You most probably know Shedy Kay from her Traffic show on Urban 96.5 FM. But besides being on the radio, Shedy, real name Elizabeth Olabisi Kuforiji, has a couple of other things going on. For one, she is on a mission to mentor aspiring entrepreneurs through her “Who Made The Kut?” programme. She also has a thriving cocktail business. We sat down with her to talk about everything she’s doing and what it is like working in the media industry.
Read on for the full interview.
234Star: Who is Shedy Kay?
Shedy Kay: My real name is Elizabeth Olabisi Kuforiji. I got the name Shedy Kay when I was in university in South Africa. A good number of people thought I was shady because I’m Nigerian.
I had a Kenyan friend, who spelt shady with an e instead of an a and that’s how Shedy was born. The Kay is from the first letter of my surname.
I like to describe myself as a joker; I’m always laughing. However I am very serious minded and go after everything I want in life. I like to work out, even though I’m not super fit, but I will be soon. Lmao! I love traveling and I’ll love anybody who buys me a pair of shoes for life. My greatest dream is to live a meaningful life and be able to impact people positively by my way of life.
I currently work at Urban 96.5 FM in Lagos where I co-anchor Traffic the Urban Drive with Big Tak. Apart from that, I also run my own drinks business known as Big Fish Cocktails; I’m a mixologist. Lastly, I recently created an entrepreneurship network for fresh entrepreneurs known as “Who Made The Kut?”
234Star: How long have you been on radio and what were you doing before then?
Shedy Kay: Lol. I’ve been on radio for a very long time; I’d say all of my professional life. I started out in school in 2006 at the University of Johannesburg. We had a community radio station on campus that was called UJ FM. Radio was my first professional job. It’s not by chance that I find myself on radio because I studied Journalism in school. I grew up watching the likes of Riz Khan, Christian Amanpour and Jonathan Mann; they were some of my mentors.
So right from when I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to be famous like my mentors. As a matter of fact, I always wanted to be on CNN because of them. Television was my thing.
I did however have a lecturer in my second year who told me that if I wanted to be on TV, I should start off doing radio. That definitely informed and influenced my decision to be an OAP. My aspirations to be on television haven’t died and it is something I will do in the near future.
234Star: You manage to combine doing your radio work with a ton of other things. There is the Big Fish Cocktails and now you’re starting a programme for young entrepreneurs which we would get to later on. First, why cocktails? What inspired you to start that business?
Shedy Kay: Lol. Yes I’m a girl of many talents. I don’t multitask; I super task. Lol. I think it is easy to combine a number of things when you are passionate about everything you do. These are all some of my passions. As I told you before, I’m an Entrepreneur. I started “hustling” when I was 14. My parents didn’t give me pocket money till I was 22 or 23 so before then I tried to make a bit of my own money. When I was 14, I remember selling back to my mother chewing gum and sweets she had given me. This enterprising nature of mine continued right until when I was in university where I had a jewellery line and also extended to outside of university till present day.
The name of my business is Big Fish Cocktails. I didn’t start off making cocktails (I started off with smoothies) but I observed that there was a demand for it. Before I started mixing drinks, people who bought smoothies from me always asked if I had cocktails. I didn’t at the time but because I saw there was a demand for it, I went and learnt how to make them.
Furthermore, I observed that a good number of cocktails we drink in Nigeria taste like poison. I’m not a heavy drinker and I actually hate the taste of alcohol so I decided to learn how to make cocktails that were sweet but still had a kick. Just the way my people like it.
The initial inspiration for my business was the demand for smoothies. When I first started I was known for smoothies alone. Now I make cocktails, mocktails, smoothies and juice blends.
I think you’ve got to listen to the market to be a successful entrepreneur. What are people asking for? Give it to them.
234Star: Tell us about Who Made The Kut?
Shedy Kay: Who Made The Kut? is an entrepreneurship programme for fresh entrepreneurs. It aims to give them mentorship, a support system, help them increase their sales, hone their skills as entrepreneurs and use their stories to remotely inspire other entrepreneurs and people in general.
234Star: What will be the biggest takeaway for participants in the programme?
Shedy Kay: The biggest takeaway for participants is that their story will serve as an inspiration to others. I’m sure you expected me to say that there will be some sort of cash reward. Lol. Money is good and that will come, but but I feel a person gets a greater sense of achievement when they know they were able to actively inspire/influence/touch the life of another individual. That is the real definition of success to me.
234Star: In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge that young entrepreneurs in Nigeria have to face?
Shedy Kay: Apart from all of the stumbling blocks one encounters in Nigeria as a result of Nigeria just being Nigeria, the lack of power is the most crippling challenge young entrepreneurs face. You really cannot do anything without electricity. A lot of us have to generate our own power and for those who cannot afford to do so, they are forced to halt and sometimes in worst case scenarios, shut down operations.
234Star: What do you think the government and society at large should do to make starting up and running a business in Nigeria easier?
Shedy Kay: The government and society need to support start ups and create an enabling environment for SMEs. It is no secret that providing jobs for Nigerian youth is not top on the government’s agenda; the youth inevitably have to provide work for themselves. So, the government make it easier for people who are enterprising and who will ultimately contribute to the Nigerian economy. Registering a business should not be expensive.
From the societal angle, society at large should support entrepreneurs. If your family member or a friend of yours just started a business, patronize them. Don’t wait till they have a big name before you want to associate with them.
234Star: Let’s talk being a woman in Nigeria. What is your worst experience as a woman in Nigeria?
Shedy Kay: My worst experience in Nigeria was when a potential employer insinuated that in order for me to get a job, I would have to render him some sexual favours. He wasn’t actually the top boss, but he was one of the bosses. I felt that was quite derogatory and wrong. Firstly, from a moral standpoint and secondly because I am a qualified media personnel. I don’t see why me getting a job should depend on whether I can or will engage with a potential boss sexually.
People ought to hired because of their experience and the value they bring to an organisation and not because they will sleep with a potential boss. Till this day, when I see the person I’m talking about, I still do not want to be associated with him and that specific brand and the level of respect I once had for him has not been restored.
234Star: What’s the biggest misconception about working in the media?
Shedy Kay: That we wake up an hour before our shift, shower, go to work, blab on the radio for a few hours, leave work, party, drink and go home to sleep. Being a media personality is actually one of the hardest jobs in the world. Media personalities are some of the hardest working people you will ever meet, especially in Nigeria. Many of us have side hustles and beyond that do you know what it means to keep people who can’t see you engaged? Being on the radio is harder than being on television.
When you’re on TV, you’ve got visuals to support things you’re saying. People are watching you; it is easier; It’s audio and visuals. But when you’re on the radio, you’ve got to tap into you creative juices and use words and language that enable your audience to visualise what you are talking about. You’ve got to be a master of words if you want to be an excellent On-Air Personality. Radio is theatre of mind.
It’s tough. So no, we don’t just rock up at the studio minutes before our show, put up the mic and yap our lives away. We prepare and find the best ways possible to connect with our audiences. Shout out to all OAPs Man! You guys are doing something a lot wouldn’t be able to even if they tried.
234Star: If you could give an advice to your 15-year-old self, what would you tell her?
Shedy Kay: I don’t have a lot of regrets in life but one of my biggest regrets is believing the notion of “Working Hard” for so long.
I’m actually burnt. Hard work is important but these days, it’s all about an intelligent blend and balance of smart and hard work. Hard work may have you labouring for 30 years while a combination of the two will have you achieving your goals in 6 months.