Meet On Air Personality, Gbemi Olateru-Olagbegi, Gbemi Olateru-Olagbegi strutted into our consciousness as a co-presenter with the hottest OAP, Dan Foster, at COOL FM during his daily morning show many years ago. In 2009, she moved to the newly established BEAT FM.
With a brand new set of OAPs, she helped establish the radio station as the voice of urban music and pop culture in Nigeria. The multi-talented graduate of Oakland University, Michigan in the United States has also ventured into shoe designing and making her mark.
She speaks with ADETUTU AUDU on her journey to fame
YOU cut your teeth as a radio presenter and instantly became one listeners loved to listen to. How did your journey to broadcasting world start?
My journey into broadcasting started in school. I interned at the school radio station in the university (Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan). I moved back to Nigeria for NYSC. I was a junior reporter at NTA in VI and I got a part time job at CoolFM at the same time as a news editor. I really wanted to become a news anchor on TV. I thought that people who used to read the news were just so cool. After sending a letter, CV and everything, I got a call. I was basically to assist in editing the news at Cool FM. You know before the news is read, it has to be collated, compressed and edited; so that was what I was doing for some weeks. I was basically an intern and I would work from about 6.00am till noon. I met Dan Foster and he thought I was interesting and that was how I got on radio. I started doing the morning show with Dan Foster. I was his co-anchor for about a year until I got my own show. And I’ve been doing radio ever since.
Was it a natural progression from broadcasting to shoe design?
Broadcasting and shoe designing are two different things. Most OAPs either move on to corporate communication jobs or politics.
You recently unveiled your shoe line. At what point did you figure this out?
I decided when I was a teenager that one day I would own my own shoe line. I really love shoes and it was so difficult to find my size.
Do you design with a specific type of customer in mind?
I design shoes for the woman who wants to be comfortable, stylish and is not trying to break the bank.
What are your criteria for well-constructed and well-designed shoes?
That all materials to be used are of the best quality possible!
Are there styles of shoes you like or prefer to others?
I like all kinds of shoes. I like flats, heels, gladiators and athletic shoes.
Can you tell us about a pair of shoes you’ll never forget?
I’ll never forget my first pair of Christian Louboutin shoes. I still have them, but I don’t wear them anymore. They were really, really high and I could barely walk in them.
Recently, there have been a lot of collaborations between designers and celebrities with mass retailers. What’s your take on this?
I think designers and celebrities collaborating with mass retailers are a good initiative. The fans of the celebs get to purchase clothes designed by people they admire.
Do you have a motto when it comes to shoes?
I don’t have a specific motto. As long as the shoes look good and the wearer enjoys them.
How would you describe your style of shoes versus other brands?
Gbemisoke Shoes were created for women who wear from a UK size 8 and up (US size 10 and up). It’s quite tough for women with bigger feet to find their size.
If you had to impart a bit of shoe wisdom, what would that be?
Try to buy classic styles when buying shoes. Classic styles are always in vogue.
Growing up, who influenced you early in life-the good, the bad and the ugly?
My parents definitely influenced me. They taught me how to work hard and work smart.
How has your family name helped in shaping you into who you are?
My family name is very popular. My grandfather (who was the Olowo of Owo) is responsible for the popularity. Apart from having many children, he was influential in the political arena. His life and work taught me to make a difference and to stand up for my beliefs. He was a very confident man. That’s where I get it from.
What was the attraction to Soulmate and why did you accept to be their ambassador?
The Soulmate brand approached me to be their brand ambassador and I accepted after meeting with the CEO. He told me the story of how he started the company from scratch with nothing. I admired his tenacity and passion for the brand. It is a proudly Nigerian brand.
You won the Future Awards in 2008 for ‘On Air Personality of the Year’ and many other awards, so what keeps you going?
I am grateful to God for all these accolades. I just won On Air Personality of the year again at the Nigerian Broadcasters Awards. What keeps me going is the love for the job.
How would you describe your style?
I’m not going to pretend I’m some fashionista and say that my style is eclectic this and that. I just want to be comfortable and look nice. I think even the most stylish and popular people have had misses. I look at some photos and I’m looking good in dresses I thought I didn’t like and vice versa. My style is very simple. I don’t like fuss.
Of all the shoes that you’ve designed, which has given you the most satisfaction?
I am most satisfied by my mules. I just received the samples and I’m very excited.
What criteria do you use when designing new shoes?
I think of the shape, the colours, and if the style will be in vogue for a long time.
How do you decide on colours for your shoes?
I think of the typical woman; what shoes she needs. What colours she will most likely wear and what colours are in vogue.
Aside broadcasting and shoe designing, what other ideas are you yet to explore?
I am working on a lot more. I am always thinking and exploring on new ventures.
Do you have any superstitious beliefs or self imposed rules by which you live?
I just try to be good to everyone. The key word is “Try”.
What aspect of shoe designing do you love most?
When the concept becomes a reality; seeing the prototype I envisioned in my mind.
You once revealed in a chat that you cannot date anyone in the entertainment industry, has this decision changed?
It has, just a little. I’m not ruling out everyone in the entertainment industry.
How have you remained scandal-free for this long?
I’m what they call a workaholic. Even when I’m on vacation, I’m thinking about what work to do. So, there’s really been very little time for scandal. It doesn’t mean I’m not a human being or that I haven’t done some things wrong. I’m just more focused on my work. I was once labelled as the most anti-social OAP, because you would only see me at work functions and I never used to come out for anything. The only time artistes would see me was if I was interviewing them in the studio. You would never catch me at events. But around 2009, I decided to start coming out a little bit more. I’m working on it. I’m trying to be a little more sociable but at the same time, I’m not trying to be in-your-face all the time. I believe in making your work talk for you. I am just Gbemi, simple and short; trying to hustle, trying to make it.
People perceive you as being rude. How do you feel when you hear such comments?
I’m just me; maybe I’m not as friendly as people want me to be. I don’t make friends like that. I kind of have to study you first before I welcome you to my ‘inner circle’. I’m just very work-oriented, so I cut out all the small talk in between. I don’t open up to people just like that. I think it’s also because I don’t like the ‘fakeness’. Let’s be honest, Lagos is full of fake people with fake lifestyles and I really don’t have time for that. I also think a lot of artistes think I’m standoffish. I try to be as cordial to everybody in the industry no matter how big or small.
Femisoro Ajayi has been dating his fiancee for two years and he is now set to walk her down the aisle. The lady named Gbemi Olateru-Olagbegi is an OAP for Beat FM.
The beautiful, curvy lady is a favourite amongst people for her good looks and her talent. Although the couple have been dating for a long time, they have managed to stay away from the paparazzi of the media for whatever reason. She, however, had pointed out the love of her life in very subtle ways like sending him a sweet birthday message or taking a not so detailed picture of him.
Also, Femi Ajayi had been throwing hints about who the love of his life and just how much she meant to her. On her recent birthday, he sent a birthday message to her that reflected his deep affection for her. “Happy Birthday @gbemioo!!! You are a beautiful and strong woman, may God who has brought you this far continue to be with, guard, guide and continually bless you. Keep Shinning, you are a star.”
Love is in the air as the manager of Folarin Falana popularly known as Falz is in line to marry his sweetheart Gbemi who is an on air personality.