Meet Our Professional Homegirl of the Week: Monica Ahanonu

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1. Social Handles (personal and business)

@MonicaAhanonu

2. What do you do?

I'm a fashion graphic illustrator - I create all of my artwork digitally with vectors.  I also do some motion design.  My art usually is in the Fashion, Beauty and Fitness worlds.  I started my career at DreamWorks Animation but currently, am focusing on my own brand and personal artwork working as a freelancer.  I also sell my artwork on Etsy and will be expanding it into home goods this year. Etsy link: www.etsy.com/shop/MonicaAhanonuDesign

3. What motivates you?

I am motivated by my love for color and playing with color, design, and silhouette. I also love doing portraits and determining what specific details make up someone's face to make them unique to who they are.  I am motivated by the various goals I have for myself personal and professional.  I am also motivated by thinking about how my future self will feel if something I need to accomplish at the moment isn't done. Lastly, I like to reward myself for accomplishments big and small - which keeps me focused on the current task so that I can get the reward I've decided on later in the day.

4. How do you balance with your career, side hustles, and your social life?

I balance everything by using a calendar to track the amount of time I am spending on things.  I also have certain things that I do each day or each week that make sure I fit in some personal and social activities within the work that I do. For instance, I go to the gym each morning, it wakes me up and gets my brain moving.  It's something that also helps me with stress. When I was working full-time at DreamWorks Animation while building up my side hustle, I often would take advantage of my lunchtime to get things done since I knew I often had low energy at the end of the day. I'm definitely a morning person overall - I'd rather wake up 3-4 hours early and get a bunch done before work then stay up 3 - 4 hours later.  Setting realistic goals is something that I had to learn when working full-time, working on my side hustle and trying to maintain a social life.  I had to make sure I didn't burn myself out by overbooking myself, which is still something  I struggle with.

5. What does Professional Homegirl mean to you?

A professional homegirl I would say is someone who is passionate about what they are doing career-wise but doesn't let it destroy their personal life and mental health.  Someone who is social, curious about others but still focused on their overall goals in life and knows when it's time to party and when it's time to hustle.

6.What advice would you give to young women that want to pursue their dreams?

I spoke about this a bit during my IG Live takeover last weekend but here are the things that I would suggest anyone trying to pursue their dreams:

  •  Send a lot of emails and do informational interviews.  Reach out to people you admire, would like to work with or are interested in learning from. Find mentors for the different areas of your life.
  • Meet everyone and don't ever refuse a meeting. Pick their brains. You can learn so much from the people you meet even if they aren't in your industry.  Successful people always have something to offer you in some area of your life.
  • Use a planner or calendar and make lists.  This allows you to see the gaps in your schedule where you can fit time to work on your side hustle and passions outside of school or a full-time job.
  • Know your industry.  Research the industry you are wanting to get into, the steps it takes to get a job in that industry, the specific job(s) you want in that industry.  Research what the day to day is like for someone doing the job you want and see if that's a day to day lifestyle you would enjoy.
  • Keep yourself motivated by putting up quotes and affirmations around your living space or reminders in your phone that keeps you in a positive mindset throughout your day.
  • Diversify your friends not just by race but by age.  You learn so much from people that have either gone through what you are going through or younger people who may be more knowledgeable about specific new technologies or trends taking off.
  • Be mindful of what you consume visually every day.  Follow people and things on social media that inspire you and motivate you.  If you feel something isn't serving you mentally or lifting you up mentally just hit that unfollow button.
  • Do what makes you excited, do what you are excited about and interested in that very moment and that interest can change which is okay.  If you are really passionate about something you will focus on it and become very good at it faster than something you are forcing yourself to do.
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