We had the good fortune of connecting with Ijeoma Anadu Okoli and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ijeoma, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I am Nigerian American, of Igbo ethnicity. I was raised to speak my language at home and as I became an adult, saw the need in our community to help retain our language. I partnered with my cousin also named Ijeoma and we created our business Ije the World Traveler, LLC.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Ije the World Traveler is a brand dedicated to teaching the world Igbo through books and animation. We started out with 2 books – Ije the World Traveler Teaches You ABC’s in Igbo and Ije The World Traveler Teaches You Common Igbo Words. These were created to attract and encourage both children and adults to learn our language. As the world started to evolve and attention spans became shorter, we decided to create content on YouTube. Though this is a passion project for our team, our goal is to continue to create more content which will allow our viewers to start picking up on words, from words to sentences and before you know it, you’re speaking a new language in a fun interactive way. This journey has not been easy. We’ve had to balance our 9 to 5’s, marriage and children while creating this platform. I also sit on the board of Umu Igbo Unite Corporation our non-profit targeted towards uniting Igbo Professionals culturally, professionally and socially in the diaspora. Both passion projects all have the same theme – love for others and love for our rich Igbo culture and language. I think that is an important aspect of our success because what we are doing is something we care about on a personal level.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If a friend came to visit for a week, a few places I would take them to would be: 1. Go to a Nigerian party…someone will be having one (post Covid, lol) 2. Dinner and drinks at Trinity African Restaurant 3. Houston is one of the few places in the United States where you can actually buy all the Nigerian food items easily. So I would take my friend to buy Nigerian groceries from the Southwest Farmer’s Market and cook some delicious Nigerian Jollof Rice with Baked Chicken, Fried Plantains and sauteed greens 4. Day party with a Nigerian DJ and hang out with friends 5. Eddie V’s or Mastros for dinner and drinks 6. Hobby Center for a play, depending on what’s playing at the time.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to dedicate my shoutout to my family. I come from a close support system which consists of my parents, sisters, cousins and of course my husband. We are constantly pushing each other to be our best selves. They help with reviewing the scripts and editing content as necessary. I would also like to shoutout my friends, near and far. They want to learn Igbo and retain the culture, so they are always supporting by buying our books, watching our videos and most importantly sharing our content with others. My village is appreciated. I am so grateful and blessed to be surrounded with love at all times.