The ‘Ladybrille Woman of the Week’ is a feature on Ladybrille that celebrates women who empower themselves and others, through their contributions and actions, in their local and international communities. These women are intelligent, courageous, confident, and innovative. They strive for balance in their personal lives (whether emotionally, mentally, and spiritually), are persistent, and when they fall, they get right back up. These women honor and stand in their truths. They are business and community leaders, visionaries, and game changers. They are our sisters, aunties, mothers, friends and so much more. They are “Ladybrille” (brilliant) women.
If you are a woman or know of a woman who should be celebrated as a ‘Ladybrille Woman of the Week,’ please feel free to email (email@example.com).
This week, we celebrate Joan Okorodudu, Founder Isis Model Agency, Nigeria’s Next Supermodel Reality TV Show.
LADYBRILLE: What do you do professionally and what have some of your accomplishments been to date?
JOAN: Professionally I am a fashion designer, model manager and a cosmetologist. I am also a non-practicing politician. I am a Political Science graduate of Boston University.
Some of my accomplishments are putting Nigerian Models on international runways like BET Rip the Runway show which Bunmi Ademokoya opened, Paris, London, (and) New York Fashion Weeks, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa, Mercedes Benz fashion Week Malta, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Cape Town, Mercedes Benz fashion week Joborg and so many others.
My models have done shows for Deola Sagoe and other top African and Nigerian designers. My models are in top magazines of the world, New African woman, Vogue, Marie Claire, Glamour, Moda Style International, Pride Magazine UK and Black beauty to mention but a few. We have been shown on CNN and Reuters have shown my models and Nigeria’s Next Super Model on tv’s all over the world.
Recently I was contacted by Declan for Vogue Italy and I had a one-hour interview via skype; that was few months ago. I was going through my email and I got a mail from Declan stating that they were looking for the owner of Isis models and they want to do an interview over Skype.
Bayo Haasstrup did my make up, and that was the start of my journey with Vogue Italy. The finalist of (last) year’s Nigeria’s Next Super Model (were) all on Vogue Italy’s website. I am proud to say that Nigeria’s next super model has become the first model search ever to be on Vogue Italy. Also, the editor of vogue tweeting Nigeria’s Next Super Model is also amazing especially knowing that her twitter account is verified.
Also that a magazine like yours has done my story twice, also knowing that Isis models is well known around the world now. I was shocked recently getting a mail from a top designer asking me if Isis models were coming to Milan.
Also having 14 models at the last Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa. The fact that last year I gave away two awesome cars to two young ladies, the winner of last year’s Nigeria’s Next Super Model Favour Lucky; and the winner of best model of the world 2007 Bunmi Ademokoya.
Signing an MOU with ECOWAS COMMISSION PRESIDENT to launch ECOWAS FASHION WEEK and thankfully we are doing it in 2014. The Ecowas Comission wanted all Ecowas country involved and time was too short.
LADYBRILLE: What drives you to make a difference the way you currently are?
JOAN: First of all GOD. I have always been the way I am trying to help others. Even though some people tried to see it end, I moved on. I am particularly proud that I have been able to help these young men and women to fly high even though we had so many obstacles on our way. The fact that most of the young girls who are my models are in school.
LADYBRILLE: When self-doubt creeps in, what do you say to yourself to stay focused?
JOAN: When self doubt creeps in, I talk to God and I say, “stay focused you are almost there.”
Most people don’t understand that you cannot run a modeling agency without money, I mean serious money, that is why you see that most people cannot do what I do. You have to invest in a model for almost 2 years before they can start making money. This is why it is tough to do this business.
I applaud my husband of 30 years and Chris Oputa of Studio 24 for helping me . . .
From their books, flight tickets to hotels I take care of. Now, the top models do their booking, pay their tickets and with me even though they are independent. I still have this mother grip on them that I throw in hotel and feeding that is my mother instinct. Now that Isis is good and ready to move to New York it is going to be a new dawn.
I think it will help a lot of black girls worldwide. However, we are open to other races.
LADYBRILLE: For you, do you think crying is a sign of weakness or strength?
JOAN: No crying is a sign of strength. I cry all the time.
LADYBRILLE: Health is so important but often many brilliant women simply neglect self because they are always so busy serving others. How are you taking care of your health?
JOAN: I know health is very important and as soon as I am done with NNSM I am going to go to a health farm. Work is just too much for an old lady like me. Though I am 55 years old, I think like a 20 year old.
LADYBRILLE: What is it you hope, when you look back on your life, you never regret not doing or being?
JOAN: I probably will regret not going into Politics full time.
LADYBRILLE: Tell us how you define yourself, the Ladybrille (brilliant) woman?
JOAN: I define myself as a selfless, kind and very intelligent woman, very articulate and ready to create things out of nothing. A woman that will never try to bring others down but to lift them up, a woman that can do so much by giving and giving.
LADYBRILLE: As a woman, what is the one most inspiring/empowering piece of advice you can give to our community of brilliant women as they navigate their personal and professional lives daily?
JOAN: My piece of advice to other women is to learn to lift their fellow women up, to see social media as a contributor to descent life journey and not a medium to lie, and malign other women. That the journey through this world is to leave your mark that will be remembered all the way. That women can make it no matter what is thrown at you. That women should learn from women like me. If in 2009 I threw in the towel, Nigeria’s Next Super Model would have been history.
I am a woman of courage, steel and that is why I keep walking. Also, the fact that I put Christ first in everything that I do is important. In 2009, it was Christ that I held on to and in 2013, I am holding on to him this time a bit closer.