Queen Adebola Ayoade is the lead founder and planner at Allure Nigeria, a subsidiary of Allure Universal Services where she plans marriage proposals and all kinds of surprises. With the three-year old start-up, she has created numerous happy moments for several clients. She graduated from the University of Agriculture (FUNAAB) where she bagged a degree in Entrepreneurship Studies. She relates to JOY NGWOLO how she was able to turn her hobby into a business and reveals insights on how she has been able to keep the enterprise going.
What inspired you to get into the Events business?
In my final year in school, I observed that we rarely do gifts or proposals in this part of the world. Meanwhile, I love anything that has to do with love like proposals, weddings, gifts etc. because I am also an amorous person. So one day, I told my roommate that I wanted to started planning proposals and surprises but she said it would not work in Nigeria, I dropped the idea. Days later, she told me that she had seen a proposal on a popular blog which proved that it was possible in Nigeria. From that day, I made up my mind to start. I created a page, logo and did some e-fliers. I started with planning birthday surprises, a year later I got my first proposal client and from then people were convinced about what I could do and since then we have been having more clients for proposals.
How have you been coping with business this period?
It has not been easy but not entirely bad. Many jobs are on hold because the outdoor locations that we use for our proposals are not open yet. But we have found a way around it, especially with those that have beautiful apartments, we still plan their proposals for them.
Do you think the advent of the pandemic has put an end to Events business?
Not exactly because people still have the option of having intimate events with family and close friends while adhering to the social distancing rules. Many people still want the feel of a professional touch, decoration and documented memories so they would still reach out to an events professional.
What makes your brand different from others?
One is the relationships we have with our clients, we don’t just have formal transactions with our clients, we try to build relationships with them. So many of our clients are my friends, some of them have turned out to be my big aunties and uncles.
Also, we follow-up and show empathy to our clients. We try to understand every clients’ needs and tailor our services to meet their needs. We also give exceptional delivery to our clients, we ensure that they get value for their money.
What does it take to be a proposal/event planner?
You have to be creative, you can’t keep doing the same thing every time. You need to constantly look for ways to do something unique. You also need patience because you will be dealing with different people with different levels of patience. You need to have a high level of understanding as you would be dealing with clients that have an idea in their head but don’t know how to articulate it, you need to understand what the client is trying to communicate to you. Your watchword should be excellent delivery always. You should be open to feedback and criticism from team members and colleagues, you should also have good conflict resolution skills.
What advice would you give to young people out there who want to be like you or walk in your shoes?
You need to be patient, no two persons are the same. Also, you might not get jobs as often as you might want to but you need to be patient knowing fully well that your client will come. Allure Nigeria did not get her first proposal client till 2019, same year, we planned 13 proposals.
There is also need for consistency in what you do. You might not get all the encouragement you feel you should get but never stop, let people know you for what you do. Always give yourself some accolades. Be your number one cheerleader and favourite supporter. For every work you do, use your right hand to pat your back, then tell yourself “well done” knowing fully well that you are getting better with each job.
Don’t use other businesses as a yardstick to measure yours. We run different races, don’t feel bad because you see other vendors post more than you do. Instead, channel that energy to improve on yours and be thankful for what you have.
Do you have any plans for expansion?
Yes, definitely. Presently, we have our services running in 12 states, Lagos inclusive. So, the big picture for us as a brand is to have physical walk-in stores where people can walk in to buy gift items. Few months ago, we launched our event planning arm, so now we have an arm that caters for weddings, social and corporate events.