Episode 119 - Using Your Unique Skills to Succeed and Build Community with Chi-Chi Nnakwe Whitley

Season #5

We chat with Chi-Chi Nnakwe Whitley about her journey from biology to paper flowers and how her unique skills has helped her succeed and build our community.

A lawyer, a biologist, and a marketing and finance specialist sit down and talk about… paper flowers?

If you’ve been in our community for a while, this won’t sound shocking. But if you’re newer, you might be surprised at just how wide ranging paper florists’ backgrounds can be. While many of our stories about discovering our love of paper flowers are very similar, our journeys before that point are all over the map. 

And that’s really where our community’s strength comes from. 

In our latest episode of Paper Talk, we chatted with Chi-Chi Nnakwe Whitley of AfroBloom Art and Design. She is a PhD trained biologist, app creator, and joyful paper florist. Her unique set of skills has helped her succeed on a path that is just right for her and has strengthened our community in a way that no one else could. 

So how can you use your unique talents to help your paper flower business flourish? Listen to the episode to learn from Chi-Chi’s experience, and use these three tips that we discussed on the podcast.


Here’s what you’ll learn when you listen to our conversation:

► Chi-Chi’s journey to becoming a paper florist.
►How her why has guided her through academia, paper flowers, and more.
► How our community has helped her, and how she’s giving back now.
►Why Chi-Chi chose her business name, AfroBloom Art and Design.
►How to save on her app, Crafty Notes (spoiler: Use code PAPERTALK2022 to get a discount on an annual subscription for one year) 


Chase Your Interests

No paper florist is simply a paper florist. We have interests that are wide-ranging. These outside influences are what give us inspiration to do new things. They cultivate new skills. They keep us motivated as we stay curious.

“Once I started down that path, I really couldn’t let go because the flowers brought something to me that I felt like I didn’t have, which was a sense of creating beauty.”

Chi-Chi told us about how she didn’t know what she wanted to major in at college. She took a wide range of classes, and some of them just clicked. So she chased them. She took more science classes. She narrowed down her focus to studying things at a cellular level. She loved observing the little details. 

See the connection with paper flowers, recreating little details? In a totally different subject, Chi-Chi discovered something about herself that later translated to a love of creating paper flowers. She found a skill that weaves through different areas of her life. 

Lean on Community

While we each have unique skills that will help us succeed, we also need to lean on other people’s strengths at times. By supporting each other, we all can do more. 

In the episode, Chi-Chi shared the story about how she created her app, Crafty Notes. It is something that could only come from her, but that doesn’t mean that she didn’t get help with it. She got inspiration from our Makers Meetings. She took a class about how to create an app without coding experience. You can hear the entire story on the episode, but in short, she leaned on community to help her achieve her goal.

Listen to the podcast to hear all about how this app is perfect for paper florists or any creator needing to organize their ideas and projects. We’ve been very excited watching Chi-Chi’s work on this project.

Follow Your Why

Yes, we’ve been talking about this a lot, but that’s because it’s so important! Throughout your life, in any area, your underlying why will guide you and keep you energized enough to keep going. 

“There’s that inner pride and joy that comes from creating a flower, and it’s addictive.”

As Chi-Chi shared on the episode, “To push through times when that ambiguity is there, you have to come back to your why and your motivation.” She said this while talking about earning her PhD, but it’s applicable to any part of your life. 

Keep listening with us this season to focus on your why and find what will motivate you long-term to succeed. 

Also, here's the PDF format for THE WHY WORKSHEET that you can download for free.


DISCLAIMER: Chinonye Nnakwe Whitley is participating in her personal capacity.  Her participation does not constitute an endorsement by any federal agency or the United States Government.

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ABOUT Chi-Chi Nnakwe Whitley: 

Chinonye Nnakwe Whitley (Chi-Chi) is a self-taught mixed media artist that finds joy in color, florals and afrocentric prints. Her aesthetic is romantically bold, feminine and whimsical. She builds community by teaching her distinct style in in-depth tutorials and building tools that empower emerging artists.  She created the Crafty Notes Pro app to quickly capture thoughts when inspiration strikes, for talking to clients, for use when creating art work, and for recreating past projects. 


Learn more about Chi-Chi Nnakwe Whitley by following her on social media:

INSTAGRAM: www.instagram.com/afrobloomart

WEBSITE: www.afrobloomart.com

WEBSITE (Crafty Notes Pro app)https://craftynotes.afrobloomart.com/


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