Ayo Alonge, [email protected]
The Chief Executive Officer of Andrezion Solutions, Omolade Campbell, tells her success story in the business of interior decorations, as she asserts that entrepreneurship is the surest way to grow Nigeria’s economy.
She told Daily Sun that she runs her venture with all her passion, even as she highlighted the challenges inherent in the business and her drive for apprenticeship and training. Campbell also listed ways government can encourage SMEs in interior decorations.
When I started out in business, I intended to be known locally and internationally through transforming space into what poeple cannot imagine. I had the passion for it because I am the type of person that loves meeting people. I can come to your house and tell you that your house is not looking good and I can fix it for you. That is the way I started. It started out of passion and I should add that I took up the job of interior decoration from my father although I have always wanted to be better than him. I started working with my father when I was only 20 years. I knew I was going to be on my own one day. Looking back, over the years, I can say it has been very good for me, by God’s grace.
Initial capital for startup
It was very difficult for me raising the initial capital to start up. People don’t trust you and they can refuse to give you an upfront to start up. I had people I was getting stock from on credit and I would return their money when I am through with the jobs. Most of the jobs we get are from referrals. By the time you do a very good job for people, they would refer you to other people. That is the most important thing about the business.
People need to know that they need interior decorators to manage their spaces for them and put touches to their premises. These days, you don’t need too much load in the house. You make it spacious. A decorator can mix your colours for you and that makes it good. Some may not even know that for their windows, they don’t even need to put cotton but it is blind that fits in. The positioning of the bed is also what people need to take cognizance of. There are so many things about interior decorations, anyway.
Of course I went to a higher institution and had a diploma from the University of Ife and even from Lagos State University. I also went for a degree course in the National Open University (NOUN). I have also attended an interior school to learn colour combination, just to enhance my proficiency. My husband is a graphic artist and can do 3D designs for me. With him, I can match colours and make good of what I do. This is not what my husband does but my father and siblings are very much into it. My two siblings work with me.
There are a lot of challenges that we face. One of them is doing a job for clients and they refusing to pay promptly. A lot of people are owing us. That is a major challenge. Some won’t also appreciate you whenever you go the extra mile for them. They confess that your job is good but they can’t just afford to pay. Some may even owe you for as long as four to five years, and even more. You know Nigerians done like to pay when they are owing you. That has been very very challenging, although I must confess that some clients can be very nice to you. In the past, woman was supposed to pay us N700,000 but she gave us an additional N100,000 because she really loved the job we did for her. So, some people are very appreciative when they see good works. Some appreciate.
We are all humans but as an organisation, we try to manage people and ensure they getting the value for their money. For whatever reason, I can’t quit because it is my passion. It is not always about money but about fulfilment. If it has been all about money, I won’t be here. This is about making myself very happy. I won’t quit, not for money and not for any challenge. It is the challenge that brings out the best in you. As for the challenge posed by the Nigerian Customs Service, I know my way around the Customs Service. It is a norm. I am not new in the business. It is about doing the right thing at the right time. You are to know what the government tolerates, and since we are not into contrabands, then, we should transact business freely with the Customs.
I think I know how to manage people. As you continue on the job, you would have to keep learning to know the clients that are very meticulous at every detail. For me, I have learnt that. I can even spend a month just trying to satisfy a client. If I have still not satisfied the person, people would know that I have tried my best and the client is the one that has issues.
Training and apprenticeship
I do a lot of training. Some of the guys here are on training. I pick interest to train when people have the passion and walk up to me to have me train them. Someone came all the way from Port-Harcourt and another from Ibadan, just to train. I still have a lot of plans for the business in the area of growth and skill acquisition for others. I have a lot of jobs I have done that you can go and see. Recommendations too are there to refer to. Currently, I am partnering with a company in China to improve on the business. This is all in a bid to improving quality. As a matter of fact, if I have my way, I would like to transfer the business to my children. It is because the job makes you go place and you get to know a lot of people within a short time. I have a child who likes such and it is just that I don’t know if he would be interested in interior decorations.
I am sorry, I just can’t disclose to you how much of money I make in the business. All I can say is that with the business, you are able to keep body and soul together. Those out there wouldn’t know better but we that do it as our passion know that it is lucrative. It is very lucrative. Some people pay for quality services. They tell you all to do for them and they get to pay for all that. It is very lucrative.
We may not be able to begin a local sourcing of raw materials in this country, except we bring in all the machinery down to Nigeria. We can begin to source materials like the paper, the blends, cotton. If we can make ankara in Nigeria, then we can make real cottons too.
Government should encourage entrepreneurs like us. We know the rudiments of the business. Government can even create jobs for people through local production because that would be cheaper to produce here. We have a lot of people that know the job very well. All we need is just the machinery. The government can even make it a governmental project. We have an already made market for all that because a lot of people are very much interested in making their homes and offices look good. So many jobless graduates can be employed through this, and that would really help. Youths should stop looking for jobs. They should be creative, instead. It is not for us to start looking up to the government to provide jobs that are not even there.