Maimuna Abubakar took a giant leap of faith when she decided to leave her regular job to delve into the uncertain world of publishing. Today, because she decided to follow her childhood dream, Tozali ‘The Eyeliner’ Magazine has become a force to reckon with in soft sell publishing by providing content that is educative as well as entertaining. She tells TakeMyGist how it all began, the challenges and what it takes to stay on top.
TMG> Tell us a little about yourself.
Maimuna> I did my first degree in Law from Bayero University, Kano and a Masters from the same institution. I worked for 4 years in Corporate Affairs Commission before I left to start my business. I am currently the Publisher of Tozali, the Eyeliner Magazine and a Principal Partner in Limestone Solicitors (a legal chamber for law practice). Both businesses were incorporated and started in 2007.
TMG> As a practicing Lawer, what was the attraction to publishing?
Maimuna> Law is my profession but Tozali is my passion and dream project-it is something I derive pleasure doing and here we are recording great prospects.
TMG> Did you attend a professional programme to gain more knowledge about publishing?
Maimuna > Yes, when I started Tozali, I tried to enhance myself by going through some short crucial courses in Media and journalism. I did some short course in London School of Publication on copy editing and report writing. I also did Adobe InDesign and many other courses that are related to my present field.
TMG> Tell us about an accomplishment you are most proud of so far.
The accomplishments I am most proud of is birthing Tozali Magazine. Whenever I review my accomplishments and what I achieved so far, I thank the almighty Allah for all His favours.
TMG> What is unique about your magazine?
Maimuna> I think people read Tozali because of its originality of content. Tozali touches every aspect of life; it promotes culture and healthy / beautiful life styles. You can find catchy news and objective write-ups in some of our columns. With Tozali, there is no dull moment. The quality of our print production is super glossy and something to be kept as a souvenir for life. Our event segment is always designed with rich, top quality pictures.
TMG> How are you going to help people; what advice do you bring?
Maimuna > Whenever I am asked to give advice, I tell people three things:
-Be committed to whatever you are doing
-Be open to new ideas and suggestions because you can’t know everything. New ideas broaden your horizon and help enhance your work.
-Work hard and be consistent. People would only trust you if you are consistent in what you do. Don’t forget to pray a lot. God always helps those who are truthful and devoted.
TMG> Did you ever make a change that you regretted later?
Maimuna > Yes, there are some changes I made that I regret but it’s all part of growing up. I am very adventurous in everything that I do, and because of that, sometimes I am confronted with my own poor decisions.
TMG> What will readers learn from your magazine?
Maimuna> The magazine has rich content and you are bound to learn a lot from it. We have different packages for different readers. Tozali is educative as well as very entertaining. Whatever you want, you may find it in there.
TMG> Who is the target audience of your magazine?
Maimuna> Our target audience are millions of Nigerians who are interested in reading great articles and flipping through beautiful pictures. Women, men and youth.
TMG> How do you get readers’ attention towards your magazine?
Maimuna> Over time, I have realised good cover stories with beautiful pictures on the cover catch the reader’s attention. So these are things we take very seriously. We always try and make our editorial content very rich to attract readers.
TMG> Tell us something you would like to learn or improve upon.
Maimuna> Tozali is a growing magazine with lots of potentials. As we grow, we also grow in ideas, make amends where necessary and improve our contents too. We welcome new ideas from our readers and often try to inculcate some to meet up with demands. We work for them so we are out to give them the best.
TMG> What are your challenges and how do you intend to handle them?
Maimuna> Every business has its challenges, so has Tozali. Sponsorship and advertisements have always been our major challenges like any other paper but we have devised means and ways to conquer and tackle that. The present economy is also not favourable but we are handling the situation carefully and remarkably.
TMG> What do you do to stay educated about new trends?
Maimuna> Staying educated about trends these days isn’t a difficult task. Everything is on the internet now. Another way is by attending events – for us that’s easy. Covering events is one of our most lucrative departments and there you always see the new trends. Watching the style channels on TV also helps sometimes.
TMG> Does it hurt your feelings when your editor or art director tells you something is wrong with your story or pictures at the last minute?
Maimuna> It doesn’t hurt me one bit. I always welcome new ideas and corrections as one who loves to learn from people. We are trying to build a splendid Magazine here, it can’t be a one- man business but a cocktail of great ideas.
TMG> How involved are you in the financial aspect of your business, Budgets/forecasting?
Maimuna> Although I have marketers and advert executives, I do most of the marketing myself. I bring money for the company. Over time, I have built a reputation and a brand and those are working for me. But at the end of every year we call auditors to review our accounts. Usually after the review exercise, we do a new budget for the coming year, which we always try to follow.
TMG> How do you handle labour cost? If your labour is running high, what measures do you take to control it?
Maimuna> As I said, I do my budget at the end of each financial year so I try to follow it to the letter although sometimes changes may arise and you might need to do some minor adjustments. As for the country’s current situation, it’s a known fact that many medium enterprises are facing difficult times. We have tried to cut down on many unnecessary expenditure. Although I am yet to dismiss any of my staff, I have stiffer office rules and that has made my staff to sit up.
TMG> Do you ever worry that when you send in a story the publishing company might steal your ideas?
Maimuna> Well, it never crossed my mind that someone would steal my story or my work; I don’t think it’s something that I should be worried about in this era. Oftentimes, I see my pictures travelling online but because it’s not something I have control over, I choose not to be bothered too much. That way I won’t get my knickers in a twist over things that I can’t change.
TMG> What other positions have you previously held before you became a publisher?
Maimuna> I used to be an Assistant Manager, Business Names in Corporate Affairs Commission. I was due for promotion to the office of a deputy Manager when I resigned from service.
TMG> What way can you encourage other youths not to depend on government for jobs but to be self-reliant?
Maimuna> For the Nigerian Youth, I have this short advice for you: if Maimuna can do it, then we can all do it. First, you should have a dream and secondly, follow your dream, be practical, committed and pray a lot. Also believe in yourself and exhibit confidence in whatever you do. It’s going to be a rough ride but don’t give up. Besides, life without the struggle is boring.
TMG> Do you have time to socialise and how?
Maimuna> I am not a social animal. It’s hard to believe but I love spending time alone, lounging at home after work, usually sipping my tea and watching TV. Occasionally, I hang out with friends, attend private parties. I love dancing too and I’ve been attending dance classes lately although I am not so consistent. I also read a lot-practically anything I can lay my hands on.