As a Creative Content Executive at Genevieve Magazine, one of my biggest tasks is to create mind-blowing content, that will not only cater to the lifestyle needs of our audience while remaining in line with the vision of the magazine which is to be ‘a complete lifestyle guide and best friend, inspiring wholesomeness globally in all women’. This, I believe, I have done consistently. But when it came to creating content for the February Issue of Genevieve Magazine, I knew that I had to create exceptionally mind-blowing content.
I joined the Genevieve Magazine team in its 14th year, and at that time, I was very curious as to how a female-owned business had run for 14 years and has successfully been handed over to a successor. We’ve heard Mrs. Betty Irabor’s side of the story, but I felt a conversation would help me gauge the emotion that is captured in this handover of mother-daughter. So, rather than interviewing Mrs. Betty Irabor, and then interviewing Sonia Irabor, I decided that it would be best if each interviewed the other in a very no-holds-barred, honest, engagement. The result? An emotional and eye-opening interview that inspired me.
As Genevieve Magazine celebrates its 15 years of existence today, this is an excerpt of that mother-daughter interview to give you an insight into who these women are, and help you understand the emotions that go into, not just building a business, but, creating a succession plan which is one area that business owners struggle with. There’s so much to learn from this one interview, so, enjoy this excerpt, and get the full interview in the February edition, out now.
Sonia interviews her mother…
I didn’t immediately accept the job of Editor, turning the offer down a number of times first out of uncertainty, how did you know when the time was right to bring me on board in this capacity?
Your body language helped me there. Ok, I didn’t really know if the timing was right; but one thing I knew was that I was going to continue to ask you until you said YES. No one knows Genevieve as you do and I was sure at the right time you would accept the offer. Besides, I noticed you were also taking much more interest in Genevieve after you returned home so I decided to shoot my shot.
You’ve spoken about the kind of rejection you experienced when you first started, citing especially men – and, sadly, women – who believed that publishing wasn’t a woman’s game. What did those words of dismissal do for you in creating Genevieve?
It was tough rising above those stereotypes and it also put me under pressure to succeed especially as I had no one to mentor me. But in a way, those same expressions like “publishing is not for women”, “Let’s see how far she can go” were the motivation I needed to prove that I wasn’t going to be another statistics on the roll call of defunct publishers. Every time I thought of quitting, those words made me defiant instead. Ironical what was supposed to break me became my motivation”.
If you could pick one, what would you say has been the biggest highlight of your journey so far?
Handing the mantle of leadership at Genevieve to you. A few years ago, the founder of LEAP AFRICA, Mrs. Ndidi Nwuneli sent me a book on a case study of extremely successful Nigerian businesses that unfortunately didn’t survive beyond the first generation. She had wondered why these companies died after their owners. I was sure that such a story would one day be written about Genevieve. I am happy that that narrative will change with Genevieve. Many businesses sadly have no succession plans either because the next generation is not interested or because a proper succession plan was never put in place. So YES, so far, that is the biggest highlight for me.
Mrs. Irabor interviews Sonia
Were you at any time worried that you will always be perceived as living in my shadow, considering what you said about “My mum’s shoes are too large to fill?”
It’s as much a compliment as it is a challenge. I can’t shout over the noise of expectations, I can only allow my work and my input to continue to speak for itself. Your shoes are not mine to fill, that’s not the goal. I have my own path and I will continue to build upon my path the way I know how – and the way I have learnt to from you.
If you were to recall some of my challenging moments running Genevieve, which would you say made a huge and lasting impression on you? Why?
There isn’t one that specifically jumps to mind. Instead, it’s a carousel of different challenges that you constantly had to overcome as a woman running an entire industry-leading business in a country like Nigeria. I think your passion for the magazine was always the most palpable in those moments. Whether it was a scandal over your words being taken out of context, or the printers not giving us the quality of products we were paying for. I always felt your genuine passion in those moments. I think that’s what’s stood out after all these years. You not only know this thing, you love it so purely. It’s rare. I adore it.
What is the one thing you hope to have achieved; using the Genevieve platform in 2 years from now?
To resolidify Genevieve Magazine’s identity as a publication for women by women. To have built our online presence so it stands confidently on its own. To create a platform where women from all corners are given a voice.
To read the full interview between Betty and Sonia Irabor, get the 15th anniversary edition of Genevieve Magazine here.