Creative Director of Taeillo Furniture, Jumoke Dada, is one of the winners of the recently concluded seventh edition of Diamond Bank Building Entrepreneur Today (BET), an investment strategy to profile and help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with social impacts output to upscale their businesses.
The BET programme deals with the diverse challenges related to finance, information and business techniques through the Entrepreneur Development Centre training (EDC), in order to groom capacity builders, who would in turn, upgrade the nation’s economy.
The bank, which also considers gender criteria in businesses, ensures qualitative women representation in the BET programme due to the peculiarity of their challenges different from male counterparts.
Dada, who emerged the only female among this year’s winners, runs a distinct home-fashion brand that creates premium urban furniture through design, manufacturing and sales of modern African furniture.
In this interview with Maria Diamond, Dada narrates her BET experience and its impact on her business.
What is your background and who is Jumoke Dada?
I AM a Lagos-based designer. I studied Architecture at the University of Lagos (UNILAG). Before I started Taeillo Furniture, I worked in top architectural and interior design companies as well as furniture manufacturing companies in Nigeria, which gave me an insight and background to the creation of Taeillo Furniture.
What motivated you to start Taeillo Furniture’?
Taeillo Furniture is a creative brand I use to express my ideas of how African lifestyle is beyond runway fashion. It is a concept of having a home that reflects the African beauty through furniture, accessories and fashion.
I believe in the Yoruba adage that says ‘Ile la tin keshorode’ (the wellness in your home is reflected in your outlook).
I started Taeillo when I realised that our traditional arts and crafts had evolved overtime to include practical and decorative items that express the human feelings, identity and personality through various forms of art.
In the light of this discovery, I resolved within me to portray our heritage in furniture by branding the culture and identity in a way that still depicts modernity, but more importantly, showcase who we are, which of course, is distinct and unique.
My idea was that we could brand our culture positively and use it as a tool of influence through design.
What is the concept of the brand? Is it lucrative?
The concept is Africanism, reflecting a people of colour in our diversity and details that showcase beauty at its best. Yes, it is a lucrative business.
The concept is appealing and advertises itself to customers. More importantly, it is the vision of beauty, culture, background and greatness.
In this part of the world, there are not many women in the furniture business. What inspired you to venture into it?
It was the fun and satisfaction of having to create something that goes beyond business, but beauty in cultural heritage.
My work is a combination of emotions, an embodiment of Africa, a narration of our uniqueness, irrespective of the complexity in our put together.
Being a woman with diverse responsibilities and restrictions does not matter.
I don’t see myself as a victim but rather I feel there is more to me in this field than making furniture.
It’s about doing something for the culture and using furniture design as a medium.
Are there challenges in doing this? Of course, like any other business, but the truth is, for every challenge faced, I find the solution process rewarding.
Why did you apply for BET7?
I applied for BET7 because I saw it as an opportunity for capacity building. I needed the outstanding training I got at the EDC to make me better in my dealings and BET was the place to achieve that.
Tell us about your experience and the impact of the BET7 on your business
The experience was great and the learning process was mind-blowing.
I found out better ideology and tactics to handle my business and realized that I could have been a better entrepreneur if I knew all I was taught at the EDC training when I started my business.
It was a platform of entrepreneurial learning and unlearning which impacted the ability to build capacity structurally and financially.
I had to thrash some techniques and got new ones from the training. It was an experience that would keep birthing profits and production for a lifetime. I am better for it.
How do you intend to put to good use your cash prize and what is next?
The cash prize will be used to improve our existing structures and put better facilities in place.
I will upgrade my entrepreneurship skills in terms of management, marketing, branding, finance and leadership skills, which in turn will help me build a better business.
The grant and the training, which one do you appreciate most?
The grant is quite enhancing and empowering but the biggest deal for me, which of course, is the most beneficial, is the knowledge I got through the EDC programme, which is priceless.