that celebrates women who empower themselves and others, through their contributions and actions, in their local and international communities. These women are intelligent, courageous, confident, and innovative. They strive for balance in their personal lives (whether emotionally, mentally, and spiritually), are persistent, and when they fall, they get right back up. These women honor and stand in their truths. They are business and community leaders, visionaries, and game changers. They are our sisters, aunties, mothers, friends and so much more. They are “Ladybrille” (brilliant) women.
If you are a woman or know of a woman who should be celebrated as a ‘Ladybrille Woman of the Week,’ please feel free to email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This week, we celebrate Toni Payne, a successful fashion, media and entertainment entrepreneur and executive, publicist, writer and poet.
LADYBRILLE: What do you do professionally and what have some of your accomplishments been to date?
Toni Payne: Currently I am a Publicist with my niche market being the Nigerian music industry. I am also a writer and poet. Last year I took the ultimate decision to focus more on myself and developing my brand along the lines of things that make me happy. So, currently I ghostwrite vows and poetry for weddings, proposals or anyone who wants to express themselves in words. I am also working on my first audio book of poetry and motivational words titled “I am OSHA”( I am a goddess). I also write personal thoughts to motivate and mentor those who need it on my personal website www.tonipayneonline.com. I have a stake in a family owned and run clothing and accessories boutique in Surulere, Lagos (in) Nigeria called CQ Boutique. I have an exclusive makeup and apparel brand christened after me and we just launched a hot new line of faux eye lashes called IncrediLASH.
In terms of accomplishments, let’s see. In respect to business, I started the first online entertainment magazine that focuses on Nigerian entertainment called nigerianentertainment.com. Nigerian Entertainment was recently moved to a bigger platform, and we decided to rebrand with a name (and) with a wider reach. This time around though, I do not plan to be as in your face as I was back then. I would like to enjoy contributing my quota from the background even though I can’t deny that I have the following to help give it a push.
I will do what I can in the early stages and try not to impose too much. Back in the early 2000’s I also opened an online clothing store called Hot nTrendy, we got featured on MTV, Teen Vogue and many more (publications). HNT as I still call it, is still an extension of CQ Boutique, and still going over 10 years strong. We carry everything from clothing to accessories like phone cases.
I started Toni Payne cosmetics and apparel I think in 2006. The brand has sort of moved with the owner. One day I could decide I no longer wish to produce powders, another day I could decide we will only push red lipsticks. One thing that has stayed consistent over the years though is my decision to remain an exclusive brand. At the early stages I toyed with the idea of mass production but after years of studying the market well, I opted to stay exclusive. I finance my businesses by myself so putting my name on a mass produced brand of cosmetics is one thing I don’t have plans for right now. I love the simplicity and personal experience of selling my makeup products to customers I may get the chance to interact with. It’s my name, I just feel the need to always protect it and I can only do that if I have the ability to always dish out quality products and listen to the consumer. And of course my biggest accomplishment till date is being a good mother to a wonderful son.
LADYBRILLE: What drives you to make a difference the way you currently are?
Toni Payne: At all times I stay true to myself. I wake up and know this is what I have to do so I do it. I try to develop myself mentality and aspire to be the best me I can be. If I wish to help others around me, I realize fully that I need to start with me. You can’t give what you don’t have, so to make a difference I work on bettering “self”.
LADYBRILLE: What is the positive talk you have with yourself on days you find thoughts and feelings of self-doubt trying to creep in?
Toni Payne: I think I have this thing in me that kicks doubt in the butt even before it creeps in. I look at it this way, even if I fail, at least I tried, so I seldom if at all, doubt myself. If it doesn’t work, I move on. If I want it bad enough, I keep trying. I know we can’t get everything in life perfectly right so I don’t try. I just live. I do ask for opinion and advice and the occasional words of encouragement from my family and close friends. That helps a lot.
LADYBRILLE: As a successful woman executive and entrepreneur, do you think crying is a sign of weakness or strength? Why?
Toni Payne: Crying is not a sign of weakness. Being emotional is actually a good sign that you are in tune with “self”. To me it shows you are strong and are not ashamed to show your weakness because you do not fear your weakness. I cry when I feel like, when I need to, I let it out and let it go.
LADYBRILLE: How do you stay so disciplined to accomplish the many goals and achievements you have so far?
Toni Payne: In terms of discipline I am still learning. I still see so much I wish to do and sometimes I feel if I try harder I can do it but at the same time, I also remind myself that I am only human and can only do so much at a time. I write physical and mental notes and I go back to those notes to remind myself of what needs to be done. I change my mind about things a lot, but I see it as a step towards growth and being content doing what you do.
LADYBRILLE: Health is so important but often many brilliant women simply neglect self because they are always so busy serving others. How are you taking care of your health?
Toni Payne: Oh boy! I was just discussing this the other day. I have been so occupied lately that I keep putting off my annual. The funny thing is, I’ll be driving somewhere and my conscience will start bugging me to go get it done. I’m trying to get better in that aspect of my life. Making time for and being disciplined about my health and keeping fit. I most definitely need to work harder there.
LADYBRILLE: What is it you hope, when you look back on your life, you never regret not doing or being?
Toni Payne: Well, I hope I never regret not being myself. Pleasing others at the detriment of myself and being something I am not. This year I really took the time to search my soul and my conscience and everything I found that I wasn’t doing that wasn’t for the overall greater good of my brand, I am correcting now. I have thrown caution to the wind and now I do what pleases me. It has however made me a bit more about “me” though, in the past I would put more time and effort into others and their goals than I do for myself. It pleased me to see others achieve even if it meant spending less time on my stuff. At some point I felt I may have lost focus, I regrouped and now I feel I’m unstoppable. Good or bad these things have helped me realize a lot of things about life. Now I can say, I know exactly what I want for myself, I know exactly what not to do because for me my journey just started. I have learned a lot so the ride could be smoother.
LADYBRILLE: Tell us how you define yourself, the Ladybrille (brilliant) woman?
Toni Payne: I define myself as a simple being. I am easy going, playful, friendly, smart and yes very shy. It’s hard to believe because I blend well but deep down inside I am quite the shy one. Im an introvert but the nature of my job takes me out a lot. I work hard and even though I suck at keeping in touch deep down inside I know the value of those around me.
LADYBRILLE: As a woman, what is the one most inspiring/empowering piece of advice you can give to our community of brilliant women as they navigate their personal and professional lives daily?
Toni Payne: The best advice I can give them is the same one I give to myself every day. Be the best YOU that you can be, never allow anyone kill your dreams. Work hard, stay focused and know exactly what you want before embarking on anything. Even if you make mistakes along the way, please don’t knock yourself down because it is allowed, we are not perfect. If anyone wishes to hit me up personally they can visit my personal website, my twitter, facebook etc. info are all on there. God Bless!
Learn More About Toni Payne Plus See Samples of Her Work