In this interesting interview on gift diaries, be inspired by Seun Olorode’s story and her business lessons. She is the CEO of OliviaRodes Gift Store based in Lagos providing meaningful and personal gifting services. Take a seat and munch some cookies as you sit back and read!
So tell us about your business, how did it all start?
I started OliviaRodes Gift Store in 2017 with a clear mission to be able to provide an assortment of high-quality merchandise not commonly found, in the retail market.
Interestingly I didn’t start out with the intent of opening up a gift store, even though I would classify myself as a gift person, I love giving gifts and I always do my research before giving gifts so that it would be practical, and with a touch of style because I love things that are well thought out.
When I left paid employment in 2014, I started running Gopse International Limited, a family owned business which my dad started in 1982. Since then, Gopse International Limited has been providing Executive Business Gifts and Souvenirs to prominent organisations for over three decades.
However, after attending countless exhibitions, building relationships with countless suppliers and also providing corporate clients with high quality gift items, I had numerous requests for some of these items to be sold individually. That’s when I had the ‘aha!’ moment: Meaningful and Personal Gifting. … I discovered there was a gap in tangible gift items in the retail market. Along with that, there was also a need to consolidate the process of gifting i.e cards, wrapping services along with the various options of gift items available in one location. A one stop gifting solution shop that went beyond flowers and the typical overpriced and often times wasteful gift basket.
In addition, we also noticed that most people found searching for gifts quite laborious or the items in regular shops lack quality, so because of that, in our society we resort to giving money as gifts. Which in some cases might send the wrong signal. This is why I started OliviaRodes.
What is your greatest achievement so far?
I won’t say there has been one major achievement, every progress and step made is an achievement, being able to run a business in this environment is a major achievement and I’m thankful to God for how far we’ve come.
What are the two major challenges you’ve passed through as a business owner and how were you able to overcome them.
One of the major challenges we face in this country is a lot of dependence on importation which comes with huge challenges. For instance, exchange rate fluctuations, sometimes delay or damage to goods brought in or even sometimes the goods just gets missing at the port.
The second major challenge is that often times it’s not a fair playing field. Contracts are awarded based on who you know and not on the value or quality of what you’re offering. This results in some of your ideas being stolen and given to someone else to execute.
However as a Christian , the only way I know how to overcome them is to hang on to the word of God that states in James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
What inspires you to keep going?
There is a quote that goes” Nothing great comes easy, and nothing easy can ever equate to greatness”. God never said it would be easy, but He guarantees that His Grace is sufficient for us. This is what keeps me going.
There is no successful entrepreneur that has not faced challenges, but every challenge or obstacle prepares you for the next level. Which is why it’s very important to be led by the spirit in whatever you’re doing, especially when making major life decisions. Because if you know that you are in the perfect will of God, this is what would sustain you during those trying periods as you have that confidence that Gods plans for you are of good and not of evil.
What advice do you have for young or aspiring giftpreneurs in your industry?
As long as you are sure it is what you want to do and you have a passion for it, my advice is bring your personality to your business, don’t look at what others are doing. Find your niche market and focus. Do the work, invest the time in research, understand the business, know the products and let it be a part of you. A lot of people lose focus and run into problems when they’re trying to copy the next person.
A day in the life of an entrepreneur
What’s your morning routine like?
Pre -Covid, after I wake up, I spend time in prayer, do school runs, go for either dance class or swim. Then I’m back home at about 10am and get ready for work and plan the agenda for the day.
What is your typical day work like and your favourite moment of the day?
I dedicate the early part of my day to taking pictures and planning Instagram/Facebook posts so I’m always in customers front of mind. We also get a lot of enquires every day, which may or may not lead to sales but that keeps us busy, as well as gives a better understanding of what people are looking for. I also have a physical store, so we get quite a few walk ins as well which is always nice as I get to meet my customers and gist. I also spend a substantial time with my suppliers discussing new product offering and researching new products which really excites me. However, the highlight of my day is when I have to curate a gift set for a client. It gives me so much joy especially seeing the finished work and then sending it out.
What do you do when you’re not working?
Is there ever a time an entrepreneur is not working? Lol …. My body may be inactive, but my mind isn’t lol.
However, spending time with my family is very important to me. I also enjoy catching up on news and my many tv series.
What are the most important things to consider when starting a gifts business?
Bringing your personality to your business is very important and that’s where your brand identity comes from. Know who you are and infuse this into your business as this is what distinguishes you from the next person. This is what makes you unique. Identify your target market, you can’t cater to everyone. Be passionate, Be authentic, Be determined to succeed, Go over and beyond for your customers. Innovate, Innovate, Innovate.
Share with us the most interesting gift project you’ve done and why it was interesting for you?
Hmm… there are too many interesting ones to mention but what I can say is that every project is unique and I’m grateful for every experience gained in each and every one.
What’s the greatest business lesson you’ve learnt in your entrepreneurial journey?
There have been a series of lessons in this journey but like I mentioned earlier, it’s important to be led by God as that is what keeps you going.
Don’t be afraid to fail. Sometimes fear paralyses us that we don’t move forward. Don’t despise the lessons learnt from failure, it’s the fuel required for the journey ahead. Always ask yourself, what’s the worst that can happen.
Sometimes your greatest supporters or helpers come in form of complete strangers and not the people you expect.
Finally, It’s important to have a spiritual and a business mentor. I’ve been blessed enough to have 2 people in my life that play both roles. One is my husband and the other is Rev Oyiks Alfred.
Wow! Thank you Seun Oloride for sharing your thoughts, advice and amazing insights with Gift Diaries. We wish you good success as you build and grow your gift company.