United Kingdom-based Abolaji Odunuga is an application system support analyst and publisher of Duchess International magazine. She talks to Benneth Oghifo about the inspirations for the magazine and plans to launch the print copy in Nigeria and other countries
What inspired you to venture into the media terrain?
I found myself in a very dark place at some point in my life and I lost my self-esteem, I hit rock bottom. Writing became my therapy during those moments, and I have until that moment worked for an international magazine for 10 years. I therefore decided to share my story online and since been getting a lot of responses from people relating to my story and also sharing theirs.
This has since been pushing me further to start adding inspirational quotes to women’s pictures which I then post online.
The positive responses I receive from readers online motivated the birth of the online magazine which I have named Duchess International Magazine.
Could you share with us what the dark place was?
Hmmm (Smile) I found myself in an abusive relationship and I struggled a lot to leave the relationship thinking about what my families especially my Mum would think about me. In the process of trying to stay married, I began to lose my hair. I was on four different prescriptions and would not want to see anyone nor go out socialising. Little did I know I was depressed.
To cut the story short, I had to make a decision to leave or stay and lose my life at some point and my children ends up in a care home.
I left my marriage, it was a lot of challenge, and it feels like you broke a taboo. I had some of my female friends and older ones, calling me on the phone abusing me. You won’t die, you should go back. This added to my pain and I wondered why I was being judged especially by females and not males.
I wake up every morning saying out loud affirmations ‘I am Beautiful, I am strong, I am special etc.’ but I woke up one morning and I said to myself, ‘I am a duchess waiting for my duke. I deserve a duke, I deserve to be treated better’ and the rest is history.
Many great ideas have ended up right where they started without much to show, how were you able to overcome doubt and push through? What was your greatest challenge starting out?
I was in pain and had great challenges even before starting and because it was from the inside, It was a therapy I use to get my day started. I had no expectation so I had no challenge until people start reaching out to me from different parts of the world appreciating the work I do.
Now I have decided to take it to the next level by coming out with the print publication of the magazine. I hope it meets my audience needs and impact their lives positively.
Your magazine is focused on women alone. Are you a feminist?
In 2015, I wrote an article titled “Letter to my Nigerian Women, Am I a feminist”. I did share my thought on feminism in that article, why don’t we “women” come together first, work on us first, stay together, achieve together, encourage one another and lift each other up first, after which we will now talk about feminism.
Duchess International Magazine exclusively focuses on the uniqueness, strength and relevance of women. It unveils what women in the higher rung of success ladder, from different walks of life go through and how their experiences shaped them into what they have become today.
Duchess International aims to bring women together, we should learn from one another and lift each other up, and when this is achieved I would then like to have a conversation about feminism.
When I was going through my challenges, I was expecting to be supported by my sisters, when I say sisters, I mean more females in my community, don’t get me wrong I was supported by great sisters but the ratio was little. For us the achieve anything, working together and lifting each other up is key.
What distinguishes Duchess International Magazine from her competitors?
Duchess International magazine does not intend to have a competitor, I pray we all succeed in all we lay our hands on.
You’ve managed to stand out in your chosen career, what’s the driving force to your success?
Prayers and listening to my inner voice keeps me and my career going.
As an entrepreneur, if you can turn back the hands of time and rewrite your mistakes, what would you love to do differently? What has been your biggest mistake?
I would want to have it exactly the way it is now because mistakes/challenges brings out the best in you and this has made me the woman I have become.
What’s the next big thing for Duchess International Magazine?
We are launching our maiden edition on the 9th of December, 2018 in Lagos. I am hoping everyone will come and support us, you are all invited. Thanks to those that have supported me in all areas of my life. We rise by lifting others, I pray we all achieve our aimed goal.