The ability to keep learning, re-learning is what has kept us in business
Oluwatoyin Olatunji-Daniels is the co-founder of Eventecture, an interior décor, retail/marketing and television productions company based in Lagos. Founded in 2010 alongside her partner, Akin, Eventecture is the meeting point between timeless architectural principles and creative craftsmanship. They recently setup Atlantis, a subsidiary dedicated to providing special lighting and effects to create the desired ambience in events. In this interview with TOBI AWODIPE on the compnay’s 10th anniversary, she bares her mind on the journey so far, surviving and rebounding after the pandemic, as well as challenges of running a business in Nigeria.
Take us briefly through your career journey?
All the experiences of my life and career journey, good and not so good, are the summation of my being; the lessons, blessings, pains and gains. I am a product of God’s grace and having the right people in my life who guard and guide my greatness. Some painful experiences from my childhood prompted my growing up fast and I quickly learnt early to use my fear as fuel to propel myself.
You know what they say about whatever doesn’t kill you making you stronger? This led me to becoming very resourceful, entrepreneurial and learning independence from an early age. I fondly remember my flair for reading innumerable books and writing my thoughts about the vivid dreams of my future as an escape.
I really wanted to become a lawyer as a child, but life happened and I settled for studying Linguistics and Yoruba at the University of Lagos. Upon graduation, I worked for the Covenant Nation from 2007-2016 and this decision to work for my church office was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. Imagine studying Linguistics and Yoruba then having a great opportunity to learn and become a savvy multimedia producer, sound editor and project manager, all learnt from the job. I’ve been blessed with numerous life lessons and was given multiple opportunities to channel my greatness.
More importantly, it was while I worked there that my entrepreneurial spirit was truly nurtured. I was encouraged to soar, even while I worked in my different designations. I had many side hustles, which I ran alongside my then boyfriend and now husband. Being a polymath is one thing, but having people see your gift and help you apply your love for learning, by giving you opportunities is another thing entirely. For these and things too extensive to say, I am eternally grateful.
My inquisitive mind was nurtured and I blossomed like a well watered gardened and then in return, I garnered an unrelenting love for excellence. This love for excellence helped me transition into working at the family business, Eventecture, full time in 2016. One of the high moments of my life is meeting my life and business partner in the most random way. That chance meeting led to us start dating, birth a business together in 2010 and the rest they say is history.
How would you rate the Nigerian creative industry as we have it today?
I make bold to say that our creative industry is one of the most innovative globally. Irrespective of the challenges that we face as a whole, the insurmountable, never say die Nigerian spirit keeps soaring.
Being in business with your spouse must be very interesting, what do you do when you have a clash in opinions?
Being in business with my spouse is one of the best decisions ever, as we complement one another beautifully. When we have clashing opinions, we lay all the cards on the table and pick what works best us; not for Toyin or Akin, but for Toyin and Akin. Knowing that we are on the same team helps us to always put things in perspective.
The COVID-19 pandemic, lockdown and general unrest in the country affected this industry in no small measure, how are you looking to rebound and adjust?
The year 2020 is definitely a year for the books. What we did differently is to adjust our sail, as we couldn’t control that “storm”. As we all know, life is in seasons; we know these tough times will pass and it is essential to capitalise on the blessings embedded in the storm. The COVID-19 season required that we introspect and strategise; this we did and can’t wait to share our findings with the world. We are thankful the wind of COVID-19 didn’t blow us away; it just helped us get better.
You’ve got your fingers in several businesses, how do you manage to keep everything together successfully?
To be honest, Eventecture is a gift that keeps giving; a gift of value addition wherever we may find ourselves in this world. We would hate to see our clients get stressed, so we are heavy on ensuring that they stay happy by delivering on a world-class level of excellence with our array of service deliverables. We aren’t the favourite one-stop event design go to for nothing.
How important is lighting and effects as an industry?
God didn’t say ‘let there be light” for nothing. Lighting and effects adds pizzazz to what design and build work has been installed. Lighting is an integral part of ensuring people create an ultimate experience for their guests, while they leave the work of design and build curation to us. This industry is on another level on its own and I would say it is lucrative. Truth is the industry in Nigeria is still a work in progress compared to what is obtainable in the entertainment industry global. Nonetheless, our growth is admirable and the future is definitely promising.
Over a decade in business isn’t an easy feat especially in Nigeria, what have you done that has kept you at the top of your game?
I’d say diligence, consistency, persistence and grace. Also, remaining teachable regardless of the milestones and success is our constant reminder. Feedback from stakeholders and flexibility in adjusting to the needs of clients is also very important. Realising that the voice of the people is the voice of God, and understanding the blessing that is delayed gratification and prudence, were helpful. Lastly, I’d say the ability to keep learning and re-learning because the day you stop learning or bettering yourself in application to your skill set is the day you are finished.
When faced with life challenges, how do you deal with them?
I seek the face of He who has engraved me in the palm of His hands, the one who helps me make sense of my life. Then I sing (laughs) howbeit with a croaky voice. Lastly, I tell myself the truth; I owe myself that much. With anything life throws at me, I am the common denominator so this gives me perspective.
Having worked with several big national and international names in the past, what should we expect from you in the next couple of years?
Our future is embedded with greatness. This greatness will be unlocked by being grateful for all that we have achieved over the past decade while equipping ourselves for the requirement for the future, so watch out.