Vivian Jokotade Adeniyi, fondly known as “Jokotade”, is a Nigerian-American author, speaker, and thought leader on topics relating to women, business and leadership. She is the founder of The Jokotade Network which hosts a variety of talk shows with audiences in over 100 countries. In addition to running her own network, Jokotade is a wife, mother and an entrepreneur.
Her life as a serial entrepreneur began at the age of six ,when she started assisting her mother with her retail goods business in Lagos, Nigeria. Jokotade has since launched a growing list of businesses. These include a leading full-service design and print firm located in Houston, Texas —a business she started with less than $100 over 12 years ago.
SLA contributing writer, Uloma Ogba, caught up with this Motherland Mogul to get the inside scoop on how exactly Jokotade does it all, while looking fabulous.
What does Jokotade mean and what exactly do you do?
My name Jokotade (pronounced JOE-KOH-TAH-DAY), is a Nigerian Yoruba name given to a child whose parents suffered the loss of a child prior to the birth of the named. Its literal meaning is “sit with the crown” or “sit with royalty”. This signifies that this child will not die, but will stay and live with her parents and family. This powerful name was concurrently given by both of my grandmothers at my traditional Nigerian naming ceremony.
I use the name “Jokotade” for my speaking and writing platform because it is a very powerful and purposeful name. The name tells a story of my origin, gives you insight into my identity and speaks powerfully to my destiny. I write all of the inspiring details surrounding my birth in my breakout, bestselling book – Fresh Start. Once you discover my full story, I have a sense you’ll simply call me “Jokotade”.Vivian Jokotade Adeniyi: The name Jokotade tells a story of my origin & gives you insight… Click To Tweet
Could you give the readers some insight into your background?
I was born in Lagos, Nigeria and moved to the United States of America with my parents in 1997. Shortly after I arrived in the US, I got to work beginning my American life as a hair braider. This was my only choice at the time, as I had to wait a full year to begin my university education.
I finally gained admission to the University of Houston where I majored in Computer Information Systems (CIS) with special interests in marketing and communications.
What drove you to start your first business and continues to drive you to reach for new opportunities?
I’ll be honest —my motivation was hunger. I was hungry for the opportunity to live out my potential. I was hungry for the opportunity to start over in the United States; after experiencing a very rough and downward financial season with my parents back home in Nigeria.
For several years my dad (who is now a retired surgeon) had successfully operated a private medical practice. But right at the time I was finishing up my secondary school education, his practice suffered grievous losses due to lack of payments.
The idea of possibilities, of what can be, of who I can become, has driven me and continues to drive me everyday. It’s a beautiful thing to know that everyday you wake up, you truly can become more than you imagine.
I see each waking day as a canvas to paint on. I hope to make each day a beautiful work of art to remember.Jokotade of @jokotadeshow is motivated to reach for new opportunities by hunger Click To Tweet
While in university, you started a business selling clothes and accessories to other students. How did you come up with that idea? What was the process like for you, setting up a business alongside your classes? How were you able to find balance there?
Do you know of any university student who couldn’t use some extra cash?
If there is one lesson I learned early as a hungry student, it is this —pay attention to the problems you can solve for people. In university, I became the go-to person when it came to shopping or finding affordable resources.
The idea of selling accessories to other students was born from a place of paying attention to these kinds of problems and the questions I was often asked. I simply turned these inquiries into a business. I often say that the best business ideas are the ones that solve as many problems as possible for as many people as possible.
Juggling my side business wasn’t easy but it was worth it —it helped me pay for a car. This reward motivated me to find a way to “juggle my hustle”. I made time to deliver goods over the weekend and focused on my classes during the week.Jokotade: The idea of possibilities has driven me and continues to drive me everyday. Click To Tweet
After university you were involved in a couple of different activities which eventually culminated in what we now see today as The Jokotade Network. Can you take the readers through the journey of how you got to this point? What were some of the major milestones and challenges you faced along the way?
Believe it or not, The Jokotade Network didn’t happen by a plan. It happened by growth. Let me explain.
I began the Jokotade platform as a fashion and style blog…can you imagine? You see in 2013, I noticed there were several fashion and style bloggers but rarely did any of the bloggers feature the style of clothes I love to wear –classic, sophisticated, refined and polished.
Back then, there were hardly any who even featured stylish African clothes in these preferences. So you know what I did? I saw a gap in the market and I rose to fill it. I started blogging, featuring a choice of clothes that reflected my style. My selections and features quickly became a hit on social media, especially my Afrocentric selections. It literally caused a renaissance!
As I continued posting more photos, I noticed that my audience wanted more. The young women who followed me reached out to me asking me more questions about other areas of life. My audience asked how I balanced my passions with my marriage. They asked about raising a family. They asked about personal development. These were topics I could relate to.
A year later in 2014, I felt inspired to start a podcast with my name. I titled it The Jokotade Show. I had no idea what it would evolve into. The Jokotade Show became an avenue for me to cover a diverse set of topics to meet the many different needs of my audience. I also developed an app for the convenience of my audience. Fast forward to 2016 in further response to those diverse needs, I broke up The Jokotade Show into specialized segments. This resulted in The Jokotade Network of Shows covering topics on life, love and business.
This process didn’t come easy for me in any way. I’ll be honest with you, I was nervous because I wasn’t sure of what I was doing. I had no one around me who had attempted this path before. I also got pregnant with my second baby during this period and as a result I struggled with consistency. It wasn’t easy but my followers stuck with me. I did my best to give them periodic updates.