Welcome to ‘Women We Love’ – our weekly column where we celebrate women doing amazing things in their areas of influence. From the tech & the fashion world to social activism & politics, these women, we think, are definitely crush-worthy. Catch up on all our crushes here!
Today, we shine the light on storyteller – Ife Agoro (Diary of a Naija Girl)
is definitely someone you should remember. If you haven’t heard of Diary of a Naija Girl, then allow us to educate you a smidge. There’s this awesome platform on Instagram that started a few years ago. Kicking off as just an IG page where its owner could share stories with those who chose to follow her, it soon became a watering hole for women. Diary of a Naija Girl became a page where women could feel heard, seen, understood and valued…it became a virtual diary.
But who ran it?
Choosing to keep herself out of the limelight for years, the owner finally decided it was time to publicly lay claim to her creation. And that was how we got to know the name – Ife Agoro. We could go on and on about who Ife Agoro is, but we’ll let her tell you in her own words.
We would be remiss if we didn’t begin this interview by addressing what we have in common – Stories. Where would you say your love for telling stories started?
My love for stories started in secondary school. When I got into trouble and my mom had to come to school to beg on my behalf just so that I wouldn’t be expelled. So, when she left I felt obligated to write to her to explain everything that happened. So when I did that she said that I write like I’m telling a story, “Your punishment would be to write me more. Write to me every 2 weeks and you send the letter through anybody coming home“. I would do that and in my mind, I’d say ‘this is not punishment now?!’ So did that and from then I just enjoyed writing, telling stories, infusing humour. It makes me really happy to tell stories, to hear stories and to share stories.
Granted, a significant part of your success today is your ‘relatability’, especially when it comes to conveying your thoughts. Would you say that is the secret sauce to success on social media or life in general?
I believe that the secret sauce to social media, in general, is to be yourself. Everyone will have an audience no matter who you are…even the devil will have an audience. So, whatever your intentions are, make sure it’s true to who you are and you will have an audience. The type of audience you want will come to you. Being relatable with the kind of audience you want is really and truly the key to success on social media.
You started off as someone who just wanted to share stories online, as true to self as possible. But then again you were just one woman in a crowd of many – how did you still decide to go for it?
Being one woman in a crowd of many has never been a problem for me. I believe that when your intentions are true, you stick with your goal. Your intentions drive everything. Why did I open the platform? To encourage women to let them know that there is another way they can live freely without being suppressed or dictated to by society on how to live their lives.
So for me, that was my intention from day 1 – start this platform, speak up and speak the truth, let other people relate with you and let them share what they think. Especially women who are intelligent, exposed, doing well for themselves, who want to do well for themselves. I needed these women on my platform but I had to become that first. So I was not looking left or right at who was doing what or what other people were doing. I had my intentions and I stuck with it…and I’m still sticking with that intention to date. So being one woman in a crowd has never been a problem. In fact, I relish it.
Have you ever dealt with Imposter Syndrome? If yes, how did you deal with it? If not, what would you say is the cure for feeling inadequate?
Yes, I have dealt with imposter syndrome. The truth Is I sit back sometimes and wonder why. Maybe my friends are not putting me on this pedestal that I get online. So I’m thinking “do I deserve all of this following or people listening to me? I can’t be that special!” But truly I am special.
Truly, every single one of us has our own qualities. And every single day I tell myself “You’re special, you’re important, you’re doing amazing. You have a role in this life to play. If you don’t do it, nobody else will do it like you anyway so you better get up and fulfil your role in life.” This is what I tell myself every day because I’m at risk of feeling like one day I won’t be enough or one day people will find out I’m not that special. So I wake up every day prepping myself, knowing that during today something may happen and that feeling of inadequacy may come. I need to also be able to chant that in my head that “Ife you’re special, you’re good enough. You have a role to play and you’re playing it. You can also do better but at this moment in time you are doing amazing.”
And I advise other people who may be feeling inadequate to always tell themselves that so that it becomes a chant when that feeling comes, the chant automatically comes to you because it is a habit that you’ve developed.
From revealing your face last year to turning 38 this year – what would you say have been 3 major lessons you’ve learned as you’ve become more in tune with who you are today?
The 3 major lessons I’ve learnt are;
- Nobody truly, deep down, cares about your mistakes. People are dealing with their own stuff. When we try to hide our mistakes, it doesn’t serve anyone else. I’ve learnt that when I make mistakes I should just come out with them and just share them with people. I don’t think about people judging me – I just go out and say it. But in the next year, 10 years from now, somebody will have learnt from my mistakes & challenges.
- I must always listen to my intuitions that I’m smart and my decisions are good. Not everything, but I’ve learnt to trust my decision because I’ve consistently tried them out and I’ve seen that they have panned out well.
- There is true love among women. Opening up the Diary of a Naija Girl platform has made me see how women rally around each other, women who don’t know each other. Now, I take full advantage of that. I ask for help from other women freely. Women love each other, they do love each other and I ask women to help other women when they can.
Let’s talk a bit more about DANG. We’ve seen you grow from just storytelling with your DANG Monologues to including launching products. Has this always been the plan or are you just expanding as you evolve?
The truth of the matter is I am expanding as I evolve. I wasn’t planning to launch products when I started DANG. I just wanted, first, to speak up so other women can speak up too. But then as I began to grow I began to see that my love for fragrances, skincare grew. I know the products we want to develop in 2, 3, 5 years and I can tell you for a fact that we will continue to evolve and expand as time goes on.
How would you describe where DANG is right now?
Right now I believe that DANG is at a place where we either stay stagnant or we evolve. I know that people may not understand this, but we have gotten to a stage where we must be afraid to get bigger. That is where DANG is right now. At the stage where we will get bigger. We are working towards genuinely doing more for women. We’ve captured a great audience that reads and understand the worldview of women. One that works and wants to do better, So this audience we want to d better for them. To give them more than we’re giving now. We are at that stage now where we are preparing to go bigger.
What’s next for Ife Agoro and for your brand?
The next thing for me and for my brand is to expand. I’m insanely grateful to the DANg community for trusting me, buying my products, but it’s time for us to sell outside of The Diary of a Naija Girl community to push ourselves and see where we go. And let people buy our products without even knowing that there’s a DANg community. We want to see how those people react to the products. So, where we’re headed now is that we are expanding outside of DANG community and Instagram.
What is the effect you want to have on this world and those around you?
I want to create an impact. I want people to ask themselves – ‘what will Ife do’. It is important to me that I am that person who makes people pause and think about the decisions that they’re about to make. So I want to be that person who makes people think deep…I want depth for women…for people to think deeper rather than just make a decision based on what society wants or their parents want. I want women to stop and think – ‘what would Ife say, what would Ife do’. Not because Ife is perfect but because life has asked us to stop, think, and choose ourselves kindly. That’s what I want for the world and the people around me.
Thank you for sharing your story with us Ife Agoro. To find out more on DANG, visit them here.