Who will wear this? That's what he said to me with a condescending smirk on his face. "Who will wear this?" Four simple words but strung together and coming from him drew out my doubts and insecurities;making me question my WHY. To be fair he meant well, after all he didn't know my back story. He didn't know I was 5 months pregnant and had pulled my life-savings to attend a fashion technology course in London, He didn't know I resigned from a career in banking to become a designer.
I was already intimidated being the oldest and 'blackest' in my class, my course mates more intrigued by my marital status than my baby bump. The truth is we both knew he wasn't really asking a question, he was making a statementt. As my instructor his course was to make me a better illustrator, not to ridicule my point of view or worst still, question my talent. "Where are you from..?" he said protecting his gaze from all the colors on my page and before I could answer he interrupted "....because If you are not designing for London,Newyork,Paris or Italy, then why are you here?"
He returned my sketch to me but not before he quipped "Too much color for this time of the year Tony...." OH NO HE DIDN'T!!!! "WELL Kevin....there is a new fashion capital to add to that list and her name is LAGOS and in my town there is no such thing as too much colour because we got summer all year long baby.......and the name is Tomi......Mrs Rotimi if you are Nasty" SNAP!!!!!!
Wouldn't it be cool if I really gave that come back? Yeah my real response was a polite "thank you Kevin" followed by a quick waddle to the rest room for a good cry.......🎵if I could turn back time. Well fast forward 14 years later this is the skirt I sketched. ........If Kevin could see me now.......yay or nay?
It took me two years to perfect these! Y'all know I love pants. I can pay top dollar for the right pair. Oh! I like a good shift dress but I'm all about pants. Skinny leg, wide leg, boot cut, cropped, Cullotes, jumpsuits... you name it, I'll wear it (I draw the line at bum shorts. You know I am S.U).
When I felt "led" to design the perfect pair of work pants I knew I would be my toughest critic. These pants had to do everything! These babies had to Cinch my waist, lift my butt, skim my hips, elongate me (like I'm not long enough ) and somehow take me from blazer to tees all in a Lagos minute. Most importantly my go-to pants have to be easy to wear and must be ready to be rocked hard.
I know I was asking a lot from the entire team.the fabric suppliers almost gave up on me and my pattern maker had to relearn patience after I rejected the 5th draft. Guess it it took time because good things are worth the wait right?
I wish I remember the day it happened; the day we finally created what I consider the "best pair of pants you will ever wear" because that day is noteworthy. We created something special and after selling well over xxx pairs they are still bestsellers in every color we bring them in. I love my 'Go-to' pants 😊
get your self a pair.
The last tip on the topic. I know we have touched on food and how abs are built in the grocery store. Because I don't think this can ever be overemphasised, i am making it my last tip. I have become somewhat of a stalker recently; observing people's grocery choices at the supermarket and I must say that we are mostly sugar junkies, high on saturated fats and processed crap. No wonder we feel unmotivated and lethargic. Observe the two shopping carts above- which of these 2 do you think is atleast attempting a healthy lifestyle.Now these are not bad choices necessarily but how deliberate are the shoppers at eating right?
Yesterday the lady behind me had 5 packets of frankfurters,a Carton of indomie,a Carton of juice, 3 jumbo sized chocolate bars, a tub of ice cream, a small bag of white rice and pastry from the snack bar. She must have seen the horrified look on my face when she proceeded to add an Avocado to the pile. Our bad eating choices affect everything.
So my final word, my final tip do yourself a favor and make better choices at the grocery store because the myth is true you are what you eat!!!!!
Tip 9- Personal Trick/Fun fact
The saying goes "it takes a village to raise a child" well the same applies to weight loss in my case lol. This is one for my fitfam crew. It's made up of teenagers, young professionals, stay at home mums and even some "bad ass" grandmas!!!!! The captain of this team is our MAD HIIT coach Segun... and I mean mad in the most endearing way ever. He pushes us beyond our limits and motivates us daily with encouraging text which he personalises for each member of the team after each work out.
All these women have very busy lives but they come out everyday to work out. I need to give a shout out to my other 3 coaches ( it really takes a village). SANDRA- my Zumba instructor..... I love Zumba and honestly, I will pay hard currency just to watch Sandra groove, Peter and Patrick take my aerobics group and those are great guys with a huge passion for fitness. I could never have achieved this new lifestyle without every single one of these guys. Tip for today? Find your village!!!
Tip 4.Still on exercise. The first time I joined a HIIT(High Intensity Interval Training) group session I literally thought I was going to die! I was panting like a dog, drenched in sweat and I was sure my heart was going to beat out of my chest! I called Mr.B panting "baby please come and pick me up" the venue was a mere 10 mins walk from my house but I was too drained to walk home. This was about 7 months ago. The day after that episode I ached all over!!!! I couldn't even sit without support but I went right back 2 days later for another dose ( this time I drove to the venue o). That session was a mind changer for me. Not only did I prove to myself I could do it but I also did a mental math equation of what that session represented on my plate and if that plate of small chops,fried plantain,white rice (insert your guilty pleasure here lol) was worth it.Food has taken a different meaning for me.I treat her like fuel. I have just the quantity I need and as far as I can help it...and no more. YOU CANNOT exercise away a BAD DIET!!!!! Except you are Michele Phelps or Usain Bolt. You must eat in relation to your activity level. This is a tough one but if you are ready to change the way you live you will start slowly by making subtle diet and lifestyle changes that are sustainable. This right here is a Marathon....baby steps.
Tip 5 personal trick.
Someone once said "Abs are built in the kitchen" I want to add that weight loss begins at the grocery store. I personally have a weakness for chocolate; so guess what? I simply don't stock chocolate in my house. I looooooooove ice-cream, so no more ice-cream in my freezer! My cravings won't get me driving to Ebeano at 9pm to get a fix so when I reach for a late night snack the only options available are fruits so that's what I have. I am not strong enough to resist these treats if they are well within reach so I keep them out of sight. My kids have also benefited from this principle. You want a snack? Knock yourself out with an apple or some grapes. So next time you find yourself walking down the supermarket aisle remember "Abs are built in Ebeano"😂.
Tip 2. Trick: We hear this all the time "eat breakfast like a king and dinner like a pauper" You know what? It works. 10 months ago I would have nothing for breakfast and come back home from work famished and consequently binge on everything for dinner. I do things a little differently now. I have a hearty breakfast; this morning I had 2 slices of yam and an omelette and that sustained me all through the day till evening where I had only chicken for dinner. I may snack on an apple if I want and that is fine. The rational is that you burn your breakfast effortlessly through the day and sleep on a light stomach at night. I promise you this works. Please let me know if this works for you.
Tip 3 Fact: The truth is if all you want to achieve is weight loss you don't need to work out, in fact if you are not disciplined you could gain weight with exercise . Today I'm focusing on a more important goal- fitness. Like most people, I have been down this weight loss journey before and I always "attempt" to include a work out regimen to support it but somehow it was never sustainable. Name it and I have probably done it! Joined a gym , Zumba classes, work out videos, personal trainers, exercise machines etc. so this time I was a bit apprehensive. Getting back on the wagon after you have fallen off many times is hard...the question really was why was I falling off the wagon? One word, BOREDOM- you can only stay motivated for so long if you stop enjoying it . So I joined an aerobics group which combines my love for networking with my need to exercise then also included my personal "me time" walks/jogging where I listened to my favourite podcasts and jams. I look forward to both sessions and do them on alternate days to keep things fresh. I promise you, there is a fitness routine fit for everyone; find yours. Do you like to dance, play sports, Pilates, yoga, Zumba, HIT, walking, running? Let your hobby guide your fitness pattern. It is the key to keeping the weight off and more importantly keeping you agile,youthful and healthy. START slowly or at your own pace and it will naturally become easy and fun..
I'm down 2 dress sizes guys and yep I feel as fit as a fiddle. Just tried on the gorgeous Lola Lace dress and which I could not fit into it in March. ...baby steps.
The road to weightloss and a healthy lifestyle is never a walk in the park, it is one that requires dedication, self discipline and determination. My weightloss story has been trailed with a lot of thorns but its rewards far outweighs the struggle. I'm going to share a 10 weight loss tips. Not to overburden you with the length of the post, 1 tip will be posted per week. Some will be obvious,things you have heard before and know for sure, some will be philosophical principles connected to a deeper truth and some will be a few tricks I learnt along the way......I'm no expert and I hope you share your insights too.
Tip 1: Deep truth. I know we hear this all the time and I risk sounding like a broken record but the first step to weight loss is loving the man (or woman) in the mirror. I am such a big fan of Ayotomi. If I wasn't me I would love to be my bestie. It took me a while to get to this point but really this is the foundation to any kind of sustainable success. Love those curves, love who you are today and as you embrace and celebrate this amazing being you begin to want more for her,because she deserves it. You see it took me 8 months to lose 9kg (all this fuss on top 9kg) and in those 8 months I interacted with so many women on the same journey.One thing that horrified me was how much self loathing and body shame women are dealing with. You can't become your Sexier,fitter or firmer self if you don't feel you are deserving. So today, do something for you because you are worth it. This morning I put in a one hour work out because I deserve to be fit.
"I'm almost always afraid but that never stops me" I've said this so many times and its true. The opening of the Xclamations Lekki store was another daunting experience. I don't think anything cost me more sleepless nights and agitation than this project. I had nothing to justify opening this store, I was flat broke from a recent investment, I had recently lost money to a bad experience that involved renting a store, my present store was doing well and it took time to get to that point. So why? It's that voice in my head again....that voice that seems to think I can do anything! Doesn't that voice know who I am? doesn't it know I am broke,disorganized and have spent all my savings, aren't there other more creative and intelligent people it can inspire, I just want to sleep! I battled with the voice for days, I felt He was unfair, always stretching me, tricking me into thinking I had arrived and then pulling something like this! "Just let me think about it for a minute" I said and "let me tell you after I have thought why I shouldn't do this" So after "a minute" I came up with five strong reasons "why not" and knowing "the voice" He was ready with His points too. So we agreed to meet at our special place to thrash this out once and for all.
The economy is bad and the projections for the near future is even worse. Oil money is drying up and so this is the time to hold on to money not invest in these uncertain times.
Look at you talking "economics and projections" Tomi that's so cute. You are opening a store not building a city, you do it because I say so, I am in control and I have your back.
I have just invested in another project that has barely taken off, you told me to do that remember? I have proof you told me. I am yet to profit from that venture, I haven't recovered. I can't afford another big investment.
Here you go being cute again...ok first you need to stop pouting and feeling sorry for yourself,I never attend your pity parties so stop inviting me. You need faith to sustain any vision I give you, I promise it will work out with that project so believe me even when it looks bad. Look at it this way you are having twins...it's tough at the beginning raising them both but when you are done its double the sweetness.
Phew....ok I am just tired,my kids need me,my husband needs me, I need me. These projects take time and energy and I know you,I will get a few breaks and then you will throw me in the deep end. I want to be like those women on Instagram.....always in Miami and Dubai on holiday and their little businesses are doing okay and their kids are always cute and well behaved.....
Are we still talking about opening a store? You really need to stop following those people on Instagram. Trust me you will have your time to bask in the sun.
but now you have to do the work. This is the season to work.
Ok how do I get the money? Lekki stores are so expensive, then there is staffing, I have a challenge getting good staff, how about my suppliers,my factory........
Great now we are talking! All you need to say is yes.......I am God remember?
And that was it. Our arguments always ended in the same way. I could never quite reach the 5th point when He reminds me of who He is. There is nothing He cannot do and my faith is hinged on His capacity to perform beyond my experience or expectations.So here I go again, taking another giant leap,knowing it won't be easy but trusting implicitly in the voice in my head.
Relationship with every buy.
I spent the day with an old friend on Saturday.....the VI store. I had missed her. You see opening a new store for me is like nurturing a new child. You don't know her and she doesn't know you either. You need to be patient with her, care for her, understand her. Her personality is different but beautiful.There is no way around it,no corners to cut you have to spend hard currency on her and I don't mean money I mean time.
So for the past two months I had spent most of my time with my new baby and wondering why we simply did not bond like VI and I did, the truth was I hadn't attended her wedding or cried with her when her father died, I hadn't danced with her in the middle of the store when her son gained admission to an Ivy League college or danced again when he graduated, I hadn't lived with her through dress sizes hers and mine, I didn't know her first name and we were not yet on nickname basis, I didn't hold her hand through a bad marriage or tease her butterflies at the beginning of a new one, I had not attended her 40th,50th,60th birthday parties or contributed to her bridal shower. I had not held her hand in prayer, she had not prayed for me...... I did not know her,I had no relationship with this child. In that moment after attending to five amazing people who made me realize why I love what I do, I came to a conclusion that there was one product I had on my shelf for over a decade that was missing in my new store, a product I could never really put a price on but had more value than the clothes we sold. It was this product that made her forgive a crooked stitch, a loose hem or a bad alteration, the product came with every buy and made her maxi dress more beautiful than it really was, it made her kaftans fit a bit better than it should have and nobody else could offer her this product nobody else came close .
Suddenly I got excited again, this new child and I are going to have a blast. I can't wait to do this all over again. RELATIONSHIP is now on the shelf at our Lekki store, its not for sale but it comes with every buy.