Onyi Moss is an inspiring, self-taught photographer and influencer. She moved from Nigeria to the UK in her early 20s to advance her career and despite facing obstacles along the way she hasn’t given up and has achieved success. The week of International Women’s Day is the perfect time to recognise female achievements while also acknowledging the challenges women still face.
We chatted to Onyi to learn more about her journey to becoming a self-made creative artist and to get some tips on career success especially for women.
Could you tell us a little bit more about your story and how you’ve got to where you are today?
I’m a creative who adapts an introspective approach when it comes to my work. I love telling stories which I do through my photography, film, writing, and music.
I was born and raised in Abuja, Nigeria. I moved to the UK on my 22nd birthday to advance my career as a chartered accountant.
After successfully acquiring my ACCA qualification, I found myself unemployed because I was lacking in UK work experience and I remained unemployed for quite a while.
One day, I stumbled across one called “Fashion Bloggers” on E! and I was blown away be the talent and creativity displayed by these women who took portraits of themselves that told beautiful stories.
I began teaching myself photography and not long after, I landed a job in finance. I would practice my photography after work and on the weekends and soon enough, some brands began to notice my work on social media.
Despite succeeding in my workplace, gaining three promotions in a space of eighteen months, I decided to quit my job as a financial accountant after three years of working in the bank so I could pursue a career as a creative.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t say my career in finance is part of the reason why my business has succeeded as I’ve come to apply a lot of those principles in ensuring it is sustainable.
I have since expanded my skill set and started creating films alongside my photography which reconnected me with my love for music. I’ve always placed self expression and authenticity at the heart of what I do which is why I have chosen to be an independent artist as I don’t want to be moulded into something I’m not when I can exist freely just as I am.
It’s been nearly four years since I decided to go after my passion and I haven’t looked back since then. I hope to continue to inspire more women, black women especially, to go after their creative dreams on their own terms.
My core beliefs and values are:
To live authentically to me means to embrace my passions. That is the only way I can be true to myself. I do this by focusing my time and energy on the things that genuinely light up my soul.
I think it’s very important to be kind to people especially in this day and age where most of our social contact is online. It doesn’t take a lot to extend kindness to others.
The hashtag #BeKind is now a movement to help raise awareness about mental health which I think is a great initiative if we can truly put it into practice.
I strongly believe in the act of paying it forward. I would say a lot of my success, despite my many talents, hasn’t just been of my own doing alone.There have been a number of very kind folks who have supported me along the way to get to this point. In order to keep the cycle going, I too have to pave the way for others to partake of the abundance I’ve found myself privy to. I do this in my own way by sharing knowledge and free resources that other creatives alike can go on to use to succeed in their careers.
Self expression & Creativity
Being able to express myself in my own way is very important to me. It’s a way of life for me. I do this through writing everyday and well as creating work that allows me to freely express myself just as I am in the moment. This has to be the most liberating thing in my life.
I tend to lead a life of introspection. This means looking inwards when considering my circumstances as well as when it comes to expressing myself. This allows me to see things from a unique vantage point that has come about from my own life experiences. It helps me get rid of the noise, thus allowing me to maintain a strong sense of self awareness.
What have been your biggest obstacles and how have you overcome them?
My biggest obstacle so far is being a black woman who exists in an industry that doesn’t cater to women like me. Despite my efforts and contributions, which usually sets a higher standard in the creative space, I remain unseen let alone recognised. But I refuse to be a victim of society’s failure to embrace talented black women. Like many others that have come before me, I shall persevere. After all, the dream is mine and that’s one thing that no one can take away from me.
What are your top tips to help women succeed in their careers?
Focus on building a strong brand that adds value.
This can be achieved by telling your unique story as well as identifying gaps in the industry that allows you to meet a need that has been lacking in attention.
Stay on top of your finances
In order to run a sustainable business, you have to understand your business operations through and through. Knowing where and when to cut costs as well as maximising your earnings can only come about understanding your finances in the first place.
Collaborate with other women who align with your values and brand.
The sense of community is key for the success of a business. You can only go so far by yourself. Collaborating with other women who share your values will not only help establish strong relationships, but could also expand your reach and business.
Create a path that paves the way for other women to succeed.
This is very much in keeping with one of my core values. It is not enough that we succeed as women, true success is when other women who come after us have a greater chance of success than we did. Our legacy should be one that allows for the latter to occur.
Follow Onyi on Instagram @onyimoss