AAE was joined by keynote speaker, lifestyle influencer, and founder of Cocoa by CeCe, CeCe Olisa. As a keynote speaker, Olisa loves helping women build confidence through wellness, beauty, and fashion.

Olisa shattered barriers by bringing plus-size fashion to New York Fashion Week through her pioneering company, theCURVYcon. Now, as the founder of Cocoa by CeCe, a beauty brand rooted in inclusivity and diversity, she’s on a mission to redefine beauty standards and build confidence in others.

I recently had a conversation with Olisa about how she got her start, building self-confidence, and what’s next for her career.

AAE: Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started in the field and as a speaker.

Olisa: My personal mission statement is “Don’t wait on your weight to live the life you want”. As a curvy black woman with natural hair (sisterlocks), my journey to feeling confident in my own skin began as an anonymous blogger, journaling my own insecurities as I navigated my life in New York City. From that vulnerable space, I discovered the transformative power of sharing stories and experiences.

As a speaker, my passion revolves around empowering women and girls, fostering self-confidence. Through actionable examples, I’ve witnessed the impact of embracing one’s uniqueness. Beauty isn’t confined to societal norms; it’s an individual journey. Whether it’s dismantling stereotypes or championing body positivity, my path is woven with threads of empowerment. I found my voice in the depths of vulnerability, and now, I amplify it to uplift others on their journey towards self-love and confidence.

AAE: What topics do you speak on and why are they important to you?

Olisa: I speak on Self Confidence, Self Love, Holistic Wellness and Redefining Beauty. Through my signature talk, “How to Build Self Confidence,” I passionately teach the I.I.A.C formula—identifying perceived obstacles, imagining life beyond them, addressing these hurdles, and choosing the envisioned life today. This transformative approach, rooted in my impactful Tedx talk, has touched over 1.5 million hearts.

Recognizing the societal pressures faced by women and girls, I address their yearning for self-esteem by guiding them through mindset shifts, embracing personal style, and promoting holistic wellness. These discussions aren’t just important; they are pivotal, reshaping narratives and empowering individuals to confidently step into their authentic selves.

AAE: What kinds of audiences do you usually speak to? Who do you think resonates the most with your message?

Olisa: My speaking engagements typically cater to three core groups: youth, college students, and working professionals. With youth, drawing from my background as a dancer and Nike ambassador, I craft active workshops incorporating joyful movement, like creating a TikTok dance.

This sets the stage for meaningful dialogues where they share self-esteem challenges, providing the perfect platform for teaching the I.I.A.C formula. In college settings, the focus often shifts to self-love, applying the formula to questions like “How do I love myself?” For corporate clients, wellness typically takes center stage, allowing us to seamlessly apply the I.I.A.C formula to holistic well-being. Each audience finds resonance in my tailored approach, fostering confidence and empowerment.

AAE: What differentiates your approach to public speaking from others?

Olisa: I don’t just preach empowerment; I embody it. What sets my approach apart is my unwavering commitment to “walking the talk.” Fearlessly drawing from my own journey to self-love, I choose to go first, leading with vulnerability. By sharing my authentic experiences, I create a safe space for my audience to dive deep into their own narratives.

I believe in the transformative power of personal stories, and mine isn’t spared. This unique authenticity establishes a genuine connection, allowing me to guide others through their paths of self-discovery and confidence. I don’t just speak; I share, connect, and inspire, ensuring that my message resonates on a deeply personal level.

AAE: What’s an example of the impact of one of your presentations on a client or audience member?

Olisa: Recently, I received a heartfelt video from an audience member standing atop the pinnacle of the BridgeClimb in Sydney, Australia. She shared how, armed with the mantras I’d taught her “don’t wait on your weight to live the life you want” and “health is a practice, not a pant size”, she conquered the 3.5-hour climb. The video gave me chills, in the best way. This humbling moment reinforces the profound influence of my message of confidence, reminding me that the journey to self-love and confidence is a universal and empowering experience shared by women around the world.

AAE: What do you think has been your greatest accomplishment or impact?

Olisa: For me, confidence is the harmonious blend of our thoughts and actions. The awe-inspiring moments come when women, inspired by our work together, take decisive actions to live the life they want. It’s an extraordinary honor to see individuals embrace their authenticity, overcome obstacles, and fearlessly step into a future they once only imagined.

These moments of empowerment, where thoughts manifest into tangible actions, stand as a testament to the profound impact of our collective journey toward self-love and confidence. It’s not just an accomplishment; it’s a celebration of resilience and empowerment.

AAE: What’s next for you in your career journey?

Olisa: I am passionately building Cocoa by CeCe, a beauty company that embodies my core values of self-love, self-care, and self-confidence. Our products, including the Self Love Scrub, Beautiful Body Oil, and Doll Butter, are more than just skincare—they are a celebration of individual beauty and empowerment. What excites me the most is the opportunity to create spaces where everyone feels seen, valued, and authentically beautiful.

Launching this beauty venture isn’t just about products; it’s about fostering a community that uplifts and embraces the uniqueness of every individual. I am thrilled to continue championing self-love and confidence through this exciting new venture. The journey to beauty is a journey to self-discovery and empowerment.

If you’re interested in booking CeCe Olisa for your next event, visit her speaker profile on AAE’s website to learn more.