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Tuesday, 8 March 2016

My husband and I are like twins -Socialite Toyin Kolade


Business woman and socialite, Princess Oluwatoyin Kolade, is one woman who has remained resilient in business and in the social scene over the years. The CEO of Fisolak Global Group, Fisolak Royal Furniture and Arikay Oil and Gas, has a unique way of blending her business with family life and at the same time, enjoying the social scene in company of her amiable husband.

Dr Toyin Kolade who is also fondly known in the social scene as the Iyalaje of Apapa, because of the way she has entrenched most of her businesses in the Apapa area of Lagos, is a jovial, simple but thorough person.
Though a success, she acknowledges the important role of a man in a woman’s life and tells us the many reasons that has made her consider her matrimonial home as the base of her real success in life. She spoke to Paul Ukpabio.

How do you cope seeing that at 10pm you are still at work, when do you find time to rest?
I thank God for everything. When you believe in God, somehow, He finds a way to give you rest. He gives you the strength to find rest. God finds time for me to rest. As clearing agents and shipping agents, we have so many products. Sometimes I leave office late in the night. As shipping agents, we are at work whenever the ship comes around because, we have to monitor our products. Out here, we have to be on our toes. Our customers are sensitive, we realise that . So we treat them well. And we are always there for them. So in such a situation, it is God who provides time for me to rest.

How do you balance being a working mother with the home front?
As a mother, I love children. Thank God that they are grown up in university and secondary school. I create time to be with my children. What I do is that, on weekends, I find time to be with them and we go out, hang around shopping malls, just having a day out together. Also, my husband finds time to be around me. He comes around my office too.

You are a popular face in social circles, how does that affect your lifestyle?
There is the good side of it, and then the bad side of it. The good side is that, I am likeable, friends come around me and a lot of people also want to do one business with me or another. Being popular is actually also good for business. But the bad side is that, one has to be wary of the people you meet or do business with. There are also people who feel bad about one’s popularity and really go out to try to hurt people. So when you are popular, you still have to be careful.


What business are you into?
I thank God that my business has grown a lot from the trading that I used to do. These days, I am into maritime business. We are involved in import and export businesses, clearing and forwarding, consultancy, interior furnishings and supply business. I have a group of companies; one part is involved in importation and another part is into sales of electronics.

I am also a contractor to some state and federal Government. I have franchise for Samsung products and we import too. We feed the market with our household appliances. That is apart from the clearing, forwarding and shipping work that we do. We have also ventured into the oil and gas industry. We started Arikay Oil & Gas Company ten years ago. So I can simply say that, as at today, what we have presently is a group of companies.

What attracted you to your husband?
He is my God-given husband. You know when God gives you a husband; you will never have a problem.

Does he support you in your business?
Yes he does. He is a hardworking man. So when such a man has a wife who is equally hard working, who is also a good wife, he will not have any excuse but to support such a wife. It is also important that a wife is trusted, because when a man has a wife that he trusts, he will wholeheartedly support her in all the things that she does. So my husband is always there for me. He knows that our lives are better because he gives me the opportunity to assist him.

Why does your husband trust you?
My husband trusts me because he has the fear of God and so do I. The trust that we have between us, has helped our marriage. The truth is that, if a husband and a wife do not trust each other, definitely, the marriage will collapse. I am glad that my husband and I love each other passionately. We are actually like twins.

So what will you say has been the secret of your marriage?
The secret has been that, we do not keep any secret from each other. We tell each other everything. We share everything.

Your advice to married couple

Couples should trust each other. A husband and wife must put God first in everything they are doing. It is important that they do not lie to each other. Wives especially should not keep boyfriends. They should not be involved in extra-marital affairs as that kills relationship fast. I am shocked that some wives today have boyfriends all over the place. I believe that women especially should not be sharing matters about their husband with people outside their home. That is because in sharing such matters, one will not know who among the persons she is sharing their marriage secrets with, will use it against them. Some of the women they are sharing their marital secrets with, may be interested in her husband. I advise that wives make their husbands their father, friend and everything.

Do you take holidays with your family?
We all went on holiday last year in Dubai. Hopefully, this year we will be in America or  Switzerland for holiday. But let me tell you the truth, I love going out on holidays like that with my family. But I really do not want to go far away like that. I want to holiday around here in Nigeria or even Africa with my family. I really urge that African governments and especially Nigerian leaders develop this country so that we can have facilities and infrastructures that will make life convenient and enjoyable.

I love Dubai. Last year and previous year when I was in Dubai, I couldn’t help but remembering the first time that I started going there some many years ago. I started comparing what it was then, and what it is now, and I couldn’t help but glorify God at the marvellous change that has taken place over there. I pray that Nigeria becomes like that too soon so that people will be coming from their countries around the world to do tourism here too. It would be lovely if we can have visitors from abroad come for summer here. I pray for this new government so that they can give us regular electricity, water and life! This is Africa! We are well endowed with natural resources.

Toyin Kolade with husband
You have talked so much about God. So can we say you are a religious person?
I am a good Christian. I love God, without Him, I will not be where I am today.

You have indeed been active in the business of clearing and forwarding, that is not usually a female terrain.
When I started, it wasn’t, but now, the women are there in full force. If you look around, you will notice that the women have taken their due position in the business and are also doing very well. We women are more reliable (laughs) and we are always out to ensure that we impress our clients.

Do you think that your background help shaped the person that you are today?
Of course, when you have a good background, with parents who spent time to teach you about life, then it is likely that you will be okay. I come from a Christian royal family, where we were taught the principles of living, how to relate with people, how to handle the issue of trust and how not to get involved with bad friends. I thank God for my background. My parents taught us well. But my father is late now. My mother is still around; before long, she will be 90. I want God to give her more life.

How did you start out in business?
I started quite early, that was when I was in school. I started with my parents who were also in one business or another. You just need to be hard-working, focused and be prayerful. From the beginning of my life, I worked very hard. I would say l inherited the business side of life from my mother. That is because; i used to follow her to work. She mentored me in business. It was from there that I made money early in life going as far north as a food distributor among other things.

How did you meet your husband?
The first time I saw him, I knew that would be my husband. It was indeed love at first sight. I loved his countenance immediately. I noticed he is a calm person and I fell in love with his patience. He is actually a nice man. He is also honest.

Your first car..?
(Laughs) My first car was an orange coloured Volkswagen Jetta car. But even then, as at the time I bought it, it was considered an expensive, luxury car. Then when you had a Volkswagen car among your friends, you were considered ‘a big girl.’ Owning a car then even meant you were on the upper social ladder.

What is your style these days?

I love lace, I wear that a lot. I love to look good, I like to dress well and be neat. I love it when there is a rhythm in the colours that I wear, and one colour matches another. You know that, Nigerian ladies dress fashionably well. I can say that Nigerian ladies are number one in fashion. Without Nigerian ladies, most shops in Korea, Austria, Switzerland and other such places will suffer a recession. People don’t wear those fashionable materials there.

You have been identified with philanthropy in recent times, are you considering going into politics?
Never! Everybody cannot go into politics. I will rather continue to spend and support people in politics. And I want to commend the democratic process that has led to the hope for change that has just taken place. It is commendable to know that, as a nation, we are finally developing principles. I am happy with the political change in the country. It has already reflected in the activities at the port. The officials of Nigerian Custom Services are very much newly improved and they are doing great presently in ports operations. Right now, containers can be cleared easily. You can even do some services same day. So right now, no demurrage, the Lagos port has been de-congested, while Apapa road has been cleared of traffic. So the change is here.

Are you happy with the role women are playing today in Nigeria?
Yes, I am. The truth is that, I see more and more women becoming great in life, impacting more people and doing well. Women are daily aspiring into greatness, they are in business, they are intelligent and they are daily achieving in all spheres of life. There are women accountants, judges, engineers; they have even become senators and ministers, sooner they will be governors and president in Nigeria. I see that happening soon.


What would you say helped you to succeed in life?
I would say I have remained focused in business, and I have always displayed intelligence even from my early life. Like I told you earlier, I was well mentored in business by my mom and at a point; she used to give me a free hand to take on decisions. That helped me a lot as I became more responsible for my actions. It also made me daring but at the same time cautious.


Your husband dotes on you with much affection, do you ever have issues?
I don’t know of any marriage that does not have its up’s and down but I can say once again that I love everything in my husband just as he loves me. The way you see him, that is just the way he is. He is very understanding. Sometimes I work late and get home late. But he would be there for me. We handle our family matters between us. No matter how successful a woman is, she should be submissive to her husband. Part of my success is actually the fact that I am submissive to my husband. I respect him a lot and you know in such a situation, respect also begets respect.

Have you ever had a nasty experience?
Yes, when you are in business, different things are abound to happen. But I thank God that He has been kind and made a lot of things favourable for me. There have been cases where there were misjudgements over a decision, but the fact that I have focus and I am intelligent helps.




pix: courtesy Encomium & Global Excellence 

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