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From NYC to Ghana: Why Vanessa Gyan knows she made the right move

Gone are the days when women had to choose between being a caretaker and a breadwinner. Over the past decade more moms, styled “momtreprenuers,” have balanced the duties of parenting and entrepreneurship, bringing new life into the world and industries across the board. Vanessa Gyan takes that to another level. The media and business maven has created several enterprises for mothers, by mothers. Whether it’s showing Ghanaian mothers on screen, or augmenting the existing healthcare system, Vanessa has made mothers the center of her work and is not slowing down any time soon. 

Vanessa Gyan somehow carved out enough time away from her numerous ventures to answer questions about moving to Ghana, her ventures targeting women and children, and hopes of getting ‘Modern Day Moms of Accra’ in front of an international audience.

Tell us about your Ghanaian roots. 

Vanessa: My father was born and raised in Takoradi. He was Fante, while my mom was born in Kumasi with Axim lineage. I’m a beautiful mix of Fante and Nzema. 

Why did you decide to leave New York and relocate to Ghana?  

Vanessa: It’s so crazy that you ask why, because never in a million years did I think of leaving New York. New York was my life. I was raised in the Big Apple from the age of 8 or 9, until I relocated to Ghana back in 2013. I was schooled in NYC, my best friends are there, my mom and siblings are there, it’s my whole life. I envisioned having a successful career in New York and growing a family there. That was the plan, but then I saw an opportunity in Ghana that I couldn’t resist and felt in a moment it was time to step out of my comfort zone. With my degree in tv/radio communications from Brooklyn College, years of hands-on experience, and my love for the media space, I felt I could bring something new and fresh to the Ghanaian media space. 

How long have you lived in Ghana, and how was the process of settling in? 

Vanessa: Wow. August will make a decade. 10 years. I’m even surprised. To be honest, settling wasn’t too difficult. I think the hardest thing is still missing my comfort zone. I love New York so much. I’m used to a fast paced lifestyle. Quick. On the go. Ghana is the complete opposite. Everything feels like it’s a bit slow motion, but I think the hustler New Yorker spirit is what has gotten me this far in the transition. It’s really about balance. An example, I can be explaining myself or defending myself and it’s taken as aggressive or rude, but I’m so calm in my approach. So, for me it’s been about adapting without losing myself. 

What self care practices did you utilize during and after your transition to help you deal with the move?  

Vanessa: To be honest, having a supportive family and tribe. There were some rough days in the beginning. Just their encouragement kept me in a good space, as did knowing that I’m not stuck. I can get up and leave if it does get to that point, and I’m truly thankful for the fact that in any case, I do have options.  My family and tribe have been the root to my success and settling in Ghana.

Tell us about your multifaceted career. What do you do, and do you think your foreign background has helped you succeed in Ghana?  

Vanessa: Firstly, I’m a mom to my adorable sonshine who definitely keeps me on my toes, but has also been the biggest inspiration when it comes to my career over the past 5 1/2 years. Outside of being a mom, I am an award-winning media personality and philanthropist. My career in media started about 15 years ago in New York City while gaining my tv/radio degree at Brooklyn College. One of my most fruitful experiences was working with FYI PR. I started off as an intern and in just months, I became full time staff. FYI PR is an award winning boutique firm owned by Tammy Brook, who has been recognized for the firm’s success by her famed clientele. I am the founder of Modern Day Mom, which is a mommy lifestyle hub, and the owner of The Modern Day Mom – Modern Day Toddler Boutique. Recently, I produced the first ever mommy related reality show in Africa, Modern Day Moms of Accra. I also run a well trusted NGO, The Sincerely, Vee Foundation.  

Tell us about the work you do as a philanthropist. What are the causes and projects you are dedicated to, and why did you choose them? 

Vanessa: Back in 2017, I launched The Sincerely, Vee Foundation. Our main initiative is The Post Pregnancy Boujie Express, which is a maternal health awareness initiative I launched almost six years ago. As a first- time mom living in Ghana, I received seven months of prenatal care in Accra at a private facility. I had the best care, but saw some holes in the system which prompted me to start asking questions and doing intense research. Once I traveled out to give birth in New York, I continued the research and was taken aback by what I was learning. Our maternal healthcare system was/is in shambles. As a mom-to-be I was heartbroken and just wanted to give back in some way. I began jotting down many ideas, and three months after giving birth I came up with The Post Pregnancy Boujie Express. 

At the time, it was focused on educating mothers and mothers-to-be, on the importance of prenatal/postnatal care, self love, finances, among other topics, while giving them mommy and baby necessities as gifts. All of this, free of cost to the mothers. That December, we had the first event at Ridge Hospital in Accra. I was blown away by the feedback from attendees. These are mothers from low income families and neighborhoods. During this event a mother approached me and informed me that she was detained with her newborn at the hospital due to the fact that she couldn’t pay her discharge. I was in shock. Those of us who spoke on the panel, gathered funds and made sure she was discharged. Since that day I have added that support for needy mothers to our initiative. 

Almost six and half years later, I’ve held numerous events under The Post Pregnancy Boujie Express including our bi-yearly seminar, discharging of patients, donations of our Boujie Care Packages, donations of cribs and basic necessities to various hospitals – just impacting the lives of thousands of Ghanaian mothers and mothers to be. One of our biggest events is our yearly mass baby shower where we celebrate unexpecting soon-to-be-moms with a lavish party.  During the baby shower, we also continue with our education. They get to ask all the questions in the world, enjoy yummy food, drinks, gifts and they get to celebrate a new chapter in their lives.  I always want them to look back one day and remember that someone, a complete stranger, cared enough for them to be celebrated the way they should be. 

Is there anywhere we can watch the full season of Modern Day Moms of Accra? We watched the first episode. It’s great, and Netflix-worthy! Will there be a season two, and will it be available for international viewership? 

Vanessa: Season one of MDMOA is available on Amazon Fire and Apple TV Plus via Von TV. So, if you search VON TV and any of those streaming sites, MDMOA is there. I receive the Netflix deal in the name of Jesus. LOL. Yes, there will be a season two. It will premiere early 2024. I’m really excited. I am a reality show junkie. I’ve loved reality TV since the days of the Real World on MTV, and the crazy part is my media career kicked off while in New York with me interviewing some of our favorite reality stars such as Jennifer Williams and even Tami Roman. There was a time when I was working with SheSoMajor and we would cover the likes of Evelyn Lozada and she would show us so much. It’s wild how life comes full circle and now I’m here as creator/producer of my own franchise of a reality show, Modern Day Moms of Accra. I do have to say a big thank you to Culture Management Group, who believed in the vision and came onboard as Executive Producers and of course, the entire Modern Day Moms of Accra team.

What projects do you have in the pipeline that we can look out for?  

Vanessa: The Post Pregnancy Boujie Express is standard twice a year. So, we are always collecting donations in any capacity. There is also the expansion of The Modern Day Mom – Modern Day Toddler Boutique. I’m getting ready to launch the first ever mommy focused podcast in Ghana, The Modern Day Mom Chat. I’ll let you in on a little secret. I am working on a couple of products under the Modern Day Mom brand. I can’t say exactly what they are but anyone who knows me or follows me knows it’s always about moms looking and feeling good and these products will do just that. I have a couple of mommy-related collaborations that will happen at the end of year.  It’s a busy 2023. You know, everyday I remind myself that I have the same hours in a day as Beyonce Knowles-Carter so I will make it all happen. 

What would people who have never visited Ghana be surprised to know about it? 

Vanessa: You have to come and see for yourself, but honestly, come with an open mind. Not with the mindset of how you THINK it will or should be. Come ready to experience Ghana wholeheartedly. 

If you could encourage women in America and the Caribbean to visit and even move to Ghana, what would you say?  

Vanessa: When it comes to visiting Ghana, the December season and the rest of the year are two different times. If you are looking to just jam and turn up for three weeks straight and to just enjoy the party scene then December is the time. If you want a balanced experience of Ghana then any other time of the year is ideal.  Honestly, Ghana and the Caribbean are similar in so many ways, so navigating would be a bit easy for someone of Caribbean descent, or who has lived in any of the countries. Ghana is a great place and we welcome everyone with open arms. 

Follow @vanessagyan 

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