Popularlyknown as The Exquisite Queen of Dang, Ifedayo is a creative who combines her unique experiences, storytelling and digital skills to positively influence the media space. First known exclusively through the creative media content “Diary of a Naija Girl”, Ifedayo is finally letting the world in on the full picture of what it means to be a female creative and business woman living her purpose through Art.
Join us on this special Heart-2-Heart conversation, as Ifedayo Agoro lets us in on her journey to becoming a culture influencer, including a never-before-seen insight on her life as a business woman living in Africa.
Enjoy and Stay Inspired:
We are in love with you and your work. We see you as one ICONIC Creative and Culture Influencer gradually raising a new generation of people who combine their skills, creativity, and versatility with empathy, love, kindness, and all the little things that would lead to a real-time change in our world today. Please share some highlights of how you began your creative journey as a Community Convener and Storyteller.
I believe that the journey of storytelling is not known. I have been writing since I was in secondary school, it is not new for me. I just thought that I would be writing my stories. I wanted to be a scriptwriter and storyteller for films and TV.
I moved away from that because I saw they weren’t being paid well and you know when you were saying “Oh! Writers should be able to write and get paid for it” I smiled because I wasn’t getting paid at all and that was not the life I wanted because I really wanted to make a good living for myself, and I didn’t want to be a starving or hungry writer. What I did was to work somewhere else.
I started writing my journal and I believed that I was going to use my storytelling someday, I just didn’t know that it was going to be first through social media or blog posting or just narrating my stories on videos. The journey as a community convener started when I just decided to write for women.
I realized that there’s a culture of shame, especially in Africa. I am from Africa, I live in Nigeria, and I will speak from where I know, the culture of shame is huge in Nigeria. People want to shame the men and women, want to shame you for your stories. If you really come out as who you are, you will be shamed for that as well.
If you dare give yourself credit “Oh! I’m a woman, I just bought myself a house, you will be shamed even for the good thing that you do then imagine the mistakes that you make, imagine the challenges that you have been through, how do you come out knowing that people are waiting to shame you rather than encourage or elevate you or even offer to help you.
Knowing that this was a culture we have, I decided to come in. I didn’t know that this was prevalent, until I stepped away from university, into a wider network, I didn’t know that women were shamed for doing the right thing or doing the wrong thing, and that did not sit well with me. I told myself that, I would write my opinions as I see them. If I am able to do that, other women should be encouraged to do that as well. I should be able to write my story exactly as it is. I am not asking for your pity, I am not asking for your help, I am just telling it, whatever you take from it, you take from it, I am just going to tell it but what I would not do is allow myself to feel shame for my own experience, that’s why I started “Diary of a Niger girl”. Another truth is I never thought that Diary of a Naija Girl would be where it is today, I was just playing around. I just wanted women to talk. I had nothing in my head asides from women speaking their own truth. If I was able to say this was my mistake, I should be able to say I did that too or oh! I am learning from that; I don’t do that as well and that happened by the Diary of a Naija Girl.
Here we are a community of very strong women who are ready to learn and grow, that’s how that started.
You no doubt inspire people to live their best lives, inside out. Please share the inspiration behind your brand Dang Lifestyle and why you chose the stunning name DANG?
DANG is an acronym, Diary of A Naija Girl. It is always funny when people ask” What is DANG” and I am like I thought it was easy, I thought that was obvious. It was like the easiest thing for me to come up with. Like people will say Ife of Dang and people wonder what DANG is. I am like
I will put it with an exclamation. It is just like a reflection of what the community is about, it is I am here to stay. You know what an exclamation means; it is a full stop with attitude, a full stop with meaning. The DANG is an acronym.
When we started the DANG lifestyle, it was the easiest thing, I want to portray my lifestyle, I want to sell my lifestyle, I want people to see how I live, the things I like, I like skincare, I like to look good, how can I bring it out there? This is my lifestyle, this is the lifestyle of a Diary of a Naija Girl so let’s put it out there, that was the inspiration, there was no deep thinking at all, it is just an acronym.
What does Art mean to you?
When I read people’s Art, when I listen to their Art, when I watch, I don’t know if you can see my house but there’s Art everywhere because I am a huge Art fan and that is because I can read people through their Art.
For me, Art expresses desires. Like what is in our hearts, what is in our soul sometimes we can’t speak it, or we can’t tell someone.
It expresses our thoughts, what is in our mind; it expresses the meaning of life. Sometimes, I can’t answer the question, I can’t explain wholeheartedly but when I write it, what I am thinking comes out, it is easier for me. I tell people “Send it to me” when I read it, it digests well than when you are telling me. Art just expresses our desires, our thoughts, and the meaning of life. It is so hard to hide who you are when you communicate through Art. The real you will be revealed in Art.
We are grateful to have you onboard this special ISSUE with the theme- Rise, in celebration of inspiring women in the creative industry. We understand how certain stereotypes, cultures, sentiments, and faulty orientations have stood as subtle roadblocks for women to thrive boundlessly. Have you ever encountered any form of gender-based discrimination? Any quick tips for women who may have been victims of severe circumstances?
I have written many stories about all of these, I think the one that comes to mind quickly, I wish I had the time to answer these questions deeply, like had time to go through it.
But the one that came through my mind quickly is one time I had a transaction with someone and when it was time to pay, he said, this money is too much for you, what do you need this for? That guy was just like, you are single, you don’t have kids, what are you using money for?
And the sure thing I did was to say, I worked for it, don’t worry yourself about what I do with the money, give me what I worked for. You will never tell a guy, no matter how young the boy is, no matter how single the boy is that he doesn’t need this money and that was very weird to me. I just sent my lawyer after him; I don’t even have time to be going through conversations. If you have a contract with somebody, they are supposed to fulfill their part of it and they are not fulfilling it, I send my lawyer after you, I am not going to make noise. I was just angry, like you don’t do that, it is cheating. It made me realize that men see women as deserving of little, not a lot, not too much, it’s okay, manage this small one. Meanwhile, you will never tell a guy to manage the small one. That was really an “AHA” moment for me, even the thought coming to my mind, made me say I am getting all of my money and in fact, you are going to pay for my legal fee for this trouble you caused me, which he paid for.
Another example I can give is, people expect or assume that at my age because I am going to be 40 in May this year. People look at me and ask “don’t you want to get married?” It is like the craziest thing to think that all women find happiness in being married, that if you haven’t married, you haven’t achieved anything, like whatever you have achieved, you have not done anything or you can’t be truly happy, you are lying, you are not that happy, you are just pretending. It is the weirdest thing to me because as I am now, no matter who I am seeing now, you cannot force me or make me feel desperate because the truth is that I really do not care and I am happy other women have come out to say same.
Not that I wouldn’t get married, or I don’t want to get married, if I found the opportunity to or not, if I felt right about it. It is like saying I am ready or not and if I am not ready, age or society will not make me ready.
That’s why I always tell women, in your heart, are you ready? Is this your thing? Because, it is really not many people’s thing but society will make you feel like it is and you feel choked up. This is where depression sets in, where you live a life that does not align with your soul, when you continue to live that kind of life, there is depression because you are suppressing everything that will make you thrive.
I always tell women, whatever you do, make sure it is what you really want to do, that it is what makes you thrive or happy and fulfilled in your soul. For the money part, go get your money. There is no one that has the right to hold on to what is yours, you deserve every good thing, big, large, you worked for it, get the rewards to the last penny, that’s what I always say.
You tell your stories in the most unique, authentic, and relatable ways. Please share any quick tips for young creatives battling with self-doubt.
I feel like we doubt ourselves because we are under this illusion that we are perfect, like everything that we do must lead to perfection and get a perfect result. This is why we doubt ourselves and we are always like, if I do this, it may not work, of course, it may not work because you are not perfect, even creation is not perfect, life is not perfect, situations are not perfect, why do you think everything you do would be perfect?
God created us and we are not perfect so who are you to think that anything you do will lead to perfection? That’s the illusion we are under. If you know in your heart that you are not a perfect being, that you are powerful, but you are not perfect, you begin to tell yourself these results may not be as desired but what if it is, I am going to go ahead and I am going to do it. When you begin to tell yourself, like for instance you say to someone that she’s kind and all, why are you not telling that to yourself? Why is it that someone deserves compassion except you? Everybody deserves compassion. I look to the mirror and tell myself, you tried. Truly, I tried but I don’t expect perfection from myself, I don’t.
What I will do is this, I would work hard, I am very smart to attain a certain goal. Whatever result comes out of it, I know it is now out of my hands because I know I did my best. What I will tell people thinking about self-doubting is thinking that they are perfect. Don’t think you are perfect, you are not. It is possible that the result of your endeavors may not be perfect as well but remember, you are powerful and you make mistakes, a lot of it, we are human, we are imperfect.
We have two powers in us when we are stepping forward, the thought that we are powerful and we can achieve anything, just because of that power, that power to know that I can do anything, the other power is I am imperfect, for that reason, I can make mistakes, I will do all of these things and I also have the power to do everything.
I might do it this way but it might not come out perfect because I am not a perfect being. I always tell people, go forward with that, you can do anything, but you are an imperfect human.
How you combine brilliance, vulnerability and beauty in all you do is awe-inspiring. From the stories you tell, to the brand you own. A reflection of how everything you touch ‘turns to gold.’ What would you consider most fulfilling about your Creative Journey as a Community Convener and Storyteller?
Honestly, when people ask me, I always say that you guys have a particular answer in your mind. People always feel that it is the success of the DANG lifestyle because we are a growing company in a short time but that’s not it. Every single time, one person tells me “Ife, your story inspired me, your story made my life better.
Deep in my heart, I know for real money could never give me such joy. It is the impact on people’s lives that gives me that joy; I go to bed, take a deep breath, and sleep. It is the impact on people’s lives.
From day one, it is to make women a better version of themselves. Every day, you are hearing “you impacted my life” I don’t know what else is more fulfilling than that.
Do you feel creatives in developed countries have an advantages over those in developing countries?
Of course, yes. Well, I believe so.
For me, I believe so because our issues are universal, but we also have issues that are unique to us, based on our race and nationality and our exposure. Exposure in this case, I mean the ability to receive information and access to information. As a creative, I want as many women as possible and men to hear me, to read me but in the state that we are in now in Nigeria, which is the poverty state, women and men are limited to data.
The amount of people I want to hear me and see me has automatically reduced because they don’t have that much access and the thing about creatives is the more people you can genuinely reach and convert, the wider your audience, that’s automatic. As it is now in Nigeria, I know we are now on a world stage the INTERNET can take you anywhere in the world but at the same time, we want to address our own issues that are peculiar to us and how these women see these issues. In America, the judicial system works. If somebody put it out and says “Oh! My husband abused me, I’m going to court.” If they say divorce him, pay alimony, and all that, the judicial system in America will make sure it happens.
In Nigeria, a man will beat his wife, and nothing will happen, the court will say pay alimony but he won’t pay and nobody will catch him for that. Things like that are happening, we cannot reach them, they cannot reach us to say help us, we need help.
If that can even happen in my ears that I can even hear a whisper of it, I am already putting it up on the community to say “Guys, she needs help, who is going to help” Automatically, that community is a community of really upwardly mobile women, we have judges, we have wives of presidents, wives of governors on that platform, they might be quiet but they are there. Immediately we discuss a problem like this, we are already seeing them in our DMs texting ‘Yes, I can help, tell the person to call me, but because we cannot reach as many women as possible, and they can’t reach us because they do not have enough data to receive us. That’s what happens with poverty, it suppresses people, and you cannot get access to the things you need when you need them.
The creatives in developed countries have a wider audience because their messages are seen, people may decide not to do anything about it but people are seeing it, it means that, when you have an issue, you already know, “Oh I have seen this person somewhere, I have seen this problem resolved somewhere, I can go there to get a resolution or I can go there to read and feel better. In this case in Nigeria, we are suppressed by poverty and for that reason; we don’t have access to information and access to help, so no we are not getting the same access.
We understand balancing work time and rest time is a struggle for many Creatives. Please share a few tips on how you try to balance work time, rest time, and family time.
I love my nephew, nieces, and all of that. I spend so much of my time having fun when it comes to family. I try as much as possible; I am not doing enough of that, but I try to make sure I speak to my family as much. I have 24 hours a day; I do not have enough, if I am honest with you. DANG lifestyle is a full-time job, even though it is something I enjoy so much, it is still a job in its own way where I have to put out things for women and to make sure that I am putting it out well as much as I can, even if it is for a very little time, I cannot give what I don’t have, especially on Diary of A Niger Girl. You see DANG lifestyle, we can hire staff, and hire people in DANG, I am the one putting out stuff, my opinions and everything, I am even putting out my heart because people rely on it to fare. I can’t give what I don’t have so I detach a lot. The whole politics in Nigeria, I have detached from it because it wasn’t making me communicate with my followers, and my community, I couldn’t do much because it was a lot, and I had to step away from that situation.
I watch a lot of TV and I just stop and detach, Saturdays and Sundays, I don’t touch my phone before 10 am, I will not touch it, I don’t know what’s happening, I just would not touch it. I would be with a book or just sleeping or rolling around on the bed thinking about good things, but I would not touch my phone because I just need that space of time. What I do mostly though for my self-care is, just stop everything. Whatever it is, I don’t care if the world is coming to an end I will stop and I will find calm in myself and in my soul because I am very important to myself and I always tell people, if you think you are self-absorbed, that’s your problem but I am important to myself and I also want to be important to a lot of people.
How do I give if I don’t have much to give? I keep on pouring value into myself, I go back and find calm in my soul, I take a deep breath, and I just stop. Whatever it is, if I go back there, it will still be there.
I have said these many times. Just the other day on twitter, I was telling somebody that I don’t see success as money alone. Personally, I am not driven by money. I need to have my life together like a wholesome life. Money gives some of that too, but it is not everything. Success is when I am able to give everything in my life the attention they need. If I am able to do that, like if I want to travel, I travel, I want to help my family out, I help them, I want to have my own time to myself, I have it, just general wholesomeness, to have a wholesome life for me is just success met, money isn’t everything, it is important but a successful life needs more than money, just wholesomeness from inside.
Please briefly tell us something we do not know about Ifedayo Agoro.
The truth is whatever is not out there is what I keep to myself. If itt is not out there it’s because I don’t want to talk about it.
Let’s go a little poetic: If poetry is a rainbow and you have a choice of one color in that pallette, what would that be and why?
When I was going to do AKE festival, this was the question that was asked of me and people were shocked I answered it. I thought, is it hard? Because I didn’t think it was a hard question, to be honest. For real, when I look at the rainbow, the first thing I see is purple and yellow. Maybe, that’s the first thing I see and that’s me being honest. But the truth is, in recent times, I have been wearing a lot of yellow or light yellow, I like black, black is easy, I don’t need to stress myself about what to add to it, I can wear black and red.
Because, when you are busy, just wear black. If I was a fashion influencer, maybe but I am not, thank goodness. I just want to wear black and go about my day. For me, the first color is yellow; the best color in the rainbow is yellow because these days, I wear a lot of yellows. My stylist will say “Ife, you don’t even know how you look when you wear yellow.” I feel like yellow pops on my dark skin, my dark skin just pops, my dark skin is beautiful and there is another color popping on it, it is very nice. So yellow comes across as warmth, it is joy, it is just bubbling. If I am going to choose a color from the rainbow, I am going to choose yellow because of the warmth, the joy, and the pop it brings to my dark skin, I will take that.
Massive Love Ife!
The ICONIC Team