Matse Uwatse started off her career as an on-air personality, receiving multiple awards during her time on radio. However, all that came to an abrupt end when she was fired. Being a new mum and desiring a flexible schedule in order to spend time with her baby, she took the self-employment route, focusing on her passion for cooking. Today, she is one of the best known food bloggers in Nigeria, and she has no plans to slow down.
You left radio and then ventured into a career as a food influencer. What was it about going the self-employment route that attracted you?
I [became] self-employed because I needed to be. I had just been sacked from my job as a radio presenter and I was pregnant and depressed. I knew with my condition, getting a job was near-impossible and also in the nearest future, nursing a baby would not be easy. I needed to give time and care to my child and also make something of myself since I had a passion for cooking and making things with my hands. That was how my journey into food blogging, photography and videography started.
There is the belief that when something is meant to be, it works itself out. Was that your experience with the transition from radio to life as a food influencer? Did things organically fall into place?
I wouldn’t say things organically fell into place for me. Everything I did was intentional. It was a lot of hard work, strategising, discipline, self control, sacrificing and so much more. Nothing good comes easy, you have to really work for it if you want it. As Jimmy Cliff sang, you can get it if you really want but you must try, try and try, try and try… you’ll succeed at last.
I have spoken to quite a number of creatives and most have stated that they see the finished work in their mind’s eye before getting the work done. Is this the same for your meals and recipes, or is it more instant on-the-spot inspiration?
Sometimes I get a picture in my mind but what I have is more like a template. As I work on the project, it begins to metamorphose into something different and unexpected. I allow room for trial and error. Some of my greatest creations came from failures. They started one way and ended up another. Your willingness to explore gives birth to genius.
There are a lot of food influencers/ bloggers in Nigeria, what is competition like in this niche industry? How much work is required to separate yourself and your brand from what is already out there?
Yes, there are a lot of food bloggers out there but as cliché as it may sound, I don’t see them as my competition because we all have something different to bring to the table. My biggest competition is myself because I always want to outdo my last project. I have always had the quest for excellence hence my becoming one of the most awarded Nigerian female radio presenters and currently one of Nigeria’s top food bloggers. I just keep pushing myself and to be honest with you, it’s fun to outdo myself. I love to see my continuous progress. I guess this is what makes my brand stand out. You can feel and see my quest for betterment and growth. My hands are up to one trick or the other. I am constantly researching and updating my knowledge both in food blogging, photography, videography and more.
Talent, training and passion: How do these three elements come into play in doing the type of work you do?
Talent is great to have but without constant training and passion for what you do, it is useless. Talent alone is not enough. You need to cultivate hard work and discipline. It is hard work through training and discipline that will keep you through the journey because there are times when you get tired of it all even if you are talented or not. It is the passion for your craft, hard work and discipline that will see you through.
There are people who had amazing business ideas/plans and something happened or someone said something and they packed it up. What’s your advice on consistency when it comes to keeping at an idea/plan even when the results are not showing/showing the way you want?
To be successful, consistency is key but you also have to be wise and [refrain from] flogging a dead horse because it will never rise up. We have to learn to know what works for us and what doesn’t. Failing in something doesn’t mean we are a failure. If it doesn’t work out, we have to know when to call it quits and move onto something else. Some of the most successful people had many failures before they became successful. Yes we have to show consistency but we have to be calculating too. There is no time to waste. Time is money and time is a luxury we don’t have. Take only calculated risks.
Your photography skill is praised by your followers on Instagram a lot, what other skills have come in handy in your line of work?
I have become a better videographer and a food stylist. I have also learnt to be more analytical and technology savvy. To grow, it’s not all about talent alone. You need to know how to work with analytics…you learn to anticipate what will work for you and what will not. You dump what doesn’t work for you and replicate what works for you. Search for trends and be ahead of the pack.
You have a line of cooking spices, you have partnered with notable brands and you were recently a part of the GTBank Food and Drink Festival. How do you measure/quantify success? Is it via exposure or the ability to have a diverse range of product offerings?
Success is whatever you want it to be for you. My concept of success may not appeal to another. As long as you have peace, happiness and growth in whatever you do, then you have achieved your personal success.
For a public figure you have kept your personal life very private, something not so common in this social media age where social media is a platform to vent, show off, and get into arguments- a lot of public figures have been victims of salacious rumors and scandalous headlines due to something they posted. Is this a conscious effort on your part to avoid falling into a ‘trap’?
Yes, it is a conscious effort on my part. I protect my privacy a lot. Even as a very popular Nigerian radio presenter, there was hardly anything about me in the tabloids. I carefully choose and curate what I want to give out to the public. My circle is also very small, made up of old and trusted friends. I respect people and mind my business. Minding your business saves you from a lot of wahala.
What is the next step for you? Televised cooking show? Cookbook?
I am working on my cookbook and open to different ideas and concepts in the future. I keep growing and enjoy my experiences…that is what matters.