Creator Spotlight: Bube on Not Letting Her Height Stop Her Dreams

January 12, 2023

Creator Spotlight is a weekly series celebrating young Nigerians in the creative industry doing unique things. Everyone has a story, and Zikoko wants to tell it.

Bube Israel likes to be defined as a multi-dimensional creator. She’s a supermodel, designer and creative director. Bube doesn’t eat chocolate, shawarma or burgers because she’s a picky eater. Bube is very pro amala and semo. She’s a cancer moon but doesn’t like to claim it cause she doesn’t like cancers. She used to play basketball when she was younger but stopped suddenly.

We have to talk about why you stopped playing basketball. You have the height!

I played from primary school to high school. I stopped because my mom bought me one gorgeous wristwatch. I wore it to practice because I was excited. They pushed me, I fell, and the watch broke. I quit immediately. I would like to play basketball again. I also started modelling in primary school.

You know what? Fair. Modelling as a kid sounds fun. What was that like?

I started modelling before I clocked 7. My mum used to take me around for shoots. She says she was a model before, but I haven’t seen any pictures.

You said she has no proof; I’m screaming!

No, no, no., In her defence, there weren’t pictures then. But I mean, she looked like one, so I believe her. My sister was also a model. She wasn’t a professional, but I saw her on several calendars, which made me decide to pursue it full-time. My mum is also a designer, so she taught me everything I know about sewing and designing. I’ve never in my life wanted to work a nine-to-five. It’s just not for me. I’ve never been signed or worked with an agency. Corny as this might sound, I’m just a lucky girl. My work just speaks for itself. I started officially modelling again three years ago.

Even as a kid, you weren’t signed? How did you get booked?

I modelled for kids’ fashion shows. I did one in Abuja. I remember only two others. My mum knew her way around all these things and supported me. Now that I’m grown in modelling, people think I’m too short. I’m 5’8, so I don’t book runway shoots. I only work private shoots. I’ve gone for casting only twice or thrice in my life because I don’t deal well with rejection. 

My 5’5 self is just stunned. What’s one of your most ridiculous rejections?

The first time I went as an older model, I was excited and flattered because people there told me I had high cheekbones. The judges saw me, and they were like, “Oh my god. You are stunning”, so I felt they were aware of my presence, and they’d picked me. Tell me why I didn’t hear my name when we were done. I’m not a punctual person. I’m trying, but in my head, time is not real. The call time was 8 a.m., my mum woke me by 5 a.m., and I was at the venue by 6 a.m., so tell me, why this girl who came in by 2 p.m. got the job? I almost gave up on modelling after that. But, for as long as I can remember, I’ve always said I wanted to be a fashion designer and model. What I’m doing now feels like I’m living my childhood dream. Maybe I should be bigger. 

Does this height issue bother you?

No, it doesn’t because I didn’t create myself. 

I know my height is a hindrance to runway modelling. I don’t go for castings anymore because I don’t want anyone to make me feel less or bad for not being selected. I know my strength. It’s in editorial, commercial modelling or private runways where they say height isn’t a problem. For most castings, they’d tell you the minimum height is 5’9. My doctor told me I’m 5’8.

There’s no way that one inch is noticeable

They would literally measure you. One time, they measured me, and apparently, I wasn’t up to 5’8, so the guy asked me what I was doing there. I was like, “I’m 5’8”. And he was like, “You’re 5’7.7. Please, get out of here”. God, I cried that day. 

Why would anybody talk that way?

Oh, that’s standard behaviour. I went for one casting, and we were in a queue, but this tall stunning babe was on her own. Then, a casting guy who wasn’t even a judge saw her and told her to “Get the fuck out of this place”. If you see how I carried my bag and left the queue before I’d be the next target. I don’t know what devil he was fighting, but not me. Later, I jokingly asked a model what she did. Apparently, the casting guy had been a model for a long time. He said she was a new model and can’t just take up space without paying her dues. 

Wait, what does that mean? 

It’s a connection thing. You have to know people. He said he didn’t hate her but did that so she could toughen up. I hate embarrassment in my life. That was my last casting in 2019. 

That must’ve been a tough decision to make

It was. I wasn’t signed to an agency, so I had to work twice as hard as a signed model. I made myself a brand. I had to work on how people would see me. I reached out to different photographers and handled the styling. I’d reach out to photographers and makeup artists to collaborate. I’d create mood boards and send to them, explaining that I was an upcoming model.  

I followed people who I felt were doing what I wanted to do at the time. I followed models already in the industry, photographers, everyone. I started to get work through word of mouth. You know how you work with one big person, and other people believe in you automatically? That’s what happened to me. The first photographer who believed in me was Lex Ash, so shout out to him. I started modelling full-time when I graduated high school. 

What year was that? 

I graduated in 2015, and I think I started modelling in 2018. I wanted a year off before going to uni, and then Nigeria happened, so I kept taking more time. I’m currently in 100 level, studying accounting.

What sorts of jobs did you do?

I saw my mates get cast for all those wedding makeup jobs. I’ve never been a femme girl, but I wanted to feel included. Whenever people wanted to book me, they’d say, “Yeah, that androgynous model”. Who said I was androgynous? I didn’t want to accept that. When I’d get booked with other models, they’d put makeup on them and focus on skincare for me. I was on a low cut, almost bald, and they loved the look.

Did it affect how you felt about yourself? 

No, actually. It made me come to terms with it. Honestly, I think modelling helped a lot in my self-discovery. I love myself now, and I think I’m hot, but back then, I didn’t understand what it meant to be beautiful in your own way. Even though I won “most photogenic” in school, I still wanted the attention of being pretty. 

Back then, people saw models as people with strong features. I wasn’t conventionally pretty, but I did want to be one of those pretty girls. My face has brought me enough money in this life, so I’m thankful. I figured out what worked for me and stuck to it. They even bullied me for not having boobs. God will not punish them for calling me drawing board in school. 

OMG. Kids are so mean

For no reason! Like, we were still developing. They made me cry a lot. It didn’t help that I started to have a shape, but nothing else was growing, so they said my ribs had bent. I called my mom the next day, crying. It was insane what they did to me in Queen’s College. At one point, I used to pray to God every day to give me boobs and ass. I made my mum buy me push-up bras to push bone, and she indulged me. Until I woke up one day in 2019 and was late for a friend’s birthday. I couldn’t find a bra, and that was it. Anyone that has issues with seeing nipples needs to check themselves. I’m not the cause of your problems, man. 

So childhood insults gave you thick skin against the modelling industry?

Exactly. Now, there’s nothing you can tell me I haven’t heard before. 

How would you describe your personal style? 

I’d say free. I do anything, and I’m very experimental. I always say I have a hundred faces and personalities. I love being unpredictable. You’d expect me to turn up in a mini skirt, and I’d show up in a suit. I’ve always been blessed with a mom who accepts whatever I want to do, and however I present. Like two years ago, I struggled with mini skirts, now I just dress for comfort.

Modelling helps me get comfortable in whatever I wear, you can’t tell them you don’t want to wear what they give you, even when it’s unflattering. It’s my job to convince people the pieces are beautiful. I work on my poses, and the photographer contributes by capturing the right angles. Confidence completes and brings out each look.

Is it this ability that distinguishes a model from a supermodel? 

I’m just so extra. I like to call myself a supermodel because there are models, and then, there’s me.

Mood! Do you have a favourite editorial you’ve worked on?

I think all the editorials I styled myself for. Those are quite old, but yeah, they’re my favourites. I design and make the clothes then curate the mood boards of what I want the outfit and shoot to look and feel like. That’s why I say I’m a model and creative director. It’s just that I can’t pay myself. This is why people believe in my styling abilities. I never came out to say, “Please, I’m a stylist. Hire me”. My work spoke for itself. 

When did you take up styling full-time?

About a year ago, but ever since I started modelling, I’ve always styled myself from my own wardrobe or even pieces my mum doesn’t use anymore that I DIY. I’m obsessed with taking pictures, so it was easy to document my work and put it out there. I’ve worked with a couple of Nigerian artists. 

Now’s the time to name-drop for us

I worked with SGaWD, and I occasionally make clothes for her. I currently work with Somadina. Almost everything on her page right now was styled by me. I’ve worked with Tomi Owo and Fave. I assisted with a Big Brother project in 2021. We designed different pieces and made clothes for that set. I’ve worked with some influencers outside Nigeria. 

There’s also this friend of mine that was a contestant for Miss Nigeria in the UK; I made her clothes. I don’t box myself in, and I love working on new things, so if it’s something I think I can take on, I always go for it. She believed in me, and brought me the first big girl job that made me a lot of money. It’s funny because I don’t have my brand out yet, so all these people support me because they believe in me.

That’s actually so sweet. Let’s talk money. How do you charge for modelling and styling? 

I made my first million naira in 2022. I’ve made close to 200 clothes just based on people liking how I style myself. Whenever I want to charge, I have to ask my mum or friends how much they think I should. The lowest I’ve ever charged was ₦5k for a velvet two-piece in 2019. The most I’ve charged for one dress was ₦600k. For modelling, the least I’ve been paid was in exposure — exposure to sun and rain. I can’t lie, modelling doesn’t really pay me, and they don’t respect your time either. As freelancers, nobody tells you how much they get paid. Some people would even steal jobs from you. 

What do you do to relax when you’re not acquiring new skills? 

I don’t relax. My brain is always active — I overthink a lot and struggle with anxiety. You know how people have problems and can sleep them off? My village people pursue me with those problems into my dreams. Styling was just something I used to do to relax and tension people on Instagram, and now that it’s work, it feels like a chore. One of my goals for this year is to find things that help me relax. 

Do you plan to expand your team? Maybe that’ll help you relax more

Yes, I’m actually looking for a good tailor, but I’m a perfectionist. I’ve tried a couple of tailors. I’ve even tried to get a PA before, but it was like I was doing most of the work. So I started paying myself.  

It sure sounds like a lot of lows. What are the highs?

For me, my favourite thing is seeing people look hot in my piece and them actually liking it. My friend, who used my piece for a pageant, could’ve hired a designer, but she spent a lot of money supporting me, pushed me to do it and was so happy with the result. There’s also money, obviously. I also just love doing what I do. I love how much I’m growing. 

What do you want to do in the next couple of years?

I don’t know how to make long-term plans because whenever I do that, life will be like, “Who are you? Aired”. I’d love to own an agency far into the future. My immediate goal is to establish my brand and connect with more people. One thing I want to do differently is organise shoots for my designs that don’t restrict height, size or anything. So I have to have valuable connections so when I sign and manage models, I can actually get them good jobs. I want to try so many different things. I don’t want to lack, and I don’t even want to be in Nigeria.

Does your brand have a name yet?

Yes. It’s called Londier.co. I have a page, and some people know the brand, but I think it’s just my anxiety that’s stopped me from launching. I saved up for it and spent the money multiple times. I wanted to do it in 2022 but I lost my dad. Hopefully, this year. 

I think the name is very pretty. I already make custom pieces, so I just need to release a collection. 

I can’t wait to see all you get to do in 2023

Thank you. I can’t wait too. 

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

what is social distancing
March 19, 2020

Today, we’re going to set aside any memories of being members of the music, literary and debating or 2 Face fan clubs, to pretend that all we’ve ever been are Boy Scouts. Because if there was ever a time to be prepared, that time is now! With the coronavirus present in Nigeria and rapidly spreading […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

Recommended Quizzes

March 24, 2020

While we know that a lot of the best Nigerian artists deservedly have fans across generations, that won’t stop us from attempting to guess how old you are based on your taste in Nigerian music. So, take this quiz to see if we got it right:

November 20, 2019

Last month, we thoughtfully made a quiz telling you guys exactly when you’ll marry, but some of you claimed that your spouse was nowhere to be found. Well, now we’ve created one that’ll tell you exactly who you’ll be dragging down that aisle. Take and start planning that wedding: 11 Quizzes For Nigerians Who Are […]

how much of an ajebutter
February 12, 2020

Are you an ajebutter or not? Well, if you’ve gone through life blissfully unaware of its harshness, then you probably are. Now, we want to know just how high you rank on that ajebutter scale, using your food preferences as a (very accurate) measure. Take to find out:

September 1, 2021

August is over, and here are some of our best quizzes from August. Enjoy: 1. QUIZ: Only Ajebutters Can Get 10/21 On This Quiz Some people like to form ajepako when they’re really ajebutter. Are you one of them? Let’s find out. 2. QUIZ: Sorry, If You’re Under 25 There’s No Way You Can Pass […]

April 14, 2020

Every friend group consists of very different and specific characters — from the parent to the fun one — and it can be a little tough figuring out where you fall. So, we’ve created a quiz that lets you know exactly what kind of friend you are. Take to find out:

More from Creators

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

September 13, 2022
Vs The World is a Zikoko original video series that follows best friends Astor and Hassan as they take on the world.
August 23, 2022
Zikoko Ships is a Zikoko Original series where we invite two people who share a relationship to play the Zikoko card games
December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X