How Merryheart became cherished brand in event industry
The story of the Oluwafemi Tolulope is relatable. Having grown up to discover she had a passion for cooking, she kept honing the skill.
One would have expected that she would pursue a career in that direction, but she ended up studying Computer Engineering in one of Nigeria’s universities. But this was merely to satisfy society’s expectation.
However, the call to be in the food sector kept nudging her. After graduating from the higher institution, she had a stint in the banking industry as well as oil and gas sector.
Today, Tolulope has found herself fully in what life has shaped her for, rising as a founder of Merryheart Cakes and Kitchen, which came on board six years ago when she bade farewell to paid employment.
“My journey of turning my passion to business started as a side hustle while still in paid employment,” she says.
“Cooking has always been what I love doing. I have a passion for it. But in 2013, I took a decision to take it professionally. So, I enrolled in a culinary school to be trained professionally. Since then, I have taken many self-development courses and have received certifications like the London professional training on food safety,” she discloses.
She has also gone a step further with a master’s degree in Business Administration. The food expert says she has delved into catering for individuals, weddings, corporate organisations, among others, stressing that in a bid to be innovative and meet the needs of growing clientele base, she introduced what ‘Appreciation Trays’ and ‘Celebration Boxes.’
Speaking on factors that contributed to her success today, she says, “Excellence and hard work. I grew up with a disciplinarian father who taught me the importance of excellence and quality.”
She says her father reminded her always that the two attributes were strong pillars to his success.
“He had always told me that the utmost key to success is hard work and that has always been my driving force in everything I do. I must say there’s no shortcut to success other than hard work and dedication.”
As a way of rewarding her dedication in the event industry, she was a nominee under the category of Event Caterer of the Year by the Association of Event Vendors of Nigeria(ASSEV) in 2019. She has since been recognised for other sterling qualities.
Tolulope is also known to have a passion for empowerment, which is why in the space of her six years, has given back to society through free trainings to about a 100 young Nigerians who also aspire to be in the industry.
She has further taken her empowerment a notch higher by launching online courses to accommodate those who cannot engage in the physical classes.
The entrepreneur advises aspiring and budding entrepreneurs to prepare to take up challenges as they are inevitable.
“One of the challenges I had to confront as a start-up was getting people to trust our brand. It was a lot of struggles in the beginning of the business because a lot of people didn’t want to work with a new brand.
“I had to work so hard to convince people to trust me with their events and jobs. But gradually I worked my way through dedication, hard work and perseverance. I also had issues with charging right.”
She struggled with pricing her offerings because she needed to get more clients. “In the past we were always charging low because of fear of being rejected. However, we were able to overcome this through the help of experts and taking up courses related to costing,” she notes.
She encourages youths not to give up on their dreams but remain committed, dedicated and strive for excellence at all times.