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Real Life Stories
By: LuRae Iwenofu
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Transcending Boundaries - Pigeonholing this diva is an impossible task – Entrepreneur, TV Personality, Socialite, Mother and many more attributes…she gets uncovered

Rachael is like marmite, you either love or hate her – DS decides to scratch beneath the surface and find out what makes her tick- I just signed up for an inspirational story. Her pictures do her no justice – Rachel in the flesh is striking. Long lustrous hair, curves in all the right places, flawless skin - I’ve suddenly come all over inadequate. However, this does not deter me from my mission, there is this mystique about Ms Nsofor that makes her someone you would like to know more of. In the course of her no questions barred interview with DS, I was later to learn that this diva has seen it all - the good, the bad, the ugly – only difference in her life right now, is that all these three has been tipped on its’ tail - the good has been coming in by the shipload.
 
 
 
 
You are an enigma Rachael, not many people know the real you – who are you? 
Who I am? (laughs) I am just me Rachael (laughs again). If you’ve got all day I can definitely bore you senseless with my life story (chuckles).
 
Please by all means do so.
Ok - if I really think back hard, I can almost remember the sweet taste of the pawpaw our house maid was feeding me, hear the magnetic sounds of the car horns and feel the sun on my face. That is my only pure memory of Nigeria -1980. Although my birth place, it was and still is a distant homeland to me. The pebbled seaside town of Brighton became my home and unknown to me then, I would never see Lagos again for another 20 years.
 
How come?
I was fostered to Mrs Nicol, of Ringmer road - Brighton in 1980. Because of problems with immigration, I could not stay with my parents. Mrs Nicol who was white with biological children of her own became my new mother from thereon. I have vivid memories of being confused with the drastic transition. I can’t remember being taken there [Brighton] or parting from my real mother. But I can remember the British Airways stewardess’s smile though - I think I was around 3.
It was only years later I was told that I didn’t speak a word of English, I’d only speak in Yoruba asking “Where was my mummy”?
Over time, weeks became months and months turned into years, I was settled.
I attended an all white school and remember being the only black pupil there bar one Egyptian boy. However - his hair was still straight, so he didn’t count as a “Nigger, Chocolate drop, Golliewog,” these were some of the names I was referred to at school. This period of my life was hard. I often wondered why my hair was so hard and short. Why I was always picked for the sports day events but never for friends parties! Why my mum was white and I was black?
 
Would you say you had a stable and happy home life with your foster family?
Mrs Nicol or “white mummy” as I referred to her then raised me as best as she could with very little money. All of my clothes came from jumble sales or hand me downs. However, I can’t remember a time or a period where I was unhappy. Actually -  maybe just one time, I was forced to wear a pair of awful dark black clogs for the whole winter (laughs). I hated those shoes.
 
Were you in-touch with your birth mother?
Not really….It wasn’t until I was around 10 that she came to collect me and my little brother. We left Brighton the only home we knew forever. (Pauses reflectively)…. I remember sitting in the back seat of the white car we were in, clutching my little brother’s hands. I was peering out of the window shocked by the amount of black people [in London] walking around freely like they owned the place. Where had they all come from? I was tapping my brother who lay fast asleep, saying: “Look Tokes, look!
 
What a major life change, would you say there was an element of fear there?
I felt excited and scared at the same time. We reached our destination in Stratford, East London. I very quickly learnt how to be a Nigerian. We swopped Fish & Chips for Jellof Rice, Cheese Cake for Puff- Puff and Steak & Kidney pie for Moi -Moi. It was harder for my brother as he was younger. He would down, what seemed to be a pint of water after every mouthful of my mothers pepper stew…. That’s funny now, but it was torture at the time (laughs with a reflective shake of her head).
 
How quickly did you adjust then?
I settled into my new life and new culture. I attended an all Girls School where I became a true individual. Most people knew who I was, I was loud, a practical joker sometimes unruly. However, that was often overlooked as I was also very smart, or so they thought! (she chuckles at this memory).
I was a tall girl and had an Athlete’s body; I remember being selected for almost every school event that took place: netball, rounders and football. I ran for Newham Council at one stage and was taken all over the country. It was almost certain that my future was guaranteed, I would either be an Athlete or an Actress as I and actor Danny Dyer both attended the same drama classes around that time.
 
Was there any reason why you gave that all up, or were you bored?
Nope – I got pregnant to everyone’s shock, horror and disappointment at the age of 16. There was a lot of Bose [her Nigerian name] - pregnant? How? When? By whom? As a pastor’s daughter, it was a big scandal. My dad laid a lot of blame on my mother.
 
Still a child yourself, it must have been confusing and traumatic – what toll did this take on you?
Well…the sudden turn of events placed a huge strain on my parents already broken down and loveless marriage (she says this matter of fact). My father was based mainly in Nigeria, therefore it was left as my mothers issue to deal with. To my surprise, I was asked to leave the family home as I had brought shame to them. What hurt most was the whispers and cut eyed looks -hah hah… Mama Bose’s daughter is pregnant… stupid, useless girl, dirty prostitute. I don’t remember talking to my mother about condoms, let alone sex. I had made my bed and I had to lay alone on it. 
 
The person responsible for the pregnancy – did he support you during the ordeal?
He was my first love - but he didn’t stick around. My baby daughter was 4 months old when I was finally given my fixed accommodation [a council flat]. I struggled to get my buggy into the ammonia smelling lift - coming out at the 12th floor, my flat no 48 stood out on a poorly painted red door. Walking into my damp smelling flat I immediately ducked for cover as a pigeon flew straight towards me, marking its territory. (Speaking softly) I looked down at my daughter who was fast asleep and cried silently.
 
[Rachel seemed lost in thought and I sensitively had to prod her along] What happened next? 
It was tough and I thought unfair. But I made a great friend [Phillippa]. Till this day she is one of my closest confidantes. We supported each other and got through the “baby mother” stereotype.
I found work soon after, it was a great role, paid good money and I was based in Canary Wharf and it was onwards and upwards.
 
Care to tell us a bit more about this journey?
Within months - I flew up the ranks to become a Corporate Executive for a FTSE 100 company aged 21. At 23 I was on a 6 figure salary and purchased my first home. I remember when I got a pay cheque with £7k deducted for tax alone- that was crazy! I vowed that my daughter would have the best that life had to offer - I got the jumble sales scrap heaps and hand me downs as a child, and one thing was for certain - Rachael had arrived and had shamed all her critics. From that day on, I felt that I could achieve anything.
 
I understand that you put the flame on a dimmer for a while, what brought this about?
I met a man who would later become my husband and father of my last two kids in spring 2001. After the birth of my second child, I decided to wind down from the fast pace of the City. I wanted something closer to home and also craved a home life balance as City life doesn’t really allow it much. I took up work with one of the UK’s no. one advertising companies - it was here that I met a great business mind and another long term friend [Jo].
We both had the thirst for knowledge and power. It was by no accident that we would come together to set up Vanity Group in June 2006. This was my first business venture where we both became Directors of a European Cosmetic Surgery Agency [now defunct].
 
Theoretically and practically speaking, with Vanity Group, you were your own boss. What did you need to do differently from that?
When I became pregnant with my son, I had time to really think about what it was I wanted. I knew I wasn’t going to go back to a day job; however, I needed something that I had a personal interest in. Selling hair first became a hobby - I would simply import and just sell it on. I made a little pocket money. It was only when I started to research the industry properly that I found out the true value of the market - $6.2bn. Black people were worth 72% to the industry, however, we owned less than 3% of it. How could that be? This market was run by Asians and Caucasians. I knew that was my rezoning right there.
 
You make it sound so easy. Pray tell our readers so that those of the same business mindset will be inspired.
I did my research thoroughly, got on a plane, flew to Asia to source my own factory and make my own label – then sold to my own people and other nationalities. Fabulous Hair Europe was born in 2008. We have six labels that can be purchased online and in stores. We have celebrity clientele too. Success requires hardwork – just do it!
 
Ok – first off I want a piece of fabulous hair (Rachael laughs), but Fabulous is not all that you are doing right now though – is it? I did my research too, and found out that you are on the judging panel for Miss Black Africa 2011 – please spill and let us know what the future holds.
What does the future hold for me? If I knew the answer to this I would say. I know I am eager to setup another venture. You are right - I was asked to sit on the judging panel for Miss Black Africa, a charitable Africa awareness pageant. I was honoured to be asked, and I am looking forward to more work in the future.
 
http://rachaelnsofor.com
Twitter @Realnsofor
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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