Mariam Abass: Managing Joeboy, a marketing agency, and a sustainable fashion brand

With more interests in the music industry especially in Nigeria, it is no news that it comes with a lot of sacrifices of which only passion and willingness to the craft can stand the test of time. From department of A&R, public relations, marketing team, comes a distinctive department called artist management. 

Artist management, is an important section of the music business that deals with managing the career of an artist and ensuring the productive processes needed to ensure an artist’s successful career is well managed. Becoming an Artist manager one has to have a knowledge which could be called a “360 knowledge” from the aspects of music publishing, distribution, marketing/PR, promotions, tour, legal etc. 

Despite being in a position to handle the success of an artist that comes with complexities, Mariam Abass embodies a unique character for great multitasking skills and notable creativity. With her roots in Civil Engineering, Oil and Gas Pipeline Engineering as a Master’s degree, Mariam has navigated the world of Engineering, Fashion and Music.

Born in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria and a practicing Muslim, she discovered her passion for fashion during her days in the university and with this passion became a top seller on the best rated thrift store, DEPOP selling sunglasses from the 70’s and 90’s. Between 2017-2018 she worked as Mr. Eazi’s stylist, and more of her work can be seen on international magazines and music videos such as Anne Marie, Major Lazer ft Mr Eazi – Let Me Live ),  Davido ft Popcaan – Risky  where she styled Davido. 

These days, Ms Abass focuses on her marketing talent agency, Malc Agency, her sustainable luxury pre-loved brand while managing one of Africa’s biggest artists, Joeboy.

Tell us more about Mariam Aduke Abass

I’m Mariam Aduke Abass and I’m Joeboy’s manager. What people might not know about me is that I’m a Civil Engineer. I lived in London for 2 years and went into fashion then built a marketing agency called Malc Agency which seeks to help brands connect with UK and US based talents. We have successfully partnered with companies such as Mugler, Savage Fenty, Meta, Spotify and many more. I also own a brand which focuses on sales of pre-loved luxury items. 

You were once a Depop Seller, what were those days like?

It started off when I was in the university where I sold pre-loved clothes. I bought items wholesale and they would get sold out quickly because friends would come to my room, pick their favorites and pay. I also used my  Black Berry Messenger as an online source to sell items. 

While I was doing all these, Depop became a trending site and it was easier to sell on the site because I could find sunglasses in the 70’s and 90’s sitting in warehouses. I proceeded to create my account while becoming the editor, photographer and accountant of the page. 

Depop got to know about me because I was active and eventually reached out to me to be interviewed for their newsletter. 

In Engineering, we are equipped with the knowledge on how to utilize every item to improve our surroundings. There is no such thing as waste and this sharpens our mindset to be more creative. 

On your socials, you speak about sustainable fashion and you have a brand Luxe Reloaded. What developed your passion for sustainability?

Based on my early days as a seller on Depop, I transitioned into pre-loved items which is now referred to as thrifting. I also don’t like seeing things go to waste and I think this is an attribute I developed due to my background in Engineering. In Engineering, we are equipped with the knowledge on how to utilize every item to improve our surroundings. There is no such thing as waste and this sharpens our mindset to be more creative. 

Also our climate is experiencing changes so we need to take of it by minimizing waste. For luxury items, they are made to stand the test of times hence, can be passed from one generation to another. Existing luxury items can be made to serve us better if only we conserve them.

Asides selling on Depop, you were once Mr Eazi’s stylist, could you tell us more about that experience as his Stylist?

I did my Master’s program alongside one of his friends. I heard his song and he suggested (Mr Eazi) that I become his stylist and afterwards, my knowledge about music grew and we went on to create magic overtime. My work was becoming recognized by stylists, magazines and it was all bliss. 

From Fashion you went into Music, let’s talk about the transition 

While I was working with Mr Eazi, I was responsible for producing merchandise and with that experience, I was introduced to the music business. When I started my agency, I started interacting with artists and this aided my exposure. 

I met Joeboy when he signed with Mr Eazi, we had a conversation and during the conversation, he spoke about my branding ethics which he admired and would like my assistance. That conversation led to our business relationship which has blossomed over the years. 

What are major challenges you face in the music industry as a woman

Being a woman in the industry is challenging. You often meet people who would want to undermine your experience or position. Some men make it even more challenging by antagonizing you. 

As a woman in Africa, one is expected to settle down and nurture a family so being in the music business often leaves one with thoughts about what an ideal time management for work and family should be like. I like to believe that men have an easier run compared to us because they can easily carry on whereas as a mother, you would want to be available for your kids.

Something we hardly speak on has to do with hormones. It can be difficult navigating your day to day activities with your hormones and this often leads to misunderstandings. 

Overall, I think women are killing it in the industry. We know how to negotiate and pay close attention to our intuitions when handling business matters. We are passionate about our jobs and we work harder to prove that alongside passion, we can deliver quality results. 

You put your culture and tradition at the forefront, why do you feel so connected to them?

I am a Muslim woman and I see religion as a way of life. This gives me more reasons to approach my lifestyle in the most religious way I can. Artist management is tough but faith has a been my backbone. My tribe, family and tradition is what has built my personality over the years.

Can you share more details about your agency? 

We seek to connect brands to creators worldwide through partnerships and currently, we have been working with creators in the UK,US and Canada. 

There will be a new aspect of the agency though this project is still in the works but Malc Agency is creating an African division and by Africa, we are looking at Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya. This is still a division which will be helpful to brands and artists. Malc Agency is focusing on creating essential partnerships. 

I believe one can lose a job but what matters is the people you have encouraged and treated with respect while you worked with them.

Having had a successful career so far in the music industry, what has been a remarkable moment for you and why? 

I seldom appreciate my hard work and this is something I am actively working on. In general, I have so many remarkable moments but one that has encouraged me would be the first time working with Joeboy and we had a major hit; everything went as planned. 

I derive pleasure from working with my staff and hitting milestones while still trying to improve the welfare and craft of my staff. I don’t tie my achievements to work because I’m a “people person” and I believe one can lose a job but what matters are the people you have encouraged and treated with respect while you worked with them.

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