Abu Tafawa Balewa Editor In Chief Mode Men Magazine Gives An Insight Into The Industry; His Journey So Far(Part 2)
VISIONARY 101… Still on ABU TAFAWA BALEWA Editor in chief Mode Men Magazine.
Q: Tell us more about yourself.
A: I grew up in a lot of places, I spent most of my years in England but I schooled here in Nigeria. Military school was tough but I learnt a lot there and am very proud to be called an ex-boy. After school the magazine business and it’s being here for five years. I have learnt a lot in five years, met a lot of wonderful people and during the course of my work I have learnt a lot because when you interview people you learn from them.
Q: Did you think you would be where you are now.
A: No. Because when we first started, my first fear was that we’ve launched the first one, what are we going to do about the second one? It’s amazing Frank Edoho was the first person we had on the first initial cover, because we just has models in the maiden edition and we didn’t know who we were going to have for the cover and uncle Frank came for the launch (I call him uncle Frank and he is not that old) and we were like would you be our next cover, it’s one of those businesses you take every day a step at a time. There is always something new, you are never prepared for what’s going to come.
Q: How did you get money to finance your business at the initial stage, when you were not a brand yet.
A: The thing about business is that, when you have a good idea, you will find people that believe in you. People that know that I have always liked style, good clothing and things like that. So when the idea came that I was going to start a magazine, my parents especially my mum and friends were like it’s what you have always wanted, we will support you. And it’s important you start little and grow, as u grow, you will see people that will believe in what you are doing, and want to be part of it. Am proud to say that we are associated with a lot of international brands, for me it’s a sign that we are doing something right.
Q: What would you tell young entrepreneurs that want to do what you are doing?
A: Nigeria is a tough place to operate, and I always tell people whatever you’ve learnt In school especially if you schooled abroad, you will throw it all away when you get here, And then you learn how business is done here. But the first thing I will tell a young entrepreneur is that, you must love what you want to do and you must have passion. There is no success without a story and there would be tough times but it’s only passion and your drive that will get you through those tough times.
Q: Basically are you saying challenges are not an excuse not to succeed.
A: The question I will ask anybody, if you think that’s an excuse not to succeed, why other people are succeeding. If the answer is yes, then you can do it too. Then it’s not an excuse.
Q: Tell me about mentorship.
A: For me I think our magazine In away mentors people, because I have young people that read the magazine and we have a career section, where we constantly advise people on careers, we have articles on relationship, we have articles on entrepreneurship and I think all those are things that people learn from. And a lot of people that we also interview are role models and people you can learn from. These are people that are well educated, because for me education is important. In future we are planning to organize programs where we would have some of these people we have interviewed to meet with the younger people and teach them some of what they know. And another thing that we are doing is that we are launching a magazine called “Mode Teen”. This will be given out in secondary schools to young boys for free. This is when you need to put the things that a child needs into them in secondary school and you need to encourage them to work hard and study hard too.
Q: What are your best practices?
A: I will say perseverance. It’s very important to persevere because there will be tough times. Humidity, honesty and hard work. Those are very important.
Q: Is anybody in your family doing something along this line, who instilled the kind of values you have.
A: My mother was a former Miss Nigeria and she has always been very stylist. I think I got a lot of will I say swag from her. My father was a diplomat and we got to travel a lot and I get to see nice things when you are at the airport. And sometimes when asked to pick, I always picked the most expensive things, it’s not the price tag, sometimes the things are always simple and good taste.
Q: Talking about nice things, any nice person around.
A: There is a special someone. She is very beautiful in and out and hopefully we’ll be tying the knots by the end of the year.
Thank you and it was so nice talking to you.
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