Ogochukwu Agu is the Chief Executive Officer of Beddings ‘n’ Beyond, a business outfit that specialises in the design of bedroom fabrics and accessories. In this interview with CONNECTNIGERIA, she shares her experiences on the journey so far. Excerpts
Tell us a bit about your background
I grew up in the university town of Nsukka where I had my primary education. I did my undergraduate studies at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka where I graduated in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy. Currently, I am the creative director of my brand, Beddings ‘n’ Beyond. Beddings ‘n’ Beyond is a retail design company that offers the finest in bedding, home accessories and furnishings. We started in 2009 with the aim of creating affordable, quality and delightful homely products. My brand believes in top quality standard furnishing that aims at satisfying customers’ quest for homely comfort and beauty.
What is the story behind Beddings ‘n’ Beyond? What inspired you to set up the business?
Two words; Fabulous bedding. The bedroom, with special reference to bedding, serves as a retreat, our sanctuary, for when we ache or we need to be rejuvenated. People should have access to good quality, affordable, stylish bedding regardless of where they are, which is one of the major reasons we launched the web store.
Beddings ‘n’ Beyond takes pride in every thread count, the colour fastness of its fabrics, nil shrinkage and durability of every piece you purchase. The business, however, has since evolved, going beyond bedding to include top quality furnishings for the entire home and office space. Servicing both private, corporate and the hospitality industry with major hotels as clientele, Beddings ‘n’ Beyond also offers advice on interior design & decorations, soft furnishings combined with scenic revamps.
How did you raise capital for the business?
Like most SMEs, Beddings ‘n’ Beyond started with funds from my own pocket. My start-up capital was well below N20,000. It’s truly inspirational how far the brand has come from that initial N20,000 with little external influence, financially.
It does mean that sometimes you ponder at your finances: Where are all these monies being realized from the business? Then it hits you; they are spent growing the brand! Every kobo made is ploughed right back into the business. It takes a while but when you start reaping, it is major. In all though, God has been faithful! It’s always been Him!
What challenges did you face in starting up your business?
One of my initial challenges in the business was finding the right hands, tailors and handymen alike, who are reasonably committed to the vision I have for the brand and creative enough to bring the vision to life. When I first started out, I had this tailor who made me scream out one too many times in frustration! Late deliveries, mismatched threading, uneven tailoring, zero creativity; the list was beyond long! Thankfully, we’ve been able to conquer that. There’s obviously room for improvement but ultimately, we are on the right path.
You just unveiled a new e-commerce site. What should new and existing customers expect?
With this launch, the Beddings ‘n’ Beyond customer will be able to personalize his/her shopping experience with user login, view products online, place a direct order and check out, live-chat if any assistance is required during a shopping experience.
Also adapted for mobile phones, the understandably busy young executive, the working mom, the newly-wed couple, the average citizen can easily visit the web store from his/her phone and access gorgeousness on the go. Delivered to your doorstep, of course.
Who are your role models or mentors?
On a personal level, my husband would be the most influential person in my life. I always ask his opinion and even though I end up not implementing most of his views, which really irks him, it feels good bouncing ideas off him. He is amazingly supportive. I feel truly blessed.
I cannot say this enough, Funke Bucknor-Obruthe of Zapphire Events inspires me a great deal business-wise; her passion, her unwavering belief in her brand, her can-do spirit. I would be really stoked if I get to walk a day in her heels!
What song motivates you?
by Lara George. This song is a delightful reminder of what is important, which is giving thanks. It doesn’t just push me to do better for God’s sake; it transports me to a place of thanksgiving. Often, we get wrapped up in achieving our dreams and set goals that we sometimes miss the opportunities to just pause and say Thank You, for life, for specks of dreams come true, for goals achieved. Without God, we really do labour in vain.
What are your favourite quotes?
I love most of Helen Keller’s quotes. However, these two particularly resonate with me, especially with where my head space is at the moment. Truly inspirational.
“When one door closes, another opens; but often we look so long so regretfully upon the closed door that we fail to see the one that has opened for us.”
“We would never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world.”
Thank you so much, Connect Nigeria, for having me here today. Bless.
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This article was first published on 20th August 2013 and updated on January 30th, 2017 at 2:03 pm