Gbemisola Mar’yam Olanike runs an interior design and decorating business in Nigeria. She is a member of the mumpreneur online community and is our first guest to share a brief insight into her journey into the business.
She shares with us how it all began, the challenges she has faced and how she tackles them. In this interview, we are reminded that entrepreneurship is a journey with ups and downs, but when the passion is there with a good support system, we can thrive.
Tell us about yourself
I am Gbemisola Mar’yam Olanike wife of Abdul-Hakeem Alaka, I studied Finance at the University of Ilorin, Kwara State. Nigeria. I am a business owner, entrepreneur, and an interior decorator/designer. I ventured into Interior decorations and designing after the completion of my National Youth Service in 2016. I am the chief executive officer (CEO) of LaalTrends Interiors (a subsidiary of LaalTrends Enterprises).
Tell us about your business
Our business is Interior Designing and Decorating and of course the art of general space planning of home and office.
As interior designer, our work also entails: window treatments (i.e blinds, drapes & curtains), wall arts, antiques, flooring (i.e carpets, rugs, artificial grass, tiles, laminated & hardwood flooring etc), wall finishing (i.e painting, wallpapers, 3D wall panels, wall murals etc), furniture (i.e soft & hard furniture), and we pay keen attention to the best materials and fittings that suits the interior requirement of expert recommendations and that of our client request.
We are conversant with structural glazing, shower cubicles, glass partitioning, wall cladding, glass/brickworks and all types of ceiling and coordination of the entire project.
We assist our customers in designing their dream space plan and its features according to their budget, and so gradually work it out over a stipulated period of time. And this helps them (especially the average income earners) discourage the fear of the huge initial payment of hiring an Interior designer and decorator.
We also offer training, advice, and consultancy on interior matters.
– Why it was established.
Firstly, the passion for making the environment liveable in terms of putting its beautiful physical features in their right places birth the idea.
Secondly, sensing the opportunity to put the idea into commercial perspectives, because in recent times the need for interior beautification (design and decoration) is ever increasing, and as the numbers of home and office being put up are on the rise and are as well yearning for making their premises as cosy and warm in terms of its physical-complete view, and in this category the average income earner is inclusive as in proportionate to their budgets.
– About Interior Designing
Interior Designing and Interior Decoration involve figuring out what a client’s space should look like (Interior Designing) and also enhance the look of a space (Interior Decoration).
Interior Designing involves looking into the mind of people, understanding their lifestyle, and then figure out the best fit for it in terms of furniture, fittings, color, texture, lighting, wall finishing, flooring, antiques etc.
It involves fashioning and projecting to a prospect what their space should look like, while interior decoration is putting the designed project into being i.e into what the eye beholds and will definitely appreciate.
It as well involves further tinkering of an already decorated space to enhance its general appearance.
As an interior designer, my work also entails;
- window blinds
- curtain fabrics
- wall panels
- office/apartment furniture and Interior consultancy with keen attention to the best materials and fittings that suit the interior requirements of my prospective client.
Asides all that, a designer specialized in interiors must be conversant with;
- structural glazing
- shower cubicles
- glass partition
- wall cladding
- glass brickworks and all types of ceiling and coordination of the entire project.
How did you get funding for your business?
The initial funding was from savings and we also leverage on other people’s resources e.g. time, money, expertise and arbitrage.
What opportunities have you been able to leverage on in your business so far?
So far, the most significant opportunity we have been able to leverage on as an entrepreneur is the YouWin Connect Program, it was an excellent initiative where we received a detailed and well explained online training, but it was unfortunate that after the stress and sleepless nights, it was followed by a poor offline training and as well were not funded as the practice used to be.
Also, we have had a lot of training both online and offline on Digital Marketing, Financial Management, Human Resources & Customers Relations Management, etc
What Challenges have you faced so far and how have you been able to overcome them?
Yes, there are lots of them, few are
- Finance in form of Grant and Equity: Getting fund from Government in form of grant and equity is discouraging, As a Muslim a bank loan is a no way because of the interest involved.
- Getting ideal Customers that are willing and ready to pay for Services.
- Coping with strange men (as a Muslim Woman there is an extent to which you can relate with non-related opposite sex, although my husband has been of assistance in tackling this challenge).
- Coping with some customers, we meet and deal with people of different beliefs, ideology, character, and attitude. The way I handle this is to be intelligent, calm and humble while stating my point clearly in a way that a customer/client understands that I know what I am doing and I am not ready to compromise my values.
How will you summarize the journey so far?
Alhamdulillah (all praises belong to the Lord of the Worlds, it has been a journey a happiness, pain, struggle, success, experience, knowledge.
Given the Chance, will you do this again?
Yes, I will do it over and over again. So far, there has been no regret.
What lessons have you been able to learn from your journey so far that others should know
Humility, patience, understanding, being calculative and Calm because you have to think like a Client to handle the tough ones and when you a tight situation, else you might mess up things.
What is the Interior Design Market like in Nigeria today?
It is encouraging, the society is beginning to embrace interior designing. I mean look around, you will find different types of new edifices at various estate sites and estate builders or house owners are now more than ever aware, of the need to base the project on decent architectural design/plan, even the average income earners are not left out of this, compared to what we used to have around. The more the homes and offices keep springing up the better it is for business.
But most importantly as a business owner you have to know your ideal customers (those who really need your service) else you end up satisfying nobody and you can get discouraged at the end.
– There are so many interior decorators in Nigeria now, what can be done to distinguish one from the other?
To distinguish among different Interior Designers and/or Decorator, you need to know what the company has to offer, because having been trained as an Interior Designer/Decorator may not make you a professional in it, experience also matters a lot in building up to make you a good interior designer and/or interior decorator after adequate training.
So to distinguish one from the other:
• You check the history of jobs done and delivered by the company
• Ask for reviews of the company, either reviews from clients or observers.
How can people connect with you?
The website is under construction and would be available soon. However, people can reach us on social media.