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Ouch! Boss, Uche Nnaji talks fondly about how he finally found love – ‘Getting married was a difficult decision for me’

FASHION entrepreneur and CEO of Ouch!, Uche Nnaji, waltzed into matrimony on Saturday, August 31, 2013.  He got married in a traditional way to his lover of five years, Anthonia Onwamaka.  The event held at the bride’s Lagos family home.  The church wedding will hold later in September and its planned for few guests.  It’s also going to be a private affair.

The entrepreneur spoke to ENCOMIUM Weekly about how he found love and other things.

 

The traditional marriage was in Lagos, why not in your wife’s hometown?

My wife is not Igbo, she is from Delta State.  I am sure that nullifies the general notion that why not in the village?  Her parents are in Lagos.  They are progressives.  They just felt there is no need moving everybody down to the village that’s why we did it in Lagos.

Tell us briefly how the ceremony went.

I have always wanted something private but the turnout was shocking.  We made invitation cards for 150 guests but at the end we had over 600 people.  Thank God me and my wife made arrangement for the spill-over, God just took control of everything.  We had family members who made arrangement for themselves to assist in such situation.

This is the traditional when is the white wedding taking place?

We tried to do a simple traditional wedding, it didn’t succeed.  Our white wedding will be very private.  We have only 100 invitation cards.  The venue can’t even take more than 100, so, no accommodation for spillover.  We want the 100 guests to have a swell time and enjoy themselves.  The white wedding is coming up later this month.

Is it a new trend now to only budget for a particular number of guests at an event?

I wouldn’t say it’s a new trend, I will rather say it’s more of wisdom.  People are beginning to realize that the success of every marriage does not depend on you opening your door to everybody to come to your wedding and celebrate with you.  Weddings world over are more of family affair.  People are just getting to realize that it is not a carnival.

When did the journey actually start?

She has been my friend for five years.  From when I was just starting the Ouch! Brand in Maryland, Lagos.  She came and bought an item.  I guess that was our first encounter.  They live around there, we were just friends, we were not dating.  Of course, she knew the people I dated.  We were just friends then.  It just got to a stage I realized she is the right person I have been looking around for.  I just thought I should pay attention to her.  I also realized she had feelings for me, I had to reciprocate.

How did you sustain the friendship to get to this level?

I don’t have the recipe for that.  I won’t expect her to stay with me for that period.  How can I explain the fact that for the five years we were friends, she knew all those I have dated.  I will say that what has sustained our friendship is her patience and understanding.  I will say that was what actually pushed me to pop the question to her.  She knew what she wants, she knew I am in the limelight and she has to cope with that.  She didn’t criticize me.  She didn’t rush me.  She didn’t put me under any pressure.  I guess she just kept praying and God just pushed me to do it.

Can you tell us briefly about her family background?

She is from Delta State. She’s got siblings right here in Lagos.  But she will not want me to get the family into this.  From day one, mostly the mom never wants to be in the limelight.  When I proposed to her, the mother told me she didn’t want her daughter to marry somebody in the limelight, that was an issue.

How did you propose to her?

It was at a private lounge in Victoria Island, Lagos.

Was there any special gift for her for this marriage?

My heart, that is the special gift.  I am sure she won’t ask for more.

What are your expectations as regards this union?

Everything success and most important for our union to be like a trigger to influence most of my friends who are still on the line of indecision to settle down as soon as possible. Our union will be fruitful and exemplary so that others will follow suit.  I pray our marriage blossoms and be a good example for others to take the bold step.  For the white wedding, I expect the 100 guests to come and have a great time and wish us well.

Is it an easy decision for you to wait to get married?

It wasn’t an easy decision.  Sometimes I look back and thought to myself if I really took this decision.  I decided to get married late 2011.  The traditional outfit I wore was made then.  I just came out of a relationship I thought that was the real person for me.  It was in the midst of depression. I bought the material in 2012 and I didn’t wear it until August 2013, almost a year and some months.  It didn’t come easy because the attention was coming.  A lot of beautiful women with prospects were coming with their attention.  The tendency to be confused was not far-fetched, but I didn’t allow that to happen to me.  I bought that dress and put in my wardrobe.  I didn’t touch that cloth until last week. As at the first week of July, I didn’t know I was going to be married.  The whole thing came to manifestation within a short period.  I just moved to a new place in Lekki, Lagos months back in preparation to settle down.  It was as if a new set of women just moved in here in terms of attention. It really got me scared.  I thought my destiny was at stake here.  Some people will say I should go ahead and sample, but I said for what?  Sample and my soul will be in jeopardy.  I just decided to take that decision. It wasn’t an easy one but today I am grateful.  The attention was just coming, I had to take the decision. I actually moved the wedding to August against our earlier agreed date of December.  My wife was like what about the logistics and all that.  I told her we should go ahead that God will take control, or else I am seeing fire on the mountain.  I believe God, we can do it and on the day of our traditional marriage, I was smiling all through because I am not out to impress anybody, just the two of us.

What are those attributes you saw in her that convinced you to marry her?

She is a rare gem, any woman to have stayed for five years and watched me date other women.  One of them even confronted her at a point, she is the shy type, simple and different.  She did not pressurize me to leave other relationships I had been into.  Her patience, and she knows how to fight with her knees down, I guess that is where she won my heart.

Let us delve a bit into your business, how has your brand Ouch! evolve to this level?

Ouch! was just a dream from the beginning. I started out bearing in mind if it was going to perish so be it.  I have nothing to lose, I just pursued my passion.  I can’t still explain how the business has grown over the years because I am yet to go to any business school to get all the training.  I am yet to employ all the business people who will take the business to the next level.  God has been faithful all the while, our friends in the media have been helpful.  They just celebrate the brand, we are yet to sell shares to the people whereby we realize hundreds of millions.  It’s all about God’s grace, when I could have gotten a Range Rover car, I was using a small car, when I can buy a G-Wagon, I was using a lower car.  We buy all that because of the trend in town.  I will say I practice not to be wasteful.  If you want to build a lasting business, you can’t eat your profit. What I refused to do is to eat my profit rather we plough it back into the business.  So, the growth level beats my imagination.  Whatever profits that come out go into the business instantly.  I will want to retire, do as my mentors like Fola Adeola, give a talk about success.  At 50, I want to retire and watch things.  The next phase of life for me is to have time for my family, my children and train them properly. I won’t be flying up and down.

Like how many branches do you have now?

We have shut down our Ikota Shopping Complex outlet, we have four branches now.  We will have an e-outlet soon where people can sit in their offices or homes and order, a tie, shoes and all that and it will be delivered within a short time.

Do you have plans to incorporate your wife into your business later?

There is nothing we can do about it.  We are now one. One in the sense that not just keeping warm on bed and taking decision about the family, at night also you talk about your businesses.  I won’t rule out the possibility of bringing my wife into the business sooner but at this stage, she has to concentrate on her worn and give back to the society, follow her passion. She might have a stake in the business but for now, she is into property.

– FOLUSO SAMUEL

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