Joy Mpofu - Rufaro: Workwear Investment Banking turned entrepreneur
Katie.Dix / 23 Nov 2022
We are delighted to be supporting one of our members Joy Mpofu, who has recently pivoted her successful Investment Banking career, to creating a unique and much needed entrepreneurial workwear business. You can follow her journey on Instagram: Rufaro_styling
Please read the first blog Joy has created for her community. Please sign up to her mailing list if you are interested in keeping in touch with Rufaro Styling.
Joy has over 10 years Investment Banking experience, having spent most of her career at Morgan Stanley. Joy Began her career in Capital Markets, Legal Advisory and most recently focused on Sustainability - developing and implementing Morgan Stanley's approach to environmental and social risks across its business and leading engagement with regulators, NGO's, investors, clients and climate change human rights.
In July, Joy left her corporate career to go and build her own business and start on the entrepreneur journey.
Joy is on a mission to solve the endless frustration that comes with trying to find the perfect addition to your work wardrobe. Creating a new way of personal shopping that is less time consuming, less frustration-inducing and curates more choices tailored to customers.
Joy graduated from Exeter University with a LLB Hons in 2011. Joy was born in Zimbabwe and grew up in the UK & Switzerland.
Welcome to my Founders Club
Hi beautiful, yes I am talking to you!
A warm welcome to my founders club - thank you for embarking on this entrepreneurial journey with me.
I am on a mission to make women feel like anything is possible. I am a true believer that women are warriors. We have yet to unlock our full potential and currently just scratch the surface of what we are able to achieve.
You’re probably asking yourself - what is the point of this newsletter?
Firstly, to introduce me, Joy - the Founder of Rufaro.
Secondly, to create a space for real, raw, and honest conversations on being a working woman.
Don’t worry - I don’t plan to spam your inbox. The newsletter will be sporadic, and only when a topic really needs to be discussed.
Why Rufaro? Rufaro means ‘happiness’ in my native language, Shona.
Happiness is what I want women to feel when they use my business. Happiness to feel like themselves, happiness to express themselves, and happiness to unlock their full potential - more on that next time 😉.
I was born in Zimbabwe and grew up in the UK & Switzerland. I am what you call a third culture kid. I have always had a passion for helping people and an altruistic belief that everyone should feel like they belong.
I remember a particular conversation with my parents at the age of 11, after receiving my report card from school. Telling them I wasn't put on this planet to get A’s in school (because I always seemed to miss out on them lol), but instead my destiny was to help people and make people feel good. You can imagine how that went down with driven and ambitious African parents who insisted on academic excellence as the bedrock to a successful career.
But this belief, that everyone deserves to feel good, has been a driving force for me throughout my childhood and early career; whether I looked to mentor young girls, to encourage them to be bold and unapologetic; or the diversity work I championed during my time in investment banking.
My experiences have allowed me to observe, take in, and understand the complexities of what makes us human and unique as women.
Your body size is normal!
In May of this year, I performed some market research to really understand how women really felt about workwear. I really wanted to get to understand the psychology of how women felt when dressing for work. The pain points, the undercurrent around perception in the workplace, and the ambitions of my participants.
After countless user interviews and analysis of my market research, one glaring thing became clear - every woman I spoke to said they struggled finding clothes for their body shape because they did not have a ‘normal’ body shape. Either they were too tall, had a large chest, petite or curvy ‘in the wrong places’.
As I listened to countless women say the same thing, I ended up concluding and realising that there was no ‘normal’ and every woman I spoke to had a false belief that their body was abnormal or didn't fit in with sizing norms.
Coming to this realization reminded me of when I lived in Shanghai for a year after graduating from university and a friend of mine took me to my first Korean spa. For those of you who don't know, a Korean spa involves you being butt naked with other women while enjoying the spa facilities (a radical experience having grown up in Britain).
What amazed me the most from the experience was how different every woman's body was. So many different shapes and sizes. I was blown away that not one person looked ‘normal’. I remember coming away thinking - if only more women saw each other naked to see how different and beautiful our bodies are.
Coming back to the research, what it made me realise is: for most, if not all, of us we hold our body up to a standard that doesn't exist and then, struggle to find clothes. We think it's our bodies’ fault, when in fact clothes rarely tend to be made for the array of women's body types.
What am I even saying? Your body is normal, because normal is every-body.
Made for women by women
I woke up this summer, with the idea that I really wanted to create a community for working women that allowed them to have access to brands truly made for women. To introduce them to incredible and dynamic female owned brands, creating clothing with women in mind.
Last week, I hosted my first event with Dai.
Dai’s ethos is all about female empowerment and making sure your clothes are a catalyst for success. Not only are the clothes so beautiful and the best quality, but the brand also has sustainability running through its DNA.
The event was everything I hoped for and more. There’s nothing like gathering a group of like-minded women to explore and hear more about a brand that truly embodies female empowerment, while learning how to style pieces for your wardrobe.
The evening kicked off, with a fireside chat between myself and Dai Founder, Joanna Dai. We had the most open discussion on: the entrepreneur journey and leaving stability of investment banking to go out on your own; what it is like as a female founder and looking to raise investment; why sustainability is a key pillar of Dai and finally why it is so important as women to feel good in what we wear at work.
Quote of the night - ‘You can’t make a community if its not authentic, if it doesn’t have purpose and if it doesn’t stand for something’ - Joanna Dai, Founder of Dai
As I grow my business, I want to continue to engage with you - my Founders club, by introducing you to these brands and creating safe spaces for us to have open and honest dialogue on being a working woman - keep an eye out for future events.
I look forward to embarking on this journey with you x
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