Flavilla Fongang – Chief Executive & Creative Brand Strategist, 3 Colours Rule, The Huffington Post Blogger & London Business Matter / LinkedIn Pulse Business Writer
Hi Flavilla, can you give me an overview of your career to date? What’s your story?
I came to London 15 years ago to study and I didn’t speak English at all. Nonetheless, I obtained a BA in economics & law, a BA in marketing and communications and later on a MA in International business. I always had an addiction for learning. After leaving university, I struggled to find employment as I was overly qualified and had no experience in my field of studies. I had to deal with a lot of rejections and very harsh comments from some recruiters who used to tell me that my French accent was too strong.
Without losing self-believe about myself, I decided to start from the bottom and look for a company with career opportunities. I worked for an event company which specialised in the oil & gas sector as a receptionist. The company was growing fast and I was ambitious. Within 6 months, I became the head of the client services department handling the managing directors, VPs and so forth of the largest oil & gas companies. This included companies such as Total, BP, Petrobras and many more. This career allowed me to travel the world and changed my perception about life.
Reaching the peak of my career within this company, I was in desperate need for a meaningful career and where I could have a positive impact on others. I always had an interest in fashion and so my next career journey was in the fashion world. 3 Colours Rule was born in 2008. Through reading hundreds of books, I self-taught my way into a career as a fashion stylist. This led to work with numerous international brands such House of Fraser, Pandora, LK Bennett, La Senza and many more.
As my notoriety increased, I started working on bigger projects with these brands and this led me to meet individuals who were inspired by my journey. They wanted to start a fashion stylist career and wanted me to teach them how to do it. I had neither the time or resources to do it but I wanted to help. So, I decided to create my own online fashion academy and it took me 2 years to create it because I wanted this academy to be different, to be complete: theory learning, practice and real styling experience. I wanted my students to be confident after finishing their training course with me. I have now been able to help aspiring fashion enthusiasts around the world and reached an international scale. It is very fulfilling experience to see others being happy because of what I did.
I was then looking for a new challenge, I went from helping individuals showcase the best of themselves to helping businesses create powerful brands. 3 Colours Rule was reborn as a creative branding agency. We help business become brands so they attract more clients and build their value. 3 Colours Rule always aspire to change the status quo in strategy, design and brand development. I now work in diverse industries from automobile, conflict management, healthcare, beauty, luxury, fashion and so much more. I am the creative brand strategist, colourologist, a motivational speaker and also a blogger for The Huffington Post.
Flavilla, that’s amazing, what an incredible journey. What are you working on now?
As the creative brand strategist of 3 Colours Rule, I am working on a lot of interesting branding projects within automotive, beauty, fashion and even psychology. We develop innovative brand strategies, create distinctive brands and brand development activities to expand brand exposure and attract more clients.
I always like to use the metaphor of the chocolate to explain what my job as brand strategist involves. If you wanted to create the best chocolate cake in the world, you would have to create a unique recipe: That’s strategy. When you have mastered your unique recipe, your cake not only needs to taste good, it also needs to look good: That’s design. If you keep your cake in the cupboard, no one will buy it. So, you need to display it to attract clients: That’s brand development.
This role is very challenging as the projects are so different every time and I love that. One of the reasons that brought me to London is that I love to constantly challenge myself.
What’s been the biggest OSM (Oh S**t Moment) in your career so far and what happened as a result of it?
My biggest OSM was: Why did I wait so long to get a mentor. There is no school that teaches people how to become an entrepreneur. You learn by making mistakes and I have made tones of them. I don’t regret any of them. Having different mentors made a huge difference. It is quite lonely at the top and you need to discuss tough decisions with someone who has already been there. I had the chance to have very successful mentors to support the growth of my company.
Can you talk a little about how you spot opportunities in business and then how you turn those opportunities into something more tangible.
It’s human behaviour to focus on problems and to complain about it. I took the habit to always see the silver linings in every situation. I’m curious by nature and very observant. I see what people most complain about then focus on finding the solution. I then evaluate if this can be conceptualised into a business by testing the market. I usually have 1 or 2 new business ideas every other month but I can’t apply them all. My role evolves to constantly create and I love that.
What do you think are the key traits of an entrepreneur?
An entrepreneur is relentless, always looking for the next challenge, they embrace their fears and transform them into motivations. An entrepreneur embraces getting out of her/his comfort zone to achieve what no else has. This means sacrificing a lot of your social life for a few years and a lot of people can’t do that. Everyone nowadays wants results without having to put in the hard work. There is no shortcut. No one really tells you how hard it is to be an entrepreneur but when you are in it, you can give up or thrive. Anything worth having takes time. Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. I learnt to surround myself with individuals who elevate me as it is very important to stay motivated.
There’s a lot of talk about how Brexit will impact on business at the moment, what’s your take on it?
For us, at 3 Colours Rule, Brexit hasn’t had an impact. London is still a key city in Europe and will always attract business and ambitious people. This means there is always a need to create and grow a brand. Unfortunately, fear is a negative force and people are making decisions without knowing exactly what will happen. Let’s wait for 2019.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given in your career?
Believe it, visualise it, feel it and you are halfway there. With a positive mindset, you can achieve anything. Dream so big it scares you and motivates you. Don’t let people’s insecurities or their limitations become yours. Surround yourself with people who elevate you.
You’re a very progressive person, what drives you and how do you keep motivated?
I’m from a family of entrepreneurs so it is my genes to evolve. I want to make a positive impact during my time on earth. So, I’m driven by love and seeing the world being a better place where we all respect one another. This is a big dream for me.
If you were given £5,000 to invest in a Start Up business what would it be and why?
I will certainly invest in technology that allows people to travel and connect so they live truly amazing experiences. I have had the chance to explore the world and this changed my perception about life and truly see what really matters. Earth is a beautiful paradise and a lot of people don’t take the time to explore and meet people with amazing experience.
Is there anything else you want to share or you think we should talk about?
Everything starts with believing in yourself. The mind is powerful instrument and when used wisely can do wonders. Second of all, never stop learning and learning for your mistakes. Experience is a value. Thirdly, be humble and open minded as everyone needs help. And lastly, always be kind, you never know what the future reserves. This is for me the secrets of my success.