From studying Economics to starting a career in music and diving into a not so popular niche (Voice Coaching), and now a leading fashion designer. Gogo Majin’s story is one of faith, persistence, passion and resilience. In this interview, she shares her story in depth on her transitions and the major motivation behind her successful brand.
Please introduce yourself.
Hi, my name is Gogo Majin; I am a fashion designer, Vocal Coach and a singer on a sabbatical (smile).
Amazing! It’s been three years since LLA last spoke to you, what have you been up to? What has been happening in these three years?
It’s interesting and a little scary that it’s been three years already because, when I look back, it doesn’t feel like it’s been three years. I mean, 2017 has just gone by like a whirlwind, and we are now in 2018. It’s been interesting. I’ve just been evolving as a person and evolving as a creative entrepreneur. Working on projects on the voice coaching side…..running my fashion label, dealing with my clients on a day to day basis, speaking engagements, it’s been good.
You’ve been a voice coach on GCGT, what does that stand for? How long have you been a voice coach on the show? And how has that been?
GCGT is an acronym for God’s Children Great Talent. I started work with GCGT from its 5th season. Working on GCGT was a unique experience for me. It was my very first faith-based competition. Every other competition that I had worked on before then as a vocal coach or judge was secular. The age bracket of the contestants of GCGT was also different, all other talent competitions I had worked with involved contestants who were 18 and above, more like 21 and above, but with GCGT, the age bracket was from age five (5) to age twenty (20).
The difficult part was listening to so many contestants at the auditions stage (thousands from all over the country) and having to whittle down the large number of contestants to a much smaller number of contestants that would go through to the next round. There were so many talented kids that came out to audition and it was challenging in the sense that I had to tell some kids as young as 5 years old ‘’No’’ and because some of them didn’t understand why I had to say No. I had to be extra gentle and take the time to explain to them why I didn’t think they were ready to make it to the next round this season. GCGT has a good support system just waiting outside the door to help them, counsel them and to encourage them to try again. You have to understand that you can’t just tell a 5-year-old ‘’No’’. You have to say: “not this time, I think you are talented; I think you have a bright future ahead of you. This is the direction I think you should go in. So maybe next year.” Things that encourage them without breaking their spirit and self-esteem. I also got to work with the finalists of the competition at the boot camp stage and that was also a great experience.
What did that experience teach you about yourself?
It taught me that I could be professional on a whole new level. I learned to be sensitive but not allow my emotions drive my decision making in that particular workspace – working with children.
What is happening on the music front? Are you putting out any albums, or collaborating or working on any production currently?
I tell people that I am a singer on a sabbatical but you know if you’re really a singer at your core you never really leave music.
I’ve been recording over the years, collecting music, but also I’m working towards a release date sometime in the future. But I’m constantly working on music. I can’t get away from it, it’s not even possible. I think I’ve managed to stay away for this long because I’ve had voice coaching and it sort of appeased the music side of me and I could sort of live vicariously through my students.
Will you be collaborating with people?
Yes, I will.
What does music help you do? Is music and singing the same for you?
Yes, it is! I can’t remember a day that went by that I didn’t connect through music, sing or do something music related. It’s such an integral part of who I am.
Let’s talk about what you’ve been doing lately; you spoke at the Flourish Africa Conference, an event that had women like Ibukun Awosika, Folorunsho Alakija, etc. How was that experience?
That was a great experience! The Flourish Africa Conference is an initiative of Mrs Folorunsho Alakija. It’s an event that was put together to empower women in various aspects of life.
I was called to speak on “A Woman Has a Story – Leveraging your unique power” and I touched a bit on how I became the creative entrepreneur that I am now. And how embracing my uniqueness has led to different parts of me that people see today. For example, when I started voice coaching in Nigeria, people were like, what is that? But I knew I had a passion for it and I went and studied about it, and I found that it came naturally to me. And I found that voice coaching brings out my most nurturing side and with my students it’s almost like I’ve forgotten about myself at that point, I am 100% committed to helping them pursue and reach their goals and objectives, whether as a singer or as an actress or the executives and public speakers that I work with. I took it upon myself to educate the public about voice coaching using several mainstream mediums like my long-running voice coaching column in 2 major newspapers and the voice coaching radio shows.
The music industry in Nigeria when I started singing wasn’t what it is now, so people weren’t sure what I was doing, because I started with Economics and moved to singing, and then moving to something that’s even more niche. But I strongly believe in following the lead of your gifts. So I just followed the lead and decided that I’m going to take it upon myself to educate the public.
The first big break I got to speak about voice coaching came from True Love West Africa magazine, I was on the cover and they let me speak on my voice coaching, and from then on, I started getting clients. And my big break three years later, on television, on Project Fame West Africa. So I tell people, I’ve done very well in fashion, in terms of making a living out of it. But voice coaching as well, which everybody thought wouldn’t pull through has been able to provide for me. So I was basically just encouraging the women at Flourish Africa, I said ‘’don’t ignore the things that you’re good at’’ sometimes we don’t follow the lead of our gifting, we just look at what someone else is doing that’s popular.
Let’s talk about Fashion now. GM4FM, what is happening on that side? You’ve been a bit quiet, are there any new updates?
We are growing! I think back to when we started and the number of clients that we’ve added, the number of people that now know about the brand and I’m really happy and I’m looking forward to 2018 because we have a lot of great plans for 2018.
Fantastic! So, speaking about the fashion industry, Nigeria has gone through some serious economic challenges within the last couple years, and everybody seems to have been affected by it. How has this impacted your business and how have you been able to keep it moving?
When I started out in fashion years ago. I had to sit and ask myself, “What are you bringing to the table that is unique to you?” Because really, becoming a clone is not exciting and it doesn’t do much to help the industry except to increase the quantity. So I thought about that carefully and decided that a Ready To Wear line with couture ‘sensibilities’ would be a great way to start and I basically created a collection that reflected that. On the first day the collection was available to the public we made great sales and it was a huge success. So for me, when the recession came, all we had to do was re-strategise. I keep saying to people, if you’re meeting a need, people will find a way to have their needs met. So for me, it hasn’t been tragic because we found a way to re-strategise and make adjustments where necessary.
How has the response been from your customers?
It has been great so far. We are grateful because we really have some of the best clients.
In terms of the GM4FM Woman, is there a quintessential person she is?
She is a girl at heart. No matter how old she is and she likes distinctive, signature pieces. She is also bold and owns her femininity.
So you did a photo shoot with TY Bello which had your glorious hair, and the photos were just amazing, what was the shoot about?
TY Bello is my favourite photographer in Nigeria. Normally, for a typical photo shoot, you would have specific plans laid out, but we were just pretty flexible. I got there and she was like, I’m doing your hair. I was like “okay…” We all know TY as a singer, songwriter, photographer, but I didn’t know she could do hair. So I just said, “Well, sure I’m open, let’s do this!” And she came up with something so magnificent, I was impressed. We spent the whole day taking photos she made me get in water, took photos in water, my hair got wet. It was fun and we just fed off of each other’s energy and the photos came out really great. It was a great experience. TY is great at what she does and really loves her work and I really like that.
That’s amazing, was it your birthday, or was it just a creative shoot.
I think it was a couple of weeks to my birthday, but it was really just a creative shoot that we got together to do,
So as we wrap up, what are some of your professional and personal goals for 2018, I don’t say resolutions, because I think the world is over resolutions.
I know…… I have so many goals written down.
Without sharing too much – A constant and consistent evolution is in my future, expanding as a designer, as a musician and as a vocal coach are on the list.
If you have one wish/desire for 2018, that you’re sure God will grant, what would it be?
Increase – on all sides.
The Leading Ladies Africa Series is a weekly interview series which focuses on women of African descent, showcases their experiences across all socio-economic sectors, highlights their personal and professional achievements and offers useful advice on how to make life more satisfying for women.
It is an off-shoot of Leading Ladies Africa, a non-profit that promotes women empowerment and gender inclusion for women of African descent.
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