Miss Jennifer Olize is a young business minded lady in her mid twenties. The Second child and daughter of popular then newscaster on NTA’s Newsline, Frank Olize.
Jennifer attended the prestigious Queens College Lagos where is completed her secondary education. She then moved on to study Business Economics at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom and graduated from in 2007 with a Honorary Bachelors Degree. Later that year she moved back home to Nigeria for the compulsory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), for the service year she worked at BGL Asset Management in Lagos.
During her study time in London, United Kingdom, Jennifer worked part-time in various capacities and also hosted several events. At an early age while in school she bagged her first job first Job as a Saturday Sales Assistant for British fashion high street retailer French Connection UK, She also worked at top leading recruitment company in UK Hays as a Recruitment Consultant.
On completion of her NYSC service year, Jennifer moved to New York in the United States to study at Conference and Event Management at New York University (NYU). After the program, she then moved back home for a second time and formed her top-notch events company known as Le Reve Events; the company now has offices in the Lekki Phase 1 area of Lagos State.
Jennifer is not only an Events Guru, she also runs a fashion retail store known as “Le Reve Pieces”, the store stocks the finest and best fashion statement jewelry one can find in Lagos.
When asked the meaning of Le Reve Events she explains her choice of name for her company, “Le Reve” simply means “The Dream” in French, “I decided to name it so because all our events can happen only in dreams, you are guaranteed to experience your dream event. When you choose Le Reve Events to create, produce, plan and organize your events, you gain a creative support team to make your vision a reality. It is the company’s policy to not only plan events, but also make them successful and extremely entertaining”.
Le Reve Events are the organizers of the successful MUSIC MEETS RUNWAY (MMR), now in its second year following a successful inaugural edition in 2011 at the Expo Centre, Eko Hotel & Suites in Victoria Island, Lagos.
MMR aims to promote talents in the Music and Fashion industries by fusing performances by some of the most outstanding artists in the Nigerian Music industry and with a runway showcase featuring some of the most creative designs by up-and-coming designers Nigeria has to offer.
With barely a month to this year’s show, Jennifer Olize takes time out her very hectic schedule planning the second edition of MMR and speaks to OnoBello.com giving us insights into her plans for the upcoming show, running Le Reve Events and Pieces and what it takes to be a young and successful entrepreneur in Nigeria.
OB: Tell us about your vision behind Music Meets Runway? What is the aim of bringing fashion and music together on one platform?
JO: Music and fashion go hand in hand, without music there’s no fashion and without fashion, there’s no music. The idea behind Music Meets Runway is really not rocket science, there have been several shows where the models are strutting the runway and music artists are performing. However, what makes Music Meets Runway different and really exciting is the concept of having 10designers and 10 Music Artists at one event. We just thought it’ll be a really good concept to have here in Nigeria, considering the Music Industry has take a huge step forward, it is basically Music moving fashion forward.
MMR 2011 was one of the biggest shows in Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos, last year, which drew 10 Nigerian Performers, 10 Fashion designers and 50 models, how was it organizing a show of that magnitude?
It was really difficult considering the event budget was enormous and it is very difficult getting sponsors. The Venue alone (Eko Hotel Expo Center), took a large portion of the budget, and there are really no other event centers in Nigeria that can take up to 3000 -5000 people. That one was of our major setbacks. However, we had a fantastic team and a lot of supporters so everything worked out at the end. I really commend companies like Arise and flytime that have shows on the regular, because it is really not easy at all.
OB: Has been the daughter of Frank Olize opened doors for you in anyway?
JO: Yea it really has. Up until last year, I really didn’t realize what a difference my dad made to Nigeria. I just always notice when I say my surname most people are interested in what I have to say or do. So I guess that’s a good thing.
OB: How supportive has your parents on your career path and projects?
JO: Very supportive. My dad was my major sponsor last year for Music Meets Runway. He provided most of the funds
for the project. That was his own way of investing and supporting my company. He believes what I’m doing is for a good cause. I really can’t thank him enough. As for my mum, she’s my number one fan. She prays for me constantly and I always seek her advise in decisions I make. At the moment she’s suggesting the artists we should use for Music Meets Runway this year that her age group will like. She’s really the best.
OB: Who has been the greatest influence on your life?
JO: Not to sound Cheesy, but I have to say My Dad – Frank olize. He’s really made an impact in Nigeria and has helped a lot of people and is still helping a lot of people, plus he raised two beautiful ladies if I must add. It’s my ultimate goal to help people and make a difference in Nigeria. That’s why we have the Music Meets Runway foundation where we try and support young children by paying schools fees and providing educational supplies. As I grow and the more God blesses me, I’ll love to bless others too. I feel it’s very important to give back to the society, and help people grow in every way possible.
OB: What was your childhood earliest ambition?
JO: I remember wanting to work in a bank. But right now I can’t imagine myself working for a bank.
OB: How do you hope to tackle the setbacks this 2012?
JO: First things first, we hope to get a better deal with Eko Hotel this year. Because the amount they charge for the Expo Center is out of this world, even the 02 Center in London does not charge that amount. We also hope that more companies come in to support us this year, and hopefully even Lagos state. So we’ll reduce the costs of our production.
OB: Do you have sponsors right now?
JO: We have a few companies were speaking to at the moment. But we are very much open for companies out there who want to tie in any of their advertising campaigns with MMR 2012. Events are always a good way to get your brand out there. Events have indeed been noted to be one of the most effective ways of advertising to get a company’s message across to their target audience. Simple advertising campaigns such as Billboards, Newspapers and Television are no longer simple equations. This is because individuals now prefer to do their own research rather than just believe advertisers’ word for it. They love to be educated about products and get a live experience before signing any contract.
OB: Why do you think Music Meets Runway 2011 was a huge success? Describe the event.
JO: I think the whole concept was new in Nigeria, we were the ones that officially broke the ice on the idea of music artists performing and the models are on the stage. People did not really know what to expect, so I guess they were curious about seeing what will really happen. Once they got to the event, most of our guests were amazed. The red carpet or rather the blue carpet was beyond amazing, we had pictures of models and the phone Samsung was promoting all through the entrance to the hall. The hall setup was divine, the banquet chairs and tables were covered in black spandex and the hall had a warm blue ambience. The stage was white and breathtaking with bright runway lights. We had only Nigerian Models, but they were FANSTATIC. The ladies were all beautifully made up by MUD cosmetics and they rocked the runway. To be honest I really liked all the performances. I loved Viv La Resistances collection; she was my best designer at the show. Her pieces were made to perfection and the styling was very vintage. I have to give my best performance to Duncan Mighty. Duncan Mighty’s performance was really fun. Everyone in hall got up to dance.
OB: What do you think were the shortcomings about MMR 2011?
JO: The event wasn’t bad for the first one, the only problem I had was the fact that we started late. The show was advertised to start at 6pm. considering ‘Nigerian Time’ we decided to start the show at 7pm. At 7pm, there was NO ONE in the hall; I think it was only my mum and dad that were seated. I was so scared but I trust my GOD, and he never fails. By 8.00pm, the hall started filing up, and at 8.30 we made the decision to start the show even if it wasn’t filled up yet. The show officially started at 8.30pm and by 9.00pm the hall was packed FULL.
I know most of us are all guilty of late attendance to events. BUT please Nigerians really have to quit that bad habit. We have to consider the fact that some people actually live very far away and want to come for an event that actually starts at 6/7pm and ends at 10pm or 11pm to start heading home. We also have to consider young children that actually come out to these events? I went for one event I won’t mention any names, but we didn’t leave the event still 2.30am. That’s really out of order.
OB: Why Lagos and not Abuja or anywhere else in Nigeria?
JO: Lagos is always a good start, as the brand grows we intend to move to other cities, and by God’s Grace other African countries but for now, at least for MMR 2012 we are having it in Lagos.
OB: Do you have any plans of adding any international artist to the line up of artists that will be performing at MMR?
JO: This year we’re focusing on Nigerian Artists. The Nigerian music industry has evolved so much; we really don’t need international artists to make an event anymore. However, if our budget permits us, we won’t mind to include one, maybe as a host rather than an artist.
OB: Tell us about the selection process for performers, designers and models for MMR 2012?
JO: This year we intend to use artists we didn’t use last year, there are so many talented artists out there right now, it’s actually confusing. Although there’s one person we cant resist DAVIDO (O.B.O). He performed for the very first time at MMR, and he’s really huge right now. This is just to show that MMR is really a platform for designers and new artists out there.
We are giving the opportunity for new designers out there to be part of the event. There are so many undiscovered talents out there and it’ll only be fair if we give other people a chance to shine. Besides the whole idea behind MMR is to put emerging designers on the map. It is of utmost importance that the show gives value to all participants such as the designers, music artists, guests and sponsors.
OB: What are you bringing to MMR 2012 that we didn’t see last year, tell us about your plans this year?
JO: Hmmm Plans, I can’t really say much, but all I can say is we hope to make MMR this year bigger and better. The first one was really good if I must say, so we have to meet up with the standards this year. And by God’s grace we will.
OB: What makes Jennifer Olize tick?
JO: Argh!!! So many things! I can’t stand a lot of things; if I start ill have about 10pages.
OB: What is your favourite holiday destination?
JO: I love the Bahamas. It’s very peaceful and relaxing, but it’s also less than an hour to Miami, so incase I want a change of scenario.
OB: What are the qualities you look for in a husband?
JO: First of all he has to Love & Fear God. That’s really important, because there certainly things he won’t do if he loves & fears God. Secondly, he has to be from a good background with morals and values. If you don’t have morals and values, you can do anything and that’s really dangerous. Thirdly, a man who is loyal and trustworthy. If you’re not loyal or can’t be trusted among your family, friends and peers, then forget it! You certainly won’t be loyal and can’t be trusted with a marriage. Of course I have to add a man who has ambition. He might not be the richest man on earth, but a man that has ambition and plans and knows where he is going in life, is certainly a quality I admire. I can go on and on please let me just stop here.
OB: In your opinion, what attributes does one need to succeed in business?
JO: Passion and Hard work. If you don’t have passion in what you’re doing, you can never succeed. If you’re hard working and strive to succeed despite all odds, I believe that leads to success in every business.
OB: Do you favour high-end designer labels?
JO: I’m not going to lie and say that I don’t. I like the finest things in life and if that happens to be high-end designer labels. Then yes I do, if it happens to be something I found on the street for less I also favour that too.
OB: If you could raid anyone's closet, who would it be?
JO: KIM KARDASHIAN. She dresses to fit her body and doesn’t necessarily follow trends. Plus I think she’ll have tons of stuff to give away so I’ll be happy to raid her closet.
OB: Given an opportunity, which celebrity would you like to dine with?
JO: P. DIDDY! I think he is a brilliant hardworking successful entrepreneur. I know I’ll learn a lot from him. And at the same time it’ll be a lot of fun.