We Interview: Bolanle Williams-Olley: Social Change Champion!
If KacheeTee.com were a fancy lifestyle gloss magazine, then BWO would make the perfect cover girl for the July edition, and the gorgeous photos of her and her lovely family would adorn the pages and provide a lovely photo spread. But that notwithstanding, we don't need a glossy magazine to take it all in - her wisdom, advice and photos! So I'm super stoked she's sharing her thoughts with us and providing a bucket full of inspiration.
As we attended the same high school in Nigeria (she was about 2-3 years ahead of me), I had this familiar feeling when I stumbled on her Instagram page a couple of years ago. Like we were friends, or we should have been friends. But maybe that's just me and wishful thinking. When I was in NY recently, she invited me over to her office for coffee/lunch and I was super gutted that due to a tight schedule, I couldn’t. Ugh, but there's always a next time.
Bolanle turned 32 a few weeks ago, and you can see just how much passion she puts into all facets of her life! As a wife and mum to the TWOs (her husband Temi, and kids Teni and Tsola), as a friend, as a Christian, a career woman, an entrepreneur and a social change champion.
She's super passionate about education, giving back and volunteering! A while ago, she changed her social media handle to Bolanle HQ - The hq signifying the headquarters for all her many hats. I thought that was funny but super befitting.
Ok, that's enough for an intro. Not another word from me, but I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did!
What's your favourite nickname and how did it come about?
- BoBE! Nosa, my best friend gave it to me in high school (Queen's College, Lagos). She made it up from my name at that time, Bolanle Bob-Egbe - BoBE
Anyone who knows you even just on Instagram, probably knows half your friends and how much you stan for them publicly. What does friendship mean to you, and what do you look out for in a friend?
- Friendship is just like a marriage if not a marriage even. It's being there both in the good and bad times; it's being vulnerable; it's showing love unconditionally; it's putting in work, it's having a damn good time and having your people you can really count on and likewise to do this journey called life. I look for Integrity.
You've dabbled into entrepreneurship, but I know you've said before that you're truly a 9-5 career person at heart. What's does your day job entail and what do you like the most about it?
- I'm a financial controller. First of I LOVE my company and our culture - family first. What I love most about my job is building a great working relationship between finance/accounting team and the floor -ensuring our projects are winners and of course profitable.
The best career advice you've ever received?
- Go for it, what is the worst that could happen? And if you don't like it, do something else.
You've been married for 6 years now. What's the greatest adjustment you had to make in marriage?
Learning to communicate, communicate and communicate. Being an only child it's easy to internalize, but in marriage that doesn't work. You have to share and discuss all things with your partner.
If you had to have your wedding ceremonies again, what two things would you change?
- I would have spent less on my wedding dress for sure - it's in a box collecting dust. I would also have had more small chops! Why wasn't small chops as popular then? Hahaha!
One advice for a wife to be?
- Look for a man who tries earnestly to seek God above everything else because you are rest assured by God's grace all - your marriage, your partnership, your journey with him will fall into perfect place. And that's a promise from God!
Most romantic thing your husband has done for you?
- Look at me and love me the same yummy way he has always done from when we first got together.
You are very vocal about your Christian faith. In what practical ways does your relationship with God make you a better person.
- It helps me live an Ephesians 5:2 life - “Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ."
Your go-to Bible Scripture?
- It changes per season. Right now it's - “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?” - Jeremiah 32:27
What's the hardest lesson you've had to learn as a mum - and what's the absolute best part of being a mother?
- Best part easy - the pure innocent love my kids have and express towards me and my husband.
- Motherhood is the HOOD that develops the fruit of the Spirit in you. It's hard but it's for the better - I'm still in school - “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness”.
You run three enterprises - REACH Nigeria, BolaKrafts & Beau Belle Africa. What's the aim of REACHNigeria and why did you feel inclined to initiate this platform?
- REACHNigeria is an online platform that aims to create awareness about nonprofit organizations and community service events in Nigeria. I felt inclined to start because there are lots of great organizations doing wonderful work but people might not necessarily know about them or where to begin searching for causes of interest to them. REACH serves as a connection point between these organizations and people who are looking to donate more than just money but time and or resources.
Each year for a BolaKrafts Cares project, you personally knit items in love to raise money or support a cause. The recent one was dedicated to women-in-waiting. What's your experience with this, and why is it important for there to be more awareness about this 'waiting period'?
- We tried for Teni with a timeline given by a doctor I had seen and just when I thought we would have to go back to see the doctor, I got pregnant. In life we have seasons for everything, I think we really need to press in to God and get ready to grow. Waiting period in most cases is always a growth period, we pray for the grace to come out even stronger and with more dependency on God.
Why did you start BeauBelle Africa and what's your vision for the brand?
- I started BeauBelle Africa to see beautiful young kids in vibrant print clothes. Vision is to see BeauBelle Africa expand and have our pieces stocked in stores across the world. Watch out now!
Do you come up with the designs yourself? What's the greatest challenge right now to running this?
I get inspiration from anywhere for designs but our aesthetic is simple, easy and fuss free clothes that a child can wear and of course dress up or down. My greatest challenge has been consistency - that's also because I have a lot going on but focus is coming back. Again watch out now!
From your IG, we know you're a great dancer, you knit, you run and you're a DIY queen. What one skill do you wish you have?
- I wish I was an artist and could draw. Half of my family are artists but it skipped me - praying it passes on to my kids.
You've just turned 32. What has been your greatest achievement so far and what one thing do you hope to tick off by 35?
- First part - birthing my babes. I hope to help a blind person run a half marathon before 35.
3 Items we'd always find in your hand bag?
- Notebook, Wallet, Lipstick.
One song sure to get you dancing on your feet?
- Any Tekno or Wande Coal song.
Where is HOME to you?
- Where my husband and children are.
If someone were to bribe you with food, they can't go wrong with _________
- Gbagofofo, yam and stew, starch and banga. I'm now getting hungry!
Favourite stores to shop for fashion items?
- Asos, H&M
Favorite get away or travel destination?
Any island, give me sand and unlimited anything!
Snap Chat or Instagram Stories - Why?
- Snap chat, the one place you can really be private. I mean look at Beyonce no one can find her but we all know she's there!
If you had to be locked up in a building for 24 hours, what building would you choose and what would you be doing?
Locked up that what?!
One memory from childhood that always makes you laugh!
- Coming back from Warri one summer, and only speaking broken (pidgin) English.
Cliché question - but how do you manage all of these things!?
- God's Grace, prioritizing and breaking down things to smaller manageable tasks. Something will always be more important and something will fall on the back end. Life is very seasonal.
And, it's a wrap on this one! She's pretty awesome yeah, and how cute is that last photo!? Plus her last answer is super relevant - recognising the times and seasons for different projects. I definitely relate with her on the small chops thing. The fact that I ate no small chops at my wedding still hurts till this day!
Finally, I'm particularly proud of her REACHNigeria initiative, so please if you've always wanted to volunteer but had no idea where to look, follow @REACHNigeria. And ofcourse, for all your little kids outfits, @BeauBelle Africa is one to check out.
What did you think of this interview. Did anything resonate with you? I'll love to hear.