“Creativity is seeing what others see and thinking what no one else ever thought.” CEO of Ankara souvenirs Rachael Oluwatosin Adejobi had just returned to Nigeria from the UK and was waiting to get a job, and she thought of bringing out her creative skills, while waiting Ankara souvenirs business was born. In an interview with Zivang online team virtually, the smart and intelligent entrepreneur takes us through her entrepreneurial journey. Read excerpts below.
Kindly tell us briefly about yourself ?
My name is Rachael Oluwatosin Adejobi, I have a BSc. in Biochemistry and an MSc in Pharmacology, but I’m not currently working in either field. I have a 9-5 in the Fintech space. If I had to summarise how I see myself, I believe that I can do anything I set my mind to do.
How did your entrepreneurial journey all start?
I have ventured into different markets, but Ankara souvenirs started as a pastime in 2012. I had just returned to Nigeria from the UK and was waiting to get a job, and I thought of what I could do while ‘waiting’ and boom – Ankara souvenirs was born.
What’s the reason for establishing a souvenir/corporate gifts business?
As I mentioned earlier, starting a souvenir business was a hobby for me initially. In 2012, a very good friend of mine was getting married, and I needed to share gifts at the wedding, and I knew I didn’t want to give what everyone else was giving. So, I got thinking and came up with something I felt was unique. It was a compact mirror I made using Ankara. Then I later made notepads using Ankara as well. What propelled me was the feedback I got after the event. As I got the feedback, I realised that I could be more creative, and I started exploring other avenues to be creative. Over time, however, I’ve remained in it because I’ve found a niche, grown a set of clients who do not stop coming back, and it’s something I enjoy and do effortlessly. More importantly, I constantly explore my creative side that a Pharmacology or microbiology degree couldn’t give me.
What is the unique selling point of this business?
Hmm. This would be in my creativity, how I creatively infuse the Ankara fabric into ANY product. There’s nothing I can’t transform or create using Ankara. Maybe only a human being (LOL)
What does customer service mean to you?
For me, customer service is giving my clients/customers the ‘wow’ effect. It is meeting and exceeding their expectations. Many customers may be indecisive about what to pick, and I believe that this is where my work starts, especially in creating a unique experience and roadmap to help them.
The responses so far from your customers?
It hasn’t always been rosy. But I’ve had 95% positive feedback. Most of my jobs are from referrals, and you know what referrals mean to anybody in the business. That means there must be something I’m doing right.
What keeps you going in this harsh economic situation?
I try to focus on the opportunities available, make the most of the situation and explore other avenues and options that remain untapped.
As a brand, how have you penetrated this competitive market?
Truly the market is competitive, and I’ve tried to stay true to my craft, which has spoken for me many times. I don’t compromise on my quality, I believe my prices are reasonable, and I constantly think of ways to get creative in designing my products.
What makes your brand stand out from other brands?
The uniqueness of the products I make and the quality. I am 100% involved throughout the production.
Your favourite business quotes?
A good number of quotes resonate with me, but if I must pick one, then perhaps “Be so good they can’t ignore you.”- Steve Martin
Aside work, how do you relax yourself?
I’m very easy, and so I relax by watching TV. How do you juggle being a mother and an entrepreneur? I’m still learning daily how to do this. I do my best, and I am thankful for a fantastic support system.
Where do you see the brand five years from now?
5 years from now, the goal is to reach new frontiers globally.