Lagos Society woman, Joke Shogunro, needs no introduction when it comes to the Lagos Social Scene. This is not only because she runs one of the biggest and busiest boutique in Lagos called Soggy’s, but because she also stocks the best designs from all over the world, which make her shop one of the shopping centres for A-list celebs.
Last week, City People’s Assistant Society Editor, ABIOLA ORISILE, spent many hours at her shop, where she spoke about her life at 53. How she runs Soggy’s and how she has rocked Lagos Social Scene for more than 30 years. Please read on.
You run one of the biggest boutique in Lagos called Soggy’s, how did it start for you?
Soggy’s was like a child play and this is because I have been running Soggy’s for more than 28 years. It started as a passion. I love fashion. I love to look good, so Soggy’s started by tailoring and designing fabrics. Along the line, I diversified when I got married. I started Soggy’s as a child when I came back from United Kingdom. When I got married and pressure was much, taking care of my husband and children, I decided to start a ready-to-wear. Something somebody else as made. It was not me designing the clothes, but selling designs that were made by people.
How old is Soggy’s now?
Soggy’s as a fashion outlet is 28 years now.
You started Soggy’s in your 20s, how easy was it for you to make it big?
You see, everything you do in life, you need to put God first. Humble yourself because when you do that God takes you to a high place. It is not by my power or might. Let me put it straight, I am a very lucky person. This is not because I do it right. I am just lucky that God has been so kind to me.
How easy was it to diversify from ready-to-wear to boutique?
Since I love clothes, and looking good, it was very easy for me to change. I still sell some materials, bits and pieces of things like that, I started buying men’s shirt, shoes and others. I found out that it was easy selling them because. It is easy for men to pick nice stuff, buy and pay at once.
It was a gradual thing. Not difficult at all.
Where did you start Soggy’s 28 years ago?
It was at my father’s house in Surulere. We had a space which my father gave to the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) to use as secretariat. When he got older and left politics, I took over the ground floor and started from there. It was my father, who bought me my first sewing machine . When I decided to change after marriage, it was easy for me to buy clothes from UK, Paris, to sell. Gradually, I got the first shop at Adeniran Ogunsanya which is the head office of Soggy’s.
Do you have other outlets?
Yes, we do. We have another outlet in Abuja, Wuse 2. I shuttle between Lagos and Abuja.
You have 3 sisters who rock Lagos Social Scene with you. They are: Kafilat, Toyin, and Aramide is it true?
(Laughs). Those are my sisters and I love them to my marrow. My sisters and I are very close. That is the way we were brought up. We all grew up as one, get along so well. We invite one an other to parties and go out together a lot.
How did you get your boutique’s name, Soggy’s?
Soggy’s came out of my father’s name. As I was deliberating what to name my outfit with a friend, we decided to create something from Bashir Sogunro. So I got the name from his name.
This is a one-stop shop, how is it like stocking the best products at Soggy’s?
It is not easy with the soaring dollar rate as our products are all imported. It has not been easy, but we thank God. I love quality. I try as much as possible to get a good bargain. Since it is something I have being doing for many the years. I’ve got customers abroad that I negotiate with to get the best quality. The quality of shoes you get here, is the same with those you will get in Italy, UK, America, and Turkey.
How is it like fulfilling all the needs of your patrons?
When you have been in business for years, you study the clientele and their needs. What are the things in vogue? What are the needs of people? The needs of younger generation are quite different from thoes of older generation. The things for the high class and lower class are also different. You look at the society and say, what is in vogue? We don’t only stock, what is in vogue, we stock what people need. That is why if somebody comes in and says I want cufflinks, we have them. if you say you want tie, night dress and party wear, we have them in high quality.
So, we do bits and pieces of everything and since it is what I have been doing for over 20 years, experience is the best teacher, you can’t beat it.
Joke Shogunro is a big brand just like Soggy’s, how does this make you feel?
I give God the glory and I thank all the customers because it is not just about stocking the best their patronage can’t be ignored. They have made us remain in business by making our brand almost priority. My friends, my family and most especially my husband are pillars of support . It is God and the customers who make a business grow. I give God the glory.
You are 53 years old now and you don’t look it, no stress mark, no blemishes, how have you been able to retain your youthful look @ 53 despite being a plus size?
I am a happy fellow. I am a joyful person. I am a Lucky person. Nothing gets to me. Nothing weighs me down. I am a stress-free person-who is always happy. I just wake up in the morning and I would say father Lord I thank you this morning.
You see happiness and youthfulness come from within.
Even when things look dull and are not rosy, be happy and pray. be determine. It has worked for me. Nothing disturbs me. I don’t get worried.
All I do is work and play. I don’t get disturbed about the things of life. I am highly contended and If I am looking up to God for something, I am always optimistic and happy. This has helped me much.
Why do you attend to patrons yourself despite having competent hands?
As I said, when you are humble, the Lord will lift you, lift you high.
My customers are my friends. Joke is everybody’s friend. When you walk into our store and I say hello to you, you become my friend. We come together to meet minds on what to wear how to wear it. When you keep me in business, you become my friend. Without my patrons, there is no Joke or Soggy’s. Will I wear them myself? Absolutely Not, so I have to be humble.
You are very active, how do you rest?
I rest when I need it. As today is Friday, if I leave this place, I will talk with my friends. If there is no party, I am home with my family. I watch TV much. Everything is not about Money, Work and so on. If care is not taken, one could break down. I play with my husband and children much too. I also travel abroad to relax.
How was growing up like for you?
Growing up for Joke Shogunro was fun. My father was a perfect gentle man who believed all his children must have the best education. My father is of blessed memory, may his soul rest in peace. He was a member of the UPN.
I am a Lagosian and an Isale Eko lady proper. My parents were married for more than 55 years. I grew up with my parents and watching them had much effect on me, especially my father. He was a blessing to us all.
My father who play with all of us. He used to plait my sister’s hair. If you saw my father with us, you would become yellow with envy. He was nice to a fault. He used to take us to the National Stadium and many fun centres. That is why you will see me and my sisters as close as ever.
How do you treat your flawless skin?
I am not a make-up person, unless I am going for a party. I always leave my skin to breath. I don’t pancake all day. I may not rub cream, but just cleanse, moisturis e and wear my perfume. I am just blessed.