Fifi Umenyiora, fondly called Fifi Dilly, is a socialite and wife to Eric Manny Label Boss, Okwudilli Umenyiora. She is the CEO of Jamo Afrique restaurant and Bush Lounge, Lagos. Fifi is a mother and a lover of good music. In this interview with Tosin Clegg, the Jamo Afrique boss talks about running her restaurant and lounge, keeping up with her family and her career
Jamo Afrique was launched as a restaurant
A full blown restaurant but then I realised people just come to Jamo Afrique to eat and go out to have fun elsewhere. Then, I decided to re-launch my lounge in Jamo Afrique so they know they can come eat and drink and have fun with everything in one place. I have had Jamo Afrique for a year now. So, here you would enjoy your lovely Caribbean dishes, at the same time party and have fun, as there aren’t any other lounge out there that serves our kind of dishes. And I think that stands us out. With God, everything will go on well. There is no business that’s easy and we are feeling the excesses of everything. We can’t give up and just lay back that economy is bad. Economy is hard but we have to keep working smart to survive in this economy. It’s fluctuates; either it’s good or it’s bad. So, we have the good days and the bad days.
I have a passion for Fashion, food
Two things I have a passion for are the Fashion industry and the food industry. It could have been either of these two. And it could happen that I go into fashion later in my career.
About my brand name
When I wanted to open this restaurant, it was strictly going to be Nigerian food, like a full blown Nigerian food outlet but then my husband came and asked why I wanted to do only Nigerian food. It was then he said I stand out and do something different. And then we thought about it and said Chinese won’t work, pastries no, and what about Jamaican food and I thought who likes Jamaican food and he was like ‘you would be shocked.’ ‘It’s still African and Nigerians can relate to Jamaican food’ and we thought about the name and we named it Jamo Afrique i.e. Jamaican African.
My social status has got nothing to do with me
As that’s just an aspect of my life, so I balance it well and for me nothing changes. When it comes to social aspect we do that and leave that. Then, when it comes to the real life, I am myself and it doesn’t affect me or my family in anyway.
Keeping up with the business
Sometimes, I ask myself how I found myself here, but then, I remember ‘this is your passion and why are you giving up on it,’ then I’ll go on pushing. I ask myself if I want to be a failure or ‘how do you fail with something that’s your passion?’ Really, when I think about that, then I’ll go home into my kitchen, as I am a chef, and I’ll remember it’s my passion. Then that keeps on pushing me, but I have my moment when I just think about going to do catering where it isn’t stressful and I don’t have to worry about bills and taxes.
Balancing family and work
I really don’t know how I am doing it, but my stress level doesn’t get to my family. It does not and a lot of people ask me how I do that. Once I leave the restaurant, I leave every work stress in there, and getting home to see my kids is a stress reliever. The minute they are all over me. I feel normal and good like my life is normal now.
How I unwind
It’s either I’m in bed with kids or travelling with my husband – taking a week off. We often take short breaks to try to free ourselves of work stress and all that.
My next line of action is expansion
I intend to have branches, by the Grace of God. I will definitely expand and also add farming, as well to this business because without the food how will I cook? It makes more sense to grow my own produce instead of buying from third party.
I won’t say I am a designer-freak
I won’t say I go with the trend, but I love Nigerian designers and foreign designers, as well. Perfumes! I’m a perfume-freak. I cannot start naming the perfumes because I have a lot of them. I also love bags, shoes and more; if you follow me on Instagram you will know that. So, I won’t start mentioning names because I love all.
For any restaurant or lounge, service is key
And I always like to sustain what I have going like food, my service, my staff and a lot more because service is key. That’s the best I can offer my celebrity friends and that’s what will make them come back over and over.
My husband owns a record label so I love music
I love Nigerian music and I love rap music.