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Hey Guys, we have a new guest, she’s a Henna Artist! Exciting right?

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Fatima Ummie Lawal was born on the 4th of June in Lagos State. She is a Kambari lady from Yauri in Kebbi State. She attended New Capital School, Stella Maris Primary School and Stella Maris Secondary School in Abuja where she held the position of a General Prefect. Ummie studied Computer Science at the American University of Nigeria, Adamawa State from 2009 to 2013 and mastered in Information System Management at the University of Salford, Manchester from 2015 to 2016 where she trained to be a Business Analyst and Developer.


At the end of the year 2014 as Ummie was preparing to go for her Masters program, she came across a beautiful picture of henna, the design was different and it was neat. She went through the person’s page, saw more designs and thought to herself ‘if this is possible I should find where to learn when I go to school’. So she met up with a Moroccan henna artist she found on Instagram in Manchester and had a class with her; then she kept practicing on her own to perfect the craft.


Ummie decided to turn her Henna to a brand in the last months of 2016 and she currently has a Natural Traditional Spa in Kado estate Abuja. Ummie has some standard designs she displays on her social media and in person to her customers to choose from but usually people come with pictures of what they like which she recreates with personal tweaks here and there.


Ummie’s customers are often Ladies between the ages of 19 and 35. She has had a few male customers who have requested for lines and tribal looking designs but she stopped receiving male customers after she got married.

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Not too long ago Ummie had a 9 to 5 job so she only opened her Henna spa on the weekends. However, using the internet as a working tool, Ummie now does her Business analysis and development on the go (online/part-time) leaving her with enough time to attend to her wonderful customers.


  1. Appreciation:

‘A lot of people don’t regard being a henna artist as a job so they don’t want to pay what you charge. Downgrading it constantly to isn’t it just henna. Some will say. Anh anh. This simple henna ya charging this? I think this is a general problem in Nigeria. We don’t appreciate people that do hand work. But, the Customer is always right remember? So, I usually smile, take a deep breath and reply with I understand you. Unfortunately, this is my price.

You can reach Ummie for her services or further inquiries on;

  • Instagram: @houseofhermanaabj
  • Twitter: @Ummie_L
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Hello Everyone, this time Lari’s CAFE will be profiling a Graphic Designer. The ultimate Nigerian creative; the one who every business turns to for branding. His name is *drum rolls* RUFAI KEYEDE!

What makes Rufai special? Well Rufai is not just a graphic designer, you could even call him a super hero because he also saves lives. Rufai Keyede is a graphic designer in the day and Doctor at night and Vice Versa. That’s cool yeah?

Rufai Keyede is a graphic designer born in Lagos in the late 1980’s. Rufai is from Ota Ogun state but lived all his life in Lagos. He schooled at Bright Day Nursery and Primary School, Jakande Estate, Isolo, Lagos. For secondary school he attended Oke-Afa Comprehensive College also in Lagos. After being in Lagos for so long, in 2005, Rufai left home to attend University of Ibadan to study Botany, but after a year, in 2006, he returned home and got admission at the University of Lagos to study Medicine. After graduating in 2015 Rufai says he enjoyed studying medicine but he also admitted it was tough in his final year. However, he had his internship in Katsina and his NYSC in Kano.


In Secondary school Rufai was the Senior Prefect (Head Boy); he also held other leadership positions in the University. He was the General Secretary of the Association of Medical Students University of Lagos (AMSUL), Creative Editor of Writers’ Club Medilag and General Secretary of MSSN Medilag.

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Graphic Designing

Rufai started graphic design in 2007/2008, in his second year in medical school. It started out as a hobby so he didn’t bother getting any formal training, but he did a lot of reading online. He didn’t do any art work in his childhood asides those done in school art classes but he always had a flair for art because he always hung out with his neighbors who were fine artists and sculptors.

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Rufai is a freelancer; he designs magazines, posters and general brand construction. Rufai hasn’t had the time to build a solid brand for himself because;

Medicine is a Jealous Lover’- Rufai Keyede.

Rufai gets his inspiration from ‘Everything’. He says;

‘The whole world is our stage and every experience is something to draw inspiration from.’

Working at Mad Comics

Rufai was brought into MAD comics by one of the founders, Hafeez, a colleague from Medical school. The idea of MAD comics is to create stories that are original, African and relatable to mature audiences using comics as the art form. He started working at MAD comics in 2017 where he is in charge of Quality Control. MAD comics has a universe of characters and Rufai keeps them true to form by researching on historical and cultural nuances. Rufai also does post production editing and critique, he occasionally designs posters, letters the comics and designs the site’s blogic section (Blog + Comic).


  • Time Management: Rufai is not willing to let go of Medicine or Graphic designing so he is a Doctor in the Day and Creative at Night depending on his call schedule. In dealing with managing his time he said;

I’ve learnt I’m no Superman… I’ve learnt to know how far I can push myself and the limits to which I can go before diminishing returns set in.

  • Infrequent Power Supply: As for bad power supply Rufai said;

I’ve learnt to prioritize the things that are most important and find work-life balance.


When asked, ‘If you could go back in time, what would you change?’ Rufai Keyede said;

You know the problem with time travel?… Either you are cursed to repeat the loop or you set off another cataclysmic series of event, so I guess I’m good.


To reach out to Rufai and check out his work you can visit;

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Tomiwa Femi-Philips: Shoe Maker/Designer

Hey Guys this time I’ll be introducing you to an Actual Shoe-maker. Yep! You read that right; A Shoe-Maker.

This is not a random cobbler that we erroneously call a shoe maker. No, Tomiwa Femi-Philips is a talented young man that designs and produces his shoes from scratch to finish, how amazing is that? Really amazing I’d say.

Tomiwa was born on the 21st of September in the Late 90’s. He is from Papa Ajao, Mushin Local Government in Lagos State. He also grew up in lagos, but in Egbeda and Akute in Ogun state (the new settlement close to Ojodu Berger) where he spent his early teenage years.

Tomiwa attended Maryland Convent Primary school Ikeja. For his secondary school education, he attended Woodland School, Shasha Lagos and Federal Government College, Ikirun, Osun State where he was the House Captain of Niger House (Blue-house). He then graduated from Bowen University with a degree in Computer Science.


Shoe Designing and Production

Tomiwa started designing and making shoes about 2 months after his graduation from the University in 2016. In 2017 during his NYSC (National Youth Service Corps) he paid to learn under one Mr. Gbemi in Ibadan and also under one Mr. Abiodun in an apprentice arrangement.

Why Shoes?

Shoes are Ready-to-wear items and most importantly unlike tailoring, shos can be made in the absence of a potential customer. No need for measurements and all that’.

– Tomiwa Femi-Philips.

Asides shoe-making, Tomiwa also sells and brands imported promotional and gift items for companies. He started around October 2017.

History of FOOT NG

The name of Tomiwa’s Shoe brand is FOOT NG. The name was quick to pick because footwear can only be worn on the foot. ‘Foot’ was perfect because it is the body part closely related to Tomiwa’s work.



There are no exclusive rights to designs in Nigeria so most of Tomiwa’s designs are inspired by old trends.


Tomiwa combines resources with other people to produce and sell the shoes and then they split the profit. He hasn’t had any full-time investors yet.

Many people are out to exploit because they believe shoe making and related stuff is for “needy” people. They come with slave deals most times. I have been offered few slave deals which I have turned down’ – Tomiwa Femi-Philips.

Fashion Shows

Tomiwa hardly has enough products to meet the demands of his customers so it’s hard to find time to make shoes specifically for modelling on a run-way. However, he is open to participate if he is informed of fashion shows months ahead of the event.


Tomiwa does not release shoes in collections because he does not want his brand to seem luxurious. He wants his shoes to be available and affordable to average people and the concept of collections will scare his target customers away. If Foot NG ever produces luxury items, affordable items would still be the main products.


Tomiwa majorly makes unisex foot slides. He makes them from scratch to finish himself; he buys the materials, cuts the shapes and patterns, couples them and files them. He uses hand-operated machines to make the shoes. He makes these palm slides with leather and suede.

Tomiwa does not make high heeled shoes for women yet because of the details involved. He also does not produce children shoes because of the misconception that it ought to be cheaper because its smaller, when in fact children shoes have no standard sizes and so involve a lot of math. He only makes Children shoes on specific contracts.

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Production Venue

Tomiwa does not currently have a workshop, he either works from home or at a friend’s shop. He plans to return to school to further his studies so he is holding on before making any major moves.


The major challenge is money to keep the business as a going concern. To deal with this Tomiwa has been applying for training programs that give a certain amount of money to aid entrepreneurs.

Another challenge was satisfying customer demands, however, I solved that problem by staying away from creating a Bespoke brand.

Many Customers want things that are not achievable. They want this place to be green, then here Yellow and there black.’- Tomiwa Femi-Philips.

Future Plans

Tomiwa would soon turn to the production of Sneakers (Follow his Social media for updates; his handles would be given at the end of this article) and Foot NG would eventually evolve into a sports brand.

He plans to return to school to study any business related course. As for his degree in Computer Science he said;

It’s B.Sc. it’s there, when I need it I’ll refer to it’.

Tomiwa delivers outside Ibadan to states across Nigeria and he also delivers to Ghana.

You can contact him on;

  • WhatsApp: +234 706 526 4559
  • Twitter: @Ftomiwar
  • Instagram: @footng or @Ftomiwarfoot




DISCLAIMER: Lari’s CAFE does not claim ownership to any of the pictures on the site except specified, all Pictures on these articles are provided by the people being interviewed.


RUBY THE PRIESTESS: Artist, Jeweler and Model

Hello Everyone, let me introduce you to the Priestess!

Her name is Ruby Ojoma Ace Abalaka. She was born on the 8th of October 1995 on a cold stormy night! She is an Igala lady from Ofu Local government in Kogi State. She schooled at NCWS Abuja and Thomas Adewumi International College where she was a House Prefect. She then attended Afe Babalola University where she studied Media and Communications.

She is an artist, jeweler and a model; she runs an artisan gift shop in Abuja.


History of priestess

As far back as Ruby can remember she has loved everything artistic. As a student she started making and wearing her jewelry and soon enough people labelled her as ‘the girl with modern juju bracelets and bags’. In August 2016 someone asked Ruby to make jewelry just for her, that was the beginning.

Ruby then started trying new things, she learned other forms of art which eventually carved out a particular lifestyle for her. Then her boyfriend started calling her Priestess to pull her legs but she liked the idea and went along with it because it explained the lifestyle she was trying to create.

Priestess was officially launched as a brand in 2014.


Nature of the Priestess Brand

It is an Art Brand that creates furniture and jewelry. Sometimes Ruby makes them from the scratch or just adds her touch to ready-made pieces. When making furniture from scratch she uses ‘unconventional materials like tires; she makes stools, bean bags and benches etc. from scratch. She also picks up basic ready-made pieces like a plain bench or chair or stool.

Ruby had no formal training in jewelry-making, she learned to make jewelry from watching tutorials and other jewelers at work, she still does till date. Early 2017, she learned leather-work and basic sculpting for a few months in Kaduna.



Ruby worships the story of the human race, its deep roots and how it affects the present and future. She likes surrounding herself with culture because there is always a story to tell with it; African, European and pop culture.


Ruby got paid to make costume jewelry for pageants; Miss ARWA (Aso Rock Women Association) 2014, Miss Achiever 2014 and 2015, Abuad’s Next Top Model (1st and 2nd Edition) and Miss Abuad 2017. She partnered with Temworks Jewelry at the debut BBQ Fest in the summer of 2016.

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Modelling Career

Ruby started modelling in SS2; Someone came to her Secondary school on visiting day and scouted her for a fashion show in Abuja (Arewa Fashion).

At first it was just a way to make a little extra money but then she started getting creative and working with different photographers for test shoots.

The first major step was in 2015 when Ruby became the face of Alien Prose Studios in Abuja (a start-up studio at the time). She then started getting jobs in school for party posters, look books and photography collaborations.


She was the first runner up in the first and second seasons of ABUAD Next Top Model. She later competed in the first Miss ABUAD but she didn’t reach the finals.


In 2015 to 2016 she signed a one-year contract with Uwaa modeling. After her contract ended things slowed down and she became a free-lance model.


In 2017 she put modelling on hold but in 2018 she began negotiations with GI modelling agency. At the end of March 2018, she’ll be going to modelling camp.

Balancing careers

Art is my lifestyle and modelling is a hobby I hope to delve into later… media and communication is just a big word for creative communication.

-Ruby Ojoma Ace Abalaka ‘The Priestess’


  • She has had a hard time explaining to people that art isn’t just an element but life itself. She said ‘Our Creator is the Master Artist; we are just Interns’.
  • Funds: There was a time Ruby was broke up to owing the bank. She complained that a lot of artists live below the standard because of that, that many artists have turned borrowers just to survive.
  • Support from Friends and Family; ‘It’s hard when nobody has the slightest idea what your bigger picture is’ – Ruby Ojoma Ace Abalaka.

When faced with these challenges Ruby simply looks on the bright side and stuffs her face with the deliciousness that Jollof rice brings.

Future plans

Ruby is working towards anchoring her own Radio and TV show soon.

She has started writing a blog series which she will launch at the end of the year (2018) titled; ‘The Confessions, Complaints and Voice overs of an Unconventional Hippie’ so, Watch Out!


Ruby’s Advice for young artists

  1. Never forget why you started.
  2. Remember that people are waiting for you to fail so never stop doing the opposite.
  3. Always keep these privately; your finances, your love life and your next move.
  4. There is a God out there and he’s more than capable to put you here you want to be so ask him to.

Her Social Media

  • Instagram: @rubiee_007
  • Twitter: @rubiee_007


Firmsteps Dance Crew is a Nigerian dance crew created in 2011 by two brothers, Joseph Uhiene and Michael Uhiene, this is their story.

Joseph the older of the two brothers was born in Kano on the 8th of May 1994. Michael was also born in Kano but on the 13th of August 1995. They are Igala boys from Idah Local government in Kogi State with 3 lovely older sisters in a family of 5 children.


Joseph (Forward-Left) and Michael (Up-Right)

Back in school, due to their close age gap, they were in the same class all through and often mistaken for twins. Their family moved to Ibadan because of their parents’ business and so they attended pre-nursery at O & A Ibadan. They later moved to Niger state, where they attended Kontagora Estate nursey and primary school. For their secondary school education, they attended Command Secondary School in Suleja. They then went on to attend Caritas University in Enugu where Joseph studied Accounting and Michael studied Public Administration.

Joseph played football in secondary school and later on in senior secondary he formed a dance crew with his juniors where he trained them to dance and formed their choreographies for school shows.

Michael was a social prefect in Primary school and in Secondary school he played Basketball when he wasn’t occupied with punishments that came with life in a military school.

Firm-Steps Dance Crew

They both started dancing as little children, as far back as 1998. They formed a family crew and danced at weddings and church events; this was something they took seriously even though they were often just little children looking confused on stage.

Joseph used to be very shy but it never stopped his dancing. Their university was not the ideal environment they envisioned for their dancing but they still danced on stage from 100 level (year one). In order not to hurt their education, they only danced in their free time.


They created a Dance Crew called Firm-Steps in 2011, the membership of the crew has not been consistent due to the fact that the brothers travel very often to school and back home. Back in school they had over 30 members, however now that they are done with school, they have settled in Abuja and so they are now setting up a permanent base of the crew and building new membership.



Monetizing Dance

Firm Steps is basically an entertainment business that earns them money from performances at events, endorsement deals and advertisements. One of the brands they’ve endorsed is a foreign clothing line called Logan Garments. They also headed a section in the Master Blasta Band at the 2016 Calabar Carnival.

Nigeria doesn’t have the best policies and systems to guide the entertainment business, but we do make money from shows/events, endorsement deals and adverts

-Joseph Uhiene

They also train amateur dancers for a fee, however new members can get free training.


They get their inspiration from the whole world in general, their creativity is not limited, they go as far as watching the movement of birds. They incorporate trending dance steps with traditional ones. They also get inspiration from international professional dancers like Kinjaz Crew and Lilou etc.

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Challenges of Professional Dancing

The major challenge for them is getting paid after performances;

‘Sometimes we don’t get paid immediately and other times we only get paid a part of the money, so we often insist on payment before service or signed agreements

– Michael Uhiene.

To deal with this payment issue, Firm-steps is in the market for a capable and reliable manager. So, if you’re interested you can reach them on their social media or if you simply want to see more of Firm Steps Dance Crew check them out on:

  • Instragram @firmstepsdancecrew
  • YouTube @firmsteps
  • Facebook @firmsteps

For bookings and enquiries email them;