Through middle and high school I often was either handing over my homework for people to copy or copying theirs. I really disliked the people who put up folders or used their arm to cover their work or didn’t share their h.w, CALM DOWN. I’m not advocating cheating- I’m advocating collaboration :).

Seriously though don’t cheat or plagiarize, but do support people.  Sometimes copying h.w was just that other times it was hey I noticed this error in your work lets fix it, others it was I still have no idea how you got this please teach me. All my friends thrived then and are thriving now.

A few weeks ago I was selling plantain for my best friend’s company, KeleweleNYC,  a food vendor dedicated to plantains. Yes, you read that right-  plantain everything. Why just plantain? I love plantain, my best friend loves plantain, you love plantain,  people LOVE plantain. So much so that there are teams: Plan-tayne or Plan-tin? As a West African, I’m clearly team Plan-tayne.

Someone came up and asked “do you have oxtails”, No sir, the menu says:

  • Kelewele
  • “Puff Puff” ( Plantain Doughnut)
  • Vegan Phish Cakes
  • Plantain Ice Cream

Why are you asking us about Oxtail? Of course, I pointed him in the right direction, telling him that the best thing to go with his oxtail would be some plantain.

I don’t discriminate but my best friend does. She only eats the sweet, yellow, ripe plantains. Tapping into tradition she decided to call the company Kelewele,  a Ghanaian dish of diced plantain marinated with ginger and other spices to give you that perfect sweet and spicy bite. Like anything, someone loves she saw the beauty in the yellow plantain and all the potential,  and KeleweleNYC was born.

Like I said earlier, a number of people were confused by this plantain everything stand. As a brand new company and vendor at an established festival, we had to draw customers in. No matter how hard I tried sometimes people just did not want plantain, and that was fine. If they told me what they wanted to eat I would point them to the vendor selling that cuisine.

Someone commented, “ wow, that’s nice of you to suggest your competition”. In the simple sense of the word are other food vendors “competition”, sure- but not really. There is room for everyone. I cannot thrive and neither can KeleweleNYC without each other, and support all the vendors by sending business their way did not take away from us. Besides- we sold out every day- our stuff is good.

This idea that I don’t shine if you don’t shine better known as the Shine Theory is a term coined by Anne Friedman & Aminatou Sow to describe a commitment to collaborating with rather than competing against other people—especially other women.

Several candles do not diminish the light it makes everything brighter.  Whether I’m sharing my h.w before my middle school math class, supporting a friend with a new business, creating a Google drive full of study material, relationships,  or working on this blog – collaboration is life.

If you’re good you will be good regardless and helping others along the way, only bolsters your greatness and your shine.

Shinin’, shinin’, shinin’, shinin’, yeah (shinin’, yeah) – All of this winnin’…


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