She is fondly called ‘Sijuola onileke’ (Sijuola, the beaded one). The story of this young woman – a former banker, now a business owner and employer of labor, will inspire you to be more and to do more.
We feature another example of the Nigerian youth, who have taken the courageous and high path of gainful self-employment, as against lobbying with scores of others for the limited, (and in many cases un-fulfilling) corporate jobs.
Here comes Sijuola! Her craftsmanship speaks for itself and her work speaks volumes. As in, prepare to be Wow’d!
We’d love to meet you
My name is Sijuola Iyabo Olafusi, I am a graduate of Economics from the University of Ilorin, Kwara State. I am a mother, wife and an entrepreneur.
Give a brief introduction of your business endeavour?
Sijuolabeads & Add-ons deals majorly in beaded jewelries, accessories and embellishments. We are into designing of accessories that add value to a woman’s fashion looks, things like necklaces, bracelets, clutch purses, bags, slippers, brooch, and hair accessories. We also make place-mats, bead flowers, table-mats, curtains and corporate insignia.
One of the major concepts behind Sijuolabeads and Add-ons was to break away from the norm because I realized that most people had this mindset that beaded accessories are mainly for traditional occasions. So I decided to make different types of beads that will be befitting for all kinds of occasions and styles of dressing, be it corporate wears, casual wears, smart casuals, or traditional attire.
We also empower youths and women through our basic and advanced training programs on bead making which gives them the opportunity to be business owners; and to pursue their passion for entrepreneurship with proper guidance and tutelage by us.
Do u see yourself as a creative individual and at what point did this happen?
Yes, I see myself as a creative person. Right from when I was a child, I loved to arrange things in beautiful patterns and adorn our sitting room with beautiful pieces. I generally just love to give the house a fresh look always. Thinking back now, I guess the introduction of knitting and sewing taught in my primary school Home Economics class greatly fueled my passion for beading and other creative works that I do today.
I didn’t get any special training on bead making and still haven’t. I just find myself creating and designing accessories with beads as the idea comes to my mind. Many times, I even buy beads materials & accessories that I don’t need for any immediate project, just because they fascinate me. I know an opportunity to use them will arise sooner or later. No bead or accessory is ever a waste!
What sources(s) do you draw your inspiration from?
First and foremost, I get inspiration from the Almighty God. I also get inspired through my husband, colors, my environment and the internet.
Describe your journey so far?
I started out in 2007 after I concluded my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) program and I was yet to be gainfully employed.
Interestingly, my first contact with beads was fortuitous through a sister friend that was involved in an accident around that time. She learnt about beading while recuperating in the hospital and as fate would have it, she would ask me to assist her with the beading anytime I go visiting. I used to oblige her reluctantly as I had no interest in it back then. It just so happened that since I had to visit her almost every day to assist in whatever she needs (which includes buying of bead materials), I gradually developed an interest in making beaded jewelry. Thereafter, I did a lot of research on the internet about beads and studied various beading techniques to develop myself.
Sijuolabeads & Add-ons started as a side venture in 2010 and it provided extra income for me as I would at my leisure; make beaded jewelry and accessories for my colleagues in the bank and friends. I also made insignia for various organisations.
I also got a lot of orders after people saw my wedding beads and accesories. My husband advised me to brand my products and the name ‘Sijuolabeads & Add-ons’ came to be.
Did you get discouraged at any point?
Yeah, I did get discouraged a number of times when people price down my products, mostly because they know me personally.
At the point that I decided to become self-employed, I was very scared to resign because of the uncertainties, not to mention the fact that there is a lot of competition in the beading business.
What made you stick with it?
The uniqueness of my products made me stand out with lots of positive feedback from my customers and divine directions from God and those who believed in me.
My work has been well appreciated because it is different from the usual beaded accessories that are readily available in the market.
Where do you plan to take this to?
Haaaa! Of course, the sky is the limit. God has really favored me and I now understand fully what the bible passage means when it says, ‘…the gift of a man maketh room for him.’ Sijuolabeads & Add-ons is going to high places with the uniqueness and quality finishing of our products.
We intend to organize workshop/seminars for students to prepare them for the future; teach them that they do not need to look for ‘white collar’ jobs before they make it in life, and that they can earn a reasonable income through skill acquisition.
What habits of yours would you say contribute to your creative output?
Oh! I love to re-arrange things over and over again with the intent to create a new model and I also love paying attention to details. Hmmn, I guess these have spurred the creativity in my beading career.
How do you see the level of creativity and innovation in our society?
We are trying a lot in Nigeria but need to acquire more knowledge. As you know, innovation is born out of necessity, therefore for us to increase the level of creativity in our society, we have to be proactive and think outside the box.
Do you have a mentor or people whose work you respect?
I don’t have a mentor per se but I respect the work of several craftsmen on the internet, most especially, my Facebook friend Biseok in Ukraine.
How would you encourage aspiring creative business owners?
They should remain focused, be determined to succeed and above all, they should strive to learn as much as possible on any craft that they are passion about because knowledge is indeed power. Thereafter, they should create a plan and follow-through on how they intend to carve out a niche for themselves in their chosen endeavor.
Sijuola looks forward to your feedback, questions and of course, patronage.
She can be reached on these numbers – 08056405970, 08133023655, 09092395542. Email her on firstname.lastname@example.org or BBM Pin 741F9D9B
Go a step further and visit her workshop at – No. 66, Mafoluku Road, Off M’Muhammed Int’l Airport Road, Mafoluku Oshodi, Lagos.
I love to re-arrange things over and over again with the intent to create a new model – Sijuola