HEAVILY pregnant Elizabeth Elohor Aisien is at the moment busy with her modelling agency and set to stage another modelling contest. The audition took place few days ago. The former Miss Nigeria UK, who tied the nuptial knot with Owen Aisien, months back spoke to ENCOMIUM Weekly about challenges of marriage and her business.
What are you working on at the moment?
I run a modelling agency called Beth Modelling and I have a franchise, which is Elite Modelling.
Tell us about Beth Modelling?
It was launched in December 2005. Our aim is to train models in Nigeria and hope that one day, they become international models. We have worked with a lot of designers like Deola Sagoe, Lanre Da Silva, Tiffany Amber and so many others. We have also worked with magazines like True Love, Genevieve and many more. We have done a lot of advertising jobs too.
There are other international modelling agencies, why Elite?
It is very difficult to get an international agency to partner with a Nigerian modelling agency. It is one of the top modelling agencies in the world. Most modelling agencies don’t work with black people. They have about five in their portfolio. It was very difficult to get a franchise with Elite because they were not sure if I was the right modelling agency to work with. It took me a while and with the connections I had, I was able to partner with Elite after two years.
Tell us about the challenges.
We face a lot of challenges because the Nigerian modelling terrain is not as strong as other modelling agencies in the world. I do not splash money on models, I put it on the advertising agency. We need advertising agencies for sponsorship and so many other things. We cannot do without them. At times some models go straight to advertising agency, which is wrong. They should go through modelling agency. This is one major challenge we face.
How do young models or people who want to model know the right modelling agency to go to?
I always tell girls, especially parents, to always be careful about modelling agencies they sign on their children on. I have heard a lot of stories, but for us, it’s different. I can’t ask them to take their clothes off, but if you have not signed on with a good modelling agency, they take some pictures that are not necessary. Another problem is these models get cheated if they are not signed on with a right modelling agency.
You have a franchise which is well known and respected, why is it that most modelling agencies are not signed on with international agencies?
It’s not easy but if something is your hobby and you pray over it, it would work out. When I started, a lot of people said different things like, it would not be possible. Elite is only in two African countries which is South Africa and Nigeria. Other countries who want to join Elite should contact me to help them because they always try and they don’t get what they want. Elite feels there are other countries so why should they come to Africa. In Africa, we don’t have a lot of fashion designers and fashion magazines like other parts of the world. The industry is not strong, some modelling agencies are not honest with the international modelling agencies, they don’t also have the right connection. The international modelling agencies also have to see you. I went to Paris a couple of times, I travelled like that for about a year and when they saw that I travelled a lot, they signed me on.
Tell us about your sponsors.
We started in 2008. Our sponsors trust us. We have Moet and Chandon, they have sponsored us from day one. We also have Black Opal and a couple of others.
What should we be expecting?
We have something special because Nigeria is going to be 50. We think we should also contribute to the programme. It is going to be fantastic.
How much are the forms?
A lot of models think they should not pay a dime to join an agency, what’s your take on that?
My opinion is, it depends on you. Reasons why we collect money for forms is that last year, we had almost 2,000 people. Everybody came and people that were not supposed to come were there. We asked for 5” 7 and some 5” 2 were there, it was annoying. The N5,000 we asked them to pay was to reduce the turn up and increase the number of serious people. The money is not really enough, so this year we got really serious people.
Tell us about your reign as Miss Nigeria UK.
I won in 2001. That was what brought me out. I used to model, but I did not take it serious. I was a very shy person but my mom suggested that I should go for the Miss Nigeria UK competition. I decided to do it because of her, but I changed my mind because they said we had to wear bikini. She later called me, that she already got her ticket. I was like I have to do it, I did it and I won. Normally, I would not be able to talk to you, I was really shy.
How was your reign?
It was fun, it was nice. People recognize you everywhere you go and then people started calling me to model for them. I did a charity work in Abuja for cancer and I did a couple of jobs in London also.
What does marriage mean to you?
It is a blessing from God, it’s a wonderful thing to always have someone that is there for you, someone to rely on.
How do you juggle business with marriage?
I am a very active person, nothing has changed about me. I can’t stay a day without doing anything. The only thing that I have reduced is hanging out.
You are expecting a baby, do you intend dropping modelling?
No! I pray my child takes over my business, that is if the industry is better.
You are a very fashionable person, what does fashion mean to you?
It is everything to me. Style is every day for everybody. As long as you can wear clothes then you are fashionable.
What is the secret of your beauty?
Do you have any fashion item you cannot do without?
Lip gloss and my Iman powder.
What is your advice for people who want to run modelling agencies like you?
You should know what you are doing. You have to struggle and it has to be your hobby.
What do you cherish most about your husband?
He is very supportive and understanding. He is always there for me.
THIS INTERVIEW WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN ENCOMIUM WEEKLY ON TUESDAY, JULY 27, 2010