Idunnu Tomori . Founder & CEO . Misayo House
I was born in New York City. I also lived in London, England and Lagos, Nigeria. I have 1 sister. I worked as a Mental Health Counselor/Therapist for almost 10 years. Graduated at Florida State University with a B.S. in Psychology and Georgia State University for my M.S. in Professional Counseling.
"I’ve learned that just because your plans don’t go the way you expect them, there could be something greater waiting for you."
What were the places you've lived & what were the profound take away from each place?
- I was born in New York City although I don’t remember much of it as a child. I visit often and love the hustle & bustle. I also LOVE the fashion and different cultures.
- London is another place I have few memories as a child, but I have visited many times since. Similar to New York, I love the energy, fashion and different representations of cultures.
- I lived in Lagos at a child from ages 8-14 and then for 3 years as an adult when my husband’s job moved us there (in 2011). The experiences were vastly different both times but what I enjoyed most was the sense of community. You don’t feel alone living in Nigeria.
- I lived in Richmond, Virginia when we left Lagos in 2014. There isn’t much to say about it, but I did attend a great high school, which I loved.
- I attended university in Tallahassee. Those were the years that really shaped who I am today and where I met my closest friends.
- I moved to Atlanta after I got my bachelors and have fallen in love with everything about it. Despite moving away after getting married, I still called Atlanta home.
- My time in Columbus, Indiana was an interesting one. I had moved from Atlanta to a city with a population of less than 40k. I hated it when I first moved after marriage. but grew to appreciate it when I began connecting at work & church AND especially after having our first daughter. It has some of the nicest people I’ve ever met!
- My husband’s job moved us to Johannesburg, South Africa when our older daughter was 1. I didn’t know a single person and some things took some getting used to. However, I grew to love it there and it is where I began what is now Misayo House! Johannesburg gives the best of both worlds…metropolitan living with the African culture! They also have the best food and wine.
- We moved to Nigeria from there and then headed back to Atlanta
What made you and your family choose to live in Atlanta? My mother moved to Atlanta while I was in university. Back then (2001), a lot of people were coming here for work/business opportunities. I chose to move back after Nigeria because it was our home base while we lived overseas. I couldn’t envision moving back to Indiana.
These past several months have been life changing for you, tell us about that? In November 2017, my younger daughter, Toni had a Bone Marrow Transplant at age 5. It is the only cure for Sickle Cell Disease, a blood disorder she was diagnosed with at 10 days old. Her older sister, Tara (age 9) was her donor.
Where do you draw your courage and strength? My courage and strength come from my faith. Without it, I’m not sure what I would do. I have also been blessed with an incredible support system that includes my amazing husband, parents, family & friends. My children are also a very strong source of inspiration.
What was the inspiration behind the Misayo House? The inspiration was my love for fine jewelry but not necessarily the price tags. In 2011, Misayo House was just a hobby and a way to meet other women in Johannesburg. In 2016…two years after returning to Atlanta, I decided to make things official.
You have different variety of collections. Tell us the stories behind each of the collection.
The Misayo Collection is your classic, every day piece
The Aijou (LOVE) Collection is a selection of unique pieces for brides and special occasions.
The Gold Collection is more of the trendy pieces, which we usually focus more on during the summer months.
The Gem Collection features pieces with gemstones. Most come as an optional set and make great gifts.
The Morayo’s Hope Collection was created in honor of Toni to help raise money for the AFLAC Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Proceeds from those sales go towards providing assistance to the patients and families.
Tell us three things that we should know about you? I’m quite shy but my business has forced me out of my shell (a little bit) I love to travel…especially to anywhere with a beach. Not a fan of road trips though I go hard for the people I love and care about.
Define Beyond Beauty: Looking Beyond Beauty is something I have been working very hard to teach my daughters. It does not matter how good you look on the outside if you’re ugly or tainted on the inside. I don’t want to be known for being beautiful. I want people to remember me for how I made them feel and that I made a positive impact in their lives. This is why I focus on giving back and volunteering my time AND why I focus on building relationships with my clients and not just making a sale.
What fuels you and the wisdom that you've gained through the years? I am fueled by my faith. I have not always been the most confident and when things don’t go as planned, I tend to become discouraged. Over the years, I’ve learned that just because your plans don’t go the way you expect them, there could be something greater waiting for you. I have begun applying this thought process to both my personal and professional life
What is next for you? Establishing a 501(c)3 foundation for Morayo’s Hope. It will allow me the opportunity to raise more funds for the AFLAC Center. Building relationships with other retailers to host trunk show and expand the reach of my brand.
“Beyond Beauty is a group of dynamic women sharing their fire and wisdom while building & cementing new alliances with like minded individuals of all ages shaping a meaningful and optimized journey. ”
— MARYAN AIKEN. FOUNDER. BEYOND BEAUTY SERIES. FIRE & WISDOM
Interviewed by Maryan Aiken exclusively for CityBox Media. Music by Spotify: Soundtrack / Beyonce