Esther Otomi (popularly known as Esther Tom), is the lead stylist and CEO of Game Of Fros natural hair hub. She has a Bachelors Degree in Choreography and a Maters Degree in Media Studies but chose to focus on her passion for natural hair styling.
In this exclusive interview with Women Of Rubies, she talks about how she left Calabar for Lagos to chase her dreams, the interesting name ‘Game Of Fros’, and how meeting Mo Abudu changed her life..
Did my childhood prepare me in anyway for what I do now? Not in a million years! Growing up as an average Nigerian female child, the time line was the usual… It had to be, get a university degree in medicine, law or journalism, or a number of other jobs that were considered “professional”, finish your NYSC, get a job, get a husband, have babies, and you have lived life. I would never have imagined myself in this position and without a care in the world.
My name is Esther Otomi, I’m 26 years old, the last of a family of 5. I majored in Choreography for my Bachelors degree and proceeded to Media Studies for my Masters degree. I’m a born artist by nature. All i want to do is create! I live very simply and try to keep a low profile (i think…Lol). I hate to dress up, I’m not your typical “ladyish” lady. I dress for comfort and keep it true to my personality. I’m a lover of myths and legends, I love Rock ‘n Roll, animation and books!
“Game Of Fros”
Game of Thrones! Yes! Hahahahahahaha…Pardon me, I just couldn’t hold that in! Obviously that’s where Game of Fros came from. We are passionate about Natural Hair Styling. We believe in natural hair as a voice, as a mark of identity, as a crown that needs to shine. For too long we have seen our natural hair as a burden, as an unkempt load of rubbish that we must constantly hide under weaves. Not that wearing weaves is a problem, but when you spend and cater more to your bundles than what is under, then we have a situation. The purpose for which Game of Fros is designed for is to showcase how versatile and sophisticated our Kinky /Curly hair is capable of being, and also to make your natural hair journey stress free.
How I met Mo Abudu…
Big shout out to Aunty Mo! I came to Lagos 2nd week in November,[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]2016. Frankly, my intention was to work here for the whole December and return to my base which was Calabar. Coming with two pairs of jean and 4 shirts, you could tell how unassuming i was. I would go to Ebonylife Studios to style hair for Arit Okpo. When i count my blessings, I count her thrice. She’s the reason I packed my bag and left Calabar without a second thought. She would say,[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]“Esther, don’t be a whale in a pond”. I would style hair for a couple of other ladies as well in the studio. One day, Emily (works at the studio) called me saying “my M. D. said she likes my hair,[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]” and there I was saying
“Which MD?” She goes,[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]“Mo Abudu”. And I let out a loooonnng laugh of disbelief. Emily calls again after some days saying the same thing, my reaction was the same. Then Mo Abudu’s personal assistant called me to book an appointment on her behalf. At that point, my legs went limp and I had to hold on to something, all the while thinking,[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]“Is this really happening???” This was a lady i grew up watch on TV with my mum. I was about 16 then. Now I’m going to be working with her?! I didn’t know what to expect. But i gradually eased into it. Aunty Mo is a one strong woman. I watch her make things happen and I think to myself, how much willpower can one person have?! She is inspiring and one heck of an amazing client.
My experience on the set of the movie Wedding Party2…
To be part of the crew of a record breaking movie , not only was I honored, it expanded my work experience. From waking up early, closing late, getting barely two hours of sleep, to eating food you’ve never seen before! You’re not only dealing with hair, you’re dealing with personalities from a different race, a different country. It opened my eyes to realize that experiencing different cultures is wealth in itself.
What and who inspire me
I really cannot say who because alot of people inspire me in different aspects of life. But as for what inspires me, I’m certain it is fear of not fulfilling why I was made. I strongly believe I live for a purpose, and everything I do, everywhere I find myself, are all a means to an end. When i say a prayer, I always ask that whatever it is that will be a hindrance to fulfilling my purpose be taken away from me. When you’re 6 feet under, what matters is the lives you touched regardless of how little it was.
Just when you think you’ve seen it all, challenges pop out behind you like VOILA! Being that we offer home services exclusively, challenges include traffic, weather condition especially when it rains, impossible clients who think you have an attitude or who think you’re a fraud when you tell them you’re policy of down payments. I totally understand.
It is human nature to be skeptical especially when your environment does not offer anything different.
On giving up…
Hahahahaha was there a time I didn’t?! Entrepreneurship is hard! I rephrase, Entrepreneurship in Nigeria is hard! You must have a plan, a model, a policy that you must stick to. This is important when building a brand reputation. It doesn’t matter who calls you rude or arrogant. Consistency is key. No one gets to see the tears alot of us shed behind closed doors, the fear in taking a business decision, how we calculate our gains and losses, letting go of the people we once called ‘friend’ or ‘lover’ because you realize how much time you wasted being unproductive with them. Still we go to sleep and wake up with high spirits ready for the chase!
I am a Woman of Rubies
I believe I have impacted people in my own little way. It could be one, could be two, I have no idea, but I believe it didn’t come from a place of plenty. It came from that little criss-cross of my fingers.
It got better from every trial and error. It grew from every constructive criticism encountered. I never had it all figured out. I’m human. At times I procrastinate, at times I take impulsive decisions. When the chips are high or low, passion keeps me going.
Advice to women
Dear Woman out there, I haven’t walked in your shoes, I do not know where it pinches, but do not kill your dreams because of what people will say. People never stop saying. You will not always get what you request, sometimes you have to disobey, you have to break hearts, you have to go against the norm because you know where your happiness is. Until you grow into this awareness of self, you will continue to live other people’s lives and on your last day on earth, who you are will meet who you could have become. Cheers!
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