Ifeyinwa Ighodalo, managing director, Do.II Designs Limited in this interview with KELECHI EWUZIE reveals that attention to details is pivotal for any service driven organisations to succeed. Excerpts:
I started Design Options at the age of 27 in 1987, at a time when the importation of furniture was banned. As an interior designer, I wasn’t satisfied with the designs and quality of the locally produced furniture. They didn’t speak of the style I wanted for my design interiors.
On graduating with a Bsc in Accounting from the university, I joined my parents’ retail furniture outlet and that was when I confirmed my passion for interiors. A short while later, I relocated to Lagos and joined Casafina, a furniture outlet, as their first showroom manager. I left in 1987 to start my own company. On the break up of the partnership, two years ago, and with 25 years experience under my belt, DO.II (pronounced D.O.2) was birthed.
My family inspires, encourages and motivates me; they are my greatest fans. My upbringing keeps me focused and firmly on the straight and narrow (my mother didn’t suffer fools gladly). I was also raised to believe in myself.
The beauty of interior design and the fusing of colours, texture and fabric is a form of art. It’s a labour of love, and I have a great love for art and beauty. And quietly when no one is looking my Heavenly Father motivates me, guides me and lifts me up.
About DO.II Designs Limited
Do.II Designs is a company that focuses on interior design, the production of high quality furniture, space planning and turn-key remodelling projects for the residential, property development, hospitality and corporate market.
We are about classic elegance and beauty, for the turn key design of your spaces whether at home, in the office, or away from home in a gorgeous hotel. We also believe in giving back by doing Furniture for Schools projects.
DO.II’s corporate social responsibility policy is designed to positively impact our environment, community and the society at large. We are involved in community development services, charity, and other notable deeds that are commensurate with our size.
Everything about us is tailored towards the customer. Furniture and interior space is a very personal thing. We have to work with the customers’ brief, needs and preferences.
Our sales team must understand your situation and budget to be able to provide you with various solutions tailored to your needs. And it’s a holistic experience covering everything from how you want to feel when you walk in, to lounging, to resting, relaxing or working. We started out with residences and have expanded into the corporate and hospitality space.
The whole value chain from order to delivery is geared around the customer. It has been tough to instill that outlook but I believe we’re getting there. I have a great team, actually they are family, and I am very proud of them. Actually that’s it, our approach is to win a new member of the family every time.
That’s a good question for my employees! Believe it or not I am a very shy person but I work extremely hard and therefore cannot tolerate any laziness or sloth. I am a demanding leader, I accept only the best from my team but once you prove yourself you immediately gain my respect and trust.
Nigerians are by far the most gifted and talented of all God’s creation and I believe that we should use our God given talents to the best of our ability, as it says in the Bible.
Your take on the need for talent management
It’s a bit tricky because there are lots of newcomers and talent in our business who are not patient enough. Rather than taking the time to learn under a mentor’s tutelage prior to striking out, they rush into entrepreneurship with barely two years’ experience and set up a business. With very little idea of what they are getting into, they end up undermining the seriousness of our industry.
Having said that, all the new talents coming up challenge me to stay on my toes, do better and improve in every way so that my company remains relevant and I can continue to inspire those coming behind. I encourage and collaborate with young talents and the fresh outlook makes things exciting. We ensure we maintain quality and introduce innovation at all times.
Challenges faced doing business in Nigeria
Power! There is no greater challenge than the lack of power so one has to generate their own power. I’m very encouraged by what Mr President has done in privatising the power sector. I expect it’ll be some time yet till we see some of the full benefits of it, but I believe it is a step in the right direction for Nigerian industry and enterprise.
The quality of the workforce pool available to us as entrepreneurs is the second greatest challenge we face in the industry.
Estimated worth of furniture and design industry in the country compare to global rating
That’s a tough one but I think we rank very closely to South Africa on the continent. Someone projected the global sector as about $700 billion and I think SA is about $13 billion of that; maybe more. There’s still so much more we can do.
Work and family balance
Only by the grace of God. I am a workaholic by nature; so I find it almost impossible to remain idle. So for me, it is really a question of my priorities. As important and consuming as my work is for me, my family still and always comes first. Anyone who knows me can testify to this. My husband and daughter provide amazing support and are the centre of my universe. With this in mind all else finds it’s rightful place.
DO.II Designs prospect in the next 5 years
We are geared to be the first choice for premium furniture and interior design solutions in Sub-saharan Africa with multiple showrooms and production facilities across Nigeria, a multi-billion naira capital base and very happy staff, shareholders and clients.
We also guarantee top quality products and services, as well as exceptional pre- and after sales services, ensuring that customer transactions are stress-free, and seamless, thus creating utmost customer satisfaction.