Meet Hackney’s 2020 Black British rising stars in business

Rising star Nnena Nwakodo is an experienced producer at advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty.

Rising star Nnena Nwakodo is an experienced producer at advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty. - Credit: BBBAwards

The winners of 2020’s Black British Business Awards (BBBAwards) have been announced with two Hackney residents being recognised for their entrepreneurship.

Jocelyn Mate and Rachael Corson.

Jocelyn Mate and Rachael Corson. - Credit: Afrocentrix

Nnena Nwakodo, who lives near Dalston, was crowned the Arts and Media Rising Star at the BBBAwards ceremony of October 30.

She is an experienced producer at British global advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty and her diverse range of work includes creating television commercials, branded content, music videos and short films.

She told the Gazette: “Winning the Rising Star in Arts & Media award means the world to me. To be recognised by the incredible Black British Business Awards is such an honour.”

The Hackney resident has produced television and online content for drinks company Absolut, Car brands Audi and Volkswagen, Tesco and Samsung.

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She also recently joined the ad agency’s in-house production company Black Sheep Studios in 2019 producing a celebrity packed Justice 4 Grenfell stunt for London Fashion Week with stars like Adwoa Aboah and Emilie Sande taking part.

In addition to her commercial work, Nnena co-founded Unsigned, an exhibition promoting unsigned and diverse photographers, illustrators and filmmakers.

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“My advice for young people in the arts and media industry, is never accept the staus quo.

“If you want to change something, change it. Build a network around you of people you admire and work with them to make change,” she added.

Jocelyn Mate is also from Hackney and took home, along with co-founder Rachael Corson, the award for Consumer and Luxury Rising Star.

The business pair’s brand Afrocenchix became the first Afro hair brand to launch in Wholefoods in 2017 and it was selected as Brand of the Month in health store Holland & Barrett.

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The founders work with scientists to create products from locally sourced and naturally derived ingredients with the aim of making a range of ethical products for Afro Hair.

Since March 2020, when the UK’s first nationwide lockdown was implemented, sales directly through Afrocentrix’s website increased by 600 per cent.

Jocelyn’s advice to young entrepreneurs is: ““Just do it. You can start a business without any money, use social media to build an audience and get feedback on your product and service.

“The lockdown will definitely affect businesses, especially small boutique companies on the high street but this is the perfect time to get make sure your company has an online presence and sell whatever you can online.”

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The BBBAwards have celebrated the achievements of Black British professionals and entrepreneurs for seven years and this year featured a special recognition for Black British Frontline workers.

Melanie Eusebe, Chair and Co-Founder of the Black British Business Awards said: “After a year filled with so many challenges, it was rewarding to take a step back this month to reflect not only on the history of the Black community here in the UK, but also to celebrate the incredible individuals who are making their mark now.

“Our Category Celebration events along with the Awards Ceremony provided us with many opportunities to reflect on how far our community has come, while recognising there is still much work to be done.”

The BBBAwards ceremony distinguished outstanding business talent in six industry categories, which are divided into rising star and senior leader awards.

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