“Hard work is what got me this far and not the name I bear”

Q: Mode men magazine is Nigerian’s no 1 male life style magazine, tell me what it’s like to be the editor-in-chief.
A: It’s a great task, obviously brain quality magazine, informative, out every month, it’s a lot of work and it’s very satisfying when you get feedback. We get a lot of emails from readers who we’ve touched their lives, obviously articles, we have written. Some is the style article, some sports article and some the health article, but it’s a fulfilling job.
Q: You sound very exciting and very glamorous. Tell me what your everyday is like.
A: No two days are the same. A lot of partying, photo shot, interviews, I have gotten to meet a lot of people that I never dreamt of meeting through the line of my work, so it’s fun a lot of hard work but it’s fun.
Q: Tell me about the glamour.
A: We get to go to a lot of VIP parties, locally and internationally, we are always invited to a lot of high profile events, polo matches abroad and Dubai it’s all fun anyway.
Q; Tell me what business means to you, because I know you went to Ahmadu Bello University and you studied law. Am wondering what you are doing here.
A: One of the things I tell a lot of people is that when their children are in school, it’s important to have a counselor. If I had a career’s counselor, I would have most likely read mass communication. But in secondary school you get a jamb brochure and look through (I hated mathematics) anything without maths was English; boys don’t read English (laughs) only girls. The next thing was law and I have no regrets because in every area of business, legal knowledge is very very important. After I graduated from ABU I went on to do my law school in Enugu campus, I was called to bar after that. I worked in Liberal law with the former attorney General of Lagos state Mrs. Balogun. But after about a year and half the spark was gone, and thought is this what I want to do for the rest of my life and I thought no. so I went to my boss and told her madam I don’t think this is what I want to do and I want to take some time off, to think on about it, and she said go ahead. I took off time and was in the UK for about a year doing a little bit of this and that, and it hit me one day that I have been in love with magazine right from when I was young, I spent a fortune every month buying magazines and I though why don’t we have a magazine for men here in Nigeria. Genevieve had come out a while before then and it’s for women. I knew it will do well, so I put up rough plan and started work immediately. Came back spoke to a friend and boom we started. I wouldn’t advise anybody to start that way, because I think, you need to start business properly. But if I had started properly with the business plan the magazine wouldn’t be here, because when you have a plan you will see that you need 20 – 30 million naira to start and you won’t be able to raise that kind of money and the dream falls. We started small and we grew. I didn’t know that much, am not a journalist by profession but I have gone on courses. I have learnt on the job. When we came out with the first one, we had the believe that when you come out with the magazine, you sell it, you get money and use it to print the next one. Lo and behold it doesn’t work that way, we learnt the hard way but I think that’s also the best way, when you learn on the job.
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 an 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 the real 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 succed.
A: The question I will ask anybody, if you think that’s an excuse not to succeed, is, are other people 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 you 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 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.
Lara: Thank you and it was so nice talking to you. Abu have a safe trip when you go on your holiday.

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