In a country where parents would rather their children secure employment in the oil and gas, banking or telecommunications sector in order to earn a good pay and live a decent life, Uju Udoka, has defiled the norm by abandoning a career in banking for painting in the creative industry.
Uju or The Lady Painter as she is called, is an indigene of Imo state and a graduate of Economics from the University of Port Harcourt. After graduating and confused on what to do next, she took a banking job that was presented to her. Before long, Uju started craving for something more although she couldn’t place her hand on exactly what it was, but she knew she wanted more. Somewhere along the line, she discovered her love for painting. The banker on weekdays became a painter on weekends. She did this for a while and on Wednesday, the 29th of June, 2016; Uju took the bold step to abandon a promising career in banking for a more fulfilling and satisfying one in the creative industry.
Uju bares it all in this interview with Enterprise54.
E54: Can we meet The Lady Painter (TLP)?
TLP: My name is Udoka Uju. I am The Lady Painter, Nigeria’s number one female creative wall designer based in Lagos. I provide interior and exterior painting service for residential and commercial spaces.
E54: How long have you been doing this and what triggered the decision to jettison banking for business?
TLP: I started painting in 2015 when I got bored with seeing bland walls in homes and offices so I decided to bring in that wow factor into spaces using paint to make sure that every wall has a story to tell or a statement to make and reflects my client’s personality. What motivated me to be a painter most of all was the desire to fulfill purpose, put my talent to work and also inspire others to do the same. Secondly, I am passionate about making homes and offices beautiful and one of the easy ways I can do that is by bringing walls to life.
E54: What have the challenges been so far?
TLP: Most of the challenges that I am facing right now is common for start-up businesses. But also, working in a male dominated field has its own peculiar challenges. The response I get most times when I tell people that I am a painter (laughs). People don’t believe that I am actually a painter. I just have to show them pictures or videos of me painting as proof. Sometimes they still find it hard to believe me or they don’t believe I can do a good job just because I am female.
E54: What has been the reaction from potential clients, family and friends about what you do; considering it is a male dominated area.
TLP: (Laughs) Initially the reactions I got were not so encouraging, from family, friends and even potential clients because it seemed weird that a lady like me would want to paint (walls o, not nails). I got some level of support from them though. It took me a while to finally make up my mind completely and decide to be a full-time painter. Right now I have the best support system I can ever wish for and clients are more open-minded now.
E54: We have seen some of your work and we must say that they look really good. Where did you acquire the technical skills needed to paint?
TLP: Hmmm…I have never been known to be artistic since birth but you never know what you are capable of until you try doing something. I got tired and bored with some painters handling jobs for me and I decided to try it out myself and just like that I have become a pro at it. It is something I have huge interest in, so every day I read up something and I practice what I read to enhance my skills.
E54: Can you tell us about some of your clients thus far.
TLP: My clients so far are mostly residential clients and some commercial clients.
E54: What is the plan for “The Lady Painter” brand in future?
TLP: In the next couple of years, I plan to expand the business to have more Lady Painters. I plan to employ women and train them to be professional painters. The business would operate nationwide, so more homes and offices would be transformed in Nigeria by The Lady Painter.
Uju is based in Lagos and can travel to any part of the country to get a job done. She can be reached via email at [email protected]