ON Friday, May 31, 2013, fashionable socialite, Olori Tokunbo Eko clocked 50. Friends and well wishers of the amiable woman rolled out the drums in celebrating their friend. ENCOMIUM Weekly had an interview with her on life at 50, family life and business.
Congratulations on your 50th birthday.
Thank you very much.
How does it feel to be 50?
I don’t feel any different, I still feel me. It is just that now, there is need to move closer to God. You also have this feeling that you are now of age.
You don’t look 50, what will you attribute that to?
I don’t have any hidden secret, maybe I will start from the Almighty God. He has given me the grace to be the kind of person that I am. I am also contented. I take life one day at a time. There is no way you wouldn’t look 50. I look young because of my natural outlook to life. I take things very easy. I have been able to juggle my life together in a beautiful way. I believe, it is through the grace of God Almighty.
What is the greatest lesson life has taught you?
Life has taught me to be patient, mind how you relate to people. When you respect yourself, you will be able to relate with others. Also, do unto others as you want them to do unto you. I have learnt that perseverance is very important. I am also a deep person. I have deep thinking about things. I also want to have a positive outlook to life. I have also learnt that helping people is the best, no matter how small. Life has also taught me that as you lay your bed, you will lie on it. Life has taught me that if you have a goal and you follow your heart to the last, if you follow God, you can achieve your goal.
Any regret at 50?
I don’t have any regret. I thank God Almighty that have sharpened my life and guided my steps.
Looking back at the targets you set for yourself a couple of years back, would you say you have achieved them?
I wouldn’t call them targets really. I take life one day at a time. I will call them my dreams. To a certain extent, I have achieved some of my dreams but I wouldn’t say I am fulfilled. I will be fulfilled when all my three children have graduated, doing well in their chosen fields and married to their friends and lovers. That is when I will be fulfilled.
If you are given another chance to go back to your youthful days, what amendment will you make?
So far, so good, I think I have done it beautifully with the help of God. The grace of God has been there, I don’t have anything I would change.
What were your childhood fantasies?
I just wanted to grow up, achieve and have a beautiful life, have good children. God has done that. I pray that they will all excel, that is the dream of every woman. You are not there yet, you are not a success yet until your children are.
Do you still have some of your childhood friends up till date?
Yes, I still have a lot of them. Most of them are not here, they are abroad. One of them called me that her first son is getting married. We are preparing for it, I keep friends.
How did you start your bead business?
I have my paid job but on the side, I also have a passion that has grown into a business. I love wearing unique jewelry. It started from me doing little things for myself and my siblings. After that, people started admiring them on me and placing orders. That was how the hobby kept growing.
What are the things that have kept you in business?
I think it is about my designs. I am for elegant and classic designs. I do deep designs like the slogan on my complimentary card. We bead with character. When you see my designs anywhere, you will know that they are different.
It seems beads are already giving in to wirework?
No, it is not taking over. Beads can never go out of fashion. It has come to stay because of the price of gold. Before when you want to have a ceremony, people go for gold, but now, they are going more for beads because it gives gorgeous and richer looks than what gold of N2 million will give you. Wirework is not taking over. I also do a bit of wirework as well but when you see mine, you will think you are looking at 18-carat gold. That is how compact and original our work is. Some of my customers don’t even want to see wireworks. They are all over the place and there is no originality again, most of them don’t go for wireworks.
It seems the industry is getting over saturated, most especially because of the wireworks?
Every Tom, Dick and Harry wants to learn it. When you look at some of those works, they look so tacky. You will find out that the classy and elegant don’t wear it. The way I see it, if you know your onions, you know what you want, you will not go for cheap articles.
Can you introduce us to your lovely family?
My lovely family, I don’t get tired of talking about them. I enjoy talking about them they keep me going and give me the glow. I thank God for them. I have my darling husband, he is a caring husband, Omo Oba Adewale Taofeek Eko. I appreciate him so much. He is the reason I look younger than my age. He does not give me stress, at times, he embarrasses me with his love. I always tell people, watch out for the kind of husband you will marry. When you have your children, your children will either take your character of your husband’s character.
I have three lovely kids, beautiful girls and a handsome son. To the glory of God, the first one graduated, the second is studying Computer Science and my baby is in high school.
How long have you been married?
I have been married for 22 years.
What has kept your marriage over the years?
I will not call them secrets but factors that have kept my marriage going and beautiful. The first recipe is the input by the two of us. God is also foremost, communication and love. With love, you can persevere. I communicate with my husband, we are both funny and we have a lot of things to joke about. The household is always relaxed because we are open to the children, we discuss openly a lot of things. At an early stage. The children know that they can open up about a lot of things. We do a lot of things together, this has helped the family. We also respect each other, my husband respect me, we don’t take each other for granted. We accommodate each other the trust is also there. A lot of people see me going to parties, some don’t even know that I am married. But I have a good understanding with my husband. He has come to respect my nature. He is an introvert, the indoor type, he has not tried to carve another person out of me. I also know where to draw the line. I don’t because he is an accommodating person then I will now throw caution to the winds.
You are also one of the fashionable socialites, what are the things that dictate how you dress?
As for the socialite thing, I just do my own and go my way. Though I love looking good, if you have met my mom, you will know where I got it from. In terms of my social outlook to life, I took it from my mom. She is a sociable person always elegantly dressed, even till now. I am always proud to show her off, we are just like sisters, we relate well. I am trying to transfer my upbringing to my children. I love to look good, and God has also helped me to blend things, know what fits.
They are inbuilt, it is not something you have to acquire, when you acquire them, you get fed up. I am so comfortable looking good all the time. Most of our friends appreciate that. I believe, all women owe themselves that. You don’t have to close your bank account, it doesn’t take much, even if it is just Ankara, and you know how to put it together. All women owe themselves how to look good for their husbands and for the kids too.
This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday, June 19, 2013