A dream does not become reality through magic, it takes sweat, determination, and hard work. Mrs Titilope Adeboye made her dream a reality by baking from her kitchen years ago with one thousand cookies supply for her first client.
The humble, intelligent, classy, hard worker, beautiful CEO of Mimis Naija confectionery in an exclusive interview with Zivang team online talks about her entrepreneurship journey, uniqueness of her brand & future plans. Read interview below.
Can we formally meet you Ma?
My name is Titilope Adeboye, I am married to Leke Adeboye, and we have three beautiful children. I am the Founder/CEO of Mimis confectionery which is like a food a mall, we call it a food mall, one stop shop for your goodies, you can have pastries, desserts, cakes, main meals, intercontinental meals, We also do outdoor catering , office /corporate deliveries. Personally, I don’t like food being limited, we try to offer so many options and cater for different needs. We make it happen.
How was your growing up Like as a Nigerian child?
Growing up as a Nigerian child was fun for me, My parents as Pastors did their best to provide all we needed like Finance, education, moral and spiritual guidance. Despite their busy schedule they always created time for family. A good family I would say that, I was free to discuss anything with my mom and dad be it talk on school, boys anything. They brought us up not only in the way of Lord, also Let us experience the world. My first experience with my dad and mom in terms of travel really exposed me. It was really fun I must say.
The other part of growing up as a Nigerian child, I think back then a lot of people felt as a pastor’s child, some people were just nasty, some will judge you by the standard they can’t uphold themselves, so they were certain expectations, some were actually ridiculous, You have to cough, walk and talk a certain way because you are a pastor’s daughter. Sometimes the pressure got to me a few times. Thank God for parents that understood and could rely on, breathe through, enjoy my childhood with their support growing up.
From research, you studied Mass communication from Redeemer’s University, Before you started Mimis Naija, Did you ever work in a 9-5 firm?
Back at the university I did Internship in one or two companies, I can’t say have worked in a 9-5 firm. After I moved back to Nigeria having completed my Masters Degree in the UK, I had offers to work with companies but didn’t take it, I would always say worked for myself, started Mimis Naija after my Masters.
Did your Father’s hard work and passion for knowledge with more than two degrees affect your Life positively?
My father has three or four phDs, I have lost counts, he is a man who pursues education passionately, His hard work and passion for knowledge generally affected all of us positively. My dad would always say something whatever you start be it course, assignment you must finish it.
I remember years ago just got married, I was pregnant during my Masters had a choice to defer because it was a rough pregnancy, My Dean offered advice for me to take a break and come back, my father’s words kept ringing in my head, I kept pushing myself and By God’s grace I was able to finish it. He is not the type that pushes you to do things. For example, my father wouldn’t ask you to study Law when it is Mass communication you want, He gives you that freewill to make decisions, He is a good role model who is available anytime to support and guide you in making the right decisions.
What motivated you start up a food outfit despite the huge competition in the food industry?
I didn’t know was going to start Mimis Naija, After I moved back to Nigeria, I was praying to God and exploring my options where to work , what to do. I used to cook a lot back then, give out to family and friends. Someone approached me to make a thousand cookies for a birthday party, We started Mimis Naija with one thousand cookies from my kitchen. Then got more orders like cakes, cookies from family, friends. I thought of getting a space because I didn’t want people coming into my home, Of course I prayed about it got my confirmation to start.
What is the rationale behind the brand name Mimis Naija?
The name Mimis is one of my daughter’s name Imisioluwa, she couldn’t pronounce her name well when she was a baby,I remember she called it Mimi. One day, I was discussing with my husband about the brand name that has come to stay. My daughter mentioned Mimi and that’s how Mimis name came to stay. We Launched it with MIMIS NG, changed it to Mimis Naija.
So far, How have you been able to stand tall in the food industry since inception.
To stand tall in the food industry, one need to understand his or her competitors. You have to be dynamic, understand customers that order from us. For example, understand what people who are at work, after they close from work want, understand their needs at that time. We have to adapt different methods for deliveries, We did a gift card for customers who patronize us regularly after certain number of visits they get snacks or free meals.
How do you maintain good customer relationship?
For every business customer relationship is very important, we let our customers express themselves. we listen and let them give feedback on food services. If we have to explain, we explain with diplomacy. I haven’t seen any company that exist itself without customers. What we do is by maintaining good customer relationship which is key.
We check on our customers from time to time, give them freebies. Our target for most of the quarter is to know our customers by their names. We don’t joke with customer relationship because they are the ones that keep us in business. We make sure they are comfortable in our restaurant. We are learning and adapting day by day to better our customers.
How do you take negative feedback from customers?
First of all understanding that everybody is not the same, Different customers prefer their food in different ways, they have an idea what eating should be, you cant satisfy everyone.
For example, some people might like porridge and some doesn’t like vegetable in their porridge. In the food industry its changes, taste differs, flavors differs. Sometimes you find out customers come in with whatever that is bothering them. Thank God for our managers and supervisors who step in when the attendants can’t handle it. We always want our customers to go out happy. We accept all negative feedback by not disposing customers comments. Sometimes we sit them down to explain and make sure in the end they are happy. Their continuous patronage is important to us. As much as we can we try to defuse the situation, we listen to feedback whether positive or negative.
It would be nice to satisfy all our customers, that’s our ultimate goal to know what they like and suggest meals to take. They are the ones that patronize us. It’s about good customer relationship if they are avoiding spice for instance, No matter how you try to satisfy them one or two people would not be satisfied. You have to be careful not to break at that particular point in time.
Let’s talk about your staff, How did you choose the right staff for your business?
They are the front line in business, the people serving, cleaning which is key for me as a business owner. With food staff, The thing is interest must be there which is key, There are certain roles we employ professionals for, We don’t joke with recommending professional people to work in the kitchen because that is a very sensitive area that’s the core of what we do .
We make sure whoever we are employing for our kitchen is a professional not just by mouth, has years of experience as professional we can verify before we employ them. We don’t just employ them and put them work straight into the kitchen, We have the period of testing to see what they can do, also feeding them with our own recipes of how we make our food. There is a period of training and retraining for our staff. For some people example the servers, you know they just have interest in the job, so we train, send them for professional training on customer relationship, understand how to attend to customers properly.
All your staff at the Lagos outlet are always smiling and friendly is this part of daily training you give to them?
If we see the staff are not up to par, we are all human beings and they might be dealing with certain issues at that moment. We have a policy here at Mimis Naija, leave your problem at the door.Do not bring it to work, the customer will see it and can affect work. If you have a problem rather discuss with us and not let it show with customers interactions. customers we are here to serve. We have people they can discuss with their supervisors, Line Managers. We prefer don’t come to work , take a day off sort out your issues than not giving attention at work which can affect business. They are always at the front line of our business having daily interactions with the customers. It’s important for them be friendly with customers.
What is the unique selling point of Mimis Naija?
Our unique selling point is that we offer good tasty meals in a lovely environment , we want you to feel like Kings and Queens, comfortable when you are in our space even though you are buying a snack of 200 naira, The fact that we give back to our customers with our affordable prices, as a way of giving back to our customers and making them know we appreciate their patronage. We created a gift card after certain visits you win snacks, free meals, free desserts as well. We appreciate customers that come from time to time after the 12th time we show our appreciation of which we do constantly.
Living a healthy Lifestyle is very important, What ways do you encourage and create awareness to all your customers on eating Healthy?
Our food is healthy, We use fresh ingredients, good things that are good for you in the meals. To also encourage them to stay healthy, Some customers come in based on specific requests for some meals for example. If other healthier options for weight loss, You can order for meals and pastries for your specifications.
In terms of quality service, What makes Mimis Naija Food outfit stand out in the Food industry?
The thing which I always say, one should not be afraid of competition, there will always be competition, no company should operate in a lone space. What makes you stand out is how you present and deliver services. Competition is good sometimes, I don’t see it as a threat but a driving force.
We invest a lot in our front line those that interact with our customers, We train them, make sure than they understand what customers service, satisfaction, resolution means. Whatever that makes the customers feel comfortable , we try to take onboard. We tend to get a lot of feedback from our customers, that’s what we use to improve on our services. That’s what makes us stand out as a company.
What is your opinion on good branding in Business, How have you been able to inculcate this into your business?
Branding is very important to every business, MIMIS is our brand even though it is a restaurant , Our name is our major brand by put our name in their minds. One of the way we’ve been able to stamp our brand, through our cards, plates, billboard, experience when they enter into your space of your brand. We try is get all aspect right from the feel of the space, customer service and taste of food. We keep improving on them.
With so many other Outlets of Mimis Naija, How do you balance work and family?
We have three outlets currently, one in Redemption camp, Ikeja and Osun State. To be honest sometimes it is quite tedious trying to balance everything. Knowing why I got into the business in the first place help me put things in perspective. I had a passion for the food industry to settle full-time.
I also got into the industry to control my time, so there times no matter what my family comes first. I will let people manage what they paid to manage. As business owners you want to micro manage, At times you allow people manage what they paid for. I still make breakfast for my children, drop them at school. Its understanding of how to balance work and family. I thank God for supportive staff as well.
How do you keep up with the same standard for outlets within and outside Lagos?
The major thing we sell is food, having a standard of food comes first. Every cooking and baking staff have a period of probation and training no matter their experience to know our recipes and work ethics. The way we standardize through our billboards, colours buildings in all branches.
Recently, for your 3oth birthday you reached out to Vulnerable people in different communities in Ogun state by giving free Medical Check ups and food for 3 days, Is this part of Corporate social Responsibility project for Mimis Naija?
The outreach for my 30th birthday was more of a personal project. Although, My company catered for the food. As a company from time to time we give out foods to people. As part of our CSR project we give out food to people during Christmas, Covid-19 period as well.
During this covid-19 period, Mimis Naija gave free foods to the needy? What encouraged you to do despite the widespread of coronavirus?
The food industry is a ministry for me,people who are vulnerable needs food. Even if there is Coronavirus one of the major needs of people is food. We are happy to consistently keep in touch with people in our communities and know their major needs. Its not like we have lots of cash to give out but a way of giving back to people.
From your own experience what Lessons have you Learnt that is not taught in books?
One of the things I have learnt in business, roles of the holy spirit guiding you while doing business cannot be overemphasized. I rely on God”s guidance in making decisions that what I have not Learnt in books. Guidance to make the right decisions, I am grateful for the part holy spirit help me in my Life. Leading to do things, Those are some of the experiences I have dealing with the holy spirit.
As a Mother three children, what is the secret of your good Look?
I think every human being to find time to take care of him or herself. Taking out personal time for healthy routine, exercise three times a day, drink a lot of water, watching over yourself. Sleep well even if it’s not the normal 7 hours of sleep.
Your favourite business quote?
There are a few quotes that I like
Church Winston “Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts”.
Richard Brandson- “Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming”.
Steve Jobs Quotes-“ You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever”.
Aside work how do you relax yourself
Sometimes I go to the Spa when I have the time, I like a quiet space even if it’s just for an hour listening to music and thinking. Spending time with my family is very relaxing , Children crack you up with funny things even if you had a terrible day. If I am stressed sometimes I just bake something , It might sound funny but that’s me.
Where do you see Mimi”s Naija brand in the next decade?
We have been around for about 5 years, Its been God and we are eternally grateful, God has helped us this far. In the next decade I see few more branches, I see us doing better in terms of being stronger, do a few more things for our staff, community and customers. We want take our Corporate Social responsibility to the next level, where it is frequent.
What is your advice to other food business owners in Nigeria?
My advice for food business owners is to do what they are doing very well. Learn new skills, upgrade your skills, keep pushing believing in yourself that there is no limit to where you can be.
COVER CREDIT: ADESHOLA ADEMILOYE
ADDITIONAL CREDIT: COLLIN POWELL
PHOTO CREDIT: PHOTOSUITE
OUTFIT BY : SARALLORY
MAKE UP: JAYS BEAUTY EMPIRE