Acting on the general maxim that precaution is better than cure, 29-year old Ugochi Obidiegwu has decided to carve a niche for herself with novelty in a very important part of human existence, Safety.
The brand Safety Chic Initiative which was created in 2016 is the brainchild of Ugochi which seeks to ensure safety practices in all human endeavours. Safety brings first aid to the uninjured, according to F.S Hughes, this has been her mantra as she has been involved in developing, teaching and training people, institutions, organisations about Safety practices.
Always Hungry For More
Growing up, she always wanted to do things that would make her speak to people, she was a member of the Press club in her secondary school, Air Force Comprehensive School, Uyo and also the newscaster at every prize giving day. This inadvertently propelled her to study Communication and Language Arts at the prestigious University of Ibadan.
After her graduation, she realized she wanted more. She loved speaking, thinking, creating and solving but still she wanted a new experience. Ugochi started work as a cabin crew member and within a year she rose to the Safety Officer role in Flight Operations. As she did it, she saw all she wanted in one space and applied herself fully into it. That birthed “The Safety Chic”.
Do Not Learn Safety By Accident
Her motivation to start “The Safety Chic” started late 2015 after she got a rejection email from the place she applied to work in South Africa. In her disappointment, she prayed and meditated and then she realised the potentials she was sitting on.
“At first, I thought I did not have enough certifications or experience to stand alone. I saw examples and things in my life that were happening across the country. Some years prior to that, I had lost my mum in an accident and people at the scene could not help. Also during that period, there were so many avoidable accidents happening”.
And so, she sprang into action. Although, it was not a rosy start, she had the regular cold feet and inevitable harsh situations.
“A lot of what I am doing now was not clear at the beginning but what I have learnt on this journey is, things get clearer as you move on. You have to just get up and start.” This is how she has been able to move a lot of thoughts into real life. She says she learns as she goes. Considering she is charting a new course here, there’s a lot of trial and error but she does not mind others learning from her.
With little or no support, she has been able to build a brand in Nigeria and it is slowly spreading across the whole of Africa. She started with a #60secondswiththesafetychic.
“I know I was not connected, I had to be my own PR agency. I made so much noise on my social media platforms and people began to notice and tell others about me,” she said.
She has also leverage on platforms to achieve the things she desires e.g the YALI Regional Learning Centre, the Mandela Washington Fellowship and the Tony Elumelu Foundation network.
A Full Package
Ugochi’s communication background, has greatly influenced how she thinks and does her safety business. At the moment, she is a speaker, author, trainer, product creator.
It is noticed that the way she expresses her safety know-how is different from what exists in the industry. She is great at coordinating and organising different human and material resources across different projects. “I also have an ability to listen and understand with empathy, ” she divulged.
She described her late mother as her major influence. “The death of my mum is one of the lowest points of my life. She is one of my major influences. Another one of her influences is Debola Deji-Kurunmi.
Ugochi is a firm believer in Nigeria, especially, its people. “We tend to be subjected to things that can break others but we are resilient. No matter where you find a Nigerian, they believe that they will make it. They put in their best to defy odds and in their own way, they succeed. I say in their own way because success means different things to different people”
If there is anything she would like to change about the country, it will be the systems. She says “We need systems that work in this country across all spheres. It could be as simple as people stopping when the traffic light is red whether there is a uniformed person there or not. Or going to register for something at an office open to the public and everything works without endless queues or having to “sort” someone.”
“I realised this might seem like a huge thing but this country will really begin to work well when we have systems in place, Nigerians willing to work with the existing systems and an effective monitoring and compliance system. When Nigerians travel outside this country, they comply with the systems there, why can’t we do same here? There are factors in Nigeria that prevent that and it needs to be addressed from the roots,” she added.
Many More To Come
Ugochi is an alumnus of several platforms including YALI and Tony Elumelu Foundation. She has been featured on several platforms including She leads Africa and Bella Naija. She feels she has a lot of things that sets her apart but the one that tops it all is her heightened self-awareness, which she prides herself in.
“I am still evolving, there are still expressions that I am yet to birth.” she disclosed.
She sees some of them happening in 2019. However, the major thing Ugochi says would like to be seen about her is the quantifiable impact her work has made on the African continent and how it has spread to non-African countries.