Ifeoma Williams turned 40 this October, and to celebrate, she threw a fabulous Michael Jackson themed birthday party on October 22nd 2017.
In this throwback interview by Favor Olugu, from our September 2015 Edition, Ifeoma opened up on her career journey from Beauty Queen, to Lawyer, to Image Consultant.
On Her Transition From Law To Image Consulting…
As we walked through Ifeoma’s doors, I could not help but notice her radiant smile as she stood to welcome the tw team into her tastefully furnished office. Stylish yet executive, I studied the bookshelf that gave away her past as a legal practitioner, a table filled with exotic memorabilia that screamed ‘world traveller’, and in the centre of it all, a large, Oakwood desk, home to her stash of style books from Vogue and Chanel.
The 19-year old law student found overnight stardom after winning the Miss Lux beauty pageant in 1999 but present day Ifeoma is an image consultant, wife and mother of two boys. She reveals being a lawyer prepared her for a career in image consulting citing the attention to detail that her law career availed as one of the most invaluable lessons of life. “As a young barrister, I always wanted to look my best to court. I realised in my last year of practice that I had formed the habit of ‘people watching’ in court, and devised an imaginary makeover room where I could help people could look, behave and sound the best for whatever sphere of life they belonged to.” Now Ifeoma’s clients are far from imaginary. The pioneer image consultant who recently acquired a global license for civility training Nigeria looks forward to using this medium to help people manage and project a good image whilst achieving better relationships and interactions.
On Her Personal Style…
This fashionista believes a woman is set apart by the mutual combination of her personality and style, “Style is more than pure appearance. It is the conveyance of an aura of distinction as hard to define, as it is easy to recognize. But what sustains rapport though, would have to be a woman’s personality.”
She describes her style preference as classic, “The watchword for me is ‘timeless’, [I wear] pieces that transcend seasons. I should have been born in the 50s,” she says as she goes on to mention Grace Kelly, Jackie Kennedy Onassis and Jessica Pearson from the legal, hit TV show ‘Suits’ as her style icons. “Perhaps my legal side is responsible for this. As much as I like simple, I also like rare and one-off pieces.”
On The Growth of The Luxury Industry…
In Ifeoma’s opinion the luxury brand influx into Nigeria is inevitable for many reasons- the size of the population, global travel, exposure and interaction, but most importantly, the ‘Nigerian eye’ for aesthetic quality. She explains, “It is an intrinsic element of the Nigerian’s psyche. Markets will develop in tandem with economic growth, irrespective of poverty. Nigeria haven been listed as one of the poorest nations in the world, we also interestingly have our citizens as some of the richest persons in the world! It’s an interesting coin!”
“Life has never been fair”, she retorts to our question of luxury being incongruous in the midst of have-nots. Ifeoma continues, “It’s only natural for people to put down what they cannot afford forgetting the fact that each person charts a different course on their life’s journey. [Buying luxury] is a personal choice and decision [as is] how people perceive or respond to it. Why put luxury down just for the sake of wanting to be bitter? [And on the opposite end of the spectrum] why are you branded from head to toe? Especially if the brands are labelled, [in my opinion] it is actually not a very tasteful way to project yourself.”
Nonetheless, Ifeoma believes the influx would have positive effects on the Nigerian fashion industry, and serve as a wakeup call for our designers to produce better quality products. She also hopes that foreign luxury brands penetrating our market will seek local artisanship and labour thereby transferring their knowledge and skill to our people, which would help our economy.
On Personal Shopping and Image Consulting
The field of image consulting is a relatively unexplored territory in Nigeria, Ifeoma explains her profession saying, “It’s about projecting a positive image so that you send the right message across. My preferred client would be lifestyle brands, or any individual who simply wants to look, behave, sound or project a positive image to their audiences. If someone generally wants to be a better person then you would be my client.”
Styling is a major part of Ifeoma’s profession but this high-end fashion lover is quick to dismiss the belief that luxury is always better, “A luxury [clothing item] is not automatically higher quality or [portrays a] super image. Yes, luxury products can help but there are other things in image projection that surpasses the product itself, for instance confidence. I always say I would rather a 5 Naira rag jacket on firm, confident shoulders than a million dollar suit on droopy, slouchy shoulders.”
When searching for key items, this style icon looks out for precision, durability and finishing as well as a combination of both luxury and high street items. “I have clothes that I bought from Zara nine years ago that I’m still wearing. I’m all about Gap and Gucci, it’s about mixing [high street and high end]”. She speaks on the differences between the two, “High-end brands have acquired skills, some of them over centuries and have rightfully attained that status and price tag. Much more than that, the guarantee and warranty that comes with the luxury products would never be gotten from a lesser brand. This is because luxury is all about craftsmanship and to attain luxury status there must be precision that leads to the finishing and in creating a timeless piece.”