Brains and Beauty is what am looking for in Miss Nigeria - Mrs Elizabeth Aisien
Mrs Elohor Aisien, the New creative Director of Miss Nigeria Beauty Pageant and CEO Beth Model Management Africa, the organisers of Elite Model Look Nigeria, is one stunning beautiful, diligent, straightforward and patriotic woman with acute business omen. What strikes you most on meeting the former beauty queen, is the graciousness, which she does almost everything including this exclusive. In This Interview with Millicent Imade Arebun, she talks about, her dreams to remodel the Nigerian modelling world, to fit world-class standard, her plans to rebrand Miss Nigeria 2012, her passion for youth empowerment and what she is looking for, in her Miss Nigeria/Elite 2012.
I grew up with my mum, and I would say my mum has been my mentor/motivator. She is always there for me and encourage me a lot. She is the one who introduced me to modelling, she said to me ... “you can be win and become the queen” and I looked at it and thought “okay, am interested” and so I started going through magazines and auditions. Even when I did Miss Nigeria UK, she was the one that encouraged and gave me confidence because I was saying ‘no am too shy’ but she pushed me and I won. Which brought me to limelight and I realised, this is my passion.
The Elite Model Look Nigeria franchise
We got the franchise in 2007 but we didn’t have a competition till 2008, but we have had one every year since then, till day. It was almost impossible to get the franchise at first, because this wasn’t a peculiar country they want. When we came up, we were the second African country that was running in the competition. After a few emails and people, convincing them, that I could, I was told to hold a trial in 2007, with the understanding that if it works out well, then I would continue the franchise. We did the trial in 2007 and the next day, I got a call from the president of EMLN, saying they want me on board.
Before the Franchise
Yes. I used to be a model, when i was in London before I moved back to Nigeria. I also won Miss Nigeria UK. When I came back to Nigeria, I used to get lots of offers from people, to come model for them, and so went to go look for an agency to sign with, the way it is done in the UK. That’s when I realised, that there was no proper modelling agency in Nigeria. So I thought to myself, “Why don’t I set up an agency and start helping all these young girls instead of different people calling them in an unorganised way. That thought gave birth to Beth Models.
It has been very good, and at the same time, very difficult. It’s always difficult, when you have to find sponsors to get things done. I have had to use, lots of my personal money, to push through most of the time, just because it’s my dream and it’s my hobby. But over the years, we have proved ourselves to be consistent and that has convinced people. So this year we have had people, call and tell us, they want to be a part of it.
In a country where most, if not all, modelling agencies, charge aspiring model, money for forms and registration, why did you decide to go against the trend and make yours free?
Like I always say, it’s my dream. We are not thinking of the money or profit now, we are thinking about money later in the future, when our girls are big international models, for they will definitely make the money. What we are trying to do now, is create a modelling agency in Nigeria, that try to help, mould and build these models, to understand what world-class modelling is; so that when they move to internationals platforms, they won’t disgrace us and we won’t(Nigeria) have a bad reputation internationally. We want to make sure, that these girls are absolutely secure, we just don’t leave them, we try and secure them jobs. For instance Chika Emmanuel, the EMLN winner 2010, whose has so much job offers both home and aboard. Basically we are trying to create our own, home grown supermodels like Ale wek.
Creative Director of Miss Nigeria
Right now, I can’t say much about Miss Nigeria, but immediately after Elite, we are starting work on Miss Nigeria. I make you this promise though, this year Miss Nigeria is going to be totally different from what you have been seeing so far. The same way we are looking for the next Elite supermodel, is the same way we will be searching for our Miss Nigeria. Though, she may not represent us internationally, she should represent us here. She should be able to walk down the road and everyone would identify her, as Miss Nigeria. The emphasis for us is ‘smart’. We want someone who, when her reign is over, people will still identify, not just for her looks but for her works for her charity and other social works. Beauty and brains combined in a diligent lady, is what we are looking for, in our Miss Nigeria 2012. This year, we will also introduce a Miss Nigeria reality TV show and more charity works. We really want to focus, more on helping the youth and giving them a voice. Visiting motherless babies home, I realised that, our key aim for Miss Nigeria this year, is Education. We want to help the youths, not just the queen. We also want to create an academy for them and get the youths to participate, in this year choice of Miss Nigeria. Even in the panel of judges, we will have a youth among them, to represent their category and give them a voice in the final say, of who they want, to be their queen.
Why African Times Network (ATN), the franchise owner of Miss Nigeria Pageant, choose you as their new Creative Director?
I would say, it’s probably my works....laughs. I guess, following the success of Elite and Beth Models, they felt I had what it takes, to rebrand and package the event, in the best light possible. Besides people already know me, to be straight forward and motivated, not by what I will gain but what I can do for my country.
How successful would you say EMLN has been since 2008
2008 is when we first started, and we held it in a Chinese restaurant. So far, we have held it in Eko Hotels, City Centre and now federal palace. We started small, and I must say it’s been very successful, because people now know about Elite, and they look forward to it. Just the other weekend, I went for a wedding and an elderly lady came up to me, asking if the date can be postponed, as she wanted to be there, to witness it. Not just young people but also the aged, now look forward to the event/competition, for it not just a competition but an avenue, to meet new people, introduce new fashion trends/designers, network and make friends
Elite Models Winners, Life After Reign
After their reign, we try and get them a steady stream of jobs, if they sign up to Beth models, all the better, not just the winner but the contestants as well. We try and get them jobs, on shows/events in Nigeria. Most of them, has never ever done modelling before, but today, most of them are top models, participate in lots of shows and are semi –famous. Our girls, are mostly in the big shows too, for instance the Arise Magazine Fashion Week, Music meet the Runway, MTN Fashion and Design Week and so on. We also strongly encourage, our models to complete their education and have a degree, in another line of passion, so as to always have another career to fall back on, when the days of modelling is done.
Word to the aspiring Models/supermodels
My word for you is this: whatever in life you want to be, either Model, Doctor, Teacher, Engineer, Designer, go for it and never let anyone tell you, you can’t do it. It may be difficult but with determination, you can do it. I wanted to be Model and yet a lawyer and today am both.
Hair Station By Anirah: Creating A World Of Beautiful Women
Walking into the Hair Station by Anirah at pentagon plaza Ikeja, is entering into a world of unlimited possibilities. Assorted hair extensions, wigs, accessories, products and tools, greet the visual senses and one can’t help but feel the need to relax, in the luxe ambience and let the pretty attendants take care of all your hair needs. Hair station by Anirah is your one stop store for everything that has to do with a woman’s hair with their 100% virgin hair, hair products, and beauty accessories, you can control your looks and the way you want to feel with your hair.
Speaking with the gorgeous enterprising NKECHI ARAH, creative director, The Hair Station by Anirah and Business Administration graduate of Babcock University, Ogun State Nigeria, it became obvious that the young entrepreneur aim to always deliver satisfactory solutions to the needs of clients, while building value and a world of beautiful women, was no impossible feat set by a novice. In this chat with Millicent Imade Arebun, she talks on her passions for quality hair, drives, business, ambitions, and quick tips on how to select, wear and care for weaves and wigs
Formal Training and Inspiration.
I have always been very particular and passionate about hair for as long as I can remember be it natural or extensions. When I see any with good hair, I always want to feel it. Touch it and know the texture. I thought to myself; why not turn your passion into a profession? I don’t have any formal training yet but personally I’ve gotten the basic training in fixing, dyeing, treatment of hair et al.
Anirah is a lifestyle brand, a part of the business line called Anirah. We’re not just restricted to hair but the first product of Anirah is the hair station. Our products are branded and sourced from different parts of the world. Many ladies spend a lot of money to get hair extensions without getting the desired looks. There are lots of hair extensions out there but just a few of them are designed to enhance the overall looks of their wearers. It is not just about selling hair but the drive behind this business idea is making our customers look and feel good about their hair. At Anirah the objective is to provide hairs that can withstand rain and the harsh conditions of our weather
Anirah is a lifestyle brand, a part of the business line called Anirah. We’re not just restricted to hair but the first product of Anirah is the hair station. Our products are branded and sourced from different parts of the world. Our hair comes in different textures, color patent, and weft. Many ladies spend a lot of money to get hair extensions without getting the desired looks. There are lots of hair extensions out there but just a few of them are designed to enhance the overall looks of their wearers. It is not just about selling hair but the drive behind this business idea is making our customers look and feel good about their hair. Our hair extensions come in three categories and collections, namely; the everyday woman, exquisite and luxury collections. Each of these has different hair types, texture and price attributed to it. At Anirah the objective is to provide hairs that can withstand rain and the harsh conditions of our weather.
Synthetic fibers and human hair extensions: The Difference.
The major difference is that one is made from human hair while other is made from synthetic fibers. With the latest improvement in manufacturing methods of synthetic hairs, there are quality synthetic hairs that look almost like real hair. However, human hair extensions and wigs are real human hair. Remy hair is the finest among them. It possesses cuticle layer, which is the outermost part of the hair strand. All Remy hair has the cuticle layer of the hair flowing in the same direction, the way it would naturally. The cuticle layer is important when considering hair tangling, longevity of use and how well the hair shines. When the cuticle layer is intact and laying down flat, the hair is capable of reflecting light, making the hair shine.
Hair care Tips/Tricks
Your extensions are like your natural hair, you must take care of it. Women need to know that the same way they take care of their natural hair, is the same treatment their weaves require.
• Always treat condition and roll your hair extensions before re-fixing or when you change your hair style.
• To revitalize your weaves, it is not advisable to re-use them without washing. This is because weaves attract lots of dirt including the oil from the scalp
• Brush from the tip to the root of the hair to ensure the hair strands are not tangled.
• Do not use hair serum every day, as constant usage could damage the weaves. It is advisable to use it once in three days.
• Deep conditioning of your hair before attaching a weave is important. You should always keep in mind that your natural hair will be kept for four to eight weeks without combing or brushing, so to minimize hair breakage, after removing the extension, you need to deep condition your natural hair.
• Let your hair rest for at least two weeks before attaching the next weave and use a deep conditioner to repair your hair as much as possible.
Affordability /Unique selling point in the largely competitive Nigerian hair market
Quality consumer services and honesty is our strategic advantage in our business. In Nigeria we have noticed that premium customer service and honesty is rare. At Anirah, we are very passionate about our clients. We pride ourselves on ensuring our customers have a great hopping and product experience. We are place great emphasis on customer service, client and product follow up, give hair advice, and treatments. All our hair extensions and products are very affordable. You can find great hair for an average price range of ten and sixty thousand Naira.
Anirah delivers worldwide with varying delivery cost depending on the country and courier service. We also have Anirah loyalty reward system, which ensures consumers earn points for every purchase or referrals. Everywoman can shop Anirah hair products by visiting our work station in Ikeja or from the convenience of your home by logging on to www.anirah.com and also for great tips and trick on hair extensions care and maintenance.
Styling gives me life; it is what I truly enjoy- Veronica Ebie Odeka
I was born in the sate and modelled for ten years doing runway shows/catwalks in los Angeles and new York. I was always into fashion, styling my dad and sisters. During the summers, I would act as a personal shopper, for friends and family, collect money from them and help them pick out their wardrobe and key pieces. That’s how I knew, I definitely wanted to become a stylist.
My Inspiration , came from helping my friends and family to pick out key fashion pieces to wear The sense of satisfaction, I feel, when people call me and ask me questions, on what to wear, when they have a super date/event/travelling/meet-the-family-visit or photo shoot, inspired me to become a stylist. I’m a fashion enthusiast and lover by nature and instinct. I have every copy of Vogue, Haper Bazare, always online surfing fashion websites and blogs, trying to find out, what the latest trends are, what are the seasonal pieces, and I found out that, regardless of the money, this is definitely what I love and want to do.
Styling is something that gives me life, it is what I truly enjoy. Looking at the way the collections are made, how to pair the pieces together, how to make people feel beautiful and actually look immaculate as well. In a nutshell, styling is my passion.
With designing, it’s a whole different process. My creativity comes from being inspired, by seeing pieces(ready-made cloths), and visualizing how, I would want them to look on people, as opposed to designing a proper collection. With designing, one has to have tailors, deal with fabric choice, and a whole host of other vast and varied process, while with styling, you are dealing with cloths that are already made. I feel my stronger point is in styling.
What made you decide to relocate from the states and set up in Nigeria?
I got married and my husband got a job here, so I decided since he is coming back to Nigeria, naturally I would too. Our Nigerian fashion industry is very young and fast growing and I realised that, if I wanted to do my part and carve a niche for myself, it would be best that if I started and grew alongside the industry. There is no other place to build your brand that in your country.
Being in Nigeria, there are a lot challenges, for instance, our fashion industry is quite young and still growing, so you have both new and established designers, having difficulty in giving out their cloths for a shoot, red carpet event or magazine spread. Most often, you need to establish good relationships with the designers before they are comfortable enough to lend out their cloths.
There is the unpredictable traffic challenge, which can eat into time and mess up shoot schedules, as you can have about ten different designers locations to pick up cloths for a shoot.
Celebrity clients styled by you, both home and abroad?
I have styled and done lots of personal shopping for, Farrah franklin who was part of Destiny child, Tiwa Savage, Adora Oleh, Davido, Uti Nwachukwu, Waje, Yvonne Nelson, Dolapo Oni, Dakore, Ibinabo, the everyday woman and lots of others. My styling services, isn’t only for celebrities but for the everyday regular woman, who need help with her wardrobe.
How much would it cost the everyday woman to hire your services?
Every price is based on consultation, so it depends on the budget of who is hiring my services. There is no specific fixed amount for my services.
Are you responsible, for the style overhaul of Tiwa Savage oversexed dress sense on red carpets and events?
Yes. When I started talking with Tiwa Savage, I knew she has lived aboard for a long time, is one of the biggest female celebrity in Nigeria and that some people were thinking, her style was over sexy. All I wanted to do, was still keep her very sexy but tone it, down a bit so as to be, presentable/acceptable to people. In our country, even though we say we like sexy and emulate Beyonce /Rhianna , when it comes to our own person, dressing like them, we are the first to criticise. I wanted to give her style, a proper balance, where she still looks like an international star, still looking sexy but in our (Nigerian) own way.
For me, God has been very favourable. At the same time, you have to be really hardworking in order to make it in the industry. You have to live, breathe, and think fashion and styling day in and day out. Aligning yourself with key players and proper stylists, learning the industry/business properly, would ensure, you can have a good income from styling and find it very rewarding.
What’s your advice for the increasing fashion disasters trailing our fashionistas/celebrities on themed/red carpet events?
If you notice a lot of the socialites and celebrities aboard have stylists that ensure they don’t go wrong in their fashion sense and /or let down their fans, friends or family in front of the fashion lenses. From Kim Kardashian everyday looks to Jennifer Lopez, they all have stylists, so it’s highly advisable to hire a stylist/image consultant/personal shopper, for special events or for your everyday looks, if your social status demands it.
Is it fair to always blame the stylist, for a celebrity style failures, for instance Halimat Abubakar, phenomenal style flops?
I think it is best to blame the person because at the end of the day, i cant force you to wear what i think looks best for the event or occasion. I don’t know if Halimat Abubakar has a stylist, but if she has a stylist and her stylist let her go on the red carpet, looking like that, over and over again, then something isn’t right. So you can’t blame the stylist but the person. There are several times, we tell a client, “don’t wear, this earrings or that shoe”, but the clients feels strongly about it and insist on wearing it. If the clients is one who listens to his/her stylist and still get criticized all the time on their style, then it is the stylist fault.