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Tewa Onasanya : Women are great for the economy


Tewa Onasanya

‘Women Are Great For The Economy, If They’re Succeeding In Any Sector, We Want To Shine The Light On Them To Inspire Others’

Tewa Onasanya is a Publisher and Mindset Stylist. She holds a BSc in Pharmacology from the University of Portsmouth, UK and is the Founder / CEO of Exquisite Magazine Services Limited, the publishers of Exquisite Magazine a fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazine for women. Exquisite Magazine organises the exquisite magazine annual cancer walk, an event aimed at increasing the awareness for cervical and breast cancer and free screening for people. In 2009, exquisite magazine started an only female awards ceremony called the exquisite ladies of the year (ELOY) awards. The ELOY awards is aimed at celebrating women of excellence in different fields, empowering, motivating and inspiring others and it holds every last Sunday in November.Recording its 9th Edition this year, Tewa gives an insight into what the ELOY Awards is all about, including other aspects of her life as a mind stylist. Enjoy.

Tell us the story of Exquisite Magazine, how it all started. How did you transit from being a pharmacologist to becoming a publisher? What was the motivation?
I started exquisite magazine in September 2003, because I thought instead of complaining about something, just do something about it. I was born in London and moved to the outskirts of London when I got married. Looking to buy my supply of magazines one day made me realise there were only a handful of magazines for women of colour and I thought to start my own, since I love writing and I have been writing since I was 10 years old. I spoke to a few people I knew that could help with putting a magazine together, I also acquired more knowledge in my new passion and here we are today.

On transitioning from Pharmacology to Publishing, funny thing is, it wasn’t that difficult. I don’t know, I think I’m blessed. It didn’t feel like a new role to me, I didn’t feel like fish out of water, I did a lot of research, read a lot of books, including the one I found in a WH Smiths titled: “How to start a magazine”. I couldn’t believe I could find a book with that title that gave me all the information I needed. I read the book from cover to cover, highlighted and placed-post its notes on different pages. I still have the book today, 14years later. I felt like I went on a crash course in Publishing and Editing and it paid off. All that learning, with the transferable skills I acquired from my degree in Pharmacology, gave me the boost I needed.


My motivation was and still is the drive to succeed at something I set my mind to and believe in. I was groomed by my parents like that. I was motivated by the fact that I could do something about the fact that we needed more magazines for women of colour and I am blessed to have been able to run with that vision.

When did the ELOY Awards take off and what is it all about?
The ELOYs was started in 2009 because I found the need to celebrate women achievements so others can be inspired to be better versions of themselves. I shared the idea with my team and here we are today, on the 9th edition. The ELOYs is about celebrating, empowering, motivating and inspiring women of excellence in different sectors. The big aim is to be able to showcase these women as people that others could emulate or be inspired by to do better for themselves. Its also about making women visible in all sectors, to show our economic viability. Women are great for the economy, if women are succeeding in any sector, we want to shine the light on them to inspire others.

How many women have so far won the award?
So far, since 2009, about 170 women have been awarded the prestigious ELOY Award.

How has the award benefited them? Has it gone on to improve their CV and net-worth?
Not to toot our own horn or anything, but it has. The ELOYs have become a recognition award women want to be associated with. Especially because it celebrates ALL women, its not selected just for our celebrities or socialites, but all women. It has definitely gone on to shine the light on the winners and made them even more valuable to themselves and their sectors. We noticed the trend that a lot of people that have gone on the ELOY platform (winners, performers)and have emerged even bigger almost immediately afterwards. We provide an enabling platform for rising stars to become stars and stars to shine brighter, thanks to God.

Give us a run-down of this year’s award, the categories, criteria for selecting nominees among others
Before we chose the final nominees, we send out the category list to the public and they do the nominations. Every year, we send new lists out so as to try to cover as many sectors that women are thriving in as possible. This ELOY Year, we have 20 categories, they include the following;

ELOY awards (winner chosen by public and judges)-  Fashion designer of the year, Fashion entrepreneur of the year, Makeup artist of the year, Beauty entrepreneur of the year,TV actress of the year, Female digital media writer (blogger), Female On-air personality, Female Music artist – Rising star,    Female Social entrepreneur, Female Movie director, Female YouTuber,  Female owned events Management Company, Female chef / Food designer of the year, Actress big screen ELOY Women who Inspire (Recognition) Awards (winner chosen by judges). Others include- The ELOY Awards for Woman who inspire in Public Sector1,The ELOY Awards for Woman who inspire in Technology, The ELOY Awards for Woman who inspires in Tourism, among others.

We then go through the criteria below to choose the final ladies that the public votes for to win an ELOY.
The criterion for the ELOY Award focuses on the character of the individual, her ability and achievements and how her work impacts the Nigerian society. Must have proven record of:      Direct leadership: responsible for duties of others in a business environment. The leadership ability to affect human behaviour and accomplish a mission. Must be capable of influencing people to achieve set goals;      Indirect leadership: she has earned respect of others due to past or current achievements;      Service: has helped colleague, associates to grow, develop and achieve goals and given assistance to the community;  Commitment: shows a level of dedication to her goals and ability to achieve them and so on.

Are we expecting anything different from last year at this year’s event? Any surprises?
Smiles…. it won’t be a surprise anymore if I said it. Never mind, everyone will be pleasantly surprised.


You have also been described as a mind-set stylist. Kindly tell us what it’s all about and how you go about helping people to change their mind-set?
It’s about helping people to style their minds and re-condition their minds to think better and act better, so as to live the life they desire. This is by intentionally deciding to only allow positivity in and always look for the good in all situations. Yes it is difficult to see the good in all situations most time, that’s why it has to be a conscious effort, an intention to stay “woke” so to speak, to realise and be aware that thoughts become things and leads to action and leads to your present life and to change your life for the better, you need to change the way you think of things and the way you approach and react to life, understanding that to get the life you want, you need to focus on what you do have, appreciate that to bring more of what you want into your life. That’s mind styling and that’s another side of me that I have grown into and love. I didn’t want to call myself a mind coach, hence the word mind stylist.

Funny, my daily quotes and affirmations also help me to stay on course. Its not something that you get and that’s it, it’s a continuous process because as one goal is met, you have another to hit and life goes on life that.

With the Exquisite Magazine and its affiliated events, you’ve certainly turned a hobby and passion into a business venture.  Can you advise other women on how achieve this?
They need to be very sure they are really passionate about this passion. Ascertain that it is something they really want to turn into a business and have the highest belief ever that it will work out. The massive passion is needed so that when the challenges start rolling in, the passion will be the fuel that will keep the flame burning. You also need to continue to learn and educate yourself and equip yourself with more knowledge on this passion and running a business to turn it into a profitable one. The big thing is to believe in yourself and then just start.

You are certainly running a busy schedule with all you have in your kitty.. What’s your typical day like?
Hmmmm, it involves me saying my prayers and pumping myself up with some affirmations before getting off the bed, then school run. Afterwards, I figure out the quote I want to post on Instagram, this is important to me, to be consistent in my providing daily uplifting quotes, I never know who it might help. I then start some work at home before getting ready to go to an out-of-office meeting on an in office meeting, I then run through my day ticking off my “to-do” list and “to-feel” list with all the activities of editing all the versions of Exquisite magazine (online, Insta mag and the Exquisite magazine app) and working on all the Exquisite events. Yes I try to go to the cinema every week as I write for the Genesis cinema film guide, even though it’s work, it’s a form of relaxation for me

What actually motivates you? Any female role models?
I am motivated by the drive to be the best version of me possible in all facets of my life. Now that my kids are 13 and 10, I am motivated by the fact that they are watching and I need to set the right template for them to thrive on.Female Role models are my mum and Maya Angelou of blessed memory, because her words are unbelievable.

How do you maintain your dark and lovely skin?
You will laugh at this…..  I actually only use baby oil or shea butter on my body. I occasionally use perfumed body lotions. For my face, its the usual wash, cleanse, moisturise routine. I am not a heavy makeup wearer, but when I do, its a cocktail of different brands that I have found works for me.


Can you give us a sneak peek into what to expect at this year’s award?
Nominees and guests should expect a great event. We work with the best production company and we put on a great show. You have to attend to experience the exquisiteness of the ELOYs. We will be celebrating all women and they awarding the winners with the ELOY awards.

Over the years that you’ve been organizing the ELOY awards, do you think Nigerian women have really broken the glass ceiling?
To be honest, I don’t believe there is a glass ceiling, that’s my own belief. I believe I can do anything I set my heart to do, male dominated or not, fair enough, it might take some time, but it will be done. I think women are working well and hard at breaking the glass ceiling, if there is indeed a glass ceiling.

Any words of encouragement for women?
My advice will be to never give up and continue to do their best in whatever they do. Whether they know it or not, someone out there is rooting for them and praying for them to win in life. People are watching. I believe we are all born to win, winning just depends on how much work each person is willing to put in. So keep working, one day, one day could be that day.

In this article:
Tewa Onasanya
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