As the desire for glamorous, colourful events grows intense, one industry that has boomed steadily is events management/planning. We hooked up with banker-turned-event planner/decorator, Mrs Bunmi Adeboye, who is CEO of Stylista, a fast-growing events management outfit in Lagos.
In this interview, the 1995 graduate of Microbiology who is an alumnus of the Obafemi Awolowo University, lle-Ife, says the business is more gratifying than working in the banking sector.
By Josephine Agbonkhese
What are the technicalities involved in planning/managing an event?
So many things must be borne in mind when planning an event. Venues should be easily accessible. Parking space within the venue must be ample enough to accommodate at least 80% of the guests with little or no strain .
You must select the best of vendors to provide good and well-interpreted ambience in line with the event in terms of decoration. Food must taste nice with good presentation, too.
Technicians must test their light and do their sound checks hours before the event; not 1, 2, 1, 2 sound check. Also, ushers must dress neatly and respectable. No bad breathe or armpit stench, with hair neatly put together and not flying around.
Would you say it is really challenging and worth the bill customers usually have to pay?
Yes, it is most time worth it when the abstract of thoughts and ideas put together for a concept or theme becomes concrete. For the passion driven entrepreneurs, monetary gains are secondary. We have had instances where clients credited us more after all bills have been settled just to show appreciation. Such encouragement is motivational and keeps one forging on regardless.
Are there risks involved?
There are risks and so are mitigants; as an ardent event planner, you don’t expect anything not to go wrong. In fact you must assume things may go wrong and must prepare for plan B at all time.
How come parties put together by Nigerians are the most sought after anywhere in the world?
Our parties are extremely full of life and that’s because we are happier people in this part of the world. Besides, that is because our the rate of suicide is minimal compared to other parts of the world. So, anything to keep us happy, we will embrace, including parties. We live life in spite of harsh economic realities in our society. “Country hard, country hard, no one wants to die”
What’s the most challenging aspect of event planning like for weddings and corporate events?
I’ll say budget. Some have lofty ideas with slim budget. Like my Chinese friends will say: “big thunder, little rain”. They want heaven and earth and they can’t pay. This drags the planning process back and forth till we have a common ground between both parties; where client is happy and the event goes on smoothly with all loose ends tightened. In cases of corporate events, it is more of bureaucracy/ chains of approval processes which eventually eat into planning time and some events come with very late notification.
A lot of people seem to be venturing into the industry these days; can it really be a money-spinner for anyone who seeks self-employment?
I want to believe the market is wide for events and entertainment. If someone is venturing into the industry for self-employment, I’ll advise he or she to come in with a need and then launch deep because a lot of people are coming up with various innovative ideas and for those that also feel the market is wide and unsaturated, yes it is also possible. It all depends on whether you are in for daily bread or to leave a foot print in the sand of time as an astute solution provider in your field.
What actually made you shelve your banking career for this business?
Over the years when I was in the bank, I realised my friends would always call me to help them organise parties. They probably had observed the manner in which I organised events even on impromptu basis. Later, I looked inward and realised this is something I have a flair for. So, I eventually decided to follow my passion. While in the bank however, I was known for my prolific deposit mobilisation; I was a goal-getter and passionate banker. Hence, I was identified as a banker with distinction.
…and judging from the 15 years you worked in the bank, is this more rewarding?
Frankly, I get even much more than I got as a banker! We had this myth that banking was well-paying, but you see, with the quality of my time management and with doing what I enjoy doing by putting smiles on clients’ faces, you can’t quantify with cash.
But didn’t you fear failure while venturing full scale into this?
I’ve had this tutor in my husband for a long time and he has remained my mentor in this business. He had always wanted me to use a third of that energy which I was using to work for the bank, for myself. He is Rotimi Adeboye
Have you managed a road-closing(street) event before? How did it make you feel, considering the fact that you hindered vehicular movements?
No, I’ve never. I dislike it as a matter of fact. Why block roads when there are school fields all around?