" ITREALMS: Sonuga Ibidapo to startups, climb ladder of success than jump - ITREALMS

Friday, December 16, 2022

Sonuga Ibidapo to startups, climb ladder of success than jump - ITREALMS

Interview@ITREALMS ... making leadership SENSE with digital news!
The Creative Director of Ibadan-based Green 'N' Things Events, Sonuga Ibidapo has advised startups in in decoration industry in this chat with ITREALMS' GBEMI OMOTOSO to climb the ladder of success than to jump.

Your educational background?
I have a National Diploma (ND) in Geology from Ibadan Polytechnic and later, BSc in Psychology from the University of Ibadan.

How did you come about your brandname?
Well, this is actually funny. It all started during a Christmas period exactly sixteen (16) years ago when I was distributing hampers and busy with end of the year decorations for banks. Then, I thought of the main Christmas colour, so I picked 'green' from (green & red) and 'things' because I supply other things as well.

How did you get into the event industry?
I ventured into the event industry at a trying time in my life. My aunt who has relocated to overseas at that time had few materials lying fallow in her store and it came across my mind that I could be renting them out to make ends meet and before you know it, I was in the industry.

How many years have you been in the industry?
18 years of God's help in the creative industry and still counting.

What is your specialization in event industry?
I'm an event stylist and also into rental (props).

Since you ventured into the industry, how has it been?
Fortunately, it has been an interesting industry though with its own challenges, but it's worth it. I'm superduper grateful to God. In addition, the industry is a revolving and creative one so one must be on top of the game.

Any experience working in a corporate organization before now?
Yes, I have but decided to leave when I realized that I needed to be independent; be able to do things the way I want it done, the time I want it and where I want it done. With all sincerity, 8-5pm job is not the best for anyone who wants to live his or her own life.

How do you manage stress to maintain a healthy status?
Yes o, "the first and the last" Not trying to act God o. But this industry is stressful I must confess. I intentionally pick a day in the week to stay home to be refreshed, mostly Tuesdays. Also, I learned to delegate duties now by trusting my staff the more.

Any memorable event?
One of my very first job in Lagos, about 15years ago. The bride came from America, saw my job on Facebook then contacted me for the hall decorations. After, the wedding, she was impressed and gave me 25 per cent extra because I surpassed her expectations.

Have you ever had a rude customer or customers and how did you handle them?
This is not once but the best way to handle such is not to make it obvious that they are rude except you are ready to close that door. The saying that "customers are always right" can be challenging. However, in such instances, I remain calm and talk to myself more.

Can you describe a time that an event did not go as planned, what did you learn? What would you have done differently?
This particular experience was challenging; It was a wedding. We had to travel and we got to the venue late in the night because our vehicle got mechanical fault on the way. 

In summary, we didn't meet up with few things, though the client didn't notice most of the shortcomings but we weren't satisfied with our job.

That singular event made me realize being timely, it's better to arrive at least 24hrs for an event for proper arrangements and coordination.

What personality traits, skills and training/education should an event decorator possess?
Personality traits are good public relations with clients. There is a big difference between educated eventpreneur and the uneducated ones. Good PR skills with clients and colleagues will definitely speak volume of you. I always advise good educational background, training and retraining for my staff are important.

How do you keep up with latest trends relating to events?
I have mentors in the industry whom I follow. Also, I go for trainings in order to be abreast and relevant with the current trends in the industry.

What is your views about mentor and mentee?
It is a necessity in any industry but unfortunately most people compete with their mentors when they acquire some knowledge. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong in competitions but when a mentee starts wishing his or her mentor bad so they can surpass the mentor then something is wrong and unhealthy.

What are the challenges peculiar to the event industry as a decorator?
Well, the challenges are numerous but satisfying; some clients can be tough especially when the job has middle men - vendor. In essence, a healthy competition has helped the industry to grow and be more creative but when the competition becomes an unhealthy one it's not too good which we experience most times. Also, distrust and greedy staff or trainees who want to run you down even from day one of training.

Your likes and dislikes?
I like promptness, truthfulness and creativity. While, I dislikes flimsy excuses, lies and dirtiness.

Your hobbies?
Watching soccer, playing with kids, traveling while being driven.

Your favourite food?
Fried plantain and egg. Though watching that now healthwise!

Your daily routine?
Early morning quiet time with my maker is a must. Then, I spend at least an hour (1hr) with my family daily before heading to my office for the day's task. However, when I'm out of town, calls will do.

How would you describe yourself from others perception?
People assume that I'm an extrovert but that's not true. Due to nature of the industry I belong to which makes me like a public relations person, I have to be vocal, more friendlier and relate more.

What other skills or professions can lure you from event industry?
Smiles .... Apart from the fact that event industry is like fuel that keeps me going, my passion for it, is second to none. Also, I enjoy the experiences both favourable and unfavourable.

What tops your priority when planning an event?
Clients satisfaction tops my priority, getting a "wow" from clients has been my watchword.

What events do you enjoy planning most and why the preference?
Birthdays, reason being that it's easy to understand the celebrant/client's preference. Unlike weddings where you consider the spouse, in laws, friends and a host of others. In a simple word, it's not always complicated.

How do you relax after back-to-back event decorations?
I intentionally travel away from base especially at times when the office management can be handled without me. We built a system already.

How do you get your customers?
Mostly through referrals and networking.

Your advice to industry new entrants?
I will tell them; t's a promising industry but they take their time to climb the ladder to success and not jump.

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