Building a successful interior design brand can be very tough in Nigeria. But this is not the case for Rosemary Owolabi, chief executive officer of Robid Interiors.
Rosemary started her entrepreneurship journey at an early age and was inspired to establish Robid Interiors in 2016 out of her passion and love for designs.
“I did a lot of buying and selling to make ends meet and also develop the intriguing passion of creating beautiful spaces, so I started decorating my friends’ rooms for free and later started charging little token when I got referrals,” she says.
To further develop her skills in interior decoration, the young entrepreneur attended an interior design school and took an entrepreneurship management course at the Lagos Business School.
Since starting, the business has grown its customer base and service offerings steadily, a feat the educationist-turned-entrepreneur attributes to her employees and customers.
“With the support of my staff, artisans and customers, we have experienced steady growth in our customer base and service offerings,” she says.
“We have also expanded the number of clients that we serve and the number of states where we work,” the young entrepreneur adds.
Currently, she has four full-time employees and works with over 100 artisans and three architects serving individuals and corporate clients across the country.
She says creativity, innovation and simplicity have helped her remain in business over the years. She explains that the business has created a niche for itself in the country’s interior design industry.
“Our ability to attend to the needs of high-net-worth and low-income individuals and corporates has helped us to remain relevant in the space,” she says.
“We leverage on the power of technology, provide advisory services to potential clients and we have never compromised on quality products,” she notes.
She tells Start-Up-Digest that her business sources its raw materials both locally and foreign.
“Our materials are sourced from vendors in and out of Nigeria. Our design is focused on the needs of our clients,” she further says.
“We have also mastered the art of combining foreign and local products depending on the needs of our clients,” she says.
Evaluating the country’s decoration industry, she says the industry is fast evolving.
She explains that Nigerians are now appreciating the value that interior designers bring and are now patronising their services in handling their projects.
“Honestly, the industry is changing. Clients are appreciating what value the interior designers and decorators are bringing to the table,” she says.
“People have started seeing beyond designing their homes themselves and hiring professionals in handling their project,” she explains.
She notes that the business plans, in the long run, to establish showrooms in major cities in the country, to allow clients to walk in and pick up pieces of furniture and designs for their use.
In the short run, the business plans to help emerging interior designers and artisans make more money by allowing them to place some of their products in spaces of her business.
She states that getting artisans to deliver high-end quality finishing has remained the major challenge confronting her business.
She says the business is addressing the issue through its quality assurance system and effective monitoring as well as inspiring artisans to create world-class designs.
She urges the government to create a world-class training institute for interior designers to help upscale the skills in the industry.
On her advice to other entrepreneurs, she says, “have solid business plans that can evolve; prepare for financial challenges; do not be afraid to ask for help, and ensure you have a trusted mentor who has practical experience of managing business and providing leadership.”
“Most importantly, build a team that shares your vision,” she adds.