• Saturday, May 18, 2024
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BusinessDay

Eryca Freemantle, The chronicle of an audacious woman

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For everyone who has ever given up on life, the riveting narrative you are about to read is sure to change your orientation to life and motivate you to keep on keeping on.

I have seen her severally on TV and at one or two events…you know that feeling of ‘I know this person’ even though you might not have spoken to her before, her face registers in your mind, her name rings a bell…and when you finally meet her, it feels like you have known her for a long time and then, the imaginary connection you once felt naturally flows into reality as she seats before you and you share an enlightening dialogue you are not quick to forget. Eryca Freemantle is my lunch ‘date’ for this week.

The same girl who had no hope in life, who accepted abuse as a normal way of life, who didn’t know where she belonged, who travelled the world searching for her soul, who lived with sexual abuse from the age of four, is today a lifestyle guru, an award-winning celebrity and international make-up artist, industry intelligence, consultant, educator, author, corrective make-up specialist, trendsetter, keynote and motivational speaker. Working with clients such as British Vogue, Elle, BBC, Wella, Island Records, EMI, Kodak to mention a few.  She sits on the panel as one of the experts at high-profile institutes such as the London College of Fashion, she is an ambassador for various charities and organisations including Make your Mark and she is patron for Vitiligo Support and Awareness Foundation. Call her a truly inspiring woman and your judgment will go unopposed.

Eryca Freemantle
Eryca Freemantle

Eryca’s journey from childhood was filled with a lot of daunting experiences, some of which she shares with me when she tells me “Kemi, reflecting on my life, I now realise growing up from the age of four to adulthood was very painful.  I come from a very solid and happy family.  My mother and father have been married now for nearly sixty years and I have five lovely brothers who adore me. As one who has been through a number of different types of traumatic experiences, I know that hope is the most expensive necessity of life. I still live with the effects of being bullied at school, called ugly and that I would not get anywhere in life. I was slapped in the face on a daily basis, kicked in the stomach, tripped and spat on daily. One of my most awful childhood memories was being called ‘black attack’ and ‘bull frog’, because of my dark complexion and my eyes were (and still are) large and round.” Eryca tells me and continues “all of these  accounts helped me get where I am now. I have shared and will continue to share my experiences with people who can relate to these same scary, painful and disgusting feelings. I faced my fears and funneled my anger into creative expression and business – makeup artistry, fitness and empowerment speaking. Surviving trauma represents a second chance to rebuild my life and implement the lessons learned and that is exactly what I am doing.” Eryca admits.

Eryca is easily identified as a make-up guru among many other things she is into but you will be shocked to know that her career in makeup was not planned, sounds like a paradox right? Hear her shed light on this. “Yes, I went into make-up by ‘accident’. While standing in a petrol kiosk a lady drove in, lost control of her car, and smashed my body between her car and the kiosk.  My face landed in a pile of glass, leaving me with over 250 facial scars, a shattered left leg and the loss of my hair. When the bandages were removed I was appalled at what I saw, my face was changed forever and I cried for months. My dilemma was how to cover the scars on my face without further injuring myself.”

“I remembered reading about Egyptians who used mud to camouflage and cover scars on their bodies.  I starting using earth from the garden, mixing with water and creating a mud mask.  This is what gave me confidence to go out and try to live a normal life.  The mud mask became my new look, my saving grace and my confidence. After months of this ridiculous look, I had to find a better alternative.  I asked my parents if I could go to a school to train to become a makeup artist.  This is how I started in the industry.  I completed the makeup course to help rebuild my life.” Eryca discloses.

When you converse with Eryca, you get ‘infected’ with her positive vibes so much that after leaving her presence, the aura of determination lurks around you for a long time. However, she admits to me that it hasn’t been rosy all the way. In her words, “even though I have grown tremendously, there are still ups and downs. I have learned to anticipate and manage them well. When I am not feeling motivated, I take quiet time. Resting in stillness is very beneficial. The quietude sustains me and makes me more equipped to deal with situations whatever they may be.”

“Life is here and now. I do not plan too far ahead because I believe life is more about appreciating the living present. I am uplifted seeing others enhance themselves. When people tell me they have heard my story and it has changed their lives, I am motivated to keep going even though challenges come in one form or another. Despite these challenges, my philosophy is that it is not what happens to you, it is how you deal with it because challenges are a necessary part of life.” Says Eryca.

Not completely overwhelmed by her life occurrences, Eryca is a harbinger for women empowerment. According to her, “I believe in women’s empowerment.  It is the key to socioeconomic development all over the world and particularly here in Nigeria and Africa. Women’s empowerment means more opportunities for all individuals irrespective of gender. Empowering individuals translates into creating an enabling society where each person who lives in it can have a say. The language women use toward one another is critical to empowering or disempowering. Women need to realize what we say and do to each other has long lasting effects. We women have so much to answer for.  It breaks my heart on a daily basis when I see other women insulting or oppressing each other with their words, body language or subtle put-downs.” Eryca insists.

With Eryca, life is always new, she appreciates every minute, every day, every week and now at 50 (even though I must admit she doesn’t look fifty at all),  Eryca believes that life is truly what you make it. She elucidates my affirmation when she says “I was very ill. I broke my back, leading to an open back surgery. I had spinal fusion, resulting in two pins, a plate and an axle permanently placed in my lower back. To top that, I had a hip replacement nine months ago.  Doctors again told me that I would not walk again.  Now eighteen months later, I am not only walking but I am dancing and smiling.  I am now embracing my deepest passion which is fitness!  I have been a qualified fitness instructor for over thirty years, teaching and training clients all over the world.  I enjoy enabling women to lose weight, improve their image and connect with their body, mind and soul.”

“My team and I have created a women only fitness concept that we are working to identify and associate with reliable and efficient business partners in key African countries. Regardless of your age or size, you can lose weight in less than six weeks if you stick to the programme – a combination of pilates, meditation, and body conditioning.  The technique is in demand across the globe. Celebrities, athletes and other groups of influencers all want to know how it works.  I want to share, encourage and save the lives of my fellow Nigerian (African) women.  It is very important that I create a fitness environment where women feel safe, appreciated and accepted. I am fortunate to have built a career that I love, that is now driving my agenda her in Nigeria and Africa.” Eryca discloses.

In furtherance of creating a fitness environment, on the 19th October 2014, Eryca will be having an intimate beauty event for an exclusive crowd at The Nail Studio in Victoria Island. “We will be celebrating our joint venture to create Nigeria’s first vocational training charitable trust (VTCT) center for nails and makeup, offering international accreditation. The event is open to budding makeup artists and women who are passionate about entrepreneurship, beauty, cosmetics and empowerment. Prospective attendees can visit www.nailstudio.com.ng to get more information and purchase tickets. Individuals who know their self worth and wish to interact with others who are at the same stage in their lives are welcome”. She says.

From her name, you can tell she is not from Nigeria infact, Eryca was born in the UK to Jamaican parents (did I hear you say yah-man!?…ok I admit, that’s how far my Patwa skills can go) but her love for Nigeria has kept her coming again and again and again and she tells me why “my love for Nigeria is what has kept me going through many dark moments over the last few years.  My passion and desire for living in Nigeria can only be described as divine, deeply emotional and forward thinking. When outside of Nigeria, I am eager to return.  This is my home. Nigeria evokes powerful feelings of sober thoughtfulness, peace, contentment and love in me. Lagos is an energetic, sleepless and at times dysfunctional city but I love it and the people.” She says and adds “I have travelled extensively in my lifetime.  Of the thirty countries I have been privileged to visit, none compares to Nigeria. I often say I get it. I really get Nigeria.  I will always be  appreciative of how Nigeria has helped me with my healing process.  It gives me a sense of belonging and a deep understanding of who I am.  God Bless Nigeria.” She quips.

Eryca defines beauty as what you see and feel in the pit of your stomach.  She says beauty is how you make others feel about themselves and being able to look in the mirror and embrace yourself for what you are, not caring what others say or think. “Beauty is freedom of speech, feeling free and laughing from the depths of your soul.  Beauty is a moment, a lifetime of wonderful thoughts and feelings.  Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.  Beauty is whatever you want it to be. Beauty is peace within.” Eryca creatively expresses.

And her parting shots? Again she speaks “Someone once said to me, life begins at 40.  I disagree. Life begins when you do.  We must learn how to look after ourselves. We should only encourage great and positive things in our lives.  I dedicate my life to giving back in all areas of my life. I dedicate my life to the success of Africa and Africans, hoping that I am able to drive my agenda and improve the viability and strength of our beloved continent.  My ambition is no longer distracted. Patience is a wonderful thing, once you understand what patience is. When we stand still for a moment and believe in a divine presence, great things happen for us.”

After my enthralling time-out with Eryca, I am more motivated to embrace positivity in every area of my life…and you?

KEMI AJUMOBI