Our Ladyboss this week, Morenike Molehin, Founder and Creative Director of Oak & Teak, a fast rising interior design and furniture manufacturing company which specializes in residential and commercial spaces. Morenike shares in this interview, among other informative business tips, cues on how start up entrepreneurs can be successful.
Can you briefly describe yourself and your business?
I am Morenike Molehin, often called ‘Renny’. I am married to Yomi Molehin, my pastor, best friend and mentor. I am also a mother to two beautiful girls. I am the Founder and Creative Director of Oak&Teak, a fast rising interior design and furniture manufacturing company which specializes in residential and commercial spaces. I am also the Managing Director (MD) of Newer Heights Ltd., an agro-allied company which specializes in the processing of soya bean seeds to poultry feeds and soya oil.
As the MD, I oversee company-wide operations, financial administration and human resource management. Beyond business, I am also the Convener of “The Complete Woman Conference” in RCCG Eagles Nest. Recently, I commenced a free seminar titled “Design Through His Eyes” as inspired by God to help aspiring interior designers/decorators start and grow their business. I obtained a first degree in industrial mathematics from Covenant University and a second degree in Financial Mathematics and Computation from the University of Leicester United Kingdom. (Yes, I love Mathematics!). I love travelling, meeting new people and generally learning new things.
What is it like being a female entrepreneur, and why did you chose to be one?
Irrespective of one’s gender, being an entrepreneur comes with its benefits and challenges. As a female entrepreneur, I believe I am advantaged because of the way God has designed us. We can rise to the challenge of multitasking and this is amazing especially because the responsibility of managing a family cannot be neglected for managing one’s business. But in all honesty, I believe that whether you are male or female, if you are passionate about what you do, sooner or later you will stand out.
What new innovation have you introduced to your business?
My major innovation has been the ability to consistently maintain a low cost of operations across every aspect of our businesses. This ensures that we achieve robust profitability. My understanding is that high cost of operations is one of the major reasons businesses fail in Nigeria. I am pleased that we have been able to implement innovative solutions to keep our costs low particularly in Oak & Teak.
What will you say is responsible for your success so far?
I can’t over emphasize the importance of having God at the centre of my life and business. He puts us in the minds of our clients such that we are often at the top of the minds of new and existing clients when interior services are required. Secondly, I would say the attention we pay to details when rendering our services and I am very compassionate about my clients and staff. This means that we go the extra mile for our client. No wonder we have noticed that many of our clients refer us to their family and friends.
Thirdly, I am very big on personal development. The day you stop learning you start dying. I recall that I spent about 2-3 years carrying out research and study on interior design before I commenced and till this day I continue to study and learn from those who have gone ahead.
In your opinion, would you say that there are any unique challenges that female entrepreneurs face?
I will address this from an angle of been a wife and mom. Having to juggle family with business is not so easy feat. Having to drop off my daughter in school in the morning, attend to staff and clients in the afternoon and arrange family dinner at night is not always as straight forward as ABC. This is why I am a big advocate of having a great support system. I am grateful that I have a world class support made up of an understanding husband, an intelligent staff, family and friends. Every woman in business needs a solid support system.
What values and principles have helped you so far?
Compassion, respect, integrity, diligence and excellence
Why did you decide to go into this particular line of business?
While growing up, my mum was an interior addict. She would always re-arrange the house, add or remove accessories at least every 2 weeks. Unknown to me she was depositing seeds of becoming an interior designer. Every time I entered a space, I realized I was either very happy or suddenly become moody just by how the space looked. I got married and decorated my house. Everyone that came to my house loved and complimented how our house looked.
My husband, who is my greatest fan and supporter then began to advice me to start but I didn’t think it was a good idea at the time. Later I began to see the need for everyone to live in a beautiful space and how important it was. I know that not everyone can be my client but I would want to be able to contribute my quota to seeing as many people as possible living in comfortable living spaces.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced, and what’s kept you going?
One of my major challenges will be artisans. The disappointment and inadequate attention to details by some artisans as well as having to manage them has been a major challenge. There are very few technical schools and people are not willing and patient enough to learn from these technical schools. The second will be not enough places to source for materials and accessories.
The passion has kept me going, after all the hitches we face on the job, the behind the scenes drama that happens, seeing everything come together beautifully well at the end of the day and seeing the big smile and surprised look on the client’s face makes it all worth it. That’s one of the things that keep me going. My husband also always has the right things to say to me whenever I feel very overwhelmed with work.
What’s your five-year plan for your business?
To have positively impacted and improved the quality of lives of people just by living in a beautiful space. Due to our innovative cost management, we are able to deliver relatively “affordable luxury”. We also hope to have added a wider range to our furniture collection.
What do upcoming female entrepreneurs need to do to be successful in this path?
Firstly, be informed– try to keep up with the trends in your industry and never stop learning and developing yourself). Secondly, be patient – use your mistakes as learning experiences. Thirdly, never compromise on your standards and quality even though it might take a while for you to make tangible profit, delivering quality will make you stand out and eventually successful. Understand your numbers and be able to differentiate what project will be profitably or not. Finally, pray for God’s favor.
The LLA Lady Boss Series is a weekly interview series that highlights the achievements and entrepreneurial journeys of African female entrepreneurs. The idea is to showcase the Leading Ladies who are transforming Africa and the African narrative through enterprise and business.
It is an off-shoot of Leading Ladies Africa, a non-profit that promotes leadership, inclusion and diversity for women of African descent.
If you know any kick-ass women of African Descent doing phenomenal things in enterprise, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and she could possibly be featured.