BY REMMY DIAGBARE
jennifer Olize is a young enterpreneur who made up her mind as a little girl to work for herself when she grows up. Years later,after school, this promise resonate. there was no debate.Focused and determined, Jennifer, who read bussiness econoics at thereading unversity, in english and event managment at NYU.new york, set to work as CEO of lereve, an event company that professes
to take stress off its cliient for a token fee. Jen, as she is called at home, is the older daughter of veteran broadcaster,Frank Olize. in this interview, Jennifer talks about her up coming Runway meet musici event, a musical festival targeted at theyouth.
..a lot of young people these days own their own business.
So i am really proud that they dont have to wait for a goverment job, or get hired by either bank or an oil company to feel they have a good job.
Young people are now striving to do what they have passion for to fulfil their personal dreams.
WHAT BUSINESS ARE YOU INTO AND HOW HAS IT BEEN OPERATING, AS A YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR IN NIGERIA?
I’m into Events Production & Management.It’s been operating well, but it’s a really tough and stressful business.
Being a young entrepreneur in Nigeria is the hardest thing ever, especially when you’re starting from scratch. When I moved back from the UK, I thought it would be so easy considering my qualifications and experience but I was wrong. Planning an event in Nigeria is the most complicated thing ever, considering that things are not straight forward.
Events here are really expensive to put together, and a lot of companies are not supportive. Sourcing for sponsors is a very tough area; most companies are not forth coming due to the business climate in the country. For example, the money most companies could have used to sponsor events is inevitably spent for the purchase of diesel for their generation sets. The energy problem is incredibly pervasive.
On the other hand some companies are simply not supportive at all because they feel that the entertainment industry is not relevant to their operations. This should not be the case because the industry is just as important as any other industry in Nigeria. Entertainment reduces stress, and need I remind them that WHO define health as the total well being of the individual. More so, this is an industry were the youth try to excel. And if indeed they are the leaders of tomorrow as widely accepted, they should be supported and encouraged.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO GO INTO BUSINESS WHEN YOU COULD HAVE WORKED FOR ANY BLUE CHIP COMPANY LOOKING FOR RETURNEES?
Growing up, I always wanted to be on my own. I had this vision of owning an empire one day. I have so many ideas and visions but I feel you don’t get to explore that if you are working for any blue chip company.
Most people don’t have the courage to start a business, maybe due to lack of funds or largely due to the fear of failing. But I am a goal getter. I am not afraid to fail and definitely not afraid to WIN either.
YOUR DAD WAS A TV BROADCASTER HOW WAS THAT IMPACTED YOUR GOING INTO THIS INDUSTRY?
As a child growing up, I noticed with pride that my dad was a household name. So I would say his role in the industry impacted on me positively. I admire him a lot.
Does he encourage you? How does he feel about what you are doing?
All the way…Yes! Infact I don’t know what I’ll do without him. As I speak, he has continued to be supportive of my business financially and morally.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNT ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT AND PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY YOUNG PEOPLE SINCE GOING INTO BUSINESS?
Young people in Nigeria have serious determination to do things for themselves; a lot of young people these days own their own businesses. So I am really proud that they don’t have to wait for a government job, or get hired by either a bank or an oil company to feel they have a good Job. Young people are now striving to do what they have passion for to fulfill their personal dreams.
I UNDERSTAND YOU ARE PLANNING A SHOW, TELL US ABOUT IT?
Yes! It is called Music Meets Runway. As the name suggests it is a case of Music colliding with Fashion. Over the years, Fashion and Music have created a style storm around the globe. The innovation, ‘Music Meets Runway’ is intended to provide a platform for talented designers, especially those who normally are excluded from the highly competitive world of fashion to showcase their unique art works while talented music artists perform on stage.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO HAVE THIS SHOW, WHAT ARE YOU AIMING TO ACHIEVE?
Music Meets Runway is aimed to create awareness for new talents such as up coming fashion designers, music artists, models, stylists and make up artists to emerge and be fostered toward a future that otherwise could have eluded them. It is about opportunity in a time of recession and hardship.
It is also to promote networking among fashion industry professionals including educators, retail buyers, fashion journalists, trendsetters, tastemakers and consumers.
We also want to give back, not only do these efforts support our love for fashion and music but they also provide opportunities for philanthropic growth, as part of the proceeds of the event are to be donated to local government schools to encourage young students to follow their dreams. Most of these schools are battling and struggling with the infrastructural deficit associated with the Nigerian educational system.
WHEN IS THE SHOW, THE VENUE AND ARTISTS EXPECTED?
The show is to take place on Saturday, 9th of July 2011 at the Eko Hotel Expo Center. This is one event you don’t want to miss. The content we have lined up is spectacular. We have a total of10 Artists (both local and International) and 10 Fashion Designers all showcasing on the same night.
HOW HAS IT BEEN PUTTING TOGETHER LOGISTICS FOR THE SHOW?
It’s been hectic, but I put together a team of the best people in the industry. So, I am very confident the show will be amazing.
ARE YOU CHARGING FEES?
Yes, unfortunately we are charging a fee. I really wish all my events could be free (sad face). However, this event is costing us a fortune, so we need to cover our costs. The tickets range from N5, 000 to N30, 000. We also have tables going for N500, 000 of which 10% of this goes to towards the donation.
WILL IT BE A YEARLY PROGRAMME OR IT’S A ONE OFF?
The vision is for MMR to be an annual event. We intend to grow and get bigger and better! We have a lot of plans in the works, you just have to wait and see for yourself. We are going to take the entertainment industry to another level.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE FUTURE FOR THE YOUTH IN THIS COUNTRY?
Our generation is definitely a special one. The youth for this country will make a change. But we need all the SUPPORT and encouragement from the older generation. Otherwise the older generation will only be paying lip service to the notion of ‘we’ being the leaders of tomorrow.
WHATS DOES STYLE MEAN TO YOU?
Style!!! Whenever the term “style” is used, most people commonly think it is one’s fashion or appearance. But Style to me is much more than that. It is a combination of so many factors such as the way you think, the way you want to be perceived or simply the things that describe you the best.
HOW WILL YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF STYLE-WISE?
I would like to say I’m conservative (ok not too conservative), but I don’t go crazy over new trends, I’m a firm believer in dressing to what suits me, and what I’m comfortable in, not just because it’s the new trend.
WHATS YOUR PASSION / YOUR OBSESSION?
Hmmm my passion is planning, Planning and even more planning! I just love the thought of preparing for something.
What’s my obsession…?Ok besides food… I could say my passion for planning has turned into an obsession for perfection, as it takes over my entire being.
WHAT IS YOUR MUST HAVE FASHION/BEAUTY ITEM?
Lip gloss! lip gloss! lip gloss!… I can’t do without it.
FINALLY, YOUR LAST WORD?
I wish to take this opportunity to thank media houses and those who have been very supportive. I hope other companies more companies will support events like this in any form, in the name of social responsibility because it is not easy out there.