If truth be told, these days, they seldom come as gorgeous and as brilliant as the pretty looking Joko Adeusi. Up until about four years ago before she left the employ of FCMB after having served them for 15 fruitful years, Joko was a senior management staff of the foremost banking institution and she held her own pretty well in the boardroom. She left FCMB to set up her clothing line specialised in catering for plus size women called Eve Xtra.
To say she has made a remarkable impact with Eve Xtra will be understating the fact. Every plus-size woman who desires to look beautiful and knows exactly what she wants now goes to Eve Xtra for top quality American and Canadian dresses specifically made for the big and beautiful woman. Recently at the 2nd edition of the City People’s Entrepreneurs Awards, City People’s Senior Editor, WALE LAWAL (08037209290) caught up with this absolutely enchanting and easy-to-talk-to lady and she shared with us a bit about her life outside of banking and how she has transformed Eve Xtra into the biggest plus-size brand in the country today.
Tell us, madam, how has life been outside of banking?
Life outside of banking? Honestly, I’m having fun o. I keep telling people that if anybody even offers me the job of a bank MD right now, I’m not sure I’m going to take it because I’m enjoying myself. There’s so much you can do for yourself outside of banking. And I mean, come on, there’s no target anymore to meet. Any money I make now is about me, myself and I. So, I’m enjoying every bit of it, I’m having fun. At least, the targets I’m running now are targets for myself. All the money I make now is money for myself and I get well-rested. I use all my connections for myself, I’m not running after any target here and there, so it’s been fun.
Is there any part of banking that you so miss very much?
You want to hear the honest truth? I don’t really miss anything in banking. I have put banking way past me, I have moved on since I stopped. I love FCMB. FCMB is like my family, Otunba is like my big daddy and Olori and everybody. Sometimes, I still have friends who are in the banking world who call me for contacts here and there and I help out in any which way I can.
Have you always had the intention to go into fashion specifically for plus size women long before you left banking?
Funny enough, I’ve been running Eve Xtra even before I left FCMB. I actually even started Eve Xtra while I was in school but I didn’t have a name for it then, but everybody knows me as Iya Alaje because I’m always selling one thing or the other. It’s something that I’ve been doing from my car to my house, everywhere. So, when I joined FCMB, I decided to register the company properly and get a name for it. So, I’ve been running Eve Xtra for over fifteen years and that’s about almost the same time I was in FCMB. I was running Eve Xtra vis-à-vis FCMB.
How did all of that evolve? One can tell clearly that you’ve always been a stylish person, but how did it all start?
It evolved really when I noticed that it was always difficult for me to get the kind of clothes I wanted to wear. You know, I’m very fussy about what I wear and I noticed that most of the clothes they sell for plus size people are always really drab. Sometimes, you go to some shops, they tell you they sell plus size and you find that their biggest size is size 16 or size 18 and that doesn’t cater for the plus-size woman in Nigeria. In Eve Xtra, we stock from American 16 wide woman to American 32 woman. So, someone that is about two to three times my size will still get something at Eve Xtra which is not possible in every regular shop that claims that they sell plus sizes.
So, that’s how it evolved?
Yeah, that’s how it started, the need to look trendy, the need to sell things that people want to buy and they want to wear, that’s where the urge started from. And I was like, come on, why am I stressing myself when I can create this thing for people and then people see me and half of the time they’re like, Joko, I like what you’re wearing and I’m like, okay, I sell it. They buy things off me, things that I’m wearing they still buy off me and then I restock and that was how I decided to start selling.
You’ll also agree with me that not all plus size women know how to be stylish. Some of them have absolutely no clue as to what to wear and what fits them. But yours isn’t quite like that, you’ve always been stylish, you’ve always been gorgeous, how have you’ve been able to do this right from when you were young? But have you always been plus size to start with?
I’ve always been plus-size from when I was young. And I tell people, as a plus-size person, you need to understand your body type. You have to understand what fits you. And plus size for so many people differs. Some people are plus because they only have big bums. Some are plus size because they only have big boobs. Some are plus simply because they have only big hands. So, you have to know how to cover up the side of you that you think is the problem or the plus-size of you. You have to know how to cover it up. You don’t find yourself having extremely big hands and then you now start wearing sleeveless clothes and that’s always the problem with so many people. Or you know that you have extremely big bums and you wear tops that are jumping. You have to know your body type, you have to know suits you and what you would wear and look elegant in it.
When you were young, who inspired your stylish look?
It was my mum. My mum has always known how to dress well and look good. Even up till now, my mum is 79, she’s going to be 80 next year, she still wears her shoes in the house. She dresses up like she’s going out and she’ll tell you, ‘Joko, you don’t know a visitor can come in at any time.’ She’s still very stylish even at her age.
So, how has the response been for you with Eve Xtra?
The response has been awesome, I thank God because no matter where my location is, people will always look for me. And again, people trust the brand that I sell, they know we sell nothing but quality. We don’t do Turkey, we don’t do China, so they will always come and they will always patronize what we have on offer. The patronage has been awesome.
I have a feeling you probably also do a bit of consultation as well?
Yeah, I do that. I do wardrobe consultation for a few HNIs, that’s High Network Individuals. I have a few of them on my list but of course, I can’t disclose their names. They always call me every now and then when they have events. For some, I even do personal shopping for them. I travel, I get them stuff, to make them look good as well, so I do a lot of that.
Where do you usually source your fabrics from?
I don’t sell fabrics, actually, I sell ready-made clothes and the majority of my clothes I get them from the United States of America, I get them from Canada. Mostly America and Canada. I try not to do Turkey because personally, I don’t like the brand.
I thought you would also like to bring in fabrics and have your designers do them to specification and all that…
(Cuts in) You know, a lot of people have been telling me to do that, it’s something I’m looking into. Maybe it’s something I will look into next year, I’m not sure now.
What you’re wearing right now, where did you get this?
What I’m wearing right now is actually from a friend of mine, she’s inside the hall right now, her name is Gemi Rihanna. She makes African prints, I don’t do African prints, I do strictly English.
This is gorgeous, it’s a lovely dress.
Before I let you go, tell us, how do you deal with male admiration, I’m sure you get that all of the time when you step out?
(Laughs) Oh, well, I’m used to it, it’s not a big deal, that has been on since I’ve been in the bank. Anybody that works in the bank will tell you that having male admirers is not a big deal. You just handle it as well as you should. Most of them become your friend afterwards. Some even become your business partner afterward.
But doesn’t it become a bit of a problem when you’re as gorgeous as a Joko Adeusi?
No, it’s not a problem at all. I’ve been able to manage it. I’ve been in the public glare for over fifteen, twenty years if I’m not mistaken, so nothing is new under the sun anymore.
Would you describe yourself as a jewellery person, a shoe person, etc?
I would say I’m a jewellery person. I could care less about my shoes. I like to wear anything beautiful, but I’m more of a jewellery person than a shoe and a bag person.