Ask around Lagos that who runs the biggest wine luxury store, you will be told it is “Alhaja Adiat Ayinke Alao” fondly called “Iya Saala”. She runs the biggest luxury wine shop in Apongbon. She is also one of the Lagos society women who have been rocking the scene for over 40 years and counting. She supplies wine to all Lagos rich celebs for their owambe parties.
Penultimate weekend, City People’s ABIOLA ORISILE had a chat with her and she spoke about how she started selling wine with 2000 naira and her love for luxury jewelery.
You are the head of all market sellers in Apongbon and your brand is big, how did you do it?
It is God and I return all the glory to Him. I started selling drinks on Apongbon road over 40 years ago. I am a Lagosian. I am from the popular Olowogbowo family in Apongbon. I started my life selling exotic drinks in cartons for over 40 years now.
How did you start?
That is a big question. Its a very big one. I started selling drinks with a token of 2,000 naira. It was given to me by my father, Alhaji Tajudeen Alao. He was one of the rich Lagos socialites called House of Gentlemen.
It is obvious your parents will want you to go to school, why selling of wine?
Well, I was sent to school but after my secondary education, I knew that selling wine is what I will do. My grandma sells wine at Apogbon. She was one of the biggest distributors back then. So I told my parents that I will prefer to sell wine and they accepted.
You are a businesswoman, yet you find time to go to parties to socialise. How do you get time to do this?
Its God all the way and we give him the glory. I am not just Iyaloja of Apongbon. I am also Iyalaje Onakankafo of Lagos. I was installed by Aare Onakankafo as Iyalaje of Aare Onakankafo. He said he wanted to appoint someone associated with the market.
You are very close to 2 Lagos Afusat who are your friends?
I have been able to keep my friends for over 40 years and still counting. The 2 Afusat’s have been my friends for over 30 years. Mrs. Sherifat Olugbode has been my friend for over 30 years.
You are on the plus size, but you are so fashionable?
(Cuts in) I was not big initially. I was on the small size. When I was much younger, my friends called me, “Tiologo”.
What has sustained you?
It is being contented with what Almighty Allah gave me.
You love gold, how long have you been wearing jewelry?
My mum sells gold in Kosoko, Lagos. I have always known myself to wear good jewelry.
What is your advice for those celebrities who want to wear gold but are not ready to work?
You have to work to look good.
What does it take to sell wine?
It doesn’t take much. You must also be contented. Don’t sell fake. Start small and grow big, before you know it, people will know your store for standard drinks.
Many young celebrities want to be like you, what is your advice to them?
They should work hard. Hard work pays. They should also take care of their kids.
Many don’t know Iya Saala’s age and some will say you are in your 50s, how old is Iya Saala?
I am over 60 years old. I am 62 years but will be 63 soon. I love to look fashionable despite being on the plus size.
How long have you been rocking Lagos social scene?
I have been rocking Lagos social scene since 1986.
Who made you Iyaloja of Apongbon market?
It is Alhaja Abibat Mogaji, who was the Iyaloja President General of all market women in Nigeria that installed me as Iyaloja of Apongbon market 12 years ago. I am not Iyaloja of Drink sellers, I have other marketers under me.