•What She Told City People About Her Life
Wednesday, July 29th, 2020 was a sad day for Port Harcourt celebrities as one of their own, pretty looking and hardworking lady, Ibinabo Horsfall Rami Dina died after a brief illness. Late Lady IB as she was popularly called by her admirers was married to Lebanese born former Managing Director of Presidential Hotel Port Harcourt and she established a first-class Beauty Salon known as ITEM Salon and Fashion Boutique one, of the first highbrow unisex boutiques in South-South of Nigeria where the who is who in the Oil-rich city of Port Harcourt rushed to be updated fashion-wise. Late IB also was into the provision of high-class ornaments that adorned the necks, fingers and ankles of Port Harcourt celebrities.
She was the lady behind Arabian dress code attires that distinguished high-class babes from others yet to adorn such fabrics in town. Her personal appearances at several high octane parties’ ignited life into such social gatherings her dress codes actually became an item to watch. Most ladies attend such parties with electronic gadgets just to snap, video and with pencils draw lady IB’s fashion and style outfits.
Her home front was so strong that late IB throughout her married life gave birth to two handsome boys and she at a time relocated to Lagos where her ornaments business gained prominence.
Many celebrities across Nigeria and abroad mourned her in death as Lady IB was most loved by all that met her throughout her life journey. Her father was a former Accountant General of Rivers state while her siblings Daye and Tonte are receiving condolences from friends and well-wishers. Few years before her untimely death, she donated her highly valued plot of land worth more than N50m to The Redeemed Christian Church of God along Tombia Street GRA Phase 1 where she first started ITEM Boutique and Salon.
She spoke to EMEKA AMAEFULA in her last interview with City People on 9th October 2002.
How did you come about establishing ITEM shopping Center?
ITEM is a story that is more than 30 years old. So, I cannot tell you how ITEM came about. But I will tell you that most men do not want liabilities as wives, my husband inclusive.
I decided to open something I will enjoy doing and I will always be there to monitor what’s happening. Again, I decided to open a place where I will always meet people, especially women and children. We stock children’s stuff as kids will always come around where you have toys and baby things. We offer ultrasound scan, X-ray and pregnancy test services.
We also have Salon services for women, where they can do their hair and fix their nails. We also have a barbing section for men. I decided to immortalize my mother’s name (she has been dead for about 14 years) and I loved her very much. I am actually her last child. I didn’t want her to die, so I decided to call my outfit ITEM.
Was ITEM the name of your late mother?
ITEM was not her real name. It was a name coined by my father, Chief L.B.C Dawari Horsfall-(Ibila V) to call my mother and she used to call him “HOW EASY.”My Mum is late today, but my father has refused to tell us the meaning, so I cannot really say it is a registered name, but it’s very a strong household name. And whenever you mention ITEM in the Horsfall family in Buguma, they will definitely know that you’re talking about my mother. Her name was Mrs. Ikakita Irene Dawari Horsfall.
What are the services you render here?
At ITEM, we have the Salon, baby accessories, Scan, X-Rays, barbing section and Nail studio. At the salon, for example, we have beauticians ready to transform you into an enchanting person. We also attend to your Eyelashes and Eyebrows. We do Bridal Makeovers including Piercing. The Hair studio is manned by qualified technicians. We also have general hair accessories and we sell wigs. Our nail studio is manned by technicians experienced in nail designing, manicure, pedicure, acrylic tips, fiberglass, Silk wrap, U.V gel, natural nail care and infill.
Did you copy all these from foreign countries?
I will tell you one thing, there are trained beauticians and born beauticians in Nigeria and I fall into the category of born beauticians because I read Economics and not Beauty. I love to look good. I love to have neat hair; to have a smooth face and I love to have my nails well kept and well cared for. You don’t need to go outside the shores of Nigeria to achieve these. You can do that within your own vicinity. All you have to do is to create the right environment for people to look good in your own country, or fix their hair, or make their nails and come back and tell you that “I made it in London”, or “I made it in America”, I believe that Nigerians are capable of doing even greater things than we are doing today.
How has your husband contributed to the standard you have set up at ITEM?
I will tell you one thing, my husband is a perfectionist. He does not like failure and will not be second in anything. If he decides to be an artiste his paintings must be the best. Whatever he decides to do, it has to be the best or he will not do it. So, I believe when I came up with the idea of a Beauty parlour, he decided that either it’s going to be in the same class with what you have outside Nigeria, or you don’t open one. And I think that’s what I worked towards and that is why I have ITEM looking this good.
Considering the high quality of services that you offer, don’t you think that your outfit is for the rich?
No, I do not agree with that, because at ITEM, when you walk in you are welcomed by my staff. I have very friendly staff. Every service is on a very moderate price range for the middle class, the high class and for the low class to be able to afford to look good. We don’t believe in cut-throat prices. We believe in fast turnover. That’s what we are working for and that’s why the salon is always filled with people.
What was your youth like under a father like Chief L.R.C Dawari Horsfall?
Like I told you, I am the last child of my mother and you just have to be clean or be in her good book. We had House-helps but my mum never allowed them to wash our clothes, to make our beds or to clean after us. We had all these and she inspected everything. And you dare not be dirty, because you would be whipped for it. I believe that is what my mother imparted in me. I believe if you have to do anything worth doing, it has to come out clean… I maintain my standard because I am involved, I don’t operate a business which I leave for a manager to handle. I run my own business. I don’t have a Manager here. I am the Chief Executive Officer-CEO and the Manager. I am everything like in every Salon, all my workers have their duties and so do I. I run my things and I am involved.
Don’t you think that your family background is responsible for the quality of clientele that you have at ITEM?
Yes, I agree with you, when you hear HORSFALL, it’s a large family. If I decide to have just Horsfall as my clients, I wouldn’t need anybody else. But with God on my side, I have seen that with hard work, anything can be done. I am sure there is another Horsfall out there too that has a beauty Parlour that I may not know about. The family is so large that we do not know one another completely. If you are not careful you might end up marrying another Horsfall. Thatis how big we are.
Are you not cutting costs by being your own manager?
Doing my chores myself does not mean I’m cutting costs, it allows me to be involved in knowing where you can make amends and how you can take corrections. But if you are involved directly in your business, you’ll see that you have some knots that you need to tighten. You have to talk with your customers, you have to know what they want, and so you must be there. But if somebody is telling you, it will be second-hand information, and you may not be sure of what you are being told.
Now getting by your activities at ITEM, how do you combine being a businesswoman and a housewife?
I am very proud to tell you that I am a traditional African woman that is a housewife. My business ITEM is secondary. My first priority in life is as a housewife. And I intend to remain a housewife…No matter what business I get into. I love being a Housewife, being with my two boys and I enjoy spending time with them. They are wonderful and I must say that I have a very great husband. If something comes between my marriage and my household, I will close it down…that’s how being a housewife is important to me.
When did you establish ITEM?
It was on February 9, 2002. We’re just eight months into the business
And I believe we are getting stronger and better from when we opened and now. I believe we have improved.