Name: Naja (Salih) Bomani
Where do you live now? Westbury, NY (Long Island)
Industry: Graphic Design/Advertising
What does it mean to you to have a voice?
To have a voice means to have liberation; And with liberation you can move freely with intention.
How did you find your voice?
The stage in my life where I started expressing my voice was when I looked within myself and realized how much I have to offer. As a Woman, as a Creative, as an Entrepreneur - I chose to no longer go through the motions of life and the way I do things. Instead, I listened more to my passions, my interests, and the things that set my soul on fire both personally and professionally. This allowed me to unlearn and relearn a new way of living; By showing up as my authentic self first and moving with intention.
What event or series of events helped you find your voice?
The most powerful lesson I have carried with me from childhood is that "The goal is not to always work for someone, but to work for yourself." I grew up in a very creative household. Although my parents both had steady jobs, they spoke highly about entrepreneurship with my siblings and I. As the oldest of three girls, I was intrigued by this and it all sparked in high school when I had to prepare for prom. At the time my parents did not have the money to buy me an expensive custom made dress like all my other classmates. When I asked my father for prom money, he educated me and said, "Once you make your own money, you can do whatever you want with it." I took this and later got my first job, which led to another job, my dream job, and now I am making strides in working for myself.
As a woman creative/creative of color, entrepreneurship puts me in a position to use my voice more often. When speaking to clients, expressing ideas, networking, and managing certain aspects of the business, you grow in ways that you would have never thought of. While going through the process you may not realize it, but once you are able to take a step back and see the fruits of your labor, you will appreciate how far you have come.
There are a few notes I keep in mind when handling push-back. When going into a conversation that I know will be heavy and/or uncomfortable, I understand that there will be strong opinions that are shared. I also understand that there will be certain things said that one may not like or agree with. In knowing this, when faced with push-back it's all in the tone of your delivery and how you say something. There is a way to express how you feel in your tone and body language. Secondly, I try not to take anything personal. We are all human. We all have feelings. We are all doing our best with what we have. While reading a book called, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, he speaks on the Second Agreement: Don’t Take Anything Personally. “Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally. Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in. When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world.” Lastly, I continue to stand firm and honor my own thoughts and opinions with persistence.
How did 2020 help you refine/redefine your voice?
The "traditional" way of using my voice was affected in 2020 because while sheltering in place I had to transition from having physical interaction to virtual interaction. I enjoy connecting and being around other individuals. When I could not do that as much and realized everything now had to be virtual, I had to switch gears.This shift was rather uncomfortable for me because I do not enjoy being on camera for professional purposes. Then on the other hand, when it came to family, we had to find more creative ways to connect.
Overall this did teach me a few lessons on how to use my voice to properly communicate my thoughts, feelings, and opinions. There was even some extra communication happening in certain aspects as well. Through the lessons came opportunities, as I was then featured on a podcast called Outside In at the start of quarantine. Since then, I have even been featured in a few virtual interviews that became press releases on Ad Age, Little Black Book, and Campaign US within the advertising industry.
Whose voice are you influenced by?
Every mentor I have plays a significant part in how my voice continues to grow. My mentors are not just people who I connect with above me, but also those who I can connect with on the same level as me. The connections between my mentors and I allows us to pour into one another and learn from each other. They have expressed seeing the poise, growth, and grace I carry within myself - and want me to be successful in all aspects of my life. I have learned many lessons from my forever mentors. One of the biggest lessons I carry with me is to speak my truth in knowing who I am and understanding my wants, needs, and values. Every day I am intentional about bringing that mindset and confidence into any room I walk in, and speak.
How has your voice influenced others, particularly those in your community?
When asked, I support other women in my shoes by giving genuine guidance based on my experience. At times, most of us are experiencing the same situation(s) but just in a different aspect. We are all embarking on different paths within our individual journeys that can be beneficial when shared with others. Women can support one another by being in positions that will encourage us collectively as a group. If more women connect on the universal problems we endure, we will no longer feel alone in the battles we face. Share an experience that you both have in common. Support your friend's new business venture. Go to your girlfriend’s pop-up shop. Be a guest on your friend’s podcast. Network amongst a group of women and connect with other women creatives and creatives of color.
Where will your voice lead next?
My voice will lead me into the next stage of my life. With no fear; No hesitation; And no regrets. I will speak the things I want into existence. I will affirm my wants, dreams, and meet them with hard work.