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Women of Rubies

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Information is power, equip yourself with all the necessary knowledge needed to grow your brand. Develop yourself, know your strengths and weaknesses, focus on your strengths and work on your weaknesses. While you work on your weaknesses, employ capable people to fill in those positions where you consider your weakness. You honestly can’t be everything to your business. For instance, if your strength lies in customer relationship and PR service and you have little or no sewing skills, Focus on your customer relationship and PR skills and work on your sewing skills. This way, the business does not suffer and your skills are effectively and efficiently utilized. — Eki Okubanjo.

Eki Oris is a fashion company that specializes in both custom made and ready to wear (RTW) clothing for the fashion-conscious woman who appreciates finely constructed pieces of impeccable quality, targeted at females 15 years and above. Eki Oris designs are influenced by simplicity, individuality and comfort of their customers.
The Eki Oris Kidswear is a clothing and accessories brand for kids (male & female) aged 0 months – 12 years. It’s a bespoke & ready-to-wear brand which has found its niche in using unique African prints and other fabrics to tailor exquisite and comfortable outfits for children.

Eki worked full time in a private company as the customer relationship manager and also did a bit of business development. During this time she was running the Eki Oris brand as a side hustle. She wore her designs to the office and got a lot of pleasing comments. She made pieces for some of her colleagues and got lots of referrals through them.
In her quest for more, she decided to quite her 9-5 job and give her fashion business the time it requires.

The Eki Oris brand has successfully maintained its integrity over four years by putting customers first, keeping to deadlines, being dependable and also giving out quality products and services. These are some of the things that make the Eki Oris brand special.

I understand the importance of having a conducive and happy working environment for your staff, because once your staff are happy and comfortable, they’ll definitely deliver their best and I have implemented this principle into my business.

Eki Okubanjo learned the basics of fashion designing from her mother who had a tailoring shop while growing up. She launched “Prints by Kira and Eki” with her friend during their National Youth Service (NYSC) year but they parted ways.

Eki Oris was founded in 2015 as a home-based business, and also a side hustle which she ran alongside her corporate job.
In July 2017 she resigned from her corporate job to focus on her business. She had saved up some money, and got some funds from her dad and boyfriend (now husband) to set up.

In her own words, “I had no prior knowledge of running a business, I didn’t know how to calculate my cost, the overheads were a lot, I didn’t know the best salary method to use for paying my tailors. I made mistakes with designs, fabric etc and I have had to refund money back to some customers, but all these experiences helped shape me into becoming a better fashion entrepreneur. Having worked in a corporate environment before venturing into full time entrepreneurship, I have also brought in a lot of knowledge I learnt while I was with my previous employer into my business. I, more than anyone understand the importance of customer management. I brought in my negotiation skills, marketing skills etc into my business and I understand how important it is for a business to keep their business data as this is what will help you make better decisions. I have implemented all of this in my business.  In retrospect, when I think of my entrepreneurial journey, I’m honestly glad for how far I have grown. I have learnt from all my mistakes, challenges and also my customers. Experience is something that cannot be bought and my experiences so far have helped me put in proper structures and policies in place that are currently helping my business.”

As an entrepreneur, Eki finds the most satisfaction in IMPACTING lives. She loves that she is able to impact lives through beautiful clothes. An Eki Oris woman is bold, and confident and I love that my designs automatically instil confidence in my customers. An Eki Oris woman goes about her daily activities with her head up and ready to conquer the world because she’s confident in herself.
“I also love that I can positively impact the lives of my staff through the jobs I have provided for them, they in turn can impact their own lives and fend for their families.”

There’s no better time to start than now! Just start. You don’t have to wait till you have everything sorted out to start your business, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Don’t rush the process as well, allow yourself to grow and learn and celebrate the small wins.

Eki Okubanjo sums up all her experiences, including successes and failures in this powerful piece of advice: Importantly information is power, equip yourself with all the necessary knowledge needed to grow your brand. Develop yourself, know your strengths and weaknesses, focus on your strengths and work on your weaknesses. While you work on your weaknesses, employ capable people to fill in those positions where you consider your weakness. You honestly can’t be everything to your business. For instance, if your strength lies in customer relationship and PR service and you have little or no sewing skills, Focus on your customer relationship and PR skills and work on your sewing skills. This way, the business does not suffer and your skills are effectively and efficiently utilized. Also, you honestly need a trailer load of patience and hard work to survive in the fashion industry. Finally, please always remember the God factor. Always pray to him for wisdom to help you run your business, pray for your staff and also your customers.

Like a phoenix, Oluwatobi Raji  is rising from the ashes of adversity and inspiring others to do so through her story. She  is a Gender Based Violence (GBV) Advocate with focus on child safety,  and has over 6 years work experience in the humanitarian field. She founded Every Child Initiative in 2019, a nonprofit that educates the public on preventive measures to child sexual abuse and rape of minors using social media and grassroot advocacy as a tool to disseminate her message. Oluwatobi was raped at age 8 by her maternal uncle and survived multiple counts of rape, ten times by ten different persons between age 13-19 years. She as well ensures safe space for vulnerable children living on the street via her partnership with 1 to 2 orphanage homes spread across 36 states in Nigeria.

The  bachelor’s degree holder  in International Relations  and Diplomacy from Iscom University, Cotonou, Benin Republic also earned a Professional  Higher Diploma in Aviation Management from Lagos Aviation and Maritime Business School, Lagos, Nigeria and graduated with distinction. Oluwatobi worked as a Survivor Advocate/Field Officer with Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT), Ministry of Justice, Lagos, , with successful effective arrest of domestic and sexual violence offenders in Lagos State, Nigeria.

She currently work as a Volunteer Project Manager at School On The Street Initiative ; a nonprofit that provides access to quality education for orphans and underprivileged children with an establishment of a free tuition school at Iyana-Ilogbo, a rural community situated at Ifo Local Government, Ogun State, Nigeria.

She has impacted over 3000 parents, teachers, guardians and over 5000 children via her house to house sensitization, rural rugged campaign, community sensitization program and face to face counselling. She has taken child safety advocacy to over 5000 households and 20 communities. Oluwatobi volunteers with over 7 local and international non-governmental organizations and this has added to her wide wealth of knowledge in the humanitarian field. She also works as an on-call Professional Caregiver with Flying Doctors Nigeria (FDN), to specifically care for COVID-19 patients. She shares her inspiring story in this article.

 

Childhood Influence

Growing up wasn’t  really fun, though I had a pleasant time with myself as a child. I grew up in a family of 5, with a father whose religion was love for all. I am the first child of my family but my experiences as a child are the passion for in depth love to serve humanity. I grew up having a father, whose only language was love. As a child, the only language I grew up to understand is humanity while my religion is love. After my father’s death, life became hard and miserable with nothing and no one to lean on. We were left in the hands of close friends, who only gave their best as they could to assist us. My childhood experiences made me vow to ensure adequate safety for children in my little capacity.

Inspiration behind Every Child Initiative

Every Child Initiative is a nonprofit founded in January 2019 and advocates against child sexual abuse and rape of minors. The initiative’s primary focus is on ;preventive measures using social media and grassroot advocacy as a means in disseminating my message. The passion was born out of my concern on child safety and my personal experiences. I realised creating safe space for every child is everybody’s business, so the need to speak about child safety was very necessary. In January 2019, we carried out an house to house sensitization, educating parents and children preventing meausres to child sexual abuse and rape. Also in January 2020, I called upon some concerned individuals and advocates to join me in facilitating a Rural Rugged Campaign.

The campaign was organized in strategic local communities of 7 States in Nigeria, same day and time using indigenous languages to disseminate our messages. I have also facilitated the rescue of at least 3 persons off the street to a safe place, 2 children with a pregnant youth inclusive between March 2019 and October 2019.

The Journey so far

It has been quite demanding with several responsibilities, which includes mental tasks, physical energy and financial contributions. The journey so far comes with so many responsibilities, which sometimes results in self-denial of basic needs/amenities. There are moments of discouragement and loneliness but my focus to achieve a set has indeed given me continuous push never to relent.

Being a survivor of sexual abuse, and finding closure

I was sexually violated (Raped) at age 8 by my maternal uncle (My mother’s younger brother) and was threatened by my mother not to tell anyone, which continued till I was  14 to 15 years of age. This horrible and shameful experience opened and gave access to other perpetrators, as I was raped again by 10 different men, 10 times between the ages of 13 to 19years. It wasn’t easy at all for me, each passing day at those points in my life, my only wish was death. I attempted suicide over 5 times as a child and same as an adult. I never received any medical or psychosocial support, which later led to post traumatic stress disorder, depression, low-self-esteem, emotional and hormonal imbalance, suicidal thoughts, aggressiveness, anger and failed relationships. I was able to pull through, when I found my voice to speak out after 22 years of silence. I got support from an ex-partner, he introduced me to his doctor, who later recommended a psychologist and a reputable medical facility to seek help. Just like others, the relationship with this fellow also went down the drain due to the above mentioned and some other contributing factors. Sincerely, I am still healing because I lost everything in my life including family and loved ones, due to the past event in my life.

Volunteering for several organization & giving back during the pandemic

I currently work as a Volunteer Project Manager at School On The Street Initiative; a nongovernmental organization with an establishment of a free tuition school for underprivileged children at Iyana-Ilogbo, a rural community close to Ifo in OgunState. The free tuition school was set up during the Covid-19 pandemic to give back to the community. Also during the Covid-19 pandemic, as a trained member of the Nigerian Red Cross Society, I volunteered to sensitize the community on preventive measures to infectious disease. I also got relief materials of 100 cartons of Lifebuoy &Lux soap from Unilever, Lagos to give out to the community members of Abule-Iroko, as well as sensitize them on personal hygiene. I also received textbooks of about 400 from a reputable non-profit organization, which was donated to 530 underprivileged children in the community. Again during the Covid-19, I was able to impact a life by fundraising for an underprivileged pregnant lady to get delivery items and other baby resource materials.

 

My Certifications, fellowship and momentum

I am a trained anti-corruption personnel from Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) Nigeria in conjunction with and Foreign Corrupt Practices Commission, a Global Youth Ambassador (GYA) with Their World (United Kingdom) 2018 – 2019, African Changemakers Fellow, 2018, United States Government, Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI RLC) 2017 Fellow, Accra, Ghana, African Young Leader Fellowship Program (AYLFP) 2019 Fellow, Accra, Ghana, Young World Leader For Humanity, 2018, My Body Is My Body Ambassador, Sheffield (United Kingdom), conferred Ambassadorial Honor at the International Youth Diplomacy Conference (IYDC) 2019 Accra, Ghana, Ambassador for Africa Project Against Suicide, 2020, World Literacy Foundation (WLF) Ambassador, Colombia, 2020 &am 2021, World Peace Icon Ambassador, at World Institute For Peace 2021.

I am also a member of the Nigerian Red Cross Society, Lagos State branch. She is an Advance First Aider by rank with successful records of emergency response, as a trained emergency first aid team (EFAT) member such as pre-hospital care, flood, fire, accident, election standby, Ebola virus, measles and the COVID-19 pandemic. I was a frontliner (Ebola Response Staff) during the Ebola epidemic in Nigeria and worked with the Federal Ministry of Health (PortHealth Services) for 1 year at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos. I was also a frontliner during COVID-19 outbreak and worked as a Community Search Volunteer on contact tracing with the Federal Ministry Of Health at Alimosho LGA, Lagos State.

On the society and how to treat survivors of Domestic Violence and Rape

The society has so much concentrated on what we call The Blame Game rather than condemning the evil act of rape. 80% of the society still believes that survivors are the architect or causes of their problems. Some people even say to survivors, for this to have happened to you, then you are possessed. This myopic reasoning has empowered perpetrators to develop growth and expand their territories. Survivors of domestic violence and rape must be given adequate respect, regardless of whoever is involved. Domestic Violence and Rape is no longer joke and should be treated with zero tolerance. Until society takes up full responsibility for condemning the act, we won’t achieve a goal or victory.

To Young Girls who want to speak up but scared of being judged

My advice to young girls is to associate with positive minded individuals, whom they can trust well enough to discuss their issues with. They can also reach out to organizations who have existing structures and professionals who can attend to them.

Challenges of my work

As a child safety advocate, I advocate for both boy and girl child. This is due to my understanding that both genders are vulnerable, while the girl child has the larger percentage of vulnerability. When I started advocacy against rape, some people reached out to me to stop talking, so my chosen career won't hinder me from getting married or make friends and family dissasociate from me. This and so many sayings only fuel my energy in doing more. I have been threatened both offline & online social media, I have also received threats of being kidnapped, gangraped and making it public to shut me up. It has been a journey of the last breath, meaning I vowed to ensure my best is invested even if it means giving my last drop of blood. I see this to be a service to humanity, which I have never seen any man who serves humanity in vain.

 

3 women who inspire me to be better and why

There are amazing women I encountered their stories not-in-person but online, such as Dr Helen Paul (Nigerian Comedienne) whose birth was from rape. Joyce Mayer who was raped repeatedly by her father, Pastor Terry Gobanga (Kenya) who was kidnapped and gang raped on her wedding day. These three amazing women stories inspired me to live above my past, impact in lives and make living worthwhile. I also decided not to dwell in the past, make lemonade out of life given lemon which will in return produce beautiful fruits.

Being a Woman of Rubies

Oluwatobi is a gold that has gone through the process, she is a rare gift and unique being. My calibration carries a special identity which fosters so many happenings in my life (No Regrets). I only found mercy and grace in the sight of my creator, which made me stand out despite my rough journey.

 

On  educating children early

Educate children on the identification of body parts from age 3, Educate children on the correct names of body parts from age 3, Teach children identification of a sexual perpetrator and sexual abuse, Teach children keeping secret of any form is wrong, Educate children that, their body belongs to them, no one has a right to see or touch and same thing goes to them. Educating children early enough will not only preserve but keep them safe from this heinous crime.

 

The challenges facing many women in Africa of how to manage and care for their natural hair is one that entrepreneur Farida Yahya is all too familiar with. It was the inspiration for the launch of her business Lumo Naturals, which today creates a range of specialist hair products that both cleanse and treat the hair gently. Today, the brand is winning scores of fans who are looking for a natural solution for their natural hair.

Lumo Naturals is an award-winning haircare solutions brand. With over 6 years in operation and a team of professional hair consultants and stylists, they offer a wide range of hair services and products. They provide quality hair services, along with top lines of our well formulated natural hair products.

As a naturalista, growing up, Farida saw her mother try to tame her hair with tons of relaxers. Farida’s mother tried various products and used tons of strategies but none ever worked. And just like other natural hair owners, she had problems with her own hair ranging from breakage to dry hair, breaking the piggy bank to get premium products to maintain the hair, as well as shrinkage. Additionally, Farida would spend so much time watching tons of videos on YouTube and natural hair blogs looking for tips and inspirations. In 2008, Farida resorted to making DIY products for her hair because there were no big shops that sold natural hair care products in her location. Interestingly, her experiments worked and people began to buy them.

As a female founder, you should never feel pressured to “lead like the boys”. There is nothing wrong in leading with empathy, and you should know that the world of entrepreneurship is tough, and so, don’t demand things from the angle of a victim, instead work hard and smart enough to have those doors open for you. When you do succeed, look back and lift others, mentorship and support is crucial for female founders, if we want to go far, and build the mass we need to change things for good. — Farida Yahya.

Lumo Naturals was birthed in 2012. It started with the production of the first set of natural hair care products – hair butter. And with Farida’s over nine years of experience in biochemistry and a diverse range of complementary skill sets, she has been able to create an extensive offering of affordable natural hair care products designed to benefit naturalistas.


For Farida, running her own business has pushed her to grow. Being responsible for her team and customers has challenged her to learn about how money works, what is required from a leader, and why it is important to deliver quality service consistently.
Farida says she is happiest when she solves a client’s hair challenge, and when she gets feedback about their formulations. In her words, “it gives me such a thrill to know that I am doing my quota to help make the world a better place, and reduce social inequalities.”

Lumo Naturals fill a unique niche in the beauty space. Their product line includes everything from hair cleansers to hair treatments and hair scrums, with a focus on multi-functional products. Additionally, all their products showcase clean, locally sourced ingredients that are cruelty-free, animal-free, and free of harmful irritants and additions such as parabens, benzene, and formaldehyde.

On September 11th, Esther Ijewere hosted Psychotherapist and Mental Health Advocate; Dedoyin Ajayi on her famous Tweet chat session #GettalkingwithEsther, and they discussed how to live an wholesome life.

The  Psychotherapist did not only share the importance of protecting our Mental Health, but she also gave insight on what Therapy looks like, and why we all need to slam the brake sometimes and do what’s best for our emotional wellbeing.

See summary of the tweet chat below.   You can also read more about Dedoyin, and her work as a mental health advocate and Psychotherapist Here

 

 

Empower a woman and you have empowered a whole community. Ubong Agina understands this so well which is why she has built a successful fashion training school centered around empowering women and helping them fulfill their potentials.

The entrepreneurial journey is not easy; it requires a large heart. However, as challenging as it may be, just as a child’s first attempts at walking, success is sure with clear focus, consistency and the ability to manage changes.

Agina was inspired to launch her fashion design and training school business, respectively for a couple of reasons.
The first being a love for African fabrics and the fashionable beauty of local, well-made designs relative to foreign brands. The second being a deep love for teaching/training.
When Agina ventured into couture, fashion designing and creation, she found a vast opportunity for capacity building and empowerment among fellow African women. So, she expanded to also establish a fashion training school.

Nubeeka Couture, an arm of Nubeeka Concepts, is a creative fashion designing private enterprise founded with the mission to promote African beauty, art and style through creative and innovative garment fashion designing. They are committed to women empowerment through training and through their own fashion school.

Their range of products includes various female apparel such as corporate-wear, semi-formal and casual dresses, gowns, jackets, skirts and tops, and shirts, all of which we produce as bespoke designs, as well as small to large scale ready-to-wear (RTW) designs.


Ubong Agina’s entrepreneurial journey started from her childhood. In her own words, “coming from a meagre background, my entrepreneurial journey started as an arduous uphill task and my main anchor was my passion to drive my mission. After acquiring the necessary basic and advanced academic, as well as fashion design skills, I started my fashion making business in the comfort of my home for the first several months. When customer satisfaction incrementally drove patronage beyond what I can manage in my home, I took the bold but fretful step and I officially launched my business, with the inclusion of the training school.”

Her biggest fulfilment as a fashion entrepreneur and trainer comes from her customer satisfaction, together with their kind and encouraging feedback and referrals.

Ubong Agina’s final words on entrepreneurship is this, “the entrepreneurial journey is not easy; it requires a large heart. However, as challenging as it may be, just as a child’s first attempts at walking, success is sure with clear focus, consistency and the ability to manage changes.”

 

The beauty  of being  a legal practitioner is understanding the plight of those you defend, and advocating for them. Not many Lawyers can mult-itask and deliver successfully  both ways, but Toyin Ndidi Taiwo-Ojo is breaking boundaries in her profession as a Lawyer and Human rights activist. She is not only “walking the talk”, but also lending her voice to the voiceless, vulnerable and marginalized in the society.

The amazing  legal practitioner is also the  founder of Stop The Abuse Against Children and Women Foundation, popularly called Stop the Abuse foundation. The seasoned negotiator and mediator bagged her law degree from the Obafemi Awolowo University, also known as the Great Ife . She has worked in various notable firms.

She was one time welfare secretary of the NBA Ota, Ogun State branch and currently a member of the NBA national NHIS committee, she was also at one time the Personal Assistant of the wife of the Executive Governor, of Kogi state , position she held until she resigned in 2017 to face her advocacy passion squarely. A human rights advocate, she sits on the board of some notable charities in the country and has great passion for vulnerable children, women and the environment.

She shares her inspiring journey, and tips on the right way to report cases of violence and abuse.

Childhood Influence

Growing up with a widowed grandmother in the village, it was all too easy to understand the hardship that women and children face especially in a deeply patriarchal society. Also , seeing my grandmother stand up for herself and persuading her kinsmen to sell land for her when it wasn’t the norm to do so prepared me for this future.

Inspiration behind Stop the Abuse Against Children and Women Foundation

 I have always offered pro Bono legal services to indigent people but my vision became clearer in 2015 when a young boy of six years named Promise was stabbed by his mom with a broken bottle as a sort of punishment for allegedly “ defiling” a two years old girl. There and then, I knew I had to do something. Most parents were ignorant of acceptable methods of disciplining, kids were being subjected to the most ludicrous form of abuse in the name of punishment, being raped and maltreated and sometimes needed rescue from even their own parents!

Being a legal practitioner, human rights advocate and managing it all

Honestly, it has been God but having a supportive husband has made the journey easy.

Impact of Stop the Abuse Foundation since Inception

 Oh wow! Stop The Abused was a registered in 2018 and has rescued over 30 young girls from physical and sexual abuse. We have also rescued women from domestic abuse. Our food drives, economic empowerment interventions have affected more than 5000 families and it is still counting. Stop The Abuse Foundation is also keen on advocacy and sensitization and more than 10, 000 persons have been affected through our grassroot mobilization. The far reach of our constant appearances both on TV, newspaper, radio and social media on advocacy and sensitisation cannot be overemphasized

 

What the Government should do to support the Gender Based Violence sector

 I think the government should support critical stakeholders by providing Funds! A gender purse should be set up with critical stakeholders and philanthropists to run it just like CACOVID was set up during the covid crises of 2020.

Most shelters run by private owners are poorly funded. As of now in Nigeria, the cost of justice for survivors is very high! Within Lagos alone to rescue a child, one must be thinking of spending between 40,000 to 50,000 naira at least from providing vehicles from arrest to logistics of investigations with the police. When the suspect is arrested, one also must provide the vehicle to court and a lot of other sundry things. Government should be deliberate and help to see that our laws are more robust in tandem with current realities. This brings us to the issue of access to justice delivery. Countless adjournment makes the victims oftentimes give up but if cases were treated speedily, it would encourage victims to seek for redress in court.

Challenges of my work

Attitude of the society towards gender-based violence is a big challenge. The culture of silence being encouraged by our people is one example, victims of gender-based violence are not “supposed” to speak up talk less of fighting for justice especially when the perpetrator is a family member, their extended family believes that the victim speaking up will break the “unity” of the family. This brings us to victim blaming. The general belief that it must have been what the victim wore or did that seduce the rapist is another sociocultural challenge. Our people see anyone who fights for other women as an oversabi, the challenges are too numerous

Other projects and activities

We currently apart from rescuing victims and offering legal, paralegal, and psychosocial interventions free of charge. We also do food drives and economic empowerment for widows. We are currently looking at building a transit shelter for children. We are also planning a skills acquisition center to help indigent women who are survivors of domestic violence to become economically empowered so as to fend for themselves and children.

 What do you enjoy most about your job? The thing I enjoy most is the smile I get from survivors after a rescue! The smile often carried the whole message of gratitude, hope and relief. Knowing that you have made a difference in the life of someone who has given up hope is quite exhilarating.

3 women who inspire me and why

My grandmother Blackie Ekwutoziam Awana is my first role model, she taught me that women can be anything they want to be! From being widowed at an early stage and quite illiterate, she questioned the tradition of not selling land to women in her hometown even when the woman had the money. She is an unsung hero. Women all over the world striving for a better life, keep inspiring me to be a better version of myself.

To women in abusive marriages  who are afraid to flee

The covenant of life is far greater than the covenant of marriage.

Steps to take to seek justice for cases of domestic violence and rape

For a rape victim, the first is to speak up, do not let anyone shut you up. Speak your truth. If it is a recent rape incident, do not clean yourself(vagina) up and if you must, clean up, use a white handkerchief, tie the handkerchief in a clean white nylon, then go the hospital before going to the police. Call a human rights organization. Better still, call the human rights organization first to give you moral support as you fight for justice.

Being a Woman of Rubies

Honestly, my joy is to see more women and children free from all these indignities.

ORÍKÌ Group is a wellness and personal grooming brand that is the first and only company in Nigeria to operate a luxury spa chain coupled with its own farm to skin product range.

They utilize the most, efficient & potent natural ingredients from Africa. ORÍKÌ Group comprises of a multi-channel spa, farm to skin retail product company and a wholesale & amenity product line for spa’s, hotels, and airlines.
They are a fast growing organization having developed/operated six spas, retail stores and created distribution channels across Nigeria and in three countries.

Their mission is to leave a piece of Africa with consumers around the world by creating farm to skin products, wellness centers, empowering farming ecosystems and instilling ‘skinfidence.’

Joycee was intrigued by natural ingredients and their potency as a young girl. The more she experimented; skin and hair became her weapon of choice for self-expression – a way to experiment with raw materials and resources – and it powered a journey that led her back to her roots on the continent of Africa, specifically Nigeria, and that propelled the creation of ORÍKÌ. After years of experimenting with all types of natural ingredients, at one point creating a mini lab in a home setting, testing and experimenting with diverse materials from activated charcoal to wild berries and ingredients in between.

Joycee wanted others to experience the potency of natural ingredients. Seeing a void in the industry and a depiction and narration of Africa as being helpless and lacking, she launched a personal grooming brand “inspired by nature and crowned with opulence,” focusing on a wide range of raw materials and ingredients for all skin types, creating formulas that work for all depending on skin type and concern.

Her goal as a business owner is to expand into more and more communities, giving more people the opportunity to make wellness a lifestyle.
The ORIKI Team is diverse and they all bring their unique strengths to the table. Everyone’s voice matters and everyone’s suggestions and comments are welcome.

Joycee developed a love for entrepreneurship at a young age as she had keen interest in solving problems and monetizing opportunities. She started a babysitters club when she was younger, a candy store out of my locker, she made accessories and much more as a child. Her father was also an entrepreneur and she used to enjoy visiting his office and learning about what he did, it definitely left an impression and fueled her passion.

ORIKI is scaling and expanding and bringing more ORIKI locations to more communities; they are currently working on 3 other locations as well as launching a new farm to skin product line and a new haircare line. In 2020 they were able to scale two of their service offerings – Our Spa at Home services have provided hundreds of homes the opportunity to have spa services in the safety and comfort of their home.

For Joycee, making an impact as an entrepreneur is of utmost importance to her.

Joycee’s personal piece of advice to everyone is to partner with God. In her words, “I have seen my business transform as I said NO to fear and instead gained confidence by trusting in God through every season and allowing him steer the ship and lead my efforts. I’ve come to realize that obstacles and challenges are inevitable but I no longer let the struggles consume me because I have faith that the company would be victorious.”

Chika got her footwear making skills during the annual mandatory National Youth Service Program in 2012. She has since used her work at NCR Design Shoemaking School to improve the lives of women and youths in Nigeria by enabling them to produce and export standard footwear products through training, job matching opportunities, mentoring, and access to quality and affordable raw materials.

In 2017, Chika participated in the YouWin (Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria) scheme, an initiative that finances outstanding business plans for the young, aspiring entrepreneurs in Nigeria. In 2019, she emerged among the top 100 semi-finalists in the Access Bank Womenpreneur pitch-a-ton competition. In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a lockdown and restriction of movements and social distancing, as well as an economic recession that resulted in loss of jobs, hunger and insecurity, Chika took to training 36 students (2 students each month) in the art of footwear making for free. She organized virtual meetings to speak on the importance of vocational skills and handiwork in these days of uncertainty when nothing is sure, with regards to securing a good job.

Chika also recently got shortlisted as one of the top 20 female entrepreneurs to participate in the She Leads Africa High Growth Coaching program. She is a member of the Bell-Africana community, YALI West Africa, She Leads Africa, and currently signed up for Female & More Africa in collaboration with Ford Foundation.  Her designs have been featured in publications, and have been worn and commended by reputable icons.

Since the incorporation of NCR Design in 2018, Chika has through the business provided the needed skills that have pulled 1000 beneficiaries of the footwear making programs out of poverty and given them a new lease of life. Chika is working towards expanding the business to accommodate varieties of courses to enable the participants to opt for the one that suits them best.

What inspires Chika the most is her desire to help others by using her business to provide jobs for those with special needs. All I have ever wanted to do in my life is to help people especially women who do not even know why they are suffering, who are denied access to quality of life, who are willing to work to get those two pieces of bread for themselves and their families, who should not suffer.
She draws inspiration from the hardships of these people, to work her way out somewhere through which she can really help them.

They provide students with enough training skills and support that will enable them to establish a career in small and medium size businesses. NCR Design provides mentorship and internship opportunities, free accommodation and makes its training facility, tools, and equipment available to students who completed their training in the school.

Chika does not come from an entrepreneurial background, and her parents are disappointed chose Shoemaking over Medicine, Engineering, Law etc. In her own words, “I wanted to create value with something that I was passionate about. I have always loved shoes but became increasingly interested in shoes when I joined shoemaking CDS group during my days as a Youth Corp member in 2012. I started to dig deep into the art of shoemaking, read about master shoemakers, the business of shoemaking, its rewards, the challenges, and opportunities… just everything about it. It was fascinating to say the least. It had never occurred to me that I could make a living out of it because interestingly, I am a graduate of Soil Science so academically, nothing really linked to the career I have now. But growing up I loved making things. I loved art. I loved creating, but somehow had forgotten about it during my years as a student. My joining the shoemaking CDS group made me remember how much I loved crafts.”

What gives Chika the most satisfaction as an entrepreneur is knowing that she is contributing to something larger than herself. That I am solving problems and bringing a product and service to the world that people need.

Chika says to young women, “You can be anything and everything you set your mind to, with the right amount of ambition, commitment, dedication and of course, hard work – you will do it. First things first, you need to realize what that best version of yourself looks like. What does this woman look like to you? Who is she? What does she do? Did she build a business from the ground up? Or is she an amazing advocate for female empowerment? There are certain questions you must ask yourself to get to know yourself. Figure out her traits and see how many of them you have yourself. Chances are, you have a lot more in common than you may have originally thought. The only differences might be that this woman is recognized for her work and gets to do it on a larger scale. That is how you need to figure out how you can take the next step.It is all about your mindsets and reprogramming your mind for success. The women we admire and look up to and aspire to be all each have different mindsets.”

Omotola Olaniyi-Omosebi is the current Creative Director of Gmoty Fashion Academy. A graduate of Business Administration from Yaba College of Technology Yaba Lagos. She founded Gmoty Fashion Academy in 2014 graduating from Ginani Fashion School. In 2016 she attended Zaris Fashion Academy for a finishing course. Her mission is to help women become resourceful so they can help their children and family.

“A few years ago, I struggled with how to cut and sew clothes, I didn’t know where to start from or where to learn the skills I needed. So I spent years looking for a solution to this problem from different places. I ended up wasting years learning little to nothing, I wasted money and time yet with nothing to show. On different occasions I would watch videos, read books and even attend sewing group tutorials all in the hope to learn. My sewing skills, interpretation of designs or perfect finishing was nothing to write-home-about. I became so confused, worried, scared and frustrated because I knew I was losing out, I didn’t believe in myself and my skills as I couldn’t sew anything meaningful for myself, not to talk of making clothes for clients. I spent a full year learning from a so-called ‘good’ tailor. But I knew if I could get hold of these skills it would help a great deal. I knew I needed a way out very fast because it was starting to affect my self-esteem; I didn’t like the fact that I was always asking my husband for every single kobo I needed. It was really bad. I finally found a way out.”

Today the story is different, as Omotola not only sews well fitted garments, she also now help and teach other married women who are interested about learning how to sew and earn from the skill. In May 2018, she opened a Fashion Training Academy where she trains people so far, they have trained over 300 women (boys and girls also included for summer classes) and still counting. Gmoty Fashion Academy is indeed a community that helps women find clarity and move very fast from being a full housewife to a resourceful housewife.


Her fashion school doesn’t teach only fashion, they also teach the business side of fashion. This is where they bring in experts from the industry to train and educate their students on selling and branding etc. They train them and we give them their first job.

They also teach their students how to use the latest tech tools to promote their products and services.

We do fashion training and education, sales of fashion designs (Ready to Wear), childrenswear, handcrafted products made by students, including Laptop Bags, Ankara Tote Bags, Neck Pillows and Accessories etc. We also offer a range of consultancy and advisory services.

Omotola specializes in African ready to wear, casuals and corporate wear. She has participated in various fashion shows including Runway Fadan 2015 (Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria), Ankara Fiesta 2015 and a host of other exhibitions.

She has participated in various fashion shows including Runway Fadan 2015 (Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria), Ankara Fiesta 2015 and a host of other exhibitions.
Omotola is a recipient of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 women initiative Scholarship, and studied Entrepreneurial Management at the Pan Atlantic University (Lagos Business School). She is a member of FADAN (Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria) the recognized body for the Fashion Designers Profession. Also a member of AFDEC (African Fashion Development and Empowerment Centre).

What gives her the most satisfaction as an entrepreneur is the ability to practice her skills every day, and she is happy that this skill is creating the safe place for women to grow their self-belief so as to become support systems to their families and role models in their communities. Omotola finds joy in seeing women become more involved in running the home front, leading in their communities, and speaking out loud with their heads up high. This can only be achieved when our women are empowered with livelihood skills, when they have different streams of Income.

This is why Omotola screams to anyone who wants to listen “Learn a skill today!! Never depend solely on your spouse, the power you have is that little money you can call your own. The best time to start is NOW!”

Mental Health is often misunderstood, especially by those  who have never suffered from it. It is not well prioritized in our society as people are not well informed on what Mental Health actually looks like. Dedoyin Ajayi is changing that narrative.

The psychotherapist with a specialty in Emotional Health and a diploma in Professional Counselling is using her social media platforms to advocate and educate the society on Mental Health.

She’s also a certified Neuro-linguistic practitioner from the Academy of Modern and Applied Psychology. Dedoyin has a thriving counseling practice with an average of thirty hours per week, vested into both virtual and physical counselling sessions. She currently serves in the capacity of a consultant therapist three organizations, and specializes in helping individuals with suicide ideations, depression, childhood trauma, existential crises, and personality disorders.

She shares her inspiring journey exclusively with Esther Ijewere in this educative and insightful interview

Childhood Influence

It started when I was 7 years old. I remember that I’d fantasize about having an office where people came to cry. I’d give them a handkerchief and calm them down. As soon as they felt calm, they’d go outside and pay my secretary. I never quite understood the picture my imagination was painting, but I knew it was my very first inclination towards preparing me for my present career path

Why I pitched my tent in the  Mental Health sector

As a child, I had a profoundly small stature and I was bullied a lot because of this. It created a deep seated low self esteem that led to feelings of bitterness, resentment and inadequacy. I recall that I badly wanted to talk to somebody that wasn’t family. I knew something was terribly wrong and I needed help. I however didn’t know who to turn to. This helpless feeling drove me to a decision: being that person for other people. I wanted to be able to have the listening ears I didn’t have. This led to a voracious research about the mental health sector. My findings were very discouraging at the time, seeing as therapy wasn’t widely accepted and in some cases, even still being stigmatized. I however couldn’t deny the deep longing within me, to tread this path and here I am.

Being a psychotherapist, Neuro-linguistic practitioner, consultant and staying grounded

To be very honest, I’m not yet proud of how I manage it. Thankfully I have a wonderful support system in my husband and a few close friends who are to it that I rest and take my structured breaks. Sometimes I go through mental burn-outs but these episodes are becoming few and far between. I’m however learning to really prioritize my own mental needs as well.

My Mental Health advocacy on social media, and its impact so far

I became an active mental health advocate in 2018. This stemmed from a discovery I made, which was the fact that the Nigerian mental health community was grossly under-represented on social media. We have a few people doing great things but there was a huge content and information sparsity that needed to be addressed. It’s why I decided to become a voice of mental health for the Nigerian community. As for impact, the response was very discouraging at first, but I continued. The past one year has however been explosive. The feedback has been wild to say the least. I’ve had people sending me DMs, telling me how a post I made was specifically for them and this spurred them to book a session. Little by little, the stigmatization surrounding mental health is thinning out. The narrative is changing! I’m super excited.

Why the Government should support the Mental Health 

First and foremost, it’s no news that the government has been very laid back about the mental health sector, especially considering the fact that an average Nigerian today, has a pertinent issue bothering them. The need for structured emotional support cannot be overemphasized. I’d suggest that the government looks into building Walk-In Therapy Centres just the same way we have clinics. This would enable people to readily have access to subsidized mental health care. There should also be a massive Nationwide awareness sponsored by the government, with the aim of sensitizing people about their mental health. The more conversations we have about the mental health sector, the more growth we would experience as a country.

Challenges of my work

The primary challenge is stigmatization. A lot of people reach out to tell me about friends or family members they’d love to recommend therapy to, but would never be open to the idea of speaking to a “shrink” after all they are not mad.

Another issue is social support. While receiving mental health care, it is imperative that the patient has an effective support system which would further facilitate their recovery. Imagine having to go to work during a depressive phase because your boss doesn’t believe that depression is a valid reason to be exempt from work! This needs to change. All hands must be on deck to help rewrite the narrative about mental illness being a sign of laziness or cowardice.

Other projects and activities

Presently, I co-founded a mental health awareness initiative themed HEART CAFE with Olamide Ogidan-Odeseye (@larmmy). It’s a weekly meeting that is held on Twitter every Friday, where people come to unburden, network and most importantly receive psycho-educational tips that keep them up to speed about mental health. I also run a YouTube channel (Thededoyinajayi), where I get to talk about mental health issues as well as conversations surrounding relationships and lifestyle.

What I enjoy most about my job

The fulfillment that comes with seeing a client recover! Most especially suicidal clients. There’s nothing quite like it. I’d literally be grinning from ear to ear in gratitude and satisfaction.

3 women who inspire me and why

One of my major inspirations is Dr. Thema Bryant; a clinical psychologist practicing in the USA. She’s someone whose consistency serves as a major motivation.

Another woman who inspires me is Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. It’s her self confidence for me. The very fact that she’s able to rock her traditional attires in foreign or westernized settings is a reflection of her healthy self perception and the strength of her persona.

The third woman is Rinu Oduala (Savvy Rinu). She displayed a unique and uncanny strength during the whole #endsars campaign, and her intelligence is phenomenal. These three women are most definitely huge sources of inspiration to me.

When a person should seek therapy

Asides mainstream mental health issues like clinical depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and so on, therapy should be sought the moment you notice any alteration in the default emotional state. Feelings of deep sadness, incessant worrying, loss of concentration at work, relationship issues, abuse of any kind, frequent change in moods, loss of interest in activities as well as a deep gut feeling that something is wrong. The truth is ANYONE can come for therapy. Even if it’s for a holistic checkup. We all could do with emotional support systems.

Nuggets on how to stay mentally and emotionally balanced

To stay mentally and emotionally balanced, the very first step is SELF AWARENESS. You can’t manage what you don’t understand. Afterwards, it’s important to be intentional about taking mental recuperative breaks. It’s a form of self-care. Going for walks, swimming, taking dance/ music lessons, exercising and so on can serve as activities you can engage in during a mental recuperative break. Another vital thing is to filter through your relationships. Humans play a major role in our mental well-being. Surround yourself with people who genuinely love and validate you. Above all, never hesitate to seek help. Very important.

Being a Woman of Rubies

My implicit faith in humanity. I strongly believe that if we have a love-themed world, everything would be more colorful and beautiful. The fact that I choose to heal the world one heart at a time, makes me a Woman of Rubies.

***Dedoyin Ajayi can be reached on social media : @thededoyinajayi on IG, @dedoyinajayi on Twitter. A detailed overview on the services she renders are on dedoyinajayi.com