Ifeoluwa (Ife) Ajuwon did not always believe that both nursing and fashion design were in the cards for her, until one day they became her calling.
Ife is a psychiatric nurse practitioner originally from Nigeria. She moved to the U.S. when she was 17 and went on to pursue a degree in criminology at the University of Illinois Chicago.
She comes from a family of health practitioners and at first, she wanted to follow a different path. After college, she began working as a case manager for a private investigation company, but she was not finding satisfaction in this job and wanted to look elsewhere.
At this point, she considered a career in healthcare and applied to work as a certified nursing assistant (CNA). Ife fell in love with nursing, and her CNA job was a massive turning point for her.
“I have so much to give to people,” she realized.
During her training, she completed her clinical rotations in the psychiatric speciality and discovered how much demand there was for psychiatric nurses. Hoping to fill this need, Ife went on to complete a master’s program at Rush University to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner.
Nursing school is not an easy feat, and Ife experienced moments of self-doubt. She questioned whether or not she could handle the job and struggled with the imposter syndrome that many other women also face.
People often assume that nurses are inferior to doctors, when in reality, “they are colleagues working together to better a patient’s quality of life,” Ife says.
She reminds herself that she has been trained for her position and that there is nothing wrong with asking for help.
“Always ask questions,” Ife says. “If anything happens, get help. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Sometimes we panic.”
Nursing has been an incredibly rewarding career for Ife. She works with patients going through severe mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Seeing her patients respond well to treatment and begin to feel like themselves again is something Ife treasures.
“It gives me so much joy,” she says. “It’s amazing to see the impact of that treatment and how it turns their life around.”
On top of the amazing work Ife does as a nurse, she is a new mother to her baby daughter, a role that has allowed her to learn more about herself.
“Motherhood is what you make of it,” she says. “It’s walking back into the house after a long day of work and there is this little person that depends on you. It makes me so emotional. Everything about motherhood is love, even the sleepless nights.”
She wants the best for her daughter and to experience new things together.
“I don’t know how to swim,” Ife says. “I enrolled [my daughter] in a swimming class, and I started taking classes too. Because of her, I have come out of my comfort zone. I want to love her in the best way that I can. That makes me so happy.”
Ife is an advocate for self-entrepreneurship and believes that everyone should have things they are interested in beyond their day-to-day jobs. She has been able to turn her interest in fashion into her own small business.
You can see Ife wearing not only her nursing scrubs, but also the bold colors she wears and designs herself. Fashion has always been a hobby for Ife, and she is constantly inspired by her African culture and Nigerian fashion.
She has been working on her own clothing brand called “By Ife” in which all clothes are made in Nigeria and inspired by African fashion. You can place an order on the brand’s Instagram page, where she ships out orders worldwide. She hopes to develop her brand further in her free time.
“If you can see it and you believe in it, go for it,” Ife says. “If you are confident, you’ve won 70% of the battle.”
In addition to expanding her fashion brand, Ife hopes to one day open her own psychiatric care practice.
For Ife, “she can be both” means “you can do anything you put your mind to. Being a mom doesn’t stop you from being a fashionista, a nurse. You don’t have to sacrifice who you are — who you want to be — to please other people.”
Ife hopes to release new fashion products in the near future, but for now she is focusing on spending time with her daughter.