Meet Imali Windsor: Blogger, Virtual Assistant and Champion
Hello fellow students of life, Kanika Lal here.
I'm very proud to have Imali on my small but growing team of people, helping me make waves as best as I can. Right now ripples are forming, but with hardworking, passionate and original people that surround me, such as Imali, I feel more confident.
I wanted Imali to share how she got her start, and the foundation that led her to being a badass boss in her own right. Please read her story, and reach out to us with any questions, thoughts, concerns, or just a hello.
Enjoy Imali's story.
Hi there everybody,
I am Imali - a girl armed with a planner ready to hustle. I work as a Virtual Assistant from the UK, and normally am not the person being written about. However, today, the lovely Kanika has asked me to share my story, which is something I haven’t done on the “blogosphere.” It features a few ups and downs as well as a couple of plot twists, so keep reading if you’d like to find out a bit more about me!
I was born “way back” in December 2000, making me 17 years old at the moment! My life started out a little shaky because by the age of two I was quite sick. After many doctors appointments, tests and periods of being quite unwell - I was eventually diagnosed with M.E. (sometimes known as CFS). This is a condition that makes you permanently tired and run down, mimicking the symptoms you may have if you catch the flu. The difference, though, is that these never go away. The condition is made worse by overexertion or stress (something that everybody has a lot of in daily life) and can fluctuate between ‘alright’ and ‘terrible’ within a matter of seconds. In addition to having M.E., I was also diagnosed with ‘Hypermobility disorder’, which is a condition that affects the strength of the muscles surrounding my joints and leads to easily hurting myself or dislocating parts my body by accident. Growing up, I spent - and still do - a lot of my time having to learn how to get things done around times when I am ill.
A lot of times, when people discuss invisible illnesses or disabilities, they highlight what they can’t do, which there is a time and place for. Today, though, I am going to flip this on its head and talk to you about what I have managed to do.
Let’s start with school.
Because my condition makes me so exhausted and easily prone to sickness, I couldn’t deal with going to school. So, after much debate, I was home-schooled. I studied all the same subjects as my peers, but simply did it from home around being unwell. My favorite ‘classes’ were always ICT, art and science - I loved drawing and making scrapbook/portfolio books full of illustrations, but I was never sure where that was going to fit in as I got older.
Long story short, I did all the normal things that I could while dealing with my disability. I found great pleasure in messing around with the software my parents had on their basic computer - such as good ole ‘Microsoft Paint’ and ‘Sketch it up’. It was at this point I learnt to touch type and knew that I had an interest in technology. Life was great. I was finding ways to manage, have fun and keeping up with my peers academically.
Along the way, however, I somehow let myself slide. More or less, the day I turned fourteen, I grew very sick. I missed around a year and a half of school - due to being hospitalized - and had to start using a wheelchair all the time. I also got diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, this chronic pain disorder, which causes all sorts of issues - a huge one being short term memory loss. I did, needless to say, recover from this period of extreme sickness, but it took a lot of fighting to do so. Understandably, having all this happen in what was potentially some of my most key years of my teenage life was a devastating blow to me. I didn’t have a lot of friends, I couldn’t keep up with things I got invited to, I was behind on coursework, and I was having increased problems concentrating. I had no idea how I was going to make up for the lost time. Becoming a decent, functioning adult seemed like an unimaginable, unattainable thought. I knew that this was not the mindset to be. So, as I began to finally grow healthier, I knew I needed to develop a plan to get back on track. It took a few months, and a lot of research and time to think, but somehow I patched everything back together with the help of my Mum.
I got back into education. I took on a subject that was challenging but that I loved - Physics. I studied like a trooper, treating education like a five day job. I started to think about what I wanted to do, what industries interested me, and I experimented with different hobbies, growing my abilities. I made friends, and I also started my blog. With no website building knowledge, I purchased a Wordpress blog and got started. The first version of my page was just okay, but I had to learn somewhere.
I started blogging once a week and posting on Instagram. Within a few months, I had landed my first big job with Maybelline New York. I got sponsored to feature a whole range of makeup products, and my blog started taking off. Slowly, I noticed I was getting page views while doing something I loved. Quickly I caught onto the fact that the more professional my blog was, the more offers I received, so I kept going as best as could.
Then the summer of 2017 came, and it was time for me to pick a college to attend. I picked, and I went for an interview. The tutor who interviewed me saw my website and said instantly that I was in because I had taken initiative to start making my site - I couldn’t believe it! Needless to say, I studied ICT - I am nerd; I can’t lie.
Now bare in mind, just because I got my college, it didn’t mean my health improved. Campus is big and soon I came to the realisation that I was going to have to use my wheelchair everyday to get around. This was my first time in an educational establishment, I was nervous of what people would think of a girl in a wheelchair. I knew deep down I had no option but to use my chair, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to manage, but I was definitely anxious of how it would be received.
I made it fun by decorating it and adding a jazzy rucksack to the back of it, so that at the very least, people could see I was a stylish young lady in a wheelchair! Just because I used a mobility aid didn’t mean it had to be ugly!
I started studying and very quickly fell in love with being a student. Then the next hurdle came, all my classmates had Saturday jobs - I didn’t. I knew I couldn’t physically go out and get a job because I didn’t have the ability to physically attend something, so I started thinking outside the box. One night I took to Google, researching ways people work from home. I came across influencers, such as Zoella and Lauren Conrad, as well as looked at specific job roles. It was here I stumbled across the term ‘Virtual Assistant.’ When I read that, I had no clue what it meant. It was just one of the many terms I scribbled into my notebook. When I begun researching the services that a VA might provide, I realised my blog had equipped me with a huge amount of transferable skills. A lightbulb switched on in my head, and I realised that I could create a small business for myself. It could have flexible hours, work around my condition, and support me while I study. It’s virtually unheard of for someone of my age to make their own business, hence there's very little information on the net about how to do so - but I like a challenge!
Before long, I landed my first client. They very kindly recommended me and then I got some more. At this point I go through periods of time where I actually have to turn work away! I still work as an assistant, and one of my current clients is Kanika, whose blog you are currently reading! I help her with all sorts of tasks, including this blog pages redesign, which I recently undertook.
In addition to working, I finished studying ICT and got my diploma. Now I’ve progressed onto studying higher level Creative Media and Journalism, which is a new and exciting road that I cannot wait to travel and learn about! I’m hoping this course will be able to teach me more knowledge of writing, software and editing, allowing me to improve the services I offer. In the meantime, I plan on continuing to grow my blog and business… working towards having it be a full time work source and growing my brand.
So that’s the basics of my story. I hope that if you can take at least one point away, it’s that whatever issues or challenges you’re facing, there are ways to overcome it. Everyone can get their hustle on, whether they’re ‘sitting pretty’ in a wheelchair or running around in heels.
There’s a million ways to become a girl boss. What’s yours?
Imali’s blog: http://www.pumpkinsandplanners.com
Virtual Assistant services: https://virtuallyhuman.wixsite.com/imaliwindsor