It’s another Monday and time to meet one of the ladies that works, lives and creates in this beautiful city. Today’s Pearls and Heels lady is Liz Kilili. According to her, she is driven, creative and slightly eccentric. She is the Chief mechanic and founder of Creatives Garage. Her brainchild Creatives Garage and its accompanying creative and innovation festival Sondeka have spearheaded projects and movements that have helped the creative industry grow in both policy and output and still continue even after the project goals have been brought to fruition. Her end goal is for all creatives to network, share ideas, collaborate, learn, gain market accessibility and push boundaries in order to contrive a sustainable creative economy that feeds into the GDP of Africa rather than one that saps from it.
1. Describe your typical day?
I’m known to send emails and task lists at 3 am because I work better at night but typically and sadly I wake up at 7 am (I am not a morning person), get ready, have breakfast and drop my little girl to school by 8.30 am (Ok, 9 am). I get to the office a few minutes before 9 am and either get into a series of meetings or work on my laptop till about 2 pm. I pick my daughter up at 3 pm, chill with her in the house till about 5 pm when I go sit in more meetings or events then head on home by 8 pm to get my daughter to bed (if I need to go out, I make sure she is asleep before I leave)
2. What did you want to be when you grew up?
It kept shifting between a news anchor and a pilot.
3. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Start Creatives Garage earlier than I did. It has been one of those journeys that not only make you grow up but also make you think. It’s like playing the game of chess only that your life and the lives of others depend on it.
4. What would you say are the top three skills needed to succeed at your job?
Resilience, diplomacy and constant creativity.
5. As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
Well, I guess I am lucky that I have narrowed down my life to a 5 km radius, this way I don’t have to sit in the menacing Nairobi traffic for hours (PS: I am also known to have an acute syndrome of road rage). What could be better? Well for starters the cost of licensing for what I do is quite high, I wish that the costs of running an organization in Nairobi were cheaper than it is at the moment. Oh, and I also wish that we would have more public spaces for creative expression.
6. What motivates you?
Epic movies and a good pep talk from my close friends and family.
7. How do you define success?
Waking up every day and not giving up.
8.Who has been your greatest inspiration?
My mum. She is the epitome of inspiration. I watched her beat all odds to get to where she is right now and I always pray that if I can’t be as awesome as she is then I would be half the woman she is.
9. What is your favourite aspect of your job?
When a single thought becomes a reality. Sometimes we want to do great things that impact society but most often than not we either don’t have the budget or the skill set but realizing that you can tap into the pool of talent that we have and create works is beyond amazing.
10. What would you say are the key elements to being successful?
Consistency, collaboration and resilience (yes, I know I said resilience already, but I consider it very important in anything you do)
11. What advice would you give somebody just starting out in your line of work?
Grow a thick skin, don’t keep grudges and believe.
12. What has been your most satisfying moment in terms of your career?
Bringing creatives from seven African countries together to showcase their work at our Arts and Innovation Festival, Sondeka.
13. What makes you happy?
My daughter, a day well spent and a nice warm shower.
14. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
Besides watching series’ and movies…I love to shop, cook and paint.
15. Where do you see yourself in around 10 years?
With ten kids (NO! I’m kidding) On a personal level, I would love to get back to being purely creative experimenting with whatever I can get my hands on (not constantly writing reports and proposals). For Sondeka Festival, I would love to see it be the largest arts and innovation market in Africa and for Creatives Garage to continue helping creatives gain market access and opportunities they so desire.
If you would like to interact with Liz Kilili you can interact her at @lizKilili.