Seyifunmi Fadeyi, a graduate of Mass Communication from Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, is an award-winning event expert with an undeniable professional touch of excellence. She is the Founder and Creative Director of Zircon Initiatives and popularly known as Zircon Events. In this interview with MODUPE GEORGE, she speaks on her passion for event management and what it takes to build a sustainable business in Nigeria.
What is Zircon Initiatives all about?
It is an event management and decor company positioned to serve epic event experiences. We also run an academy where we train and mentor people with outstanding results in the event industry.
How did it all start?
It started out as a hobby, where I engaged helping people with their events. My mum also played a pivotal role in this regard. She paid up for me to learn decoration knowing that I am quite creative. I had a formal training in decoration in 2010, when my mum signed up for me for training with her friend. She actually spurred me to become an entrepreneur. I also had to read up to get more knowledge.
The internet was and is still a very good friend in this respect. I soaked up so much information and at the fullness of time I began volunteering to help manage and coordinate events. Even though I looked out to having role models in the industry, I started out without any formal training in event planning. I browsed the internet and read a lot, so, I will say I was self-trained in the act of event planning. However, I didn’t allow fear to hold me back from stepping out.
Along the line, there was a time my cousin’s fiancé posted about event management training and I asked to volunteer and I was given the opportunity to be part of the training. At the training, which was organised by The Learning Edge, I had the privilege of meeting the likes of Aunty Funke Bucknor of the Obruthe of Zapphaire Events. She was one of the facilitators and her being one of my role models aroused my interest and thirst to learn much more.
What inspired you to start your own business?
My love for having well-detailed and coordinated events prompted my desire to join the event industry. I saw a huge gap in the coordination and organisation of many events that I had attended, where I would naturally offer to help out with so many details. I could recall that back then in school days I was most times in small groups or committees where we had to plan events and get programmes done in a much organised way. After graduating from school, I worked with some corporate PR organisations for a few years before venturing out.
At a point, even while I was still working, I decided to go all out to become a professional and build a career in the event industry. I realised that I really had flair and passion for events planning. I just knew that I have a future in this line. So, I started making plans on how to formalise my dream and vision of becoming a sort-after event manager by registering the business.
Nine years after my voyage into the world of the event industry, we have grown in bands and width. We started out in October, 2011. We’ll soon be 10 years and still counting in the industry.
What is actually responsible for your entrepreneurial background and do you have mentors or role models?
I had an entrepreneurial background, having a mother who is a teacher yet she sews with world class standards. She was at the same a farmer and we all enjoyed living the life. At a certain stage in my working experiences, I wasn’t getting fulfilled with the white collar jobs that I did and decided to key into the background I had.
Who are your mentors in the industry?
My mentor in the industry is Bisi Sotunde while my role models are Funke Bucknor-Obruthe of Zappahire Events, Motunrayo Oso-Laditan, Adenike Akinyemi and Ibukun Awosika.
A lot of people are going into event management these days, why do you think people find this business interesting?
There are lots of event management entrepreneurs out there today but not so many event experts. The industry is such a lovely one to be in with many perks and gains which include; financial independence, recognition, among others. People want to make money and are easily drawn to industries that would offer such advantages. However, for some of us, it’s passion that brought us into the industry.
What is the cutting edge for you in this business?
We have over the years offered the epic experience to our clients. Aside those virtues such as excellence; prompt delivery and integrity, customised client service have been the core of our existence over the years and we are not resting on our oars.
How many people have you trained so far?
I have had the opportunity to train over 500 people directly at physical, online classes and through invitations to speak at events.
How many employees do you have presently?
Our staff strength keeps growing. Presently, we have eight employees with most of them being contract staff.
Have you won an award or grant yet?
Yes we have. Zircon Events won the event planner of year 2020 courtesy of Blingz Events Awards. We have had several nominations over the years with lots of recognition for our contributions to the event industry by event associations and individuals.
What is most challenging about your business?
I would not readily say access to funds. The decoration part of my business requires business funding but I wouldn’t go to the banks because of the huge interest rates at the moment as this can impact positively or negatively on the business if not well-managed.
How do you think the government can address this challenge?
The Nigerian government is trying her best to support growing businesses with loan and grant opportunities. However, the government needs to do more in order to have a greater reach. An average Nigerian believes that the government doesn’t care about his or her survival and would do anything legal and sometimes illegal to survive; this in turn can be detrimental to the growth of the economy at large.
What is your take on the belief that the economy of this country is not conducive for businesses?
The economy of any country directly or indirectly affects the output of every business situated in it and Nigeria is no exception. You must believe that your business would thrive and flourish. Be positive and associate with the right people. You must decide to rise above the negatives and use it to your advantage. Another important factor is to know now your type of clients and work with a standard. You will attract your kind of clients based on the type of business you are building. For instance at Zircon Events, we are a world class business, with the aim of delivering excellence from the very start. So, this has always made us attract clients both in Nigeria and from the Diaspora.
What advice do you have for young people who are interested in what you are doing?
I will say start out by determining what exactly you want to achieve in the event industry; carve a niche for yourself. Then, map out how you would achieve this. Research the resources available at your disposal. Work with a time frame? Take a bold step towards achieving your heart desire. Stay true to what you decide to do. Build on a very strong foundation that would last. Believe that you can achieve it and pray about it. The God-factor cannot be overemphasised. Go for training and have mentors that can help you navigate through building a lasting business that can outlive you.
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