Yenagoa—Upon graduation, Akpos Malafakumo Best ventured into entrepreneurship, without the usual hunting for white-collar jobs.
Her love for entrepreneurship motivated her to start a t-shirt vending business, which she insists is a billion-dollar market waiting to be explored especially in the Niger Delta region.
Best who hails from Bayelsa state graduated from the Niger Delta University, Amassoma, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in religious studies.
In a chat with Mangrovepen.ng, Best explained that she “wants to have a big factory where people can walk in and find any kind of t-shirt.”
“This, according to her, “is because t-shirts meet our fashion needs in so many ways.
“A t-shirt gives us comfort and choice of colour, neck shape and size. Also, t-shirt serves various purposes such as gym wear, among others.”
For her, it’s the simplicity, comfortability and multi-purpose functions of t-shirts and the demand for them that influenced her choice.
Though she started the business just about a year and three months ago, she has made significant progress in creating a market for herself in Yenagoa, where she resides.
Best knows that the dream of being a successful entrepreneur is the motivation behind her daily hustle and drive as a businesswoman.
“The need to be successful is what drives me. Those who have done well in their careers do not have two heads, so if they can do it I believe I can too.
“I want to be a successful businesswoman. And I don’t want to be a local champion. I want to go international,” she added.
The t-shirt vendor, however, mentioned paucity of funds as a major challenge in her business.
She noted that ”one of the challenges I faced was getting funds for my business. The need for adequate finance made me go into a partnership with a friend, which didn’t last.
“However, I reached out to some persons and I got some financial support.”
Best, who is 24-years-old, hopes to be well established with outlets around Niger Delta and beyond in the nearest future.
She said: “I hope to be well established. I see myself having a very big shop in the heart of Yenagoa, where different kinds of t-shirts, plain t-shirts by grade, collar neck t-shirts by grade, designers t-shirts by grade, and face caps by grade will be sold.
“My vision is to be the largest distributor of t-shirts in the Niger Delta region.
“I also envisage having a branch in Lagos and many other parts of the country.”
She equally advised teenage girls to be purposeful with their actions, by “reading, planning and chasing their dreams without fear.”
EXCLUSIVE: Meet the enterprising young Bayelsan, who is a student, fashion designer and model
“I want to grow and be famous for my craft. Soon, I will be recognized for my talent and ability to sew well. I know I will certainly get where I want to be someday.”
The following are the words of Ayibaditonmini Edwin Karibi—a Yenagoa-based budding fashion designer and 300level student of the Department of Entrepreneurship at the Federal University Utuoke, Bayelsa State.
Karibi’s aspiration of becoming a renowned fashion designer in the future is on course given that she is an enterprising young lady whose determination to succeed is uncommon among females her age.
In an exclusive chat with Mangrovepen.ng, Karibi said her love for Fashion design is inborn, stating that she started sketching clothes at the tender age of 9.
She registered for an apprenticeship programme in 2016 and started learning how to sew via YouTube videos.
“I’ve always liked the idea of it. I just needed a push and I got the opportunity to learn tailoring in 2016. I think it is inborn. I like clothes, fashion and sometimes I would just make crochet and stuffs like that.
“I started sketching when I was in primary school. Then, six years ago (2016) was when I started learning how to sew especially on YouTube. YouTube was very helpful in my quest to learn how to sew,” she told mangrovepen.ng.
In addition to being a student and a fashion designer, the 26-year-old is also a model who has represented Bayelsa state at the 2020 National Festival of Arts and Culture (NFAC) held in Plateau state.
According to her, she got into modelling during the heydays of the COVID pandemic at the behest of her aunt and now occasionally models for the Bayelsa State Ministry of Arts and Culture.
She said, “My modelling career started in 2020, during the COVID-19 period when I was encouraged by my aunty then to participate in a modelling audition organized by the Bayelsa State government.
“Luckily, I got picked and afterward represented Bayelsa in plateau state at the National Festival of Arts and Culture (NFAC).”
When asked how she feels about the lingering ASUU strike and its effect on her academics being a student, Karibi said, “obviously no student is happy about the lingering ASUU strike.
“It keeps people idle at home doing nothing and as well delays people in school especially those of us who are almost due for graduation.
She, however, noted that “it is not all doom and gloom because, to be honest, the strike period has afforded me time for my fashion designing career.”
Advising young people, the resourceful young lady from Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State encouraged youths to identify what they are passionate about and make a career out of it.
“Young people should find out what they enjoy doing the most, and develop a career out of it. It may be nail polishing, hairdressing anything at all that you enjoy doing. Nurture and develop yourself and make a career from it.
“As youths, we need to be committed to self-development because it will be handy someday,” she said.
Karibi said that although she is yet to own a shop for her business and that her biggest customers in the main are still family and close friends, she is believing all that will change for the better soonest.
EXCLUSIVE: I want to be a soldier in the future—current Miss Bayelsa
Yenagoa—Everyone with a career has a dream to excel and reach the summit of that profession. Accordingly, the drive to succeed in one’s career is spurred by different reasons in different people.
For some, career success is a must because they want to change their family story of poverty and penury. Some simply want the fame and plush life that comes with a successful career while others want to just succeed at what they do.
But for Queen Okutabo Sabrina Okolai: the current Miss Bayelsa, her reasons to succeed in her beauty pageantry and modelling profession was somewhat odd.
She said what made her hungry for success in her profession was to prove a doubter wrong who had questioned her ability to “fit in into the pageantry world.”
In an exclusive chat with Mangrovepen.ng, Queen Okutabo disclosed that modelling/pageantry was not her first love but later took interest in it.
“Firstly, I didn’t have it in mind to be a beauty pageant model. Modelling wasn’t my thing because I was more of a sports person but somehow along the line, I took interest in it (pageantry) and what inspired me to go all out at modelling was what someone said about me.
“The person questioned my ability to succeed at the pageantry modelling. The person asked what makes me feel I will fit into the pageantry world. This was because I used to dress in shorts and masculine clothes.”
“So I took it upon myself to succeed at all costs in modelling because I didn’t want to become an odd character or person.
“And I wanted to prove the point that I can fit into both worlds of sports and pageantry. I took it as a challenge because I love challenges,” she said.
Queen Okutabo, 24, who grew up with her grandmother in Okpoama, Brass in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State contemplated trying out pageantry in 2019.
In her first beauty pageantry show in 2020, she emerged victorious, becoming the Queen of Nembe Se that Year.
While reigning as the Queen of Nembe Se, she applied to contest the Miss Bayelsa pageantry show the following year and emerged as the winner.
Within two years, Okutabo had become the face of pageantry modelling in Bayelsa state by virtue of her instant successes in two of the major pageant shows in the state, and on a career path that she had not always thought of taking.
According to her, “The exciting thing about being a beauty queen is that you’ll have the opportunity to meet people higher than you whom you can learn from.
“You meet new people, which opens windows of opportunities. And of course fame, depending on the level you operate.
“On the downside, you will have to sacrifice a lot of time, effort, and energy to humanitarian causes. This is a good thing but you will hardly have time for yourself; that’s the disadvantage.
“Aside from that, not every event you will attend because your life is practically being managed by other people. You will be required to be on a diet so eating what you like or indiscriminately is prohibited.
“Again, there is this stigma that comes with being a model just like being an actress in Nigeria: which is that models are loose persons, so that is a big challenge. It’s quite challenging and hard.”
Queen Okutabo having graduated from the Department of Theatre Arts at the Niger Delta University, Amassoma, is also a thespian, a runway model, content creator, and creative writer.
The multi-talented Bayelsa beauty queen however said she wants to be a soldier when asked about her plans for the future.
According to her, it has always been her dream to join the army, a dream which was borne out of her love for force uniforms.
“In the future, I am open to anything not just restricted to beauty pageantry and acting. Anywhere I find myself I will adapt and give my best but the dream I’ve always had is to be a soldier.
“Since at a tender age, I’ve always loved (army)uniforms. So I would love to see myself one day in one.”
She however added that her immediate plans after she had handed over her crown to the would-be Bayelsa Queen 2022 is to partake in the mandatory National Youth Service (NYSC) and afterward contest in more pageantry shows.
Queen Okutabo also speaking on the lingering ASUU strike said being an ex-student was devastating for her during her time whenever ASUU was on one of its numerous strikes.
She further urged both the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the federal government to reach a solution soonest so that students can return to school.
She said, “I feel terrible about the strike because I was once a student and I know how it was devastating for me back then.
“So I urge both parties involved: ASUU and the federal government to disagree to agree. They should find a common ground and resolve their misunderstanding and ensure schools resume soonest.”
Advice for young models and people looking to go into modeling
Queen Okutabo advising prospective young models said what is required to make it in the industry is firstly love for the occupation and then dedication, hard work and passion.
She said modelling is not always a lucrative venture, especially in the beginning and it is also costly to sponsor.
In her words: “I would advise that pageantry modelling and maybe other forms of modelling are not that profitable, especially from the start.
“Before you probably make it big in the industry and to the height you want to be you have to be patient, dedicated, persistent and show an incredible level of passion and hard work.
“It takes time, energy, and strategic planning to become a successful model. Don’t go into it because people are doing it but be resolved within yourself before you take the step.
“I must also add that beauty pageantry modeling is expensive and requires a lot of funding because you are oftentimes required not to repeat clothes to public functions so you need money to get clothes and other material things.”
Also commenting on the prevalence of internet fraud and prostitution among young people in the country and particularly in Bayelsa State, she said:
“Life is hard but young people in Nigeria must learn to earn a living through legitimate and acceptable means.
“We must as young people jettison these ill ways of making money to embrace hard work and genuine ways of living like learning skills to survive with them.”
I was nearly sent out of school because of music, says popular Yenagoa-based hype man
Yenagoa—Due to the economic situation in the country, many find themselves doing things they didn’t study in school just to make ends meet.
Inebiri Theophilus Bubaralayefa, an indigene of Igbedi community in Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area of Bayelsa State is one of the most popular entertainers in Nigeria at the moment.
Professionally known as Zephyr, Bubaralayefa is one youth who has refused to allow the present economic situation in the country to limit his chances in life.
In an exclusive interview with our reporter, he narrated his inspiring story of how he became a hype man.
Zephyr who is a graduate of Agricultural Economics, Rural Sociology and Extension from the Niger Delta University (NDU), revealed that his love for rap music endeared him to becoming a hype man.
“It all started in school. I was and still am a rapper. But in school, I was more focused on music than my studies which gave me a bad reputation of being seen as ‘unserious’ with scolding from lecturers and some of my colleagues.
“I was almost sent out of school because of music. Then I remembered the reason I was there and for the sake of my mother I had to improve on my studies. Normally, I’m not a dull person so it was easy for me to catch up plus I met three great friends (Imma, Comfort and Preye) in school at that point I felt it was over for me.
“So I pressed pause on the music thingy and focused on my studies. I can draw also. It’s one of the many talents I left because I needed to focus.
“I started radio with Raypower 102.5 FM Yenagoa, and I was on an internship with them through the help of my mentor Eniye Gabriel aka En Gabriel.
“One faithful day I got a message from En Gabriel that a popular nightclub needed a hype man so I was like I can do this. Performing as a rapper in school gave me the ability to fight stage fright and do whatever I have to do without the fear of having a lot of people around.
“So I took the job and started as an amateur in the hype industry. Then we had just one hype man making waves in the city so it was a virgin industry and I took advantage of it,” he said.
Zephyr who served as the first Head of Programmes, NDU Radio, a campus radio station, is the official hype man at Club Bara, a popular nightclub in Yenagoa.
He is also the personal hype man to Payper Corleone and the brain behind the Young People Supporting Young People (YPSYP) initiative aimed at creating synergy between entertainers in Nigeria.
He said disrespect and underpayment are some of the challenges he usually encounters as a hype man.
In his words: “First thing I’ll say is disrespect. Everybody has access to you as a hype man so they feel they can tell you to do anything and you must do it.
“Secondly, it is the pay. One thing that comes with being a hype man is the fact that people see you enjoy what you do so they think it’s easy. Like footballers that every fan criticizes.
“For hype man, people see the stipends that come in, like people getting to spray you money so they feel you’re rich and the people you work for see no reason to pay you what you’re worth.
“One thing is people know your worth but they just don’t want you to know that you’re priceless. So they cage you with complaints and more work.”
The entertainer who sees himself going back to radio and running his own podcast in the nearest future, admonished government at all levels to give entertainers the enabling environment to thrive.
“Let the government give entertainers an enabling environment. Nightlife is an industry of its own that generates a whole lot of money.
“Trust me if one million is spent during the day ten million is spent at night. Security is needed so people can move at night freely. They can also host events and competitions with a proper package of promotion for whoever wins.
“Lagos is a perfect example of what the nightlife can give and mainly it comprises of entertainment and entertainers.”