JOY Chico Ejiro is the amiable wife of Nollywood producer and director, Chico Ejiro. She clocked 40 on June 18, 2013, she had a small get together for her family and friends on that day at her Bode Thomas, Surulere, Lagos outlet. The dreadlocked entrepreneur runs a flourishing boutique known as Real Colours. ENCOMIUM Weekly had an interview with her on life at 40, business, marriage and much more…
Congratulations on your 40th, how does it feel?
There is no special feeling, just the same thing, the same you. But you just have to tell yourself you are getting older. So, you have to think before you act because you are old. Everybody is looking at you. You need to be more responsible for your words, your actions, your deeds.
Do you feel 40?
No, I don’t. I feel the same me. The same way I woke up when I was 39, is the same way I wake up at 40. I just feel good.
You also don’t look 40, what is the secret?
I will say it is the grace of God. Then, I have made up my mind to be happy, not to let anything bother me. I give myself good rest of mind, no matter what.
Any regret at 40?
No, no regret at all. God has been so good to me. I don’t have any cause to regret.
What lessons has life taught you at this stage?
Life has taught me how to deal with issues concerning friends and marriage, concerning the kids and myself. I found out that a lot of people out there pretend to be who they are not. I think one of the gifts I ask from God is discernment. If I have a friend around me, I will stay close, watch where the person is coming from and I am always 90 per cent right about such person. This is an open place, you don’t know who has a good intention and those with a negative one. You just have an open heart and be very careful. I study people a lot before I get close to them.
While you were growing up, what were your childhood fantasies?
I don’t have any. I am someone who takes each day as it comes. I think it works for me, I just go with the flow.
What goal did you set for yourself before clocking 40, would you say you have achieved them?
To lose weight, when I had my baby I added so much weight. In fact, I was 124kg, so I started going to the gym. I said before I am 40, I should lose substantial weight, thank God I was able to achieve it. That was the only goal I set for myself.
Would you say you are fulfilled at this stage?
Of course, why wouldn’t I say that. God has been so good to me.
So, what more do you want from God?
God should continue to keep me alive, take care of my children, my home. He should also help my business to grow as well.
Are you still in touch with some of your secondary school friends?
Yes, I still have secondary school friends I keep in touch with.
How long have you been into business?
I have been in this particular structure for 10 years. It will be 10 by December. I started officially here 10 years ago. I have been growing from strength to strength, from grace to grace. There was a time I granted an interview, they asked me where I wanted to see my business in a couple of years, I can remember I said that I wanted to have branches all over Lagos. Thinking about it, being in one place and be consistent is still the same thing as having branches all over the place. I have friends that had branches all over and they have all closed down and I am still here. I started when I was still young but God has kept me in business. I calculated the amount I will use to get another shop, stock it, the logistics and I thought it is better to have one and be consistent with it.
I thank God I didn’t take that step. God has enlarged this one, we have been growing from strength to strength.
What has been your staying power?
I think I am just in the business of getting unique things. I go to different countries, source lovely things that are not too expensive, something different from what I see out there. Anytime a customer comes in here, they tell me you have lovely things, that they bought this or that outside the country and they have not been able to get any of its kind since then. Something different and unique.
What inspired the decision to go into this kind of business in the first place?
I was a costumier in the movie industry, I used to go to people’s shop to get stuffs but it was not easy for me that way, so I decided to start my own place. When I started, they were coming here to rent costumes for production but they normally returned them in a very bad condition, so I started selling.
Are you still into supplying costumes?
Yes, I even have a job next week. I stopped for a while because I had to face the home front, then, my shop was also there they were taking a lot of attention.
What are the ingredients that can keep one in business for a long time?
Consistency, prayers. When anybody says prayer, some people think it is just a cliché, no, it is not, you must pray. It is only by the grace of God. As you can see, we have boutiques all over the place, it is only God that can give you the idea and grace to still be in business. It is just the grace of God.
How will you describe business in the first quarter of the year?
It has been up and down but like I said, you have to be consistent, you might not make sales for some days or even for a week but somebody will come in and buy the sales for the week, you just have to be consistent.
For how long have you been married?
What has kept your marriage over the years?
I and my husband are very good friends. We talk a lot, I call him gbeborun (laughs). Whenever he comes, he will ask, how far madam, what happened today. Not that we don’t quarrel, we do, but we make up before you know it. The quarrel doesn’t last, we talk a lot, I mean a lot. There is always something to talk about. There is really no airs around us. He allows me to do what makes me happy. And me, what makes him happy can be difficult but I do it. He likes football, so the whole of the weekend, we have to allow him watch his game. We have a balance in our life.
You have really enjoyed your marriage, no doubt but do you think marriage is necessary?
I think it is necessary, everybody wants to have children. You cannot do that alone if you want to give them the best. I am not condemning single parents, some people have reasons for not getting married. Some have had their fair share of it, don’t let me go into the Biblical aspect of it. It is good for both parents to raise a child.
Have you ever been tempted to go into acting?
No, never. I don’t have the interest. When I started dating Chico, people thought, it was because I wanted to act, they were surprised. Eventually, we got married. I don’t like acting. I don’t have that interest. I prefer working behind the cameras. I think it is more interesting working there.
Can we meet your family?
My husband is Chico Ejiro. I know you know him. He is a movie producer, director. Our first child is 14, his name is Kome. My daughter will soon be 13, her name is Ruke. The next is 7, his name is Maro. The last, Viano is also a boy, he is two.
What goals are you setting for yourself now that you are 40?
Like I said, I will continue to take each day as it comes, come to my office, think of how it will grow and how I will continue to be in business. I am also an entertainment person. I want to do one or two programmes. Something different, it is a television series, not soap though, I will inform you when I start.
- SHADE WESLEY-METIBOGUN
This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday, July 23, 2015