Omolola Balogun is the CEO and Founder of Dreams and Visions Events, Lagos, Nigeria. She hails from Ekiti State. She had her secondary school education at the Federal Government Girls College Akure and she has a Bachelor of Arts from University of Ilorin Nigeria. She worked at a telecommunications company for a short while before launching fully into what she is passionate about- creating beautiful event ambience- This she discovered during her National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). She is a trained Event Designer and Florist has been in the industry since 2007.
PDC: Tell us about your journey, how was the transition into entrepreneurship like for you?
OB: In the early years of my life, I had passion building and my parents thought I was going to be an Architect, growing up a little more, I found out I always had desires in beautifying my surroundings and putting things in order.
During my NYSC in Lagos in 2006, I was introduced to Event design and craft training and that helped to spark up my desires. I was posted to serve in a telecommunications company and was retained after my NYSC, but because my desire had already been sparked up with the training, I had the urge to forge ahead in my Event design business. I resigned to start my Event Design career fully in 2007.
PDC: How did you raise the capital to start?
OB: Raising capital for my business was in phases, in 2007 when I started the Event Design business, I didnt require a lot of capital, the business was built gradually, the first set of capital were from the little profits gotten from completed jobs. This sustained me for few years till as every entrepreneur there was a urge to do better and achieve more, thus other sources of raising capital had to be explored. Other sources ranging from getting Loans and Credit facilities in order to upscale.
PDC: Being a business owner can be tough, what are some challenges that you have faced?
OB: Some of the challenges faced include sourcing for funds and staff management. The Event Design business is one where you need to have invested hugely ahead of time, in preparation for opportunities. An intending client wants to see what you have done before as this convinces them to pay likewise for your service. Thus, the onus is on us to source for funds to get all neccessary props ahead of getting the desired business.
In the area of staff management, manpower entails 80% of the success of any event design business because it’s strictly requires rolling up your sleeves. We need to construct and Tear down all our setups at each event. For each event setup a minimum of 20 workers are needed for even the average scaled event designer. The challenge here is having to put everybody together to achieve one common goal, also considering that sometimes some of them are contract staff, and have not got the trainings you must have given your Full staff.
PDC: In your opinion, what are some of the key issues startups face, especially in Nigeria?
OB: In my opinion, Startups in Nigeria face the major issues of building their customer base. Most Nigerian Customers want to deal with a business that have been in existence for long. Hence, its always a challenge for a startup to get its first few opportunities.
PDC: Many people believe in renowned brands. Currently, there are Nigerian brands like yours coming up, how are you changing this mindset of people to patronize brands like yours?
OB: Due to the dedicated nature of Nigerian brands, we are at our best, we have gotten to a stage where we are able to compete side by side with the international brands. For instance in the Event design field, we attend numerous trainings both in Nigeria and abroad and with the right enabling environment we are able to deliver same quality with the renowned brands.
PDC: What makes your Events design business stand out in today’s competitive world?
OB What makes my Events design business stand out is my ability to be able to create new designs at every opportunity given. Our society is a competitive one, where everyone desires to stand out from others. This same mindset applies also to our clients who are always on the looking out for event designers who can give them something unique.
PDC: Tell us something that has influenced your life and career positively today?
OB: Life is about Perseverance and passion. Life sometimes makes a twist but I have decided to keep the focus no matter the challenge life throws at me. In the area of passion, the Event Design business is no doubt a tough one, evident in many months of Planning running to about 3 to 6 months. Customer Management is another interesting part in which you need to get them on board, convince them to part with their funds, and you equally have to manage their Anxiety. You cannot wish away Team Management, the sleepless nights, all these makes you want to quit, but my passion for creating beautiful spaces has kept me going.
PDC: What has been the impact of COVID-19 on the Event Design business?
OB: The Event Industry is one of the major Industries affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic. Events all over the world have been cancelled thus there is no way to Design Events. The event industry is on a partial lockdown because even the Virtual Parties we are embracing this period does not require any major designing.
PDC: Do you think event management will be the same after COVID-19?
OB: In Nigeria, there is hope that the Event Industry will bounce back after this pandemic, this is because our culture is that of celebration and not just celebration but large celebration. We, Nigerians are happy people, and in fact, I see people and families throwing a Post-COVID-19 thanksgiving party to celebrate the final declaration of our country as a free nation. Also, weddings and burials that have been put on hold will be celebrated. Our love for large number of family gathering for events and our communal way of living will help us to bounce back to normalcy.
PDC: Event design has evolved over the years, what are the things that you see about the future of the business?
OB: Rightly said, event design is always evolving, the new concepts that we will see every time and in the near future, event design is 3d design features.
PDC: What are your future plans, what can we look forward to seeing from you?
OB: Future plans include continued expansion of the business and also to expand my horizons internationally.