BABE #68: ANITA ASANTE,
New Business Director @ Select World
Anita's role in the beauty industry fascinates us. It takes a serious hustlin' babe to make it far in the multi-billion dollar industry that is the wide world of beauty, fragrance and fashion, and Anita is doing it with poise and grace (and style, of course.) More than that, she values and prioritizes her 'real life' too, and doesn't seem to take things too seriously even admist the hustle and bustle of work. Thanks for taking some time to chat with us, Anita! You are absolutely killing it and we are so inspired!
Hometown: London Town
Current city: NYC
Alma mater: University of Nottingham, United Kingdom
Degree: American History, Politics & Culture
Hustle: New Business Director @ Select World
Babe you admire and why?
Aside from my mum who is my ultimate inspiration and a complete badass babe in so many ways (my siblings and I call her the Ghanaian Kris Jenner, but that’s a story for another day), I truly admire the one and only internet personality, Baddie Winkle. At 88 years old, Baddie redefines what it means to be courageous, witty and completely at ease in her own skin, which is refreshing to me as I am a complete paradox in both my style and my beauty looks. What I truly adore about Baddie in particular (aside from all of that sass) is how she is the complete embodiment of women’s empowerment. Plus, how can you not love a granny who slays?
How do you spend your free time?
I like to think I spend my free time very well. I’m a Libra, so naturally I find that I am drawn to gatherings of people and social settings. I’m particularly at my happiest when I’m out and about meeting new people, experiencing new things, attending concerts/festivals and checking out new exhibitions. Brooklyn Museum and the Whitney are two of my favorites.
Favorite app, website or blog?
Aside from fulfilling the true millennial stereotype of being addicted to Snapchat, I have to say my new current obsession are the Tasty blog videos from Buzzfeed, which are just everything and more. I find myself watching how to’s and “one-pot wonders” for hours and hours on end.
Must-have item in your purse?
Dental Floss. Yep - and not ashamed of it either. That, or headphones! I’ve been known to turn back on my journey to retrieve my headphones if I happen to leave them behind. They're my guilty crutch.
Favorite beauty item?
I have always been obsessed with beauty and skincare for as long as I can remember, so this is an extremely difficult question for me. But, if I had to choose, it would be ReVive Moisturizing Renewal Crème Supreme – I truly can’t live without it.
What would you eat for your very last meal?
I’m pescatarian and basically find myself eating salmon every single day (don’t worry, I’ve checked the mercury content – it’s low). So yes, it would probably have to be Salmon. Or if I'm really pushing the boat out, it would be Black Sea Bass. Yum.
Three things we can always find in your fridge?
Salmon (bet you didn’t see that coming), Eggs, Milk. The staples.
Biggest pet peeve?
Not cleaning up after yourself.
Favorite social media account to follow?
Afropunk – do it for the culture. I absolutely love it.
If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?
Somewhere exotic with the sun on my face, music in my ears and a drink in my hand.
What’s something you wish you knew more about?
The meaning of life.
Tell us about your hustle:
I am the Director of New Business for Select World, a beauty, fragrance, fashion and luxury agency. It is the perfect fit for me, considering that if I could have, I would've been slathering on skin care products before I could walk. Essentially, it is my job to showcase our work to the best of my ability, as well as let prospective clients know how we exceed competition in the industry. The best part of my job is the variety. Every day brings something different and unexpected. Some days, I’ll be pitching like crazy, and other days I will be attending conferences (like the WWD Beauty Summit), drafting up contracts, planning launch initiatives, or hopping on a flight to our Paris office. I'm also constantly focused on staying on top of the ever-changing industry landscape, especially given that the world of beauty is always evolving.
What most draws you to the beauty industry? Did you always know you’d pursue a career in it?
I have always been a beauty and fashion aficionado, but I had no idea that I would ever pursue a career in the industry specifically. One day it just all fell into place, and I absolutely love it. I get up every day and go to work at a vibrant agency where all anyone can talk about is the innovation in beauty. We're constantly collaborating on how we can all best service our clients – particularly by providing them with smart thinking and engaging content so consumers will fall in love with their products.
What is your work environment and/or office culture like?
Buzzing. In my opinion, I believe what truly sets Select World apart from all of the other agencies is our global approach and perspective. Our agency is full of people from all walks of life, backgrounds and countries, which I have found to be a huge asset as we are able to approach luxury, beauty, and fashion with an all-encompassing eye.
What brands are you currently working with?
My agency is born and bred in beauty and with that comes the opportunities to work with many great brands, from Balenciaga and Roberto Cavalli, to bigger multi-national corporations such as P&G and COTY. One of my favorite brands to work with has been Bond No.9 – a quintessential New York Fragrance company with a big personality.
How do you transition between the several different hats you wear?
I’ve always been a multi-tasker. I thrive on it.
How would you say your gender and/or ethnicity has affected your professional experience?
What a very interesting question. First of all, I’m a Black British woman in an American workplace, so my experiences have been very unique, and has ranged from one spectrum all the way to the other (I have been referred to as "African American" on more than one occasion). There was a reason #BlackWomenAtWork became a trending topic on Twitter, and it is more interesting to me that we are now able to have an open dialogue about it all. It’s certainly a positive thing and long may it continue!
What are some common misconceptions about your job?
People think it's just sales. It isn't. My job is about being a visionary and seeing the bigger picture. It’s about telling our prospective clients that we are able to bring an added value to their business by developing a unique strategy and delivering on it. One of the things that most attracted me to the role of business development is the ability to fully immerse myself in our agency and all of its moving parts.
What brought you from London to NYC? What was that transition like for you?
Adventure. The transition was a lot tougher than I anticipated. At first glance, New York and London appear to be very similar, but there were a lot of cultural differences and nuances that quickly became apparent. Aside from the initial adjustment, it has been a joyous experience thus far.
Similarly, how would you say living in NYC has shaped your professional life?
It’s made me a lot tougher and a lot stronger. I live by the motto “high highs and low lows”.
How do you maintain your best self through the rigors of a tough schedule and demanding travel itinerary?
With a very robust skincare routine, of course.
What would you say is your biggest strength in your current role?
My tenacity and the actual joy I get from meeting and speaking to new people. It’s a relationship industry, and I’m a firm believer that people pick up on your authenticity right from the offset, so because I genuinely enjoy what I do and believe I/my agency can make a good difference, it shines through.
Who are some women in your field that you look to for inspiration?
Tiffany Masterson of Drunk Elephant, a favorite brand of mine. I like how Tiffany managed to achieve cult brand status in under three years. Another inspirational woman is Jill Scalamandre, President of Shiseido. I truly admire her place in the beauty industry and everything she stands for as a woman, particularly in her work as the chairwoman and pioneer of the CEW Network.
What motivates and inspires you?
Making my parents proud.
What does success look like to you?
A yacht in Capri! Kidding... but not kidding. Success to me is being able to look in the mirror on a daily basis and be happy with what is staring back at me– inward and outwardly. Happiness is to be truly content with oneself.
How do you find a work-life balance?
I’m very good at compartmentalizing, which I believe is important when it comes to achieving a work-life balance. Sure, I love my work and what I do, but I love my life even more. To me, finding that balance is the key to a happier and more productive self.
What are your goals for the future?
So, one of my favorite cartoons is ‘Pinky and The Brain.' It instilled in me from a very young age that your goals in life are possible and achievable. When someone asks me about my goals, I regularly reference a line The Brain said in the cartoon: “To take over the world.” Although I don’t necessarily mean it in a literal [evil] sense of the phrase, this quote keeps me going and drives me to believe that anything I set my mind to is possible.
What’s next for you?
Honestly, right now, I wouldn’t be able to tell you, but please rest assured that whatever it is, it’s going to be spectacular.
What advice would you give to a Babe trying to break into your industry and/or role?
When you feel like saying NO, always say YES. (This also refers to going out as well, because you never know when the next or right opportunity might find you.) Most importantly, work hard and be nice to people.
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