Reveals Her 30 Year Love Story With ASUE
Few days back, Ifeyinwa Ighodalo, (née Chigbo), the Chairman, Board of Trustees WIMBIZ (Women in Business) and CEO of Foremost Interior décor outfit, DO. II Designs, turned 60. This took many by surprise because she does not look it one bit. She looks 20 years younger than her age. Many celebrity top shots especially in the corporate sector went all out to celebrate her. She also gave herself a good treat of taking new pictures to celebrate her day, a virtual Zoom party, Live chat on Instagram and close private party with her family in her home. She turned 60 on Thursday, May 14th 2020. She is married to the foremost Lagos lawyer, Asue Ighodalo who is the elder brother of popular Lagos Pastor, Ituah Ighodalo.
To celebrate her day, she organised a live chat programme on Instagram where she spoke about her life in full, for the very first time. It was a session where many of her friends and mentees watched her live as she took everyone into the ABC of her life at 60. She is known to have always spoken about her business but she spoke for the first time on her marriage, her waiting period, her background and many more.
ON GROWING UP
Though I am Igbo, my parents met and married in Ibadan. My mum was a nurse while my Dad was working at University of Ibadan. I have a lot of affinity for Ibadan, my daughter was christened in Ibadan, my husband’s home was in Ibadan and I also got married in Ibadan. Though .i come from Enugu, I have routes in Ondo, Edo. I moved to America between the age of 11 and 14. I was not raised as a girl but raised as a boy. My Dad influenced my personality in business and so that was part of why I went to study mathematics in school. Though I love maths and I also love money because as at age 17 when I was still in secondary school, my parents were already into business.
I graduated in accounting from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. My dad was a director at first bank. I was posted to Abeokuta for my youth service. My Dad got me a job in First bank. My nature is not to be a banker. I always knew what I wanted to do. When I was in the university, my parents had an interior décor outfit and I used to take some things from her store to set up my room in school. People will come around then and started admiring my room, so when I left school, after my youth corps,I went to work with my parents so that was where the love for interior décor started. I know I would not survive in the corporate world because the corporate politics was too much for me to bear.
I graduated at age 21 , I did my youth corps at 22. I joined our family business in Enugu where I learnt the ropes of business. At 23, I went to England and came back at age 24. I joined casa fina furniture store owned by the covers on Awolowo road in 1985-1987 as a showroom manager then I left in October, 1987 to start my own business. I then rented an apartment in Yaba from the Mobolaji Bank Anthony’s family in Lagos. My parents were one of the pioneers of interior decors in Nigeria.I was raised well by my parents and I was everything together, as the first girl, the daughter, cook, house girl, all in one. My form of relief is music and I took after that from my Dad.my mother raised me to be domesticated not subservient and very independent. She taught not to stand for nonsense, to be submissive and very tough. My father gave me self esteem, no gainsaying I was my father’s favourite. He taught me to respect and support my husband. So starting my business early in life is one of the many traits I took after my parents.
My mum taught me everything about Style and Skincare routine, my youthful look is from God, my mums gene and of course my husband. I learnt the act of tieing turban from my mum. When I was like 6 years, I used to watch her, and when I grew up, I was always struggling with gele then, she always gives me her Aso Oke and one day, I tied it as a turban and the compliment I got from that event was much so I decided to always do turban afterwards, that was in 1991. It’s been 29 years that I have been tieing it. So I took all my sense of style from my mum. We lived in America in 1971-1974, when my mum was in her late 30s, we came back to Enugu when she was in her 40s and since I know her, she has always been stylish with the most beautiful legs which got my Dad attracted to her, (laughs).
ON HER YOUTHFUL LOOK
I still don’t believe I am 60. My beauty routine has always been God, a clean mind and exercise. I started working out at age 17. I was using Juvena product in my 20s, then Clarins in my 30s, then now, I use Christian Dior products. I don’t use foundation at all, I don’t also apply powder except to take the shine off my face. I do a lot of sleep, take a lot of water and exercise well.
ON HER LOVE STORY
I was 23 when I met my husband in the UK. A mutual friend’s dad introduced us when I was in my uncles house in London then. Then in 1983 I went for summer holiday,came back and we bumped into each other by a mutual friend. So in 1984 which was a leap year, as at February that year,we had not started dating then. I was doing an interior design course and was to do interview for someone so my mind just went to my husband which I met in London then, and on February 29th, I invited him to dinner so that was how bold I was.
I had prepared everything for the night and when he came , I convinced him to do the interview with his baritone voice and that was it.so we kept communicating and then on my cousins birthday, I called him to take us to the party, so from there he said some few nice things to me and on March 19, we were officially dating. We hung around in the UK for about two weeks before we came back to Nigeria. As at then,he was in his parents house in Ibadan and I was in Enugu. So shortly he moved to Lagos and I had to convince my father to let me come to Lagos. The long-distance relationship lasted for about 3 months and he always drives down to Enugu. So to cut the long story short, here we are, 30 years on and still counting.
ON BUILDING LASTING MARRIAGE
I was too young when I met my husband to know I have to pray for the kind of husband that I want but I used to like tall,dark and handsome men so when I met him, he has everything. As I said earlier,I met my husband through a friend, I got to know him later after the interview.I called my husband a special pet name and it helps in marriage. I was raised a Catholic so to me family is the most important thing to me and that was why I had a lot of Godchildren. In my generation, it was about love. My husband was kind, generous and has solid respect for his mother. He never played with his mum. When I met him, I saw a potential , smart, focused and seriousness in him so that was why I went for him. So I will advise you pray your husband into your marital life. I went into my marital home with my knees not to prove any point. So for me, the family is key, I actually went into business because of my family at 33 years old. So I did not realize my husband’s kindness until I married him. He is an amazing soul who chooses his family first. Be submissive and settle any differences before you go to sleep. Pray, pray and pray, it is always not too much. Marry into a good home too, my late mum inlaw, Folayegbe Ighodalo was the first female perm secretary in Nigeria. She is from a good home and raised Godly children, Aunty Tolu, Asue and Pastor Ituah. If you come from a good home, you will always want to marry into a good home so thrive as much as possible to become a better you. So I learnt to respect my husband and make things work in my home.
ON BUILDING HOME TOGETHER
Decide what your priorities are. Hold on to God because he knows the end from the beginning. God has written the story. Marriage is a partnership and shared vision so you need to love. Get on your knees and pray anything you want into existence. The love of a good man matters most. Be yourself, don’t be somebody else, don’t lose yourself in spite of any challenges. Live your life for yourself and love. Be considerate and compassionate.
ON WAITING ON GOD FOR A CHILD
I waited for 6 years. my business started at age 27 and got married at age 29. My husband also started his company, Banwo and Ighodalo, B and I, 2 years after we got married so we were a young couple just starting life. All through my waiting, my husband let me be, he let me soar, there was no pressure whatsoever. The only pressure I had was not even from my inlaws but my mum who was very concerned. Every Jan 1st from 1991, I go to God to pray, remind him of my situation. So this I did for 5 years but in 1996, I stopped and told God that I surrender all. As God would have it, by March of that same year, I got pregnant and birth a beautiful daughter, Omoehi Ighodalo but I have 30 other Godchildren whom I take care of. The waiting period could be tough but hold on to God, be still and hear God.
-TAYO FAJORIN OYEDIJI