Temi Shobowale on the Art of Authentic Conversations in the Digital Age

Welcome to Press Pillay Chats, where we feature stories from social entrepreneurs, fearless founders and all-around awesome humans.

Meet Temi Shobowale, a multi-hyphenate if ever there was one. The founder of Herday and makeup artist is an entrepreneur in her own right with big goals. Currently, she's making waves in the way women are connecting in the modern age—by taking it back to the simple art of having authentic conversations.

Photo by Leyla Jeyte, courtesy of Temi 

Photo by Leyla Jeyte, courtesy of Temi 

So tell me more about what you do. 

Well, I’m such a multi-faceted person—but I’m grateful that everything I do falls around what I stand for. 

With Herday, I work more in trying to create a space for women where we can have authentic conversations and practice self-love as a community together. It’s about creating a “home away from home” vibe and bringing tribes of women together. 

And then with makeup, I fall under the spectrum of natural and holistic makeup—I focus on complexion, and what’s the most important thing for complexion? Skincare. That’s more of my niche, and it’s amazing to create this thing where I can work with people both inwards and outwards. 

My thing is spread love however you can and with whoever you cross paths with. It’s not just this superficial beauty thing, I don’t really care for surface conversations. Even when I'm doing a model's makeup, I want to learn more about them as a person. I always want to learn more about people. That’s always been my thing—I’m a human connector. It’s rare now with social media.

People only wanna talk about themselves online. No one wants to do it in person anymore. 
Photo by Jalani Morgan, courtesy of Temi

Photo by Jalani Morgan, courtesy of Temi

When did you start Herday

I started around back in 2015. I had been in Canada since 2008. I’m Nigerian but I grew up in Washington, DC, and then moved to Toronto—so I’d been here for a while and it was just somewhere around 2013 or 2014 that I felt this void in a community of women in a city. At first, I thought it was just me, but when it became this common theme when I talked to other women who also felt it, I thought, 'why aren’t we creating something different?'

I literally just got tired of going to events with no substance, tired of going to events that were just based around the latest social media trends. 

I just wanted to create a space with one goal in mind, and that goal is to curate spaces for women where we can have authentic conversations. Let’s talk about real stuff that’s actually going to make a change.

I want to have a conversation where you go home after and you really think about it, and then you have that conversation with your mom, your aunt, your grandma, and so on. It’s about creating a cycle of authentic conversations, and keeping that in the culture today, even though we have things like social media. 

Do you feel like social media makes us more inauthentic in person? 

That’s a very hard question. I have very strong opinions about social media. There are a lot of good things that come out of social media—I'm glad that it makes people more aware about what’s going on in the world, for one, because that’s really important. But social media is also dangerous in that as a result of it, we become ‘armchair activists’, as I like to call it. 

It’s also hard to be authentic on social media if you’re not someone who’s very authentic yourself. For example, if this is your personality and you’re just shining your personality on Instagram, it’s amazing. But if you’re shining a personality that’s only for social media, but in person, you’re not that—it creates a disconnection between people because it messes up the way people communicate. 

[Social media can] create a disconnection between people because it messes up the way people communicate.

Social media is all about connecting with people but with the whole influencer aspect, it becomes hard to remain truly genuine. I have a lot of friends who are influencers, and behind closed doors, I see what it does to people—it takes a toll. There are a lot of unhealthy habits that come with it rather than healthy.

Photo by Lauryn Hopwood, courtesy of Temi

Photo by Lauryn Hopwood, courtesy of Temi

Everyone can be an influencer nowadays. How do you think this has affected the way we communicate today?

My mission with Herday is making sure I’m creating intimate genuine spaces. That’s a big part of what I do—because I feel that when you come into the influencer world, you kind of start talking masses [instead of individuals]. From a PR perspective, you have to have numbers and followers, and so on.

But I’m the kind of person who sits on the fence—because there are people who don’t have a huge following but are really true influencers in life and connect with human beings the way we’ve been doing for centuries. But then there are people who have that kind of personality that works for social media and people pretty much worship them. It’s kind of troubling when you think about it. It kind of worries me, which is why I wanted to create that space. 

What with the whole concept of armchair activism—instead of complaining about it, I figured I was just gonna create something. Be the change you wanna see, that’s always been my thing. I always talk to my friends and I’m like, 'why is the world this way', but I’m also one of those people who will always try to follow up and come with a solution.

That’s where the genuine aspect comes from — if you’re really passionate about something, you will always have a solution to fix what you feel is the problem. 

What sort of conversations do you try to hold with the Herday space?

As you know, I come from a beauty background so I try to keep a bit of a beauty aspect with Herday. So I’ll do different events—there’s the hands-on workshop, which mostly focuses on beauty but also involves self-care. When we’re making things together, like your own body scrub, questions start to come up, and people start to sort of unleash their insecurities. When women come into this space together, you realize that we all have similar insecurities, we’re all going through similar things—we’re all flawed. 

I always like the space Herday creates because it brings women of different ages, ethnicities, financial brackets, and so on. There are no barriers, it’s not an event for this or that type of people. 

And then we have events that fall into more of the wellness realm—like a women’s circle, but I put more of a modern twist to it. So for example, we do the meditation, or journaling exercises. A lot of these ideas come to me because they’re things I’m working on personally. I always put a bit of myself in whatever I do—which is where the authentic aspect comes in. 

Being in a fast-paced city like Toronto and working all the time—who really has the time to sit around and reflect? Herday is about creating that space and helping get to the root of the problem. It’s about realizing that this happens to a lot of people, it’s a recurring thing, so maybe we should work on this, let’s talk about this. 

I’m surrounded by entrepreneurs and creatives, people who own their business, or dream of owning their own business, and I have friends in the medical industry and friends who are lawyers—and at the end of the day, we’re all just after this one big prize. But no one’s really focusing on themselves, and instead, they’re worried about that one project deadline—but then I think, what about you? That’s the most important.  

Photo by Elaine Fancy, courtesy of Temi

Photo by Elaine Fancy, courtesy of Temi

Events at Herday are all about bringing people together—how do you ensure you're creating a space that accommodates different or similar struggles?

At a lot of events, you’re only hearing it from one perspective. And that’s exactly why I created Herday. Because when I went to events, I thought, it’s not that what you’re saying is not insightful, but I only hear it from one perspective and it was hard to find something that represents me. 

I think it’s important to get to know people outside of your bubble. The space I create is very diverse, because it’s not only entrepreneurs and creatives—through Herday, we can all come here into one place, out of all those respective bubbles. It’s truly diverse. We speak a lot of diversity and inclusivity in the city, but I find that it’s not really, truly inclusive. It’s inclusive for a certain bubble, but it’s not inclusive for all bubbles and that kind of defeats the whole point of being diverse. 

Ever since high school, I’ve always been a floater. I always got along with everybody. I always wanted to learn about everyone and put myself in different spaces because how would you learn if you don’t do that? You don’t necessarily need to travel far to learn about other people. You can do that in your own communities. When you only exist in one silo, it can be hard to grow. 

It was amazing when I realized, you know, maybe this is my calling—taking diverse communities and connecting them. 

You mention on your Herday bio that you're a humanitarian. What sort of philanthropic missions are you working on? 

Photo by Elaine Fancy, courtesy of Temi 

Photo by Elaine Fancy, courtesy of Temi 

One of my longterm goals is to become a nonprofit—I have big goals for the future. My background is from Nigeria, and I have this plan of going back there to rural areas and creating these spaces for women. But right now, what I’m focusing on this year—my passion right now—is creating these kinds of spaces for teenage girls. 

I think it’s a hard time to be a teen right now—especially with teens who are transitioning. I have a lot of friends in the LGBT community, and I just think if you guys are going through these kinds of issues and feel so alone, I can only imagine how young teens and kids would be feeling. 

So I just thought, I have to get with the program because this doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Times are changing. I’m still in my 20’s but I’ve seen this whole shift happen—it’s a whole switch with gender binaries and concepts. I want to create a safe space for teenage girls—so my goal for the remainder of the year, aside from my product line, is to keep building on the teen wellbeing workshops.

What are your next steps? 

I have a big goal next year and wanting to do a retreat, and so on. It’s hard though, as a freelancer and an entrepreneur—it’s hard to build a business without funding. 

So I’m going as I can. I’m trying to do more collaborations but I also would like to be wise about it. Obviously, I don’t want to do a collaboration just for the sake of collaborating. There are so many opportunities—if we just did a little more research we’d realize there’s a lot more out in the city that just the one charity. We should spread the love. 

I’m trying to find the right person to build with. I love to support grassroots initiatives because they don’t have a lot of support yet and it’s like a startup—you’re young, you’re creating, you’re passionate. 

I’m all about supporting the grassroots—instead of those who already have enough funding. Of course, I know everyone needs help, but I would rather support grassroots because there’s more of a connection for me there. I’m also very much about building rapport—like I said, I’m all about building connections that are authentic and genuine in everything I do.  


Send Temi some love on Instagram, and learn more about her at temimarie.ca and herday.ca

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This interview has been edited for length and clarity.