The Debonair Disciple | Men of Purpose
Starting this January, over the next few months I’m going to be interviewing some great guys from a range of walks and backgrounds in life for my MEN OF PURPOSE Series.
First up, I interviewed Jake Bediako aka The Debonair Disciple - a lifestyle curator and blogger currently based in Accra. We spoke about creating content, how after graduating from Columbia and then Cambridge, he turned from the security of a corporate job to pursue entrepreneurship. And as the title of the series hints - what purpose means to him.
Ayo: So firstly, where did the name ‘Debonair Disciple' come from?
Jake: So Debonair Disciple is a double entendre with 'debonair’ being used as an adjective to describe the kind of Christ follower that I am, and then ‘debonair’ being used as a noun to represent all things lifestyle related and how I am an avid follower of it all; I read GQ every month and Mr Porter is my go-to website. Being a follower of Jesus and also a follower of all these things I enjoy I felt the name made sense.
Ayo: Why do you blog?
Jake: My style and lifestyle choices have always attracted attention. Even when I was I was doing my Masters (at Cambridge) my style was something people took notice of so I decided to lose the fear and start this platform.
Since starting I do it now partially as a form of self-expression and reflection. Being a blogger helps me makes sense of life. It helps me piece things and occurences in my life together in meaningful ways. People engage through social media and as a blogger you have the opportunity to share messages of impact. I think that is such a privilege.
Ayo: How did you go from having an idea to the real deal of blogging?
Jake: 2016 began with me feeling like I was sitting on a goldmine of experiences and tips that I felt like I wanted to share. It still took about 4 months to actually get to it because I thought I needed to have a really clear direction before starting. Then one day, I just started that the key was to just start with what I had in my so I just did. Looking back, I realise that I needed to go on a journey of stretching my faith and learning to lose the sense of control of always needing to know the outcome of something before starting.
Ayo: In an industry dominated by trends, do you think you can stay true to who you are and become really successful in the world of blogging and social media?
Jake: I’m beginning to realise that blogging is a means to an end. To stay true to your values, I feel that your blog should be the personal arm to the bigger thing you’re building. So for me, I’m creating the Debonair Lifestyle Group and if you want to know the person behind it then you can go to Debonair Disciple. That for me is the goal.
BECOMING AN ENTREPRENEUR
Ayo: Was turning your platform into a business very intentional?
Jake: It was very organic and I didn’t necessarily plan it. After university, I was definitely going down the Law route trying to get training contracts which didn’t work out. So what I’m doing now was actually born out of trying different things and seeing what would work. The good thing about putting yourself out there is that people then come to you with opportunities. In such a short time I’ve seen so much growth which has led to the point of developing the business arm as it currently stands.
Ayo: Was one of the reasons for turning it into a business partly motivated because of the investment it takes to create your platform - both in terms of time and money?
Jake: I think turning it into a business was just the next logical step given where I was in my life. For the first time in my life, I’d reached a point where nothing else was really working so I was like, “If this blog thing is the only thing working, then it’s going to have work and pretty damn well!”
I’m beginning to realise that God had to strip everything away in order for me to take this gift seriously as my natural inclination is to hide behind security…and blogging doesn’t offer much of that...!
Ayo: As you’re talking it’s literally like a mirror being held up. This whole conversation I just keep thinking after each part - that's struck a nerve, wow another thing that's struck another nerve!
Jake: I know the feeling - when I see my people I recognise them too!
MAINTAINING YOUR VALUES AND AUTHENTICITY
Ayo: What are your goals with your platform?
Jake: My dad instilled in my siblings and I the belief in entrepreneurialism. So I would say at the moment I’m expanding the platform to become a real business in the form of a lifestyle curation company which is strange but exciting.
Ayo: I really respect how much you come across as yourself on your platform. Do you feel like there are any challenges to being in the industry you are and keeping your value system?
Jake: Yes although I haven’t experienced having to compromise who I am to date. I’m always scared someone will approach me with something that will be very financially beneficial but not brand consistent. But I always want my account to always reflect who I am so when that happens, it will be non-negotiable.
Ayo: Who is your support system that you critically assess with?
Jake: Sometimes when I cut corners my girlfriend calls me out. One day I was suffering writer’s block so I just wrote something quite scanty. And she called me and was like ‘your caption doesn’t seem like you - what’s that about?’ When I explained to her that I couldn’t find the words, she wasn’t having it...haha! So now, I take a different approach. I might not post for a week if I don’t have anything to say (even though trends dictate you need to post daily).
Jake: What do you find hard?
Ayo: I'd say writer's block as well. I write #Wisdom4Wednesday and sometimes there’s been a drought and I might not feel like posting but I also value consistency so it's something I try to be diligent in.
Jake: That’s true as brand consistency is so important. There’s a quality and consistency that draws people in and it’s something I’m very particular about maintaining.
Ayo: Who are your style inspirations and what inspires your style?
Jake: One of my life icons is Diddy and I think that’s where the whole lifestyle inspiration came from. Diddy was having parties in St Tropez before we even knew what St Tropez was!
Ayo: He’s a real connoisseur of life!
Jake: In terms of style specifically it varies.... But you know when you walk into Suitsupply - all the mannequins there - they are my style inspiration! I walked in to one of their stores for the first time in 2014 and I had this overwhelming feeling that I’ve never had in my life which was ‘take my money’ and give me everything! At the time I could only afford a key-ring which I still have but it showed how much I wanted to buy into the identity of what the brand stood for.
Ayo: Has your style always been classic?
Jake: It started in 2014. I’ve always been into fashion but when I was was young I was very trendy. You remember when plimsolls became a big thing? That year was my 18th and I was having a big party so in order to be ‘different’ I bought yellow plimsolls to match my yellow tie because I knew no one would have them. My parents were like “Jake these are pictures you’re going to have for the rest of your life. Please don’t wear those shoes?”- I’m normally totally my own person but I'm glad I listened to them on that occasion. Haha.
FAITH AND PURPOSE
Ayo: What has your faith journey been like?
Jake: For me, I feel like it started when I was 9 or 10. Actually I can’t quite remember exactly what age (this is also why I journal now as I regret not doing that as a kid!) but I remember where I was in church when I made the decision to become a Christian.
So for the longest time as a kid I had a consciousness of God and I always knew there was more to Him than the fire and brimstone rhetoric. Even though I hadn't come to understand grace just yet.
It was in university, that I encountered the concept of grace, that’s where my Christian life really took off. It is ironic (or maybe not) that it was in an environment where I was confronted with different perspectives and worldviews that my faith was actually strengthened. I think God was using it to show me that people (no matter where they were from or what they believed) were integral to my faith journey.
Ayo: You mentioned before that you had a calling linked to people which really resonated with me. When did it occur to you that you were tying your love for people to your calling and what you do now?
Jake: University - all my friends were from every different backgrounds and life perspectives yet we had such a great time and deeply respected and understood each other.
Ayo: And finally, what does purpose mean to you?
Jake: Purpose is extremely important and the reason why I believe we’re still on this earth and wake up everyday. To me, purpose is living the life that I see when I close my eyes.
I think being your authentic self leads you into your purpose. Initially I thought my purpose was just style. Then it evolved into style and substance and then it evolved into lifestyle. As you grow deeper in self-awareness and God-awareness then it becomes something that infiltrates your life and you become more consistent with it.
Your purpose is not one thing - it evolves as you grow in your relationship with God. He’s the giver of purpose so the closer you get to Him the more I feel you’ll understand your purpose and how it plays a part in where you find yourself at a given moment.
Follow Jake on Instagram at The Debonair Disciple