“There were not many customized gifting companies and people wanted to dismiss the need for a gift curator.”
Mrs Damilola Olaogun Taiwo is the fairy godmother of gifts. From helping her friends and family choose great gifts, she established Gift Fairy Nigeria, a company which recently won best bespoke gift award for 2018.
In this interview with Inspire, Taiwo, a trained lawyer revealed that the idea behind Gift Fairy Nigeria is to be able to make everyone’s dream come to pass.
How did you start?
I started in January 2015. For a long time, people used to come to me and ask for help with gifts for special occasions. They ask me for gift suggestions for their birthdays. I never really thought it could be a business idea at the first, but in January 2015, it just hit me; this can actually be a very lucrative business.
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At a point, I didn’t really see people that were doing tailor-made gifts, so we run an all-inclusive gift service. I believe like clothes, gifts should be tailored to you. We do all forms of gifting ranging from experience gifting, corporate gifting, and product gifting. We do proposals as well. Whatever your gifting wishes are, we would be able to make them come to pass with the right budget.
What other steps did you take to set up the business?
First of all, I registered my gifting company and we started with party favours. Whenever I travelled and came across any unique novelty souvenir items I would purchase them and resell. I later discovered that people wanted a more tailor-made service. For example, if a client wants to get a gift for her husband, we would try to find out what makes the recipient tick in order to provide a unique gift for him that will make him feel that our client paid attention to the tiniest details about him. This in turn helps foster relationships.
How do you get your customers?
We get them through word of mouth referrals, social media, and we also have a website.
Have you ever had a customer who was unsatisfied with your gift?
I would say most of the time or 99 percent of the time our customers are always satisfied with the gifts, as for that one percent, we do our best to reach out to the person.
Has there been any instance when you didn’t meet up with your customer’s expectations?
Most of the times, we try to be very transparent. We try our best to make sure we deliver the items as at when due and if for one reason or the other the delivery is delayed, we compensate the customer.
Tell us one time you have done this?
There was a time a client ordered a customised item for his partner, we both concluded on the design but when the recipient received it, she informed us that she would have preferred to have the design in another angle.
What differentiates you from that woman selling gifts on the street?
What differentiates us is our creativity, attention to details and excellent customer service. We always make sure we get the best service for you. If you go to the roadside store, you are only limited to whatever choices they have to offer. For us, we propose a wide range of options to you and would go to any length to make sure we bring your ideas to life.
How tough was it when you started?
At the time we started, it wasn’t easy. There were not many customized gifting companies and people wanted to dismiss the need for a gift curator. With time, after observing refreshing ways we present our gifts, people started looking forward to what new experiential gift services we would come up with, and they could see that our service was here to stay and wasn’t one that could be gotten just across the road. We pay attention to details and come up with creative ideas. We have done so many out-of-the-box gifts that people just know that yes, these guys are the go-to when you want to surprise your man or sweep that lady off her feet.
How did your family take your business venture, you went to law school, studied at Leicester, travelled to many countries and came back just to become an entrepreneur?
It wasn’t easy. At first, I had a day job working as a lawyer 9-5 then a gift curator at night, so it was a bit challenging juggling the two roles at the same time. So when I decided to start doing it full time, they were like ‘can you do this full-time? I affirmed that I could with the realization that it was important for me to focus on my business to get to the height I want. But right now, I am very happy that my parents are my biggest supporters.
How do you combine family duties and business together?
It has always been about being able to manage time correctly because you have challenges to make sure that the home as well as the business is going good. I allot time for everything. Certain hours, I would respond to e-mails, requests, create my bespoke designs and certain hours, I take care of the home front.
Do you attend to customers during the middle of the night?
I try not to but because we have certain clients abroad who sometimes want a gifting service and are affected by different time zones, we might have to chat with such clients at later hours.
You were once an employee. Tell us the difference between life as an entrepreneur and life as an employee?
As an employee, you have the guarantee that at the end of the month, you get paid a certain amount and that’s it; but as an entrepreneur, if you work very hard, set goals for yourself, you could get that salary you earn monthly within two days. So, as an entrepreneur you have more earning potential.
As an employee, you might see something you ought to do and leave it, but as an entrepreneur, what do you do at such instances and how do you handle the pressure?
When you do what you enjoy doing, you never work a day in your life because you just enjoy what you do. I enjoy what I am doing so much that it doesn’t even feel like work.
Yes, there are times when I get really overwhelmed, like when you just want to shut down and relax, and then you get a call ‘I need a gift this morning’, like an emergency last minute order. At the end of the day, bringing smiles to someone’s face goes a long way because when you look at the potential end result, you just get pushed to do more.
There are times when you have a lot of target to meet, you just have to do it because it is your business. So no matter what the target is or no matter how tired you are, you just have to make sure the work is done.
To what extent do you go to satisfy your clients?
We go to great lengths to satisfy our clients. For some, we would do a lot of research on the person, get to know the person’s background, style, likes and dislikes. One instance, I called the cousin of my client’s boss to get more information on the recipient. My client wanted to get a gift for her boss but had no idea the kind of gift to get, so I had to call close person to get the details of the recipient. I do anything as long as it is legal for my client.
There are sacrifices I have made to make sure this company stands and is operative. Leaving my paid job, not having enough time for myself and families are part of such sacrifices.
Has someone hired you to gift someone he is admiring without letting the person know?
Yes, we got a call from someone who was a secret admirer to send gifts to an actress he was admiring. So we were always sending her gifts and she was curious to know who it was coming from. Eventually, the client called the recipient to reveal his identity. They later met after a while.
Recently, you won an award as the best gifting company of the year, how do you feel?
Funny enough, we never expected that we would win an award or become recognized. I see the award as a stepping stone and a motivation to even do better.
To what extent does government’s policy affect the business?
There are times when you have goods that you need to import, and it can be really frustrating sometimes when the goods are not cleared on time and are delayed as a result.