Adeola Sessi-Traore is the Chief Executive Officer, Lemonytouch Events, a events planning and management business grown from her passion to take stress off people and build lifetime relationships with her clients.
Lemonytouch Events offers an exceptional service of exquisite touch to clients giving them a Personalized Event Service experience. With over 180 events execution experience, she produces events ranging from weddings, birthdays, event styling, bridal and baby showers, etc. She is the convener of TALMAD (Touch A Life, Make A Difference), an annual charity program of over six years which aims to give back to and celebrate the underprivileged people in the society by putting a smile on their face especially at Christmas. TALMAD has been opportune to work with over 6 orphanages (with about 150 children), Makoko community, Agege community, etc. In this interview with IFEOMA OKEKE-KORIEOCHA, she speaks on the effects of increasing cost of commodities in the event industry and how through her TALMAD (Touch A Life, Make A Difference), campaign, has impacted the lives of less privileged children.
Take us through your journey of setting up Lemonytouch Events?
I had a strong passion for getting things done for people. Certain things that stressed people were easy for me to get by. I started off with putting things together for friends and family, from birthdays, to showers and gradually it became a thing. I planned my sibling’s wedding about 11 years ago. Afterwards, I took interest in having a deeper insight to events, I wanted to intern with one of the top planners, however, the opportunity never played out. Then I decided to take my hobby of taking stress off people into serious business. I remember having my friends on board at the initial stage to attend meetings and coordinate events. Over the years, from working with business coaches (Profit with Doyin), and taking different courses, I have been able to build and I am still building a well structured event planning company, offering a personalized event planning experience which is the main strength and what stands us out.
With over 180 events execution experience, how would you say the events industry has revolutionised over the years ?
I have seen the event industry go through two major revolutions. Firstly, when the pandemic hit, events were a total no no, as people couldn’t gather. We however introduced virtual events where couples, pastors, families and friends participated in events online and people couldn’t put their lives on hold. We gradually moved to the Hybrid events when a certain number of people were allowed in a space and the others joined virtually. Then came the second phase. After the pandemic ended, the event industry strived to make a come back. I would say the event industry is a very strong one. We also have been on top of the game moving globally with new inventions, leveraging on technology and serving exciting moments across board.
There appears to be many events management companies in Nigeria and the industry seems not be to properly regulated. How is this trend affecting professionals in the industry?
As rightly said there’s no barrier entry in the industry. Hence there will always be situations of hiring the bad eggs, people giving low prices and offering inferior services. However, there are associations and bodies which you join as event professionals which gives leverage as a professional, and well informed clients of cause also do know to check for the authenticity of professionals they want to engage through these associations and the Media.
We have entered the season of festivities, yet the costs of commodities have continued to skyrocket. How is this affecting patronage for you and the event management Industry?
I have seen small chops go from N500 per guest to about N1500 in the space of a month. I have experienced cost of cakes triple in just weeks apart. It’s making it more difficult for people to have parties. Some resort to a small scale event and some won’t even hire a professional all in the name of saving costs. However, we have clients who have stayed bringing their events cause they know with our expertise in the Industry, we can still work out their relatable budget and get best prices from vendors with great value.
How do the services you offer differ from what other events management companies offer?
Our Core strength is offering a personalized Event planning experience. We do not just plan for our clients, we get personal making them our priority. We have a notion that no two clients are the same, we become their friends, prayer partner, counselor. Just as our motto says, With you all the way, we maintain great relationships with our clients so it’s longterm, our business tone is warm and Friendly. This keeps us top on the mind of our clients and referring us is always easy .
With the increasing cost of food commodities, how do you draw a balance between price of services you offer and quality, especially for people with low budget?
Honestly, the increasing cost has been alarming, we have Coordination and Full Event planning services. So we have options for our clients to pick from, we also then advise from a place of sincerity as to what can work and what wouldn’t. So for instance, you have a low budget we can advise to cut down on number of guests and the likes, whatever it is we never compromise on quality of delivery.
What measures are being taken by people who hold weddings, birthdays and events to ensure they cushion effects of the costs of commodities?
Planning ahead is very key, this will give ample time to put in place all neccessary items without it giving a heavy burden feel. We also get lucky sometimes, as to getting costs cheaper when you give ample time. This way, the effects won’t be too cumbersome.
Could you tell us about TALMAD (Touch A Life, Make A Difference), an annual charity program you have been holding for over six years ?
Christmas is my most favorite time of the year. It’s a time to reflect on how the year has been and spend time with family and friends. It however dawned on me that it’s just another day or season for people, children, communities. So I thought of how I could spend Christmas with people who aren’t family or how I can share the excitement of the season, showing people love and caring during Christmas. The very first edition was at Tunji Adebayo home. I got a Christmas tree and took the children for a fun outing, it was definitely so refreshing to see the way the children brightened up ever since then.
What inspired you to commence the TALMAD program?
Making a difference in the lives of people especially at Christmas sharing the moments beyond my family, making other people happy.
What success stories have you recorded from the TALMAD program since you started?
It’s been super massive ! we once held a skills acquisition program for the women of Oko Agbon, so beyond making a difference at Christmas, we empowered them to get skills and make profits.
Stories from children – every other year we do the paper Angel – where we grant the wish list of over 100 children it’s such a joy to wish for an item and you get it. We have held medical outreach at Agege Community and gave out free medications it’s been really heart warming.
What will you be doing differently this year with the TALMAD program?
I am pretty excited about this upcoming Edition, it’s our 10th Edition! we are bringing every orphanage we ever worked with and community together under one roof to have a Christmas Cantata, carols, presentations, granting wish lists of children and providing items for the homes. it’s going to be memorable ! the real excitement of Christmas, happening on Christmas eve at Ikeja.
How big is the events management Industry in Nigeria and what are some of the challenges impeding the growth of the sector?
The Events management industry is quite big worth over 20 billion dollars in value. It also plays a huge role in employment of labour considering the amount of working hands and human capital required. Some challenges we however face include:
1. Market saturation due to low barrier to entry
2. improved support from Government
3. Limitations on global front based on expenses of items and the dollar rate
4. Security concerns.
What advice will you give to women who are looking to go into this industry but lack the needed support and capital ?
It should always start first with having the mind to adding value, then seizing opportunities to serve with people who already have thriving business, this would help build a portfolio, and experience. Never wait to have all the capital or support in place. Little drops of water, they say makes an ocean.