*Author *Lawyer *Entrpreneur *Mother * Humanitarian
Anita Okoye, wife of popular popstar and one-half of the defunct Psquare duo, Paul Okoye, is founder of TannkCo for Kids, author and a mother of three, who is fully dedicated to creating practical, affordable and stylish clothing line for children. Having earned her LLB in Law from the University of Abuja, she furthered her studies with a Masters in Oil and Gas at the University of Dundee in Scotland. Soon after, she entered the Oil and Gas industry where she was able to hone her skills in Strategic Business Management, Sales and Marketing. In April 2016, she quit her job as a Strategic Business Developer for an Oil & Gas company in Nigeria to become a full time entrepreneur and Mom. In this interview with MARY NNAH, the humanitarian reveals that she has finally found her true calling and passion with the recent launch of TannkCo, a children clothing and accessories line
How does your upbringing influence what you have become today?
My mom has always instilled in me the importance of humility; this has helped me in becoming the woman I have become today. I come from a family of hard working people. I have watched my parents go after their dreams and keep busy. I am an entrepreneur today because of that upbringing. My siblings are just as industrious. I am sure my children will be too.
Growing up, what were your childhood dreams and fantasies?
I have always loved working with children, so UNICEF had been the dream or being a UN ambassador for Nigeria. This love and dedication for children has been with me for a long time and the passion has translated to almost everything I do. TannkCo is one of the brands inspired by my love for children.
Who are your mentors?
My mentors are Mrs. Ifeyinwa Ighogalo, for the way she has grown her passion for interior design into an institution; Jessica Alba, I love for the business woman that she is and how she is able to strike a balance between her business life and her family life and finally my mom, for being a strong woman, the greatest role model and my greatest supporter. She invested heavily in making me who I am now. I am largely inspired by women who know how to balance their homes and business. If you have a family and a career as a woman, then you know that this is a task that must be carefully executed and treated with care. Your home front cannot suffer, and your career must thrive! My mentors are these super women who have mastered and perfected the art of balance.
What does it feel like being married to one of Nigeria’s foremost music star?
It’s great! We live a very normal life and enjoy the company of our family.
What peculiar challenges do you face as a wife to a super star and then as a woman entrepreneur?
I don’t think there is any peculiar challenges per say. We are very humble people (my family), I am also very industrious. I want to build a brand for myself and I want to leave a legacy for my children also. I believe I face the same challenges that every single wife with children faces – pursuing that career and ensuring home is good too. I make time to cook, do assignments with the children, read to them before they sleep, attend functions with my husband, listen and be a part of his projects, attend school functions, connect with other moms and run a couple of businesses as well. It is not an easy task to find the time to do everything you love. But I have learned how to prioritise, and I have learned how to balance my work life and home life. It also makes it easier that I have a family that supports me.
How many years did you spend in the oil and gas industry before launching a business of yours?
I spent eight years in the Oil & Gas industry before deciding to chase my passion. I am thankful for my experience in the oil and gas industry and the opportunity I had to have strong professional people mentor me. I have been able to use my experiences and interactions to make strong business decisions where my own personal business is concerned. Soo, my experience in the oil and gas industry was an enlightening and interesting experience spent liaising with people from different parts of the world and learning about legislations and practices of the industry. It’s an industry I respect and will always have a passion for. For the most part, I will say that the mentors I had in that sector made such a huge impact on me and my decision to go after my dreams to focus on Children. I am forever grateful for the opportunity and experience I had in the oil and gas industry because it shaped me into being more open minded, creative, determined and above all, passionate about my work.
What informed your decision to establish TannkCo?
My decision to establish TannkCo came from two different places. In the first place, I have a love and flair for children and their well-being and secondly it also came from my needing a company like TannkCo to exist. I know how difficult it is as a mother to find quality clothing and accessories for my children. I also found it disheartening that we had to travel in order to shop for children. I didn’t want to continue to order from the States or the UK for basics for my children. I also had a lot of feedback from other moms who had similar issues in finding quality staples for kids. I decided to solve a problem by creating TannkCo and bringing it home. You can shop from the comfort of your home on our website, and get clothes delivered. We guarantee quality, we guarantee your kids will look amazing and feel fabulous, our pieces are also very friendly, not too costly and we have all the staples you could possibly need. And for those who like to physically see what they buy? We will be launching our very own store! So, you can come in and shop for your children.
Why the name TannkCo?
I thought it will be cool to incorporate my children’s names in the clothing company, so Tannkco is the combination of my kids’ name. I am proud of my children, I am a proud mother and it’s amazing to own a company that reminds me of the important things in my life – my children.
How does TannkCo operate?
TannkCo operates both an online store- www.tannkco.com and a physical store in the heart of Lekki. Moms and Dads are free to shop from the comfort of their own home and have items delivered to them across the whole country or come visit us in store!
Who are your target audience and what distinguishes your brand from others who are in similar line of business?
Our target audiences are parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles and everyone who knows a child. What makes TannkCo really special is that our brand is known for affordable, yet luxurious clothing specially created with every child in mind. We are also proud to introduce basics like quality cotton underwear for kids and clothing to suit every occasion.
You left a seemingly thriving industry to start from the scratch in the bid to own a business of yours. How easy was it taking such a decision at that particular point in your life?
It definitely was not an easy decision but when your dreams tug at your heart, it’s only fair to try! Launching TannkCo is a dream come true. I also wanted to focus on building my personal brand and doing all the things I have ever wanted to do. My determination, passion and love for each and every customer is what will sustain me in this business. I am ready for it. This decision to launch TannkCo has taken me through a wonderful journey of self-discovery and learning. I have not regretted, and I am grateful for the support of my loving family.
Looking back, would you say you have found fulfilment in TannkCo?
My company is in its early days. My fulfilment at the moment is the fact that I have been able to get things off the ground. I look forward to recording more successes with this brand.
Aside TannkCo, what else do you do? And I hear you are also an author.
Yes, I am an author and I have written just one book called ABC’s of Africa. The ABC’s of Africa was inspired by my love for the bountiful natural wealth that Africa has to offer. It’s a must read for all children and will make learning the alphabet and about Africa very interesting. It’s time to teach our children about this great continent and all the beautiful things that it holds. I hope to do this through my book!
I am also a co-founder of the Cashew Apple Project which is dedicated to projecting positive African narratives using images and videos of tourist attractions, lifestyle events and many more. I am a strong believer that tourism will boost our economy largely. I also feel that we have not taken advantage of all the places and things that this continent has to offer. I am inspired to tell positive African stories through this project. I am also the co-founder of Little Luxe Lifestyle, a furniture company for kids. We specialise in creative and beautiful crafted furniture pieces for kids. I am also a humanitarian with a strong focus on children as well. Using my social influence to support projects and brands that are focused on the betterment of a child is something we are actively working on.
You are a mom and a wife. How have you been able to meet up with the demands of the home front and your businesses?
I find balance. I ensure that I have time for my husband and my children and also time to build my career. I work with schedules and I am intentional with my scheduling. My husband and children are also very excited about my projects and I ensure that they are a part of it all, every step of the way.
Tell us, what more do you have in the pipeline?
Watch and see, if I tell you, I will jinx it, just keep your eyes glued on TannkCo
What’s your vision for TannkCo in the next couple of years?
For TannkCo to be a recognisable brand and a household name especially in the affordable luxury kids apparel sector not just in Nigeria but globally. I would like customers from all over Africa and the rest of the world. I also hope that our fashion industry in Nigeria continues to grow so that we can manufacture locally as well. I also want to own TannkCo stores in major African Cities.
What’s your advice for young people?
If you are focused and not easily distracted, you will accomplish your dreams and goals. Never think it’s too late or too early. Your time is now!