“Follow your Guts” By Bobbi Bicker
I feel privileged to get an interview with my very good friend and super talented CEO of Art in Fusion TV amongst other things Rebeca Riofrio. I have been interviewed by Rebeca for her TV channel couple of times, now I am turning tables, as this time I am going back to my Journalistic roots for this special Interview.
Please read her inspiring story below.
You are already very famous in the UK, connecting together business and art. What has inspired you to come with this innovative idea?
Thank you for your kind compliment. It’s always a pleasure to talk about Art in Fusion. This company was born out of my passion for all art forms and the fact that I saw the need for a platform to promote talent in London. The initial plan was to create opportunities for some amazing talent that is out there and would otherwise be neglected.
Taking advantage of my business background, we offer the artists advice in where and how to initiate a proper registered company and point them in the right direction in regards with everyday running of a business, such as accounting, tax, legal, etc. We provide help with the logistics that sometimes artist don’t think about or have little or no experience in doing themselves but are crucial for the enhancement of any business.
In addition to that, we create various ways to promote them via our TV Channel; Shows and Art Exhibitions. The Art Exhibitions are particularly successful as we create an environment where creative people can showcase their art to patrons from the corporate world, as well as to a wider range of art lovers hence promoting potential business links with them. We feel it is important to nurture such talent and help it grow for the sake of our future society.
Can you tell us more about your beginnings of your career?
I have been working since the age of 16. It was necessary to work from young to finance my own education. I’ve always been very ambitious and goal focused. When I arrived to the UK, for a long time I held down four jobs simultaneously and my life consisted in rushing from jobs to college. I had no time for parties, clubs or boyfriends. I could only afford to enjoy these things once I got my last degree out the way.
I can probably count the start of my career when I took a job for a very interesting character that left a huge print in my heart. I became the “eyes” of American novelist, travel writer and renowned war correspondent, Martha Gellhorn, whose eyesight had sadly deteriorated by the time we met. Martha first achieved international recognition for bravely covering the Spanish Civil War with her then husband Ernest Hemingway. I used to do her shopping and assist her constantly. The legendary war reporter inspired me to be more than I could possibly think. She encouraged me to balance creativity with today’s world affairs and open my eyes wildly to something indescribable. My life changed drastically for the best.
What is your opinion about migrant women who came here for a better life and challenged the reality becoming successful?
This is a question with millions of possible answers. In the last 20 years, traveling around the world and in living in the UK I’ve met many migrant women seeking success. Some are achieve it and some aren’t so lucky. But the reality is that success is there in plain daylight. It’s obtainable to anyone that has determination, doesn’t give up and just goes for it.
However, a lot of the time migrant women come to the UK to seek a better standard of living for their family and their immediate plans of providing a roof over their heads and having food on the table soon becomes long-term and takes priority over any dreams or aspirations. But this isn’t the be all and end all. I believe that there are a few principal methods that help to obtain success, and as surprising at its sounds, they’re less glamorous than you think: Those are humility, understanding, opportunity, patience and perseverance.
We travel to gain a better life but wrongly believe success and commodities will be obtained by the simple fact of passing through Heathrow’s Immigration port. We’re all to blame for this. Our friends and family back home think London’s streets are paved with gold and constantly remind us how “lucky” we are in living in a country full of luxuries. They think we’re constantly rubbing shoulders with celebrities and popping down to Buckingham Palace to have tea with the Queen. It might sound funny but it all somehow rubs off on us, and we start believing it. Until we’re crushed with reality. No one can adequately prepare for the dramatic change.
No matter how much we research and hear stories; a new beginning in a strange and cold country is as painful as is giving birth. For someone to be able to start again from scratch you require humility, understanding a vision. Humility to know that every decent job no matter how unglamorous or little the pay is – is dignifying. Understanding that not everything that shines is gold and be wise from day one with who we make friends with. To be able to be active and progressive in any circle we are in and not be afraid in taking risks that goes towards our vision. Be patient and take the time to walk instead of running and taking short crooked paths and have perseverance and self-motivation.
What is the way you make things happen in life – are you the kind of person that thinks “everything is possible”?
Once you understand that luck doesn’t exist you begin to take control of your own life. London is a land of opportunities but they don’t come to you if you are feeling sorry for yourself lying in bed all day. You need to keep your eyes and ears open. Things only happen if you keep yourself active in mind and body, everything is possible!
Do you think there is still discrimination in the world about migrant women?
Unfortunately, discrimination is part of any society. You even get discrimination back home, probably even worse than in more developed counties. I can’t speak on behalf of the world but I do consider myself lucky to live in the UK in this aspect. As a whole British people are very fair and welcoming. Also, the laws and legislations in this country make it difficult for employers to discriminate against anyone. Speaking in general, we need to avoid letting ourselves be victimised. By learning English, integrating with society and keeping up to date with relevant news and legislation you’re empowering yourself with essential skills and in doing so making it difficult for anyone that tries to discriminate you. Remember, knowledge is power!
Do you think that the appearance is important? Is it true that beautiful women have more advantages to have a better life/career or this is a myth?
To answer the first part of your question; appearance is always important! Any good job website will tell you that “first impressions are everything” and to “always look presentable for an interview”. Clearly this demonstrates that people will always judge you on a superficial level before you even tell them your name. However people confuse appearance with beauty. You don’t have to be a supermodel to look presentable. Appearance is more related in how you carry yourself. How you talk and how you make others feel. You’d have to be fooling yourself to think that appearance wasn’t important. Unfortunately, there’s an unhealthy emphasis on beauty in todays world that blurs the line between good looks and presentation.
In the workplace we see this happen also. You might have got the job because of your looks, but to get recognition and respect you need skills. The flipside to this is when a genuinely smart, hardworking, beautiful woman obtains a highly skilled job some might say it was “because of her looks”. Your beauty could potentially put you at a disadvantage, impeding your growth. There is a quote that summarise this “Strength without wisdom falls by its own weight”, beauty without brains will soon end.
In general women tend to pay attention to look good outside – is it important what a woman feels within?
Definitely that goes vice versa, if you feel good inside your attitude will make you shine even if you’re not a supermodel, and even if you are pretty but feel miserable you won’t be able to show off that beauty.
How can you describe the women you work with?
That’s a tricky question as I work weekly in different fields from finances, marketing, accounts, media, education, arts, beauty pageants and fashion! However, I notice that each and every one of them has a set of common qualities. They are determined, smart, ambitious and of course, fabulous!
What would you say to the women who would like to invest to their career or set up their own business?
Rightly Confucius said; “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
If you have an idea for a business you feel passionate about, my advice would be that before putting all your eggs in one basket to do a self-evaluation. Be truthful and ask yourself questions like, if you would be able to do this every day 24/7? Are you able to handle constructive (and sometimes hurtful) criticism? Do you have the skills and abilities to convert this passion to a successful business, and if not, how will you obtain them? Also, think about how you will react to the possibilities of changing systems and concepts around such business? Finally check your finances and see how feasible it is for you to go all the way in regards to time and monetary investment. This is my pragmatic but straightforward advice and I encourage you to follow your guts and incorporate your passion in whatever you do.
Where do you see yourself after 10 years?
I believe in immediate goals, a lot can happen in a decade! So the maximum time I plan ahead by is 5 years. I love the thrill of the unexpected and the unknown. To know that there is still so many things left to discover and explore that my mind can’t even think of right now is what it keeps me going. My business projection for the coming years is to further develop into creating my advertising company in video marketing, more movies, international shows and at least 10 new TV stations around the world.
18 years ago I left my country, Ecuador, with nothing. I was one of thousands of migrant women in the UK, but somehow i flourished in art and business. I can proudly say after many tears and struggles I become a key contributor to the development of a multi-million pound company. In 2006 and 2010 my employer was awarded the Queen’s award for Business and Enterprise, hence I was presented an award by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, in a reception at Buckingham Palace (I guess my friends and family were right about the tea on this day!).
Alongside this, my passion for art is properly projected in my business, Art in Fusion, which is just under 2 years old. A small idea quickly became an important and vital media platform. To date I’ve been involved in over 300 shows, made a movie, 6 TV commercials and hosted 4 major art exhibitions. My TV Channel has 108,000 weekly viewers, and is viewed in 86 countries.