• Friday, July 12, 2024
businessday logo


Real Housewives of Lagos Mariam Adeyemi Timmer: the underdog they never saw coming

Real Housewives of Lagos Mariam Adeyemi Timmer: the underdog they never saw coming

Watching the Real Housewives of Lagos, many Nigerian reality TV fans were excited that this kind of show made by Nigerians in Nigeria finally hit our local streaming service Showmax. Although not linked to Bravo TV, it is organized by Livespot; the show gets its inspiration from former Real Housewives franchises abroad.

The reality show premiered on 8 April 2022 and stars Carolyn Hutchings, formerly Carolyn Danjuma, Laura Ikeji Kanu, Chioma Ikokwu, Toyin Lawani-Adebayo, Iyabo Ojo, and Mariam Timmer.

Timmer, a PR expert and chief executive director at Six Sixteen Agency, creative director at Lure Fashion Limited, online content creator, YouTuber, and entrepreneur, was the last major cast to feature in the reality series prompting many fans to wonder what cards the organizers were up to.

Finally, fans poured out their love for her on social media when she appeared. Elysian luna @sunkisseseba tweeted, “Yoh, we’ve been waiting for her (heart emoji) #RHOLagos,” Zamangethe’iyntombi @zamangethZwa14 said, “The wait is finally over. Our Queen MariamTimmer is on screens #RHOLagos,”

BusinessDay took a trip into the suburbs of Lagos to have an exclusive interview with the reality star. As we arrived at her home, we were excited to learn more about the self-proclaimed underdog they never saw coming.

Who is Mariam Timmer ?

My name is Mariam Timmer from the Real Housewives of Lagos; a mother to a beautiful princess, a wife to a king, a PR executive, a blogger, a YouTuber, a Content Curator, and a blogger and entrepreneur.

Growing up as a teenager, did you ever think you’ll become a PR executive working with big brands?

I went to Mayflower, which was a crazy coincidence growing up. It is one of the most strict schools in Nigeria, if not the world, because Tai Solarin owns it. My first choice was QC (Queens College) because all my cousins were QC. My second choice was LAGOS STATE MODEL COLLEGE, Igbokuta, where my sister was at the time, so I already knew exactly where I wanted, and it’s a QC was my first choice.

So, Real Housewives of Lagos, how did you get it, and why didn’t we see you for the first three episodes.

I was contacted to become a Real Housewives of Lagos earlier this year, probably at the end of January.
And for a while, I asked myself, “is it real?” And after I put my life out of the scene for so long, people want to ask what I’m up to, and there’s nothing to hide cause what you see is what you get with me.

It will be a shock to some people to hear about my accomplishments and how I live now because I never allowed people to see that part of my life until this show. I’ve always been a huge fan of reality shows. Some 10-15 years ago, with the way I behaved at home, my mum would tease me and say they should find a camera and follow me around like what they do with the US reality show keeping up with the Kardashians.

I never thought about it until last year, when I auditioned for the Real Housewives of Atlanta. I was in Los Angeles, and I met my friend who was a dancer for Chris Brown. I did my audition tape for myself and sent it to the show’s organizers, but it was late as they were already shooting for that season; they said it looked good and kept it for the following season.

A day before my birthday last year, he called me and asked if I could join a zoom call for an audition, and after the audition, my friend called me back and told me they’d love to have me as a cast and so we waited till they start production in March.

I didn’t know there was one for Lagos all this while. I was angry at myself, asking myself how a piece of information like that eluded me as a publicist and someone who was already auditioning for the same franchise in Atlanta.

I never thought about it because of our culture and the acceptance of that kind of reality show in Nigeria because there’s a saying that we don’t spread our dirty laundry in public, so I wasn’t aware at the time. So the organizers of the real housewives of Lagos didn’t know I stayed in Nigeria. They didn’t cast me initially, but they called me when they confirmed that I was in the country, and we began shooting.

At first, I didn’t think it was real, not until I met with the girls in Abuja. The girls didn’t know I was part of the show until they saw me.

What was the experience that met your expectations compared to the other reality tv shows you’ve seen over the years?

I had my expectations, but one thing about me is I don’t expect too much from something or life so that when they get disappointed, they won’t get hurt too much. The production team was excellent. You know the executive directors were terrific. It was like family.

Some of them didn’t know me so well. They knew of me as I knew of them from a distance. When you have them over, know each other. My personality rubs people the wrong way at first, which I do not apologize for. Some say I have a very intimidating appearance for a first impression, but below all that is a puppy and a loyalist; you have to work hard before you get to that layer.

It was easier for me to open up to some people on the show, not personally but to be free because I already knew who they were, but that does not mean they could cross me.

Read also: Real Housewives of Lagos gets more interesting

When did you start realizing your full potential? When did Mariam become Mariam?
I didn’t appear to be the social type at home, I was never the child that spoke too much, and I never reacted or obeyed. Over time, I checked myself after numerous complaints about my I-don’t-care attitude, became more sociable, and volunteered to do things around the house. But I never got to be social until I got into the university. I was at the University of Lagos for a year; then my mum decided that we school in Abuja.
I moved and created this life in Abuja; I ran a two-year program in Business Administration. So towards the end of my diploma, I started going out with my friends. My friends invited me to a birthday party in town in a club owned by the fashion designer Dakova (David Kolawole-Vaughan), my mom’s childhood friend. We were adequately reintroduced after I told him who I was as a daughter to a childhood friend, and he told me I was always welcome to his club. Each time I come to the club, I always call my friends from Lagos and the ones in Abuja; anytime my family and friends want a spot to hang out in Abuja, I took them to the club.

So one day, Dakova asked me to work for him as the PR of the club. I worked for seven months and had gotten the money for my rent; then, I decided to leave the job. I didn’t know how great I was at being a club PR. At the time, I had almost all the high spenders on my phone, so because of these connections, many clubs started to call me to PR for them, and I was earning double what I made at Dakova. After a while, I went back to Dakova and worked with him until I finished university and returned to Lagos in 2010.

After school, while working for my cousin, I had an epiphany on the realization of who I was, and I asked myself, “What do you want people to know you for?” at the time, I couldn’t answer that question. So I knew I wanted better for myself and the family. I wanted to be known as ‘Mariam…this person.’ What I knew was PR. Let me try and go into the PR field professionally, not entertainment. I’ve always known I wanted to go into an office where people respect me, not because they want to party with me anymore.

I went to see a friend, and she told me about a PR job interview that someone missed out on. I told her I wanted to apply and do something different from a family job. The Monday after I was supposed to be my interview, we met an actual client and were put on the spot to answer a few questions on what I would do for their company. It was a make-or-break for me, and I instantly got the job after speaking.

What were the challenges you faced when you started and how did you conquer them?

I had challenges when I was asked to PR for a corporate company. I was ridiculed for typing corporate emails, like typing messages to my friends. I told myself that I had to learn. And I had these colleagues who are like my sisters now; Linda and Adaeze. Adaeze is an articulate and eloquent friend, while Linda loves to read. I, on the other hand, love research. I love to cram. That’s my way of learning things.
Every day from 1 to 3 pm, I would stay at the poolside, type PR briefs and proposals for different companies, and then send them to my friends to check and correct the errors. Even though they laughed at me, I didn’t care; I realized that to learn, you have to remove ego and shame, and I was that underdog that people never saw coming. I Didn’t care how but I wanted to learn whether you laughed at me or not. By the time I get to that light at the end of the tunnel, that goal, you won’t know until I walk past you to get there, and that’s how I’ve always lived my life. While I learned all these things, I grew from a junior PR to a senior PR cause I exceeded my goals. During my birthday last year, when asked by my cousin how she knew me, one of the ladies said to my cousin that “Mariam was the underdog that we never saw coming,” and that’s how I got my tagline on the show.

How did you start as an individual firm, and how were you able to monetize it?

So when I left the PR company that I used to work with, I started my own company called Mariam Adeyemi company, a PR/event management company. So for the first year, I did event management because I couldn’t do PR the first year. After all, I was on a contract which I understood because obviously, I knew a lot already. It didn’t affect my goal because, by the time I left PR and did event management, it got me into the field of corporate PR I didn’t see coming. So after a while, I started doing that. I changed my company name to Six Sixteen agency. I’ve worked for celebrities like Mr. Nigeria; I was writing content for blogs for magazines.

In terms of monetizing while I started my YouTube channel, I started partnering with food vendors, and with honest reactions, I’ll try their food on my page, and they give me free stuff because what I was doing was a kind of promotion for their brand. I approached the more prominent brands to pay for the reviews I was doing for their products on my channel; they would pay, so I started to charge brands for that.

PR money is good money. Still, it doesn’t come every time, depending on the client you have, and that’s why the retainer part of PR is perfect because some brands I help handle their social media. I can say that per page, depending on the content you create and post, I can earn at least N100,000 to N200,000 a month per brand. To improve my craft, I took four professional courses. SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING CAMPAIGN at the UNIVERSITY OF LEEDS AND INSTITUTE OF CODING, CONSTRUCTION PROJECT MANAGEMENT at COVENTRY UNIVERSITY are some of my certificates. So whenever I was in America, I took courses, no matter how long or short they were.

Speaking on the vanity matrix of social media influencers, what are those things social media influencers are doing wrong today

Some of these influencers think it’s all about taking pictures and posting them; few of them know what they are doing and monetizing it, but for a few, they focus on being famous and not money. I used to be that kind of person, going to all the events and parties and spending money on stylists, makeup artists, and photographers. Then in2017, I stopped getting myself together and focused more on my family, my daughter, and my goals.

They fail to understand that they have to focus on their numbers on social media because those numbers can earn you millions. I know some people that are making seven a week on social media. All you have to do is know your standards and how you present yourself. And they should endeavor not to mix their social media persona and real-life persona.

There is a lot of money in the beauty industry, the corporate world, banking, oil, and gas. Some of these influencers have medical degrees that one area I feel a lot of influencers have not tapped into. There is a lot of money in the medical field; Covid 19 just happened, for you know how much they would have made being an advocate for people to get vaccinated.

There would be a scenario where they go to the government, tell them how they can get many people vaccinated in the lower class, have a plan and a goal, and structure the payment according to how many people can be vaccinated—making money and making changes. Not just beauty and real estate.

What are you doing differently coming back into the PR space?

I don’t want to focus on what other people are already doing! Most of my money came from the things many people ignored in the PR industry. Everyone is doing what everyone is doing, and that’s the mistake because you want to be known and seen.

So it’s things like awareness in the industry and knowing what we want to do for ourselves, talking about my business being on platforms, and speaking on life-changing things.

So let’s talk about your husband and how did you build a business together
I met my husband at my family’s house. We met at the pool that morning, and then he came over to say hello; and when he learned I was a publicist, he mentioned he wanted someone who would write for him about his life in Lagos; he was persistent, then we exchanged contact, and he left. We met again at an after-work hangout and were excited about how I looked that day. We’ve been together since that day.

My husband is in the oil and gas industry. He has worked with Chevron for the past three or six years. During COVID-19, everything went down, and so even oil and gas. PR people were not paying their fees because there was nothing to update. After a while, my husband and I started an oil and gas company, although he was a bit reluctant, and I remember I did an introductory course on oil and gas. So after the lockdown, there was a project that needed a private company. When it came to me and my husband, we were asked if we had an oil and gas company even though we didn’t have one at the time; since we both had knowledge of the field (and everyone was looking for COVID money). I told them we had one, so we got our lawyer to set up the company name JOMANOJ integrated services. We coined the name from the first name of everyone in the family, JO for John, MA for Mariam, NO for our daughter Nova and J for our future son Jermaine. (Laughs).

So we were in business, and money that we didn’t make in two years of Covid, we made it with one project in a month. I added management to it because there was a need for a workforce. If you need an expatriate in an oil and gas business, we get them for you. We handle resources like traveling, cars, security, feeding, everything, and all they have to do pay us percentages of their salaries monthly.

How many clients have you worked with so far?

We are new. We were just lucky with the first one. Because of our relationship with oil and gas companies, who know us very well. They trust us very well, and they can always contact us for anything. Since last year we’ve hired six expatriates.

So, who is your favorite cast in RHOLagos?

Me, Myself and I(laughs). You can be friends on the show but enemies in real life. Don’t forget that these women had created their bond before I got on the show. So I’m close to everybody, but I’m a ‘one-man-mopo’ (lone ranger) person, enabling me to observe. So I can know exactly how they come across and watch my back. It’s just season 1, and there is still more to be played.

Q–From your perspective, what is the economics of setting up reality tv shows such as RHOL?

I have no idea about the budget but was it good? Yes.

Q– How much are reality TV stars paid per episode?
I don’t know. I don’t know. That’s the thing. We can’t disclose how much we get paid because of our contract. Maybe $3 billion(she jokes). I can’t say, but it’s a reasonable budget. So you’re looking towards the next season with more drama.

Q– What are we to expect from next season, and What impression do you want to leave as a real housewife of Lagos cast?

I’ve done my best. I said what I had to say on the show, and many people will see me in a new light. They’re just going to see the growth in me over the period. Before season 2, I’m putting things in place in terms of my brand and my businesses to skyrocket to another dimension, which I’m looking for. I like touching and working with different things that I have never been able to work with. And those are my goals for improving my numbers. Suppose your number looks like your phone number. Call me with a problem. No problem. (laughs)

I want to see more of my growth and learn from my growth. I want to see my change.

So, before you live this life like everyone else, what would you want to be remembered for?
Never forget that underdog(laughs). I want people to remember me as Mariam Adeyemi Timmer, not just Mariam Timmer. Before marriage, I was Mariam Adeyemi, and I fought for that name to be known. Coming from a big family, I had to build my name and grow Mariam Adeyemi because I wanted to have an identity. I want my name to be a story of inspiration of how I grew from nothing.