Dr. Chioma Otolorin

Dr. Chioma Otolorin is the optical director of Ultimate Eye Clinic, Lagos. She trained in optometry from the University of Benin and the British College of Optometry.
Insisting that doctors can also be counted among the most fashionable professionals, she says, “I have always been a fashionable doctor; the fact that one is a doctor does not preclude style. People in different professions love fashion. There are doctors who dress far better than fashion designers. Fashion is something one is born with. 
“Even in my eye clinic, I go for high end and authentic brands of optical glasses.   On the one hand, I am delivering health care; on the other hand, people can walk into my store and come out looking trendy.”
Remind her that her duty is to help people with eye challenges and not to style them, she agrees but explains: “In addition to being fashionable, sunglasses are protective. If you have a pair of glasses on, be it prescriptive or sunglasses, you are protecting your eyes from the environment.  Sunglasses are dedicated to fashion but they  are also protective, especially from the sun.”
Isn’t this fashion angle to push sales? She disagrees. “No, I am not employing the fashion angle to push sales or enhance my business. Eye clinics are not for sunglasses, they are for prescription glasses. There is no competition between the store selling sunglasses and the clinic giving out prescription glasses. If you have a function to attend and there is fantastic attire which you want to pair with matching glasses, you will not go to the eye clinic, you will go to the store.”
With more than 20 years in practice and three eye clinics in her kitty, the optometrist advises consumers to guard against indiscriminate purchase of sunglasses.
“You get what you pay for. Most of the sunglasses they sell on the streets give people problems when they wear them. Some of them have power in them and the sellers don’t know that fact.  When people buy them they complain that the glasses look as if they have prescriptions on them.   The sunglasses in the store do not have power in them and they are UV protected.”
She has been married to an architect for the past 13 years. Born in Delta State as a princess of the Njokanma family of Ogbenti Obi, Ugwashi-Uku, she explains why her husband is not threatened by her success, noting that in seeking a man to marry; ladies should look beyond materialism and focus on the personality of the man instead.
“People look for other things. If you are looking for a partner, you should look at the personality of the man and not his financial status. If you marry the right man and he sees adventure in you, he will encourage you and he will nurture your project.   I married the right man, he sees that I like to try things out and he encourages everything. He did all the work in my clinic and we discussed everything together, including colour concept. The right man will nurture your personality. I have a restless, adventurous spirit and my husband loves me for that— it is what he probably fell in love with.
“Imagine if my priority was somebody who was rich and not somebody whom his spirit agrees with my spirit, maybe the person would have tried to stifle my restlessness and that would have created tension and we would not be here today. I found a soul mate; people need to look for a soul mate. Some people will not like me because I am a serial entrepreneur but I found a man who helps me in everything I give a try. People should stop looking for comfort because comfort is not going to last forever. Rather, they should look for people they can weather the storm of life with and be able to laugh about it. That is what I found and I thank God,” she enthuses.
Could she have married somebody from the same profession as hers? Otolorin, who says she met her husband while playing squash at Ikoyi Club, smiles and says, “That would have been boring, love does not respect fields. It is somebody’s personality that you see and you come together because something in the person’s personality agrees with something in your personality. You don’t only have to bond on a professional level; you can also bond during extracurricular activities.  He taught me to play squash, he taught me other things. We have three kids. He continues to encourage me in what I do and I continue to encourage him and love what he does. The marriage keeps growing stronger every day.”
Back to her background. Since she loves fashion so much, why did she opt for a course in optometry instead of fashion designing? She replies, “When we were younger, our parents did not see the need to push their children in the direction of their passion. They would want them to study pharmacy, law or engineering and that was how I ended up where I have ended up. In fact, when I think about it, I keep thinking that if I had been allowed to do fine arts, I would have been another Picasso of our time.
“But I have taken up graphics design at Emory University in Atlanta.  I am also doing web design. So hopefully, I would be able to let out some of those suppressed creativity. They will help me with my job and to be able to do other things; I will be able to do internet marketing.”
How does she strike a balance between home and business?  “I am not mean to myself, if I get tired I will just rest but if I am creating, I don’t sleep until I have finished what is on my mind.”
Fashion fetish? “I would say not sunglasses. I am weird. If I see anything I like, I buy it but I would give it away as soon as possible.  For shoes, I buy wedges a lot, probably because I am not tall but I give them away a month or two after buying.”
On a final note, Otolorin would tell you that she dislikes insincere people and people who worship money.
“I don’t like dual personalities. But then, I know that there are still a few good people and I spend my energy searching for them and bonding with them,” she says chuckling.
by Anna Okon


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