Jennifer Olize is the first daughter of TV anchor Frank Olize whose Newsline was a regular Sunday night staple in the 90’s. In her mid-twenties, she runs a fashion retail store, Le Reve Pieces. She is also the organizer of the successful Music Meets Runway which aims to promote talents in the music and fashion. Olize speaks with Azuka Ogujiuba about her drive and what it takes to be a young and successful entrepreneur
What is the aim behind MMR?
The aim behind Music Meets Runway (MMR) is to provide a platform for emerging talented designers; especially those who normally are excluded from the highly competitive world of fashion to showcase their unique art works. Music and fashion go hand in hand. So Music Meets Runway is basically music moving fashion forward. Because we noticed our guests last year came mostly for the music, but had no choice but to appreciate the fashion, because as the music artists are performing, the models of the designers are strutting the runway.
Do you have any plans of adding any international artist to the line up of artists that will be performing at MMR?
This year we’re focusing on Nigerian artists. The Nigerian music industry has evolved so much; we really don’t need international artistes to make an event anymore. However, if our budget permits us, we won’t mind to include one, maybe as a host rather than an artist.
What should everyone expect from MMR this year?
They should expect nothing but the best by God’s grace. We’re working really hard this year in the production and content. So we really hope a lot of people show up and appreciate it, because it’s a really huge production that requires a lot of funding. So, it’s not as easy as it seems.
Has being the daughter of Frank Olize opened doors for you in anyway?
Yeah, it really has. Up until last year, I really didn’t realize what a difference my dad made to Nigeria. I just always noticed when I say my surname most people are interested in what I have to say or do. So I guess that’s a good thing.
How supportive has your parents been on your career path and projects?
Very supportive. My dad was my major sponsor last year for Music Meets Runway. He provided most of the funds for the project. That was his own way of investing and supporting my company. He believes what I’m doing is for a good cause. I really can’t thank him enough. As for my mum, she’s my number one fan. She prays for me constantly and I always seek her advice in decisions I make. At the moment she’s suggesting the artistes we should use for Music Meets Runway this year that her age group will like. She’s really the best.
Tell us about your educational background
l attended the prestigious Queen’s College, Lagos, where l completed my secondary education. I then moved on to study business economics at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom and graduated in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree. Later that year l moved back home to Nigeria for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). For the service year l worked at BGL Asset Management in Lagos.
On completion of my NYSC service year, l moved to New York to study at Conference and Event Management at New York University (NYU). After the programme, l moved back home for a second time and formed my top-notch events company known as Le Reve Events. The company now has offices in the Lekki Phase 1 area of Lagos State.
What else did you do while schooling and living abroad?
During my study time in London, l worked part-time in various capacities and also hosted several events. At an early age while in school l bagged my first job s a Saturday sales assistant for British fashion high street retailer French Connection UK. l also worked at leading recruitment company in UK Hays as a Recruitment Consultant.
Your company is Le Reve – what does it mean?
Le Reve simply means “The Dream” in French. I decided to name it so because all our events can happen only in dreams. You are guaranteed to experience your dream event. When you choose Le Reve Events to create, produce, plan and organize your events, you gain a creative support team to make your vision a reality. It is the company’s policy to not only plan events, but also make them successful and extremely entertaining.
What was your childhood earliest ambition?
I remember wanting to work in a bank. But right now I can’t imagine myself working for a bank.
What is your greatest food indulgence?
Warm, melted chocolate fudge cake and vanilla ice cream; it’s heaven on earth. I treat myself to that once a week, or maybe more than once.
What could you never give up?
I could never give up my morals and values for anyone or anything. I also can’t give up my laptop. I really can’t go a day without it.
What could you easily give up?
My phone. It constantly rings and I really hate that.
Are you confident about your body? Tell us how either way
Yes, pretty confident. I try and keep fit by working out every morning and staying away from sugar and carbohydrates, but I can’t help eating junk; it’s just a part of me, and it makes me happy.
If you could change something about your body, what will it be?
Don’t think I can change anything. I love it just the way it is. Ok, maybe that’s a lie. I won’t mind some more hips. There’s nothing like having curves especially for an African woman.
What is your take on cosmetic surgery?
I’m really not a big fan because of the pain. But I feel if a woman especially is not confident about the way she looks and feels because of a particular issue on her body, and if it’s something that will make her feel good about herself and has access to the funds, why not! Please don’t get me wrong, I definitely don’t support the likes of Nicki Minaj and co. Those are not good examples, I do not support that.
What is your favourite holiday destination?
I love the Bahamas. It’s very peaceful and relaxing, but it’s also less than an hour to Miami, incase I want a change of scenario.
What are the qualities you look for in a husband?
First of all he has to love and fear God. That’s really important, because there are certainly things he won’t do if he loves and fears God. Secondly, he has to be from a good background with morals and values. If you don’t have morals and values, you can do anything and that’s really dangerous. Thirdly, he has to be loyal and trustworthy. If you’re not loyal or can’t be trusted among your family, friends and peers, then forget it. You certainly won’t be loyal and can’t be trusted with a marriage. Of course, I have to add a man who has ambition. He might not be the richest man on earth, but a man that has ambition and plans and knows where he is going in life, is certainly a quality I admire.
Have you ever been in love? If so what is the greatest sacrifice you’ve made for love?
Love is a very strong word. Most people confuse love for likeness. But I like to believe at one point in life we’ve all cared deeply for someone. But I’m yet to find out.
What makes Jennifer Olize tick?
So many things! I can’t stand a lot of things; if I start I’ll have about 10 pages.
What has been your saddest moment?
Everyday in my life is always trial. There will always be happy and sad moments, but I guess I have to say losing loved ones. I lost a very good friend of mine this year, and that saddened me deeply.
And happiest moment?
Hmmm, don’t really have one per say. I’m happy everyday, as long as I have my family, a few friends and I do what I love to do, I feel I’m very blessed and I can’t thank God enough.
In your opinion, what attributes does one need to succeed in business?
Passion and hard work. If you don’t have passion in what you’re doing, you can never succeed. If you’re hard working and strive to succeed despite all odds, I believe that leads to success in every business.
Do you favour high-end designer labels?
I’m not going to lie and say that I don’t. I like the finest things in life and if that happens to be high-end designer labels then, yes, I do. If it happens to be something I found on the street for less I also favour that too.
If you could raid anyone’s closet, who would it be?
Kim Kardashian. She dresses to fit her body and doesn’t necessarily follow trends. Plus I think she’ll have tons of stuff to give away so I’ll be happy to raid her closet.