Annastasia Onyinyechukwuka Oraegbunem is a Nigerian-Canadian educational administrator, singer, entrepreneur, the founder, and CEO of Anydos and now author of a children’s book called “Super Agnes,” which follows the life of a young girl working as a superhero. Annastasia has worked across various occupations on top of her recent publications, including running her music school and store in Canada, known as Anydos. Her music store retails the best music instruments available to students, including violins, guitars, harps, pipa, and other classical string instruments.
Annastasia took some time to answer a few questions we had about her early life and how it led her down her current career path.
Hi Anastasia, thanks for your time. When did you complete secondary school, and what did you initially pursue at university?
I completed my secondary school in the year 2004. I got admission to study medicine and nursing twice from different prestigious universities in Nigeria. However, growing up from a low-income family made my parents discourage me from studying medicine.
After wasting years in frustration, trying to persuade my parent to allow me to study medicine or nursing, I used the same results for the medical school admission to enroll in a college of education close to my parents’ house. The college of education is in affiliation with the University of Nigeria Nsukka (aka UNN), and I was among the pioneer students in the year 2006. I started my study in Biology and got married before the end of my second year in 2008. I had my first child the next year.
I graduated with second class honors while pregnant for my second child in the year 2010. The UNN granted me a certificate of Bachelor of Science in Education (B.Sc.Ed. in Biology), and I went for my mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Nigeria from the year 2012 to 2013. During my NYSC, I lost my father and had my third child.
After my undergraduate study, I relocated with my husband and children to Canada for greener pastures. I was admitted into the University of Toronto for a master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Policy in 2015 and graduated in 2017. That year after my convocation ceremony, I lost my mother to her battle with cancer. I received the strength from God and continued a doctorate program (Ph.D.) in Higher Education Leadership and Administration at Liberty University. I am now hoping to complete my Ph.D. before the end of 2021.
Why were your parents hesitant about you studying medicine?
My family could not afford to pay my tuition fees even after one of the universities offered to waive some % of costs as a scholarship. For example, I would not have to worry about my books, accommodation, and transportation. The university administrator told me that all I needed was to work for the school and pay my tuition fee.
My father told me that I could be under pressure to pay my tuition fee and that the length of study for medicine was not suitable for my gender, knowing my family’s financial status.
My mother’s hesitation was because of my sister’s disability. At the time, the family needed me to assist with my sister’s needs. As a result, teaching was the perfect career for me at that time. My mother was an educational administrator, and from her experience, I believed her that teaching was the best career option for me at that time.
When did you start becoming passionate about music?
My father used to work as a music producer and marketer in his brother’s record company. I remember walking into the study, but my mother warned me never to go inside for many reasons, not disclosed to me. I was in the children’s choir at the age of six, in a prayer group called Block Rosary formed by Catholic parents in our community. I went to Latin competitions with my choir group and won many prizes. When my uncle (the owner of the record company) died, my father struggled and left the music industry. However, I always enjoy singing and writing songs, even when I did not know how to ask for support.
In 2009, I got the courage to ask to connect me with his friends that used to work with him before my uncle died. My father granted my request, and I succeeded in recording my first music in the studio with the tittle Nne Oma (Good mother).
At what point did you decide to start Anydos, and were there any initial challenges with starting the business?
I started as a singer, initially singing for fun, but in 2009, I recorded my first music with my artist name Anydos. From then, I have searched for an opportunity to combine education and entertainment with the brand name Anydos but could not because I was a full-time housewife, raising a family with her husband while pursuing my education.
When I moved to Canada for better opportunities, I decided to register Anydos as a record label and e-commerce company to support prospective and enthusiastic music students in 2016. I started selling the best and affordable musical instruments, such as ukulele, violin, guitar, harp, guqin, and pipa, while connecting students to the best music instructors.
How do you ensure that your business is consistently providing high-quality instruments and lessons to all its students?
I believe that building a good reputation depends on the quality of the goods and services I offer to my customer. I work hard as I could and surrender the rest for God to take control because I know that I can do all things through God who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).
I try as much as I can to provide quality musical instruments consistently by listening to the customers’ needs. When I know their need, I use the opportunity to recommend the best product to buy. However, not every customer knows what they want. In a situation where the customer is a newbie in the music industry, my team and I will guide them to get the best quality instrument.
My instructors teach beyond music theory with compassion. My teachers are passionate about seeing their students learn, practice, and perfect their musical instrument skills instead of knowing the required techniques from the theory.
I encourage students to always listen to music; that way, they can quickly identify the notes and the skills that the musicians use to get lovely tunes. I also believe that knowing the music note and abilities to play instruments by listening helps a lot for students with visual impairment.
Personally, the same practice applies when students with hearing impairment watch a musician play musical instruments regularly. The students that have learned with Anydos music school always come back for many positive reasons. I believe the ideas why these students come back to us reflected our school’s commitment to excellence.
What are your career goals for the next few years, whether music, writing, or studying?
By the grace of God, I plan to become a university professor to reach more students who are struggling. I pray for God’s divine direction to shine for His glory (Matthew 5:16).
However, my main goal is to expand Anydos into a TV station for musicians, educators, and the clergy. My team and I will focus on edutainment programs as a platform for musicians to learn, show their talent, and promote their hard work without stress.
I want to provide an advocacy platform for people under any form of abuse or bullying, especially in the education sector.
Thank you Annastasia for your time!
You can follow up with Annastasia Onyinyechukwuka Oraegbunem at https://anydos.ca
Fergus Murray is the lead editor for Business News Ledger. Fergus has been working as a freelance journalist for nearly a decade having published stories in the New York Times, The Plain Dealer, The Daily Mail and many others. Fergus is based in Detroit and covers issues affecting his city and New York State. When he is not busy writing, Fergus enjoys jogging.