Covid and Black Lives Matter had a huge impact on Adeola and Ronke Jane Adelakun, owners of small fashion business, Cultureville. They reflect on how therapeutic coaching helped with their strategic business planning as well as improving their mental resilience.
 

Running a small business isn’t just part of your life, it’s who you are. But carrying the emotional weight of the business’s performance can take its toll, with recent Mental Health UK research showing that 80% of small business owners experience symptoms of poor mental health.

Adeola and Ronke Jane Adelakun of Cultureville are small business owners who took up free therapeutic coaching sessions offered by Lloyds Bank, in partnership with Mental Health UK. Therapeutic coaching is an innovative hybrid of counselling and coaching, designed to help you build your resilience while supporting your mental health. 

The entrepreneurial sisters are originally from Nigeria and founded Cultureville in Manchester in 2018 to reconnect with their heritage and make modern African fashion more accessible in the UK. It has since become an award-winning, sustainable fashion brand, but that’s not without facing many challenges along the way. The pair left their full-time jobs in law and media in June 2019, but when Covid hit shortly after, both their business and their mental health were significantly affected.
 

Cultureville pivots to online

Adeola and Ronke Jane could no longer continue with face-to-face events, which previously made up 80% of their business. Moving to trading online was necessary and, through their ‘Stay Safe with Cultureville’ mask initiative that offered free African print masks to anyone who wanted one, they successfully managed this change. “The intention was just to help people stay safe but sales started to pick up,” says Adeola.

Then in June 2020, Black Lives Matter made global headlines and Cultureville customers flocked to support this black-owned business. Great for their bottom line but the pressure was huge. “We were trying to process being locked down again alongside business uncertainty and heavy feelings around Black Lives Matter,” remembers Ronke Jane. “We were exhausted.”

Both sisters were reluctant to burden the other with their issues. After all they’d been through over the last few years, Cultureville realised they needed outside help. When Lloyds Bank introduced the therapeutic coaching initiative the pair were keen to sign up for sessions.


“With Covid, Brexit and cost of living, you just can’t catch a break,” Ronke Jane says. “But Lloyds Bank’s therapeutic coaching is such an incredible initiative. We’re so excited for all the businesses that get to take part and have no doubt it will be hugely beneficial in building coping strategies to get through unprecedented times.”

Ronke Jane - Co-owner, Cultureville
 

 

Therapeutic coaching builds mental resilience

Adeola and Ronke Jane have each worked with a coach which gave them a place to talk, plus effective tools to deal with mental health pressures and tactics to build up their resilience. “Having coaching feels like I can offload unapologetically without feeling guilty or that I’m going to impact Adeola’s day!” says Ronke Jane.

There’s a cheerleading element, too: “In business, you rarely have someone to bounce ideas off, you just have to get on with the next task. Having a coach who cheers you on is so supportive. They see the value in what you’re doing and you feel less isolated and more seen”.

Adeola worked on very specific goals with her coach, Priscilla. “I’m not good with confrontation or knowing my worth.

Priscilla helped me think about my value in a detached way, which really helped me to feel confident when negotiating.”

Meanwhile, Ronke Jane’s sessions with coach, Trish, focused on feeling overwhelmed. With Trish’s support, Ronke Jane was able to break down and tackle her tasks. “My self-talk was also quite negative,” Ronke Jane says. “I regularly thought ‘I can’t do it’ or ‘I’m out of my depth’. But I came away from the sessions with manageable steps to take. Trish listened to my worries and we came up with practical solutions for improving the business.”

The importance of rest

One key change the pair have implemented is adequate rest. “If you want to be stronger and better able to do more, you have to make sure that you take care of yourself. But without coaching, we wouldn’t have stopped to do that. We’ve now put in one day of rest each week to reset.”

When asked would you recommend therapeutic coaching to other small business owners, the sisters certainly would. “With Covid, Brexit and cost of living, you just can’t catch a break,” Ronke Jane says. “But Lloyds Bank’s therapeutic coaching is such an incredible initiative. We’re so excited for all the businesses that get to take part and have no doubt it will be hugely beneficial in building coping strategies to get through unprecedented times.”

Build mental resilience

For more support and guidance to help you improve your mental health and build resilience, check-out our information hub developed with Mental Health UK.

Visit our hub

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