Woman of the Month

Ladybrille Exclusive Interview: Yetunde Taiwo, Afropolitan Publicist to the Stars & Ladybrille Woman of the Month April 2012

Ihave the privilege of interviewing some very important personalities in fashion, entertainment, law and sports, among many industries. Nevertheless, I was really excited to interview this personality, Yetunde Taiwo, our Ladybrille Woman of the Month for April 2012. I believe my excitement stemmed from watching Taiwo, all of these years, start a concept and ultimately nurture and grow it today to what it is. I have worked with Taiwo in behalf of Ladybrille in giving a distinct voice to Ladybrille’s visuals, among other things. It is very easy to interact with dynamic brilliant women often and in the process, forget how indeed brilliant they are. Thankfully, that fact has not been lost on us here at Ladybrille. Enjoy her exclusive interview and be inspired to be as brilliant.

The Ladybrille ‘Woman of the Month’ is a monthly feature on Ladybrille which celebrates women, locally and internationally, for their brilliant contributions to their communities and society at large.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: Whoa! Yetunde. Where do we begin? What an amazing journey you have been through professionally. I hope I am able to capture it for the Ladybrille audience.
Yetunde:
Thank you Ladybrille. Yes, it certainly has been a heck of a journey and what’s odd is that I feel I actually really just started with a clearer purpose and intention. I have enjoyed and I am still experiencing every moment of it.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: First, how are you?
Yetunde:
As of this moment, I am on my journey to staying fulfilled. I am good. And you?

LADYBRILLEmag.com: ( I am great). For years you have helped build a strong brand image of many in the fashion and entertainment industry. How does it feel to step from behind and just bask in your moment as our Ladybrille Woman of the Month for April 2012?
Yetunde:
It’s exciting. I am both anxious and yet genuinely humbled. It’s always easy to tell others what to do. It’s been a lovely dose of reality switching sides. I revel in all of it though. All of it.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: I want to go back to the very beginning. Who is Yetunde Taiwo?
Yetunde:
After watching Oprah’s Lifeclass (laughs) my answers have changed in the past four months. So I’ll give 2 answers. 1. My authentic self and 2. My ego/Stuff me (aka what I do). I am a person who genuinely enjoys connecting authentically with people and almost always finding a reason to be a part of making their life better or making them a little happier because of the energy I bring to the table. Now to my ego self: I am a Fashion and Entertainment Entrepreneur with a creative mind and an intense passion for living life and eating well. I have a PR company that focuses on emerging businesses/brands around the world in the Fashion and Entertainment industry.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: Where were you born? Where were you raised?
Yetunde:
I was born in Chicago, Illinois and raised in Lagos, Nigeria.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: You now have a role that is more so behind the scenes although that is about to change. But before we get to that, you were always in front of the camera with your many ventures way back. Let me take you way back when. How did you get into blogging on Xanga, even before we all caught on what is now today’s social media hype?
Yetunde: H
ahaha oh my goodness. I completely forgot about Xanga till you just mentioned it. I think the page still exists. (http://reincarnatedcreativity.xanga.com/). Wow! talk about memory lane. I was blogging before blogging became popular. I started in 1998 with my then personal site Icyangel: (http://icyangel.com/vers4.html). I studied communications in college so, I have always had an innate desire to communicate with others through words. I got into online journaling as a way to process my own personal and emotion growth as a young adult. I realized sharing my thoughts with others helped me understand myself and others better. Frankly it was like therapy. Who needs a shrink when you have that much support you can connect to in the world. These days, blogging is vicious and readers seem to have disconnected emotionally from their bloggers. Hence the very seemingly “keeping it real a.k.a sometimes mean and insensitive” comments people post. There is a loss of compassion across the board to remembering that we are ALL still human.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: (Well said.) Back then you were the popular kid on the online block. You hosted the show Nigeria International, you blogged and shared your personal life and you created graphics. How did you go from all that to ICY PR?
Yetunde:
(Laughs) “popular” really? I must have been oblivious to that. I was just having fun. Coming up with ICY PR? You know honestly, I realized that when I liked something, anything, I would sell it verbally to anyone that would listen. There were products or artist or designers at that time that I would meet with amazing products or services and I just felt, “my gosh, why are you not in a magazine or on the radio or TV, The world needs to know you”. Then I figured instead of wishing for someone to help them, I could be the one actually helping them. It definitely put me in service to others. This for me is super gratifying.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: (Speaking of ICY PR) You founded ICY PR in 2007 but never made the leap of faith to run ICY PR full time. What was the epiphany, that special moment that made you say, “I have to trust that I can make money and do this 110%?”
Yetunde:
That was a SERIOUS leap of faith. I always did ICY PR part-time until January 30th 2009 when I left a really great job to do this full time. My epiphany came when a project I had worked so hard on and was supposed to move to Nigeria for in 2008 fell through. Working with that brand helped highlight my business strengths and weaknesses, and when the project did not pick up, I knew I never wanted to feel that kind of disappointment again. I spent the next year paying off debt and keeping my expense to a bare minimum so that I could make the transition. So when I made that leap, I was very scared, very unsure, very anxious, but ready. At this time however, I knew my strengths, so I knew I would work my butt off to make sure I was okay.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: At the time ICY PR became a full time gig for you, in 2009, the nation was already experiencing financial hardship. How afraid were you to become a full time entrepreneur?
Yetunde:
I was very, very, very afraid. This was one of those moments where I thought to myself “Yetunde you have lost your mind” I was leaving a great job to go work on my own and I had just bought a condominium. How was I going to pay my mortgage?. I knew however that for sure, I did not want to work for anyone anymore. I had at the time only a handful of retainer clients, but my passion for graphic design also helped as I did random flyers, posters, websites, CD designs or even logos for small business owners. You’ll be surprised at how those things add up. But, like I said, I had kept my expense to a bare minimum so I made sure I could survive on as little as $2,500 a month. It was tough at first and it does still have its challenges now, but ICY PR finally found its groove and we’ve made it to our 5th year in business. We can only grow substantially from here.

BRAND MANAGEMENT

LADYBRILLEmag.com: Let’s talk about what you actually do. What are the kinds of services you offer?
Yetunde:
The services we offer include International Print, Radio, online and TV publicity. Image branding, so your logo, e-marketing and print collateral and Brand management; which focuses on your image and what we want our clients to be identified as (photo-shoots), what colors work to sell them or their products and services and how to maintain their image and the worlds perception of their image; physically and virtually. In one sentence: We deliver substance through image.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: How do you determine who the right client is for you and ICY PR?
Yetunde:
Since it’s a boutique style company. We choose to only have a certain number of clients in a calendar year and we can only have a certainly number in each category. It keeps the client happy and helps us deliver quality PR and strategies. I pride myself in developing personal relationship with my clients. It is important that I only represent products that I would use or only represent personalities that are in alignment with the advancement of their field of expertise or industry that ICY PR believes in.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: Every client has their own personality and the “relations” part in Public Relations does really come to play. Tell us a bit about how you have learned to manage relationships to keep your clients satisfied?
Yetunde:
My initial strategy is simply a gut feeling one. If when we consult with the client it feels good and we are on the same page in terms of their goals for their brand and why they feel they need PR at this time, then it’s that easy. The rest becomes communicating as often as needed with the client to understand them better and in turn understand how to pitch or package them. When you know a client better it really does help you easily come up with strategies and campaigns that will have an impact for their growing brand.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: What is a typical day like for Yetunde Taiwo as Founder and Creative Director of ICY PR?
Yetunde:
There is no typical day (laughs). What is typical, however, is that I always have to stop and eat. Breakfast, lunch or dinner. I hardly miss my meals (laughs). Most of my days however, I am driving to events or on the phone a lot with an average of 3 continents per week. Since we focus on international PR, we often walk around the clock to get things done.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: You have managed to put some solid names in the fashion and entertainment industry, especially in Africa’s fashion and entertainment industries, on your roster. Who are some of your current clients?
Yetunde:
It’s been a very interesting experience working with small business owners because you see their passion, and you see their desire to grow and you want to help them anyway you can. Some of our current clients include: Swimwear Designers Tahari Roqué and Bravo Moda, Couture Designers: Ella Brown Couture, Toju Foyeh, STUDIO D’ MAXSI, Nollywood Actress: Stephanie Okereke, Singer/Songwriters: TolumiDE and AiRis, Hat Designer: Claudia Schulz, Ijorere “The Invitation” and a few others.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: (Yetunde is also working with a very high profile client in the music industry that will remain unnamed for now). How involved are you in following your clients’ works?
Yetunde:
Oh it’s personal. I think sometimes, the team gets even more excited than the clients do when we get them a feature of activate a strategy that is effective. There are 7 members of the ICY PR team and we follow all our clients work. Frankly we become their best friend because in case of crisis, we need to come to their defense and when you feel like you know someone or what they stand for, defending them is easy.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: For many publicists, I know the relationship with their clients’ spills over into a friendship because it is a long sustained relationship. How do you handle the many emotional challenges that come with the job, especially where your clients do not receive a favorable press review or public approval?
Yetunde:
It’s like being a therapist. You listen, try not to judge, you hug or scold them as needed and then find a solution. Because the minute they become your client, their challenges become your challenges. The difference is remaining professional yet compassionate about the friendship you build over time and still remaining good at what you do, so they always remember why they have you as part of their professional entourage.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: Relationship with media, from a Publicist standpoint, can sometimes be a fine line to tow. How do you keep the best interest of your client’s in mind in dealing with your own relationship with media?
Yetunde:
First I remember and remind the team that it is not and will probably never be about us (ICY PR). It is about the clients. That automatically shifts our mind of how we manage our media relationships. So we think about our clients, not about ICY PR. I don’t  promote my company, I promote the people my company represents. Now occasionally, we celebrate the milestones we’ve had, but PR is always and will always be about OTHERS. I am about service to others and so my relationship with the media is only important as it relates to who we are pitching and how we are pitching them.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: What, in your view, makes a brilliant (Ladybrille) woman?
Yetunde:
A Brilliant Ladybrille woman is anyone woman who accepts herself as she is ideals and imperfections et al. Allows herself to make mistakes and hopefully learn from them, always does her best and lives daily to be a better version of herself so that she can inspire and be of services to others.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: What drives you Yetunde?
Yetunde:
What drives me is my realization that I am in service to God and I surrounded to that will in 2003. Believing in God was a very conscious choice I made and it’s truly been humbling freely willing to being used for service.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: What makes you get up and want to do what you do all over again?
Yetunde:
The pure delight in seeing others lives well and if I had something to do with it, even sweeter.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: How do you define success?
Yetunde:
Success for me is being content where I am, but still having the desire to want more and understanding that living a fulfilling life is more rewarding that just being happy.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: What is the legacy you want to leave behind, when all is said and done?
Yetunde:
When all is said and done, I want my legacy to be that I inspired people to be the best of who they are and find the joy in everything as often as possible. Life really is simple if you let it be so.

YETUNDE THE AFROPOLITAN CHEF

LADYBRILLEmag.com: Let me wrap up what has been nothing short of a delightful interview by transitioning to where you are presently in your life. It appears you are coming full circle. From being in front of the camera, to behind and now back in front of the camera. Tell the Ladybrille like-minded entrepreneurs, investors and all reading this what your Afropolitan Chef television series is all about?
Yetunde:
Afropolitan Chef is a concept I came up with to share my food love affair with the world. It’s the eating habits of a Cosmopolitan African who is grounded in Africa but influenced by the rest of the world in cooking style, techniques and ingredients. The show will highlight a hybrid of African and western food in a very quick and easy way.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: What do you mean by “Afropolitan Chef?”
Yetunde:
Afropolitan Chef (is) the Cosmopolitan African with an intense love affair with food.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: What is the current status of the show and where can our readers watch you cook?
Yetunde:
We just shot the pilot over the winter in Los Angeles. Right now, the show is being shopped to various networks for National TV placement. Once we secure a network and have a deal set in place, we will certainly let Ladybrille Magazine readers know.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: I understand you have a book on the way also. How has the writing process been for you?
Yetunde:
Yes, I have a cookbook I will be launching in late spring/early summer. Whoever said writing a cookbook was easy must not have written one. Try cooking a meal 3 or 4 times to make sure it comes out tasting out the same every time. It’s a lot of work, but it’s certainly reminds me why, oh why I love to eat.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: What is the one thing you hope people will take away from the book when it publishes?
Yetunde:
I hope they will understand that portion control is important in serving our bodies and yes, we can’t always control all the unhealthy things we eat because healthy food is actually expensive, but, we can eat as healthy as we can as often as we can. So I guess that is two things. (Laughs)

LADYBRILLEmag.com: Congratulations on your accomplishments. Having watched you and also solicited your business to lend a hand to Ladybrille’s brand image, it really is a delight to share the remarkable and brilliant woman you are, with the world, on our platform. I wish you nothing but continued success Ladybrille Woman of the Month, Ms. Yetunde Taiwo. (Laughs)
Yetunde
: Thank you Ladybrille Magazine. Thank you for always demanding excellence from others. It pushes everyone to always do their best as often as possible, which is one of my philosophies. Thank you for sharing my professional story with the world. I truly appreciate it.


-Interview by Uduak Oduok
Courtesy photos

Cover Image Credits
Photographer is Codis Kirschner
Make-up is Nydia K.
Styling is: Taiece Laniér

Dress from Kim’s Closet
Accessories: Pascale’s House of Bling
Shoes: ShoeDazzle.com

Ladybrille Woman

A running feature for 12 years on Ladybrille.com, The ‘Ladybrille Woman of the Month’ celebrates women in business and leadership, who empower themselves and others through their contributions and actions in their local and international communities. In 2014, the feature expanded to include a podcast show. If you would like to nominate a woman to be celebrated, please email editor@ladybrille.com.

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4 Comments

  1. Nans says:

    Yetunde is definitely an inspiring woman. Love the self awareness and confidence she exudes and also have been following from way back- the forums and sites and blogs. I remember she wrote a couple of short stories with cliffhangers- maybe one day a novel will come out 🙂 Rock on Yetty!

  2. Yes oh! Yetty was a blogging inspiration back in the day! As far back as xanga and Jazzynigerians! I’ve always admired her humility and welcoming nature. So glad to know you’re still a trailblazer.

  3. Onyeka says:

    Congratulations, Ms. Yetunde Taiwo. I just love how humble you are. You have for a very long time been an inspiration to me. Being the modest individual you are, you downplay your accomplishments in your answers. It is true that you were the popular kid. I remember reading your personal website eons ago and someone termed you the next Oprah and even then you had a very humble response.

    I wish you success in all that you do, and thank you for having the audacity to live your best life. It allows others to see the possibilities. May God continue to bless you.

    Thank you Ladybrille for a wonderful interview.

  4. 'Wande Tasha says:

    I have a huge respect for you both!!!! Congrats to Yetunde for making the woman of the month!!!!

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