The business of Interior Designs, Decor, as well as Coordination is gradually taking a turn in the Africa

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The industry is currently experiencing a major twist in operations.

In this exclusive interview with Mrs Rosemary Owolabi, Chief Executive Officer, ROBID Interiors, a Fast growing interior decor coy based in Nigeria, she shares with News Africa Now, that there is a big opportunity to leverage on technology to train emerging designers and also showcase the value of interior design to many more clients.

Excerpts –

1 – Tell me a little bit about yourself?
I am Rosemary Owolabi from Ekiti State. Graduated from Ekiti State University 2015 with a Bachelor in Education. After my NYSC, I worked a few years with an advertising agency in Lagos. I did an entrepreneur management program at Lagos Business School and attended interior design school as part of my entrepreneurship journey. I am married to a great guy – Tobi and we have one lovely son called Ronaldo.

2 – What inspired your business?
I’m a firm believer that true entrepreneurs are made, not born. There are certain qualities that every successful entrepreneur possesses, and these qualities are fostered through one’s experiences, training and exposure. Growing up, life was hard. I lost my mother at the age of 9, no child should have to endure what I went through, but I do believe that it made me stronger in a weird way.
My first venture into entrepreneurship was in school. I did a lot of buying and selling to make ends meet and also develop the intriguing passion of creating beautiful spaces, so I started decorating my friends’ room for free and later started charging little token when I got referrals.
That was how I was inspired to be an interior designer – to make every space beautiful and inspire happiness through creativity.

3 – How would you say your business has grown since starting?
We have had our challenges, but with the support of my staff, artisans and customers I would say we have experienced stead growth in our customer base and service offerings. We have also expanded the number of clients that we serve and the number of states where we work. When we started about 3 years ago we worked actively with only 5 artisans but presently we work with over 100 artisans and 3 architects serving individuals and corporate clients across Nigeria.

4 – Where do you source for your raw materials used for your interior decoration?
Our materials are sourced from vendors in and out of Nigeria. Our design is focused on the needs of our clients and our business also inspire local creativity by inspiring artistes and wood sellers in Nigeria to create well branded products that meet the needs of our client. We have also mastered the art of combining foreign and local products depending on the needs of our client. We also do this with their consent at all time. Our goal is to inspire happiness and productivity with beautiful spaces.

5 – How many numbers of employers do you currently have?
We have 4 full-time staff and 3 temporary staff. We also have more than 100 Artisans we work with.

6 – When was your business established?
ROBID Interiors was established July 2016 but was officially registered 2017.

7 – How would you evaluate Nigeria’s interior design industry?
Honestly, the industry is changing. Clients are appreciating what value the interior designers/decorators are bringing to the table. People have started seeing beyond designing their homes themselves and hiring professionals in handling their project.
There is a big opportunity to leverage on technology to train emerging designers and also showcase the value of interior design to many more clients.
The focus now is how we make sure that all professionals within our industry are all working as a team so that clients get the best results. We believe that – when the client is happy, all the professionals involved in that project are happy.

8 – There is a very high competition in Nigeria’s interior design industry. What are you doing differently to remain in business?
I honest believe that creativity, innovation, simplicity and very good customer relationship skills has helped us to stand out and create a niche for ourselves in the interior design space. Our ability to attend to the needs of high-net worth and low-income individuals and corporates has helped us to remain relevant in the space. We have never lost focus of our main goal of using space to inspire happiness and productivity.
We leverage on the power of technology, provide advisory services to potential clients and we have never compromised on quality products.

9 – What are some of your expansion plans?

One of my expansion plans is having a big showroom where clients can walk in and pick up pieces of furniture with other interior designs and set up their space in 24hours. One of my inspiration is IKEA, You can visit their showroom and just set up your house/office in 24hours. I also want to help more emerging artiste and artisans to make more money by placing their products and services in the spaces of as many clients as possible.

10 – What are the major challenges you have faced since starting your business?

Every business comes with challenges. One of the major challenges over the years has always been getting to manage artisans in delivering high-end quality finishing but with a proper quality assurance process in place, we are able to inspire artisans to create world class designs.

11 – How do you think the government can address some of these challenges?
If the government invest in world class training and equipment for the interior design industry it will yield huge economic returns, a lot of young people will make money as a beneficiary of the value chain and we can even export some of the amazing designs.

12 – What is your advice to other entrepreneurs?

  1. Have a solid business plan that can evolve, prepare for financial challenges, don’t be afraid to ask for help and ensure you have a trusted mentor who has practical experience of managing business and providing leadership. Most importantly, build a team that shares your vision.