After the passing of a loved one, it’s a whirlwind of heavy emotions. A lot of tears, pain and sadness. Thinking about sending the person to the other side can understandably be overwhelming in that moment.
Right there, someone saw an opportunity. An opportunity to let people grieve as they like while handling the process of giving their loved ones a befitting farewell. A young lady from Onitsha, Adaeze Eva Okosi saw a chance and took it and now she’s turning the little glimmer of light into a supernova. Getting into the ‘death industry’ as some call it might seem a daunting task for some but not for her, to Adaeze, it just made sense.
Starting with one vehicle, she now runs Royal Funeral Services, a funeral service business complete with band procession escorts, pallbearers, funeral decorations and hearse services. A woman deciding to get into a business that is mainly male dominated and thrive in it requires courage and Adaeze has that in bunches.
InlandTown was able to catch up with Adaeze and discuss her motivating journey from inception till date.
Let’s start with your name and your background.
My name is Okosi Adaeze Eva from Onitsha in Anambra State. I studied Human Anatomy at the Ebonyi State University in Abakaliki and I am the eldest of two kids.
So learning about you and what you do was interesting for me, but let’s discuss that for the public. What exactly do you do?
Well, I run a funeral service company called Royal Funeral Services, that’s the quick answer. To break it down, I drive a Toyota Sienna that helps me convey corpses from mortuaries to different funeral locations, I have people that make caskets for me so I get that to clients when needed, and I also do embalments when necessary. I have pallbearers and band boys under me, I help decorate venues for funerals and sell body bags when needed. If someone is looking to get funeral items like lowering devices for the casket or a casket stand, I also have those available to people for rent.
Basically I handle the process from immediately after death till when the body is in the ground.
Fascinating. Has this always been it for you? Was there any other business you were into before this began?
Oh, I used to sell clothes for men and women before I began the funeral business. I sell perfumes, wristwatches, underwear and the likes. Infact that business is still alive and kicking, I still sell those items even while running Royal Funeral Services. In a day, if I don’t convey a corpse or have to go decorate for funerals, you’ll see me on the road delivering my goods to buyers.
You said earlier that you studied Human Anatomy while in school. Did that play a role in you getting into this business?
Well, it did in a way. When i finished from the university, I was posted to Abuja for my NYSC. I was fortunate enough to work at the Mortuary Unit at the National Hospital Abuja and that’s where the idea came to me.
It was no surprise to my family when I told them I wanted to start my own funeral service business as they knew I had worked at the morgue at the National Hospital. My father asked what I would need to make my dream a reality and I told him. I would not mind starting with a vehicle at least and he helped me get the Toyota Sienna. As my business began to take shape I was able to add pallbearers, band boys, caskets and other funeral items.
I see your family have always been supportive, how about your friends?
Well I can not say I have a lot of friends, but the few I do have are really supportive. I have lost some friends because of the job if I am being honest but I am grateful for the ones that are still here.
How about your love life?
Oh my love life is intact thankfully.
So what is the long term plan for the business?
The plan has always been to eventually own my own funeral home. I am praying and believing God for a manifestation
In a business like this, you are around death and sadness a lot. Has that changed you in any way?
Actually, I think working in this business has had a positive effect on me. I used to have serious anger issues but seeing and working around the dead has helped me reduce it drastically. Another thing I have realized is getting angry at the dead is senseless and getting angry at the relatives of the deceased is even worse. So it helped me control my emotions when I get riled up. At that time, all they need is to be consoled and encouraged to move on with life.
I would assume this business is a heavily male dominated one. Have you faced any sort of push back from people in the business being a woman?
When I began, some of my male colleagues did not like the idea. They would always come up to me telling me not to do the work or saying I should find someone else to drive my bus for me. Some even went as far as discouraging other people that were trying to hire my services.
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It is not been just the men, some women have also tried to discourage me. Someone once told me to go look for something else to do instead of this business. I know what I want for myself so I normally don’t respond. I simply focus on the service I was hired to render because the talking never ends so I can not let that bother me.
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How about support? When you were starting out, did you get any of that from people already in the business?
Oh for sure. Before I started, I met two men who were already running successful funeral services for tips and any advice. They both lectured me on the ins and outs of the business, they prayed for me and encouraged me to just be focused on my goal.
They added that people would castigate me and talk about me but advised that I not pay them any mind.
I have to ask, knowing all of this why did you choose this business?
This has always been something I wanted to do. It is my passion and my dream and I also want to teach people to respect the dead. Honestly, these days people no longer respect the dead.
That’s an interesting answer. Can you explain that?
Well what I meant is what we see everyday. Let me paint a picture. In this part of the world, let’s say there’s an accident and the person or people involved in the accident are indecently due to the manner of the accident, instead of onlookers to call the authorities to come handle the situation immediately, first thing they do is to pull out their phones to make videos and take pictures. What happens next is these videos and pictures hit social media and then spread, I think that is disrespectful.
That’s what I meant. Some times, someone will pass on and the first thing that happens is people talking ill about the person, I also see that as disrespectful. You will hear people say things like “oh, he was a ritualist when he was alive” or “oh, she was a witch that’s why she died”. That is the last thing the deceased needs from us as the living. In the morgue, there’s always silence because those of us that work there know that the dead don’t need that noise. There is always silence, they need to rest in peace.
That’s interesting. Thank you for clarifying. So when you were starting out you were able to get advice from some people that were already in the business. I want to know if anybody has approached you now trying to learn from you?
Oh yes, that has happened. In fact, right now there are two people that I am currently mentoring. I am training them and showing them the ins and outs of the business as they want to get into this business.
Oh you have basically answered my final question then. I was gonna ask if you would be open to being a mentor and training people that might have interest in a business like this.
Thank you for your time
To learn more about Adaeze Okosi or reach out to Royal Funeral Services, you can call on 08068027252, 09121449867 or 07039683521. Also you can reach her via email on email@example.com
On social media, you can visit the Facebook page, Royal Funeral Services and @royal_funeralservices on Instagram. For a physical visit, you can find Royal Funeral Services at No. 42A Awka Road, InlandTown, Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria.
Here at InlandTown, we aim to shine a light on individuals making their own way in business and building a successful venture. As a country, more people need to believe in themselves and their God given ability and just back themselves. To assist, we’re setting up the InlandTown Mentorship Program where you can work with and learn from people like Adaeze Okosi in how to building a successful business for yourself.
To sign up for the program, please click here. Furthermore, keep an eye out on our page for more interviews.