The mystical nature of creativity had for years, prior to this social period/age, been touted as incapable of rolling with the business side of life. Isoken Ogiemwonyi is one of those extraordinary women that have shown us time and again that creativity and business can, in fact, take a bus ride together, especially in steering an individual to her defined destination. When we met a few years ago, Isoken was and still is, a creative live wire, running a retail business that makes you wonder about the number of thoughts that will be fighting for her attention and how she sorts her energy to create a thriving mind.
A few weeks ago we sought her out (we had to practically drag her out of Zazaii. Lol.) to give us a few tips on how she combines being the Creative director of The Obsidian Way and running her retail business Zazaii.
For Creative Girls: What 3 things or people get you going?
Isoken Ogiemwonyi: Jeff Bezos/Natalie Massenet. Amala. Tinkering with new tech.
At what point did you decide to change career path to fashion and creating your own brand? Was there a Eureka moment or did you evolve gradually?
A little bit of both I reckon/ I’d always ‘dabbled’ in school; but when I moved back, I had an epiphany. It became a real avenue for me to express myself. The transition from design to retail was a gradual evolution.
How has been a creative director changed you? Is there any peculiarity that comes with being a female creative director?
I wouldn’t know, to be honest, I’ve only ever been a woman! Lol. I’m sure there are peculiarities.
What’s your routine like? Give us a snippet of a typical day in the life of Isoken as the Creative Director of Obsidian.
I segment my day because I have to wear several hats. It usually looks like this:
Between 7am and 9am : Wake Up/Family Prayers/ Coffee/ Gym (if I’m feeling super motivated lol)
10am – 11am: Troubleshooting/ Responding to emails and double-checking my lists to make sure my day plan makes sense.
11.30 – 10pm: Various ZAZAII/Obsidian related tasks.
I try to sleep before 11pm but it doesn’t always work out that way.
Running a business is hectic, how do you juggle being a creative director with being a founder?
I’ve been doing it so long, it’s as natural as breathing now. It helps that I have some super competent people on my team, plus some old retainers who know their jobs really well, so I don’t have to micro-manage as much as I used to.
I like to give my team some autonomy so they can grow into their roles, with as much support and opportunities for critical thinking as possible. That being said, I’m no saint and I’ve been known to morph into Medusa when things get too hectic.
How do you see creativity? What’s your definition of creativity?
In my opinion, creativity is best defined with this quote by Mary Lou Cook, “Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.
In your opinion and experience, do you think creativity is inborn or is it something that it learnt?
I think both. Everyone is born with the ability to be creative – and I don’t mean in the traditional sense of just the arts. I believe entrepreneurship in all forms is in itself creative. Certain environments and/or systems help our creativity thrive or spark a previously dormant flame within us.
Do you have a sketchbook where you doodle and draw? When did you start doodling?
Yes, I do. I’ve been sketching since I was about 9 years old.
What advice do you have to offer for people who are interested in being a creative director?
Focus. Keep improving your craft on all fronts – technical and otherwise.
What changes would you want to see in Nigeria/Africa’s Creative industry in the next 5 years?
More retail distribution and access to products. More accessible manufacturing hubs.
Recommend books and websites that creative women should read?
Amazon.com: Get Big Fast by Robert Spector
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
The Long Tail by Chris Anderson
Fourhourworkweek.com and of course Forcreativegirls.com