Paris Ado Sanusi is the wife of Captain Ado Sanusi, former Managing Director of Aero Contractors. Paris is also the founder and CEO of Olalee Fashion House and a member of Evolving Women in Politics Foundation.
The foundation encourages women to go into politics. In this interview with IFEOMA ONONYE, she speaks on why it is important for women to get more involved in politics and why her fashion and style is not all about the price tags among other things
You have a foundation called the Distinguished Ladies Initiative. A few people who know about it say it’s unique. Could you tell us a bit about it?
Yes it’s an NGO which is a bit different from the usual NGOs you know. We aim to provide opportunities for girls, women, and children. We also work to improve health, stop cyber bullying, slavery, and address climate change. ‘Distinguished Ladies Initiative’ is a group of women with like minds with a common aim to help humanity. I’ve always loved to help especially when it comes to children, but I was quick to figure out that I couldn’t carry the weight alone. Yes it’s my initiative but I had to liaise with other benevolent women to achieve the desired goal. So I reached out to my friends whom I call the distinguished ladies, we came together and boom, the NGO started its charity work. To raise funds we usually task ourselves. We’ve never gotten or solicited for funds from any individual or association. Every dime comes from our own pockets. I’m not looking for any credit when it comes to that; all I want is to eradicate suffering especially for children and we at ‘Distinguished Ladies Initiative’ are trying hard to help from our own little income. So that’s why I said we’ve changed the dynamics of the usual NGOs.
You also have a foundation that inspires women to go into politics. Why do you believe women should participate more in politics?
Yes I belong to some foundations; one of them is EWIP (Evolving Women in Politics). It’s an NGO with the basic aim of empowering women and encouraging them to participate in politics; a beautiful initiative founded by Hajiya Fati Azeez and Hajiya Raliat Anako Abdulsalam. You know, women hold homes as mothers; they get to manage their homes well and in the process garner a lot of ideas, experience, and knowledge in leadership. But unfortunately they never give themselves the chance because they do not even bother to participate in politics. So EWIP tries to encourage them to participate and also help grow their political careers. It’s time for women to come on board so they can participate in making the best policies that affect them and their children.
How would you encourage a woman who has passion for politics but does not get her spouse’ support? Do you think this is the main challenge women face when thinking of going into politics?
To be a politician you have to have the ability to convince people to do the right thing by supporting you, and charity they say begins at home. So if you really have the passion for politics and you can’t convince your husband to support you then how are you going to convince voters outside (Laughs)? Honestly, I don’t think that’s the main challenge women face. The main challenge they face is the fact that they criticise each other a lot. If a woman tries to evolve in politics, it’s her fellow women that will criticise her the most and make her run back to her shell or even make her fail by not supporting her. Some women too want to come out but because they too have in the past criticized other women that tried, the fear of being called the names they have called others hinder their ambition.
However, if as a woman your husband does not encourage the career you dream of, try to convince him, but don’t ever do it without his blessing. If you’re single take your decision; don’t allow any man to hinder your political progress, but if you are married you have to have one voice with your husband because you’re partners. If you truly love your husband you’ll listen to him and if he truly loves you he’ll listen to you.
As a woman who has a foundation that encourages women to go into politics, you should lead by example. What position would you be running for come 2023?
(Laughs) Let’s leave that till then, it’s still a bit too early to say.
You are a very elegant beautiful woman; tell us about your personal style.
Thank you so much for the compliment, I like to keep it simple and classy. For me less is more.
Do you go for top notch expensive fashion items?
I just go for the fitting. If it fits and will make me comfortable and happy I won’t look at the tag to judge if it’s too cheap or expensive. I buy stuffs because they are nice not because they are expensive.
Are you one of the many wealthy women that cannot count how many handbags or shoes they have in their wardrobe?
I am actually laughing out loud on this on. Look I have a lot of young girls and women who look up to me and I like to use this opportunity to tell them or let them know it’s their brain that counts not their bags.
I once spoke to a woman who said she has a shoe worth N1m in her wardrobe. Do you have any fashion item like that and how much is it worth?
I’d prefer to be the designer of such shoes not the consumer (laughs). So please pray for me, pray for Olalee Fashion House to grow to the extent of designing million dollars shoes, sorry naira.
It is always delightful to see a woman holding her own as an entrepreneur. Before setting up a business in fashion, in which prestigious companies did you work before going back to your passion for fashion?
I didn’t have that luxury of working for any company. After my National Youth Service, I started my business without any prior experience, and I must tell you that the move came with its own price. But eventually it endowed me with most of the experiences I’m now using to manage my business.
You are said to come from a wealthy family and married into a powerful family as well. Did your husband oppose to your working when you got married?
Hmm, I don’t know what you mean by wealthy or powerful families, but I know my husband supports my business.
Tell us about Olalee Fashion House. There are both conservative and sexy kinds of fashion. What inspires the designs?
I will say my designs are inspired by happiness.
How do you mean ma?
You see, we’re all created beautiful yet different. The style that appeals to you, that gives you joy and happiness might differ from the style that gives me joy and happiness. At Olalee, we completely understand this and that’s why we create clothes that will give our clients joy, happiness, and confidence. So you can rightly say that we create all styles.
Mind you, what you see as conservative might be sexy to others. I just want my clients to be happy, so the quest to make them happy inspires the diverse designs. The staff of Olalee World are happy people. As the leader, I try to make everyone happy because no one functions well in a bad mood. I love nature a lot, as you can see it makes me happy.
So most times when I’m in the garden, a lot of inspirations flow in and I try to create styles considering all types of shapes, sizes, and colors. The sole aim is to keep everyone happy. The same thing applies to our perfume lines.
Tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Paris Ado Sanusi. I’m from Imo State. I attended Saint Augustine Primary School Kaduna. After that I proceeded to Dalet Girls Secondary School Kaduna for my S.S.C.E. At the post-secondary school level, I acquired a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from ABU, Zaria and later a Master’s Degree in Public and International Affairs from the University of Lagos. I do fashion business, home management and politics