Anita Okoye recently welcomed FABMUMNG into her beautiful Lagos home where she spoke candidly about the importance of self-love, finding yourself as well as the realities of modern-day parenting.
We dare say that this is one of her most candid interviews yet. Here, Anita gets real about juggling a young business, TANNKCo, motherhood, and marriage.
FABMUMNG: You recently shared a photo of Nadia on her wash day on Instagram and I couldn’t help but admire her rich mane. What’s her hair regimen like?
Anita Okoye: When Nadia was born, she was completely bald. I was nervous, but then, I started scalp massages and I learned through research things to do to avoid hair loss as well. This includes putting silk at the headrest section of her bouncer and in her pillow while she was growing up. I also deep-condition her hair a lot and research the kind of conditioners to use. In addition, I also do moisture and protein treatment for her hair at home. I detangle her hair gently from the tips.
She has two textures on her hair, so the treatment I would use for the bottom half of her hair which is a little bit kinkier is different from the top half. So, there is more concentration on that part because it tends to be drier.
FABMUMNG: Do you find that you are this hands-on because you are a mumpreneur?
Anita Okoye: That’s a very good question. When I had Andre, I had a 9-5 in the oil industry but I still had time to care for his skin and hair.
Working for Tannkco still keeps me super busy, so I make good use of my weekends for their skin and hair care regimen. I feel like you’ll definitely have time for your children. I was a career mum for a long time because I started working when I was really young.
FABMUMNG: How were you able to garner this much knowledge about child skin and hair care?
Anita Okoye: I am self-taught and I did all the research myself. When you introduce self-care to children, they grow with it. Right now, Andre is very particular about how his hair looks. He would comb his hair even at school after swimming. My daughter is also very particular about her hair and I have realised that once you make them imbibe it (self-care), they take it to adulthood and it’s no longer a choice anymore after a while. It requires hard work and being intentional.
FABMUMNG: And their skin?
Anita Okoye: Initially, I thought Andre had really easy skin. So, I could easily buy something off the shelf and apply it on his skin. But, I soon found out certain products didn’t work for him, so I switched to different products and used them for a long time. When I gave birth to the twins I simply re-introduced Andre’s skincare products…it did not work! Their skin became scaly and dry, so, I started making their own skin products.
I started researching and I understood that they needed more of a butter-based product instead of a water-based product. So, I started making their skin butter myself. You can tell their skin is different. They have been using it since they were 4 months old.
FABMUMNG: Let’s talk motherhood. You’re now a twin mum plus one. What was the transition like from being a mum of one to a mum of three?
ANITA Okoye: It was interesting. I didn’t expect it. In the first few years, I was trying to figure everything out. It was a huge transition for me because Andre was my only child for four years; he was an easy baby and very independent. So, having twins was a different ball game, I literally had to understand each of their personalities and then put them on a schedule. Where you have issues is when one baby is sleeping while the other baby is up.
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FABMUMNG: Tell us more about how you went about putting your twins on a schedule?
Anita Okoye: I just had to make sure that they were sleeping and eating at the same time to date. So, my three kids have schedules that I created myself.
Our bedtime is 7:15 pm and I cannot kill myself (lol). The routine works for me because when I’m away or if I have to travel or attend meetings, the schedule is right there. They have their school and mealtime schedule. My house works on a regimen.
FABMUMNG: Do you allow for some flexibility?
Anita Okoye: Yeah. It’s fun also because, during the weekend, I try to say oh, let’s stretch it till 8:00 pm but by 7:30 pm they are tired and want to sleep. This routine helps me as a mum because I have time for myself; I achieve a lot after 7:00 pm.
I can go out with my friends, go out to dinner, visit the spa, etc. So, I think putting your kids on a schedule is super important because if you don’t, you will probably have an unruly house and you wouldn’t have time for yourself.
FABMUMNG: So, mums should pretty much get their kids on a routine from a young age?
Anita Okoye: Yes, from when they are babies. The twins are fully potty-trained.
I also think that communication is very important and I realise that I don’t talk to my children like they are babies; we have proper conversations.
Communication is important for potty-training as well. I’ve observed in some homes where the child is berated or made fun of because they pooped. What happens is that when you say the poop is stinky, the child shrinks and feels embarrassed.
When my kids’ poop, they are so excited to announce it and I respond in excitement; “Good job” “was it a big poop or a little poop” and we actually discuss poop? Lol
When my kids fart, I say “Wow, did you fart?” and they respond with a “yes, I farted” and they proceed to say “Excuse Me”.
I think a lot of us get it wrong in berating children when they poop or fart, it’s a natural process.
FABMUMNG: What are your top tips for first-time twin mums?
Anita Okoye: Sleep when the kids sleep: I sleep with my kids, we take naps together.
We all have naptime because it’s important for us to also rest.
Encourage Independence: I’m not a fan of holding babies in your arms, try putting them in a bouncer or sitter or high chair. It helps their independence and brain development; they start interacting between themselves and with toys or soft books.
When the twins are sitting or relaxing you can perform other tasks, and nap when they nap.
When you are tired, give your baby to someone else and sleep.
Put them on a schedule and schedule everything; if they are on a schedule and you have a plan that works for you, it helps in relieving the confusion that comes with raising multiples.
Everything has to be documented, you have to be more organised and have everything scheduled so that you are not confused and the babies get the utmost care that they need.
Take time out for yourself.
Wear a bra. Don’t let your boobs hang because they are double the size once you give birth. Wear the right bra, get resized, if possible.
Walk; Walk in your neighbourhood or with your babies in a stroller
I find that walking to be therapeutic, it helps me think.
And indeed walking contributed to the birth of TANNKCo.
It can be chaotic when twins/triplets all need attention, if you take a walk, listen to a good podcast or music, it helps you clear your mind.
Anita Okoye: My mum, siblings, my cousin, and my friends.
My husband is also helpful with the kids, he’s the fun parent, I am the disciplinarian. My staff are also a great support system, I have had the same staff for a while. It’s super important that you have a system in place so whoever you put into that system will adapt to it
FABMUMNG : Why did you leave your 9-5 job?
Anita Okoye: I left because I needed time to understand myself as an individual; I started working when I was 20 and I was just going with the flow.
It was a major decision and a tough one at that because my last job was like family. I am so grateful for the experience because it helped me create the systems that I have in my business (Tannkco) today.
I also needed some time off and I couldn’t burden my employers with my personal issues of miscarriages and high-risk pregnancies.
FABMUMNG: Not many people know you have a law degree.
Anita Okoye: Yes I do have an LLB and I also have an MBA in oil and gas.
FABMUMNG: Did you ever practice law?
Anita Okoye: I never practiced law because I’m yet to go to Law school because I we4nt straight into the workforce to garner experience in oil and gas first. I’ll definitely attend Law school in the near future. My LLB has actually served as an essential foundation in my life.
Anita Okoye: It has helped me in setting up my business and in understanding contracts and agreements that are presented to me. I’m always a lawyer at heart.
FABMUMNG: So, if you could change or do anything differently, as a first-time mom, what would you do differently?
Anita Okoye: Maybe I wouldn’t buy as much stuff as I did when I had my first child. I got like double or triple of everything.
FABMUMNG: Okay, let’s talk about TANNKCo.
Anita Okoye: I love kids and have always loved them, even before I had mine. I found a gap in the industry for kids basic apparel, with TANNKCo, I knew I wanted to provide the solution to quality basic everyday-wear for children. This is why we are moderately priced; amazing quality and awesome prices.
FABMUMNG: You touched a bit about dressing kids age-appropriately. Please shed more light
Anita Okoye: I think it’s important for kids to be comfortable and be dressed appropriately for their age and the weather.
At TANNKCo, we have clothes that I wish I could wear (lol) to be honest, my clothes are cool and fashion-forward, I think children should be comfortable in their clothes.
We currently stock up to age 10 and I plan to move up to age 14.
FABMUMNG: Even from 2 years they have their own clothing preferences.
Anita Okoye: Absolutely, my daughter knows what she wants to wear at all times. I think dressing kids should be fun. It’s important to understand the weather conditions before you put them in tights, wearing tights and tight clothing in tropical weather pose problems in girls especially, as they might be susceptible to yeast infections or UTIs.
It’s important for kids to wear breathable fabric. We should understand comfort and fashion, bearing in mind our environment and understand what shoes go with socks and those which do not need socks.
FABMUMNG: Does your personal style come into play with regards to your designs at TANNKCo?
Anita Okoye: I try to separate my personal style from Tannkco because my personal style is pretty simple. I’m a T-shirt and jeans kind of girl.
I personally do not like patterns but I find patterns super fashionable, and you would find a lot in Tannkco, Tannkco is slowly making me more fashion-conscious.
When it boils down to the selection process for our designs at TANNKCo, my staff, nannies, and my support system are all involved. When I see kids wearing TANNKCo, I like that they can tumble around, jump and express themselves. It’s super important that they are comfortable and that makes me so happy.
FABMUMNG: What does self-care and self-love mean to you?
Anita Okoye: Self-love is loving YOU, understanding who you are, what you stand for and owning it unapologetically. I was almost 30 when I began to understand who I truly was.
Self-love is very important because if you don’t love yourself, no one will love you the way you should be loved. Self-care and self-love are really important, they are intertwined. Even if you are a first-time mum, you need to understand yourself, love yourself, take time out and be unapologetic about it.
Once you know who you are, you start to set your path in building yourself up to where you are supposed to be.
Anita Okoye: I reckon you discover yourself by finding your center. It’s in being still and quiet. That’s why I said walking does it for me and just sitting down in a place, I have my little hideaway.
I can sit down for an hour and just be still, without my phone or any distractions. It is great to do this every day. Take one hour every day to sit still or walk. It took a lot for me to get to this stage. A lot of us can’t stay still, however staying still helps you understand everything that’s going on around you and within you.
It works for me because nothing upsets me. You can’t get to me. I got to that point after I truly found out who I was.
FABMUMNG: How did you spend your Valentine’s Day?
Anita Okoye: I spent it with my kids.
FABMUMNG: How do you keep fit?
Anita Okoye: I walk, I’m not a gym fanatic.. yet! I also do yoga and intermittent fasting.
FABMUMNG: Can we talk about mum vacations?
Anita Okoye: There is no law that says a mum can’t take a few days out of a year to travel solo or with friends. I don’t think you should feel guilty about a little rest and relaxation. It helps your sanity if you are happy everybody is happy.
FABMUMNG: Who steps in when you and your husband have to travel at the same time?
Anita Okoye: My Parents and cousin step in.
It’s even a holiday for my mum because she gets to spend time with her grand-kids.
My dad too, oh my God! My dad is an ultimate grand-dad. When my mum isn’t available, he also steps in.
Anita Okoye: it’s interesting!I’ve known my husband for a very long time and because I haven’t changed as an individual, it keeps us grounded.
When he’s home, we are the same as we were in 2004. There is no celebrity in our home. And because I’ve known him for almost 16 years now, basically, half of my life, it’s pretty easy.
FABMUMNG: Do you have any input in his songwriting?
Anita Okoye: I used to contribute a little when we were younger and in school, but I don’t anymore.
FABMUMNG: What’s your favorite song of his?
Just before you go, have a quick look at why Benita Okojie thinks new mums need people around them