Mrs. Ngozi Nkoloneyi is the Chief Executive Officer of Bloomingale. The amazon also has a bridal outfit, Valerie Bridals, which is one of the most sought-after for brides. The amazon opens up in this interview with OLUSEGUN RAPHEAL, on how she has been able to cope with life without her husband, his death and other issues.
What is life as an entrepreneur like?
After my studies I did not work in any office. So I started my life as an entrepreneur very early and I had a vision of where I wanted to be in life. Even though it was not easy when I started, it’s with the grace of God I was able to scale through all the hurdles I encountered.
What were the challenges you faced then and now?
There were a lot of challenges then and even more now than when I started. You know we are into production and we need power, but we generate our own power with generator. Most times, we run the generator for 22 hours out of 24 hour. The result is that the cost of diesel is high and it affects every business.
You were known to be a French lace merchant, what happened to the business?Interestingly, I was the one who brought the awareness to French lace to our fashion sector. Even though I have been buying it for myself, as they say, “media can make you or mar you”. At that point in my life, it was City People that wrote stories about me then and God used them for me. They also helped to discover my talent and it opened my eyes to many opportunities in the sector.
Everyone knew that you and your husband were like five and six, how did you cope after his death?
It wasn’t easy at all. When he died, my life collapsed and I was light as the feather without strength to do anything. I felt empty and nothing was within me again. I didn’t know where to start from and I wanted to go with him.
I was in London when it happened. It was around 2 am that he felt somehow and by 6 pm my boys were at the airport to see him. I could not believe it; he was not sick, I spoke to him an hour before he died. He walked into the hospital by himself and a few hours later he was gone. When I saw him at the mortuary I could not help but grab him and give him the last kiss. I could remember that when they were pulling me from him, a little bit of chemical got into my lips. Few days later I was seriously sick, all my systems broke down. It was by special grace of God that I survived and I can still talk to you five years after his death.
What role did your children play at this point?
My children acted like my husband, especially Obinna, my first born. He took it upon himself that I didn’t miss their father too much. He is always around and most times I gist with him like my husband. I am close to all my children and they were all around me.
The reason is that I started having them when I was young at 22, they were all part of me; we grew together. In their term, they say, “Mummy we witness you grow.” Thought it’s not easy after my husband departed, the grace of God, my good friends, aunties and the priest in my church were all there for me. It’s very difficult to be alone in the house and most times I wake up in the night and cry ceaselessly. My husband’s departure pushed me into playing of games like scrabbles, and a lot of other games that you can think of.
Are you planning to remarry?
No I can’t marry, nobody can fill his space, and what do I want in a man again? When we built our house in the village, he showed me our resting place and I made sure that he was buried there; my space is beside his own.
What are some of the legacies that your husband left behind?
My husband, Paul Nkoloenyi, was a living legend. He was a very nice man; his legacies are there. This is a man that trained about 20 people from primary school up to university level. Even in his community, they cannot forget him. Since he departed, they have not been able to install an Igwe.
What is your take about the present administration?
It is a pity we found ourselves in this state in this country, people are blaming Buhari but he is not the one, sadly the previous government has cleaned the treasury. Nigeria is like a collapsed building. Before you can rebuild it, you must remove all the debris and it is going to take you a longer time before it could be fixed.
The situation now affects every business. Those of us in the luxury line are not finding things easy. It’s only when you eat well that you can think of buying cloths. These days, brides are no longer buy wedding gowns like before. These days, people are looking for gowns that they will rent. That is the situation of things, but we will continue to pray that God will help Buhari to rebuild the country.
What is your advice for young ladies who want to be entrepreneurs?
They should be more focused, determined and never take no for an answer. The truth is that resilience is the answer if you want to be successful as an entrepreneur. I started my business with my dining table but today we have our factory and we are still expanding. If you want to marry as a lady, please don’t depend on the man. You should be able to bring something to the table and not depend solely on your husband, that is when you will be respected.
How do you relax?
I like to pamper myself a lot in my house. I do electro, Jacuzzi and steam massage. I also have my gym and I do a lot of dancing as well as read a lot.
What is the secret of your beauty?
My beauty is the inner one, I have peace. I don’t worry myself about anything and the funniest thing is that I don’t have a beauty routine at all. I make sure I eat well, that’s all.
What is in your wardrobe that you can’t do without?
I love my caftan and my boubou because they hide some parts that I don’t want you to see. I also love my high heel shoes because it makes me elegant.
Which are your favourite designer shoes, bags and wristwatches?
These days, there are so many good designer labels out there but they may not be popular. I don’t go for big brand names because when you are carrying the label, you also find other ladies carry the same label, which is fake. So I go for quality bags and shoes, not labels.
Favourite brand car?
I love Mercedes Benz brands.
Which place is your favourite holiday place?
I love Ghana.