Ifedayo Durosimi Etti left a well-paying job to chase her dreams of being of an entrepreneur. She co-founded the company, Parliamobambini along with a friend and though, it has not always been rosy, they have managed to hold things down.
My name is Ifedayo Adegbenro Durosinmi-Etti, I’m the co-founder of Parliamobambini and founder of Philos and Zoe. Parliamobambini is a kids furniture company, and we make babies clothes, wardrobes, and Philos and Zoe is a kids fashion brand, on a mission to reduce poverty in Nigeria through technology, women empowerment and education.
So, how it all started. I was in London when I applied to come to Nigeria breweries. I got the job, it was my dream job, it was all I wanted, I never wanted to be an entrepreneur. It was so bad I never wanted to date someone who was an entrepreneur. I didn’t understand how you could just stand on your own and really do well.
When I had my daughter in 2015, I bought her furniture from London and it was so expensive and that wasn’t even the issue. The icing of the cake is, it cost me so much to bring it down to Nigeria and I thought that was all until the furniture got to Nigeria and they told me it’s contraband. So, I had to pay twice the amount I used for shipment to bail it because I had no other choice. Then I thought why import and go through all that stress when we can also produce standard furniture here and that was how the idea parliamobambini was born.
Then I asked my friend who was the only one interested in what I really had to say, if I could make her nursery and at that I point I didn’t even think about starting, it was later on my friend and I discussed about doing something for kids. We went on to registering the company and that was how the company started in 2015. All though it wasn’t easy when we started because we had to import materials, but we found a way around it. It was relatively affordable.
DANG: WHAT CLASS OF PEOPLE ENGAGE YOUR SERVICES?
IFE: Still to the middle class because people were still buying it. So, for it to be more affordable to mothers, we decided to bring local carpenters on board rather than import and that worked fine for us. Doing that, we stopped importing and focused on making the furniture’s ourselves. That made our more affordable and accessible. It’s safe to say, it’s been an exciting journey.
While building my company even though we were doing okay, I still kept my 9-5 job with Nigerian Breweries but all of a sudden, my partner and I felt the business is getting bigger than us. We needed to understand the business, focus on the business, grow with the business, ensure quality control and a lot of things started coming up.
We decided to employ managers to make it more structured, but nothing ever went well because they didn’t understand the structure and mission of our company. We prayed about it, that God should show us the way and thankfully there were signs which I never ignored. I got a call from NSE for a job offer, I went for the interview hoping I would get the job, but I never got a call back and still I didn’t leave Nigerian Breweries until last year when I decided to leave. From that day till date, its been unlimited blessings, the world was waiting for me and I know I am ready.
DANG: WHEN DID YOU EVENTUALLY LEAVE YOUR JOB?
IFE: I left September 2017
DANG: WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR CHALLENGES?
IFE: Challenges are bound to occur in business. For instance, the week we started, we got robbed. It’s been tough but at the same time, it’s been rewarding. Lot of things have happened; talent management has been a challenge as well, but we’ve been able to manage it and I feel like we are ready to conquer.
DANG: HAS IT EVER OCCURRED TO YOU TO GO BACK TO YOUR JOB?
IFE: No, it has never occurred to me to go back. I wouldn’t trade what I do now for what
DANG: WHAT IS THE MOST DIFFICULT PART OF YOUR BUSINESS?
IFE: It was very difficult to get the carpenters we work with now because they didn’t want to be fulltime they preferred to be employed as contract which on the other hand won’t work for us. But from the time we’ve signed them on as full-time employees, they’ve been there.
DANG: WHAT DOES GLOBAL SHAPERS MEAN?
IFE: The global shapers community is a community of young people, who are trying to make an impact in the world and there are global shapers all over the world. So, I’m part of the Lagos hub of the global shapers. We basically have a lot of community projects in Lagos, ranging from digital skills for children, feeding children, and empowering women, teaching them skills to jumpstart their businesses all for free. The global shapers community is one of the best communities any young person trying to make an impact.
DANG: HOW HAS BEING A PART OF THEM HELPED YOU?
IFE: I joined global shapers community in November 2017 and I can confidentially say the network has been phenomenal. The people I’ve access to now is so amazing. It’s a network I would advise anyone under 29(age limit) and I promise you, you would never regret it. In my own little way, this is me trying to make a difference in my own way through the women empowerment project and coming together with like minds people really made a difference.
DANG: HOW OLD ARE YOU?
IFE: I’m 29
DANG: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE BUDDING ENTREPRENEURS?
IFE: What I would just say is have a plan and have something you’re leaving for. For me, even if it’s not a backup, you need to know what you’re leaving for. The thing needs to be viable. I’m not saying you need validation from people but at least someone should be able to say/ see that your business is doing okay. Before you make the decision of leaving your 9-5 job to start your own job, look at the prospect, get your books in order, and in all, conquer your fears, take charge of your life, and be bold.
DANG: IF SOMEBODY TELLS YOU “IT’S EASIER SAID THAN DONE” BECAUSE OF YOUR JOURNEY AND ALL, HOW WOULD YOU FEEL?
IFE: I schooled in Nigeria, I went to Covenant University before I went to London. All these won’t match up but I understand the struggle is real because I can relate. When I moved to London I had to work and school in order to survive, I had a job where I worked 30 hours a week while getting an MBA. I can’t say I wasn’t getting pocket-money, but my pocket-money was very little, so I worked to earn extra and also worked hard on getting good grades.
At the end of the day, it’s all about yourself, your values, your work ethics. I’ve always had the entrepreneurial spirit in me, I’ve always been very driven, it has nothing to do with my background. There are people who have been in more advantageous position than me and hasn’t taken advantage of those opportunities. It’s all about you, my friend and I started the business with our own money, we didn’t request for any money from anybody. It has nothing to do with connection and all. I meet a lot of people and I take advantage of them like they take advantage of me, It’s a mutual relationship. Give what you have to get what you want.
DANG: WHAT IS YOUR WORK ETHIC?
IFE: My work ethic is just about do it now. I’m all about do it now and it has helped me a lot.