Design Wednesdays: Building Your Dream with Three Projects

by Atim Annette Oton

My Vision Map last year and this year focused on all the ideas I was interested in doing but the next real big step after it was done was to identify the three projects that stem from my dreams that I really wanted to focus my life and time on. These three projects are the epicenter of my creative life, they are what I work on daily, what I plan and develop, and what I make an income on. Without them, I would not be me.

My three projects are businesses not hobbies. They are my livelihood and the essence of my creative growth. They are Calabar Imports, my retail company, The Creative Side, and Atim Oton Consulting. Each is distinct, defined and focused on my talents and satisfy my soul and creative spirit. In each I get to do my focal interest, explore ideas and build a legacy of my career and life accomplishments.

Calabar Imports:

For almost 10 years, along with a business partner, I launched, run, and maintained a thriving retail business. It has two store locations in Brooklyn and now, I am in the process of opening the third later this year. It has been and still is a project of both passion and business, and as I look to enter the beginning of the second decade in business, I am planning a re-engineering of the business, a process I have done periodically over the years. In the 10 years, Calabar Imports has been fortunate to become a destination place for our customers and the two communities we reside in. We got there by actually understanding where we located ourselves and spent an incredible time catering to the needs of each community and our customers. Our original mission has been very simple: the store belongs to the customers and the community we serve, we work for them, so even, our hours revolve around them. We are a neighborhood business with a local mindset and our local is Crown Heights or Dumbo in Brooklyn. We bring the world of objects to Brooklyn and keep reinventing ourselves by following our customers and listening to them ever so carefully.

The Creative Side

The Creative Side began as a place to assist artists and designers change their business conditions and to create a process and place to solve problems, give advice and mentor. Most importantly, it took my business know-how, knowledge and expertise to new heights of sharing it in an incubator setting and removing it from Calabar Imports. It came from Calabar Imports, as both a problem I identified in artists and designers and an opportunity I could resolve. The Creative Side came into reality after about two years of strategy, almost 20 years of teaching and educating designers, and a decision about a year ago to work with Fritz McLymont at the National Minority Business Council under their global division, NMBC Global. In January 2014, I began to set up at their new office space and became part of their newly launched NMBC Global Entrepreneurial Center as a resource partner focused on fashion and design.

Atim Oton Consulting:

At the end of the last year, after I had spent some time across the year working with some designers and businesses on re-generating their businesses and re-tooling, I came to the end of the year with a plan to creating a consulting business. The business was connecting and bringing all the other things I did regularly into one “house”. This place is about making myself available to grow strategically give advice to others by using my education and work as a designer, an academic and educator, and as a retailer with 20 years of incredible business expertise. And it is through this website, day-to-day contacts and referrals that I developed the listing of what opportunities I would focus on, see here.

Building Your Dream with Three Projects is the second stage of the process of actualizing what your life plan is when it comes to work and passion. This step is crucial as it defines your intention and capacity to implement your life plans strategically.It is a tool to narrow your original scope of your vision map, create focal points and set up structure to implement results. The third stage is definition of each project and what you need for the three projects.



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