Welcome to the “Minding My Business” feature where we give you insight into some of the brightest female minds today in business. The aim of this feature is to get you inspired, excited and educated about the business journey, thanks to our amazing features.
Now, let’s dive into Feature 1 with the powerhouse behind the taeillo brand – Jumoke Dada.
Jumoke Dada – Founder, taeillo
When we see your brand name, the first picture that comes to mind is that of the Amakisi Table. It went viral with your price point and strategy – even I got one. How did you know that was going to work?
Honestly, launching the Amakisi table was just another product launch. We did not know it was going to work or make great sales. Although the launch happened around the COVID 19 lockdown and as you know, a lot of people had to work from home during this time so I think it was a sheer case of ‘right product, right time’ as it met the needs of people at that time.
Setting up a brand that relies heavily on manpower in Lagos can’t be easy – especially with how unreliable some artisans have proven to be. How do you manage your workforce?
Best believe I understand and can relate to these constraints. However, for us at taeillo; when it comes to hiring and engaging semiskilled workers/artisans, we lay emphasis on how they are an integral part of the core process and a bigger vision – a vision to bring happiness into as many homes as we can. With this, it becomes apparent to them that to a large extent, the progress or regress of the business relies on their effort and output.
Also, we adopted a reward system that encourages them to perform at their optimum. The system is structured such that they get paid per item they produce. They know that if they work harder, they get paid more. This has really proven to be effective because they deliver on their jobs and go as far as referring their friends to apply for jobs with us.
It is one thing to decide to start a business, it is another to actually start the leg work. What has kept you waking up every morning to get work done?
I will say the vision keeps me motivated. Each time I envision the future of taeillo, I am happy to be a part of the journey. When I wake up every morning, I look forward to seeing taeillo become a successful global brand out of Africa. Actually, being the IKEA of Africa is the goal. I know nothing good comes easy and I am ready to put in the work which I believe requires a lot of diligence and tenacity.
As much as we would like to imagine the world now smiles more on women occupying job roles typically occupied by men, it doesn’t. Have you encountered any gender bias so far? If yes, how have you handled it?
Gender stereotype is an inherently global issue that I believe is on the brink of change. The change-makers are here lol. Time and time again success in work and business is predominantly attributed to men.
For me, I think I was lucky to have grown up in a home where my father instilled a ‘can-do mindset’ in us. His philosophy was that we can become whatever we envisage, as long as we are willing to put in the work. Over the years, I have managed my life based on this principle. Growing up as a young girl, I did some house chores that were untypical of a girl. Let me share some – I have had to enter into the ceiling to fix a leakage without a ladder, I washed my Dad’s car every morning, and I fixed menial electrical issues around the house to mention a few. Because, in my father’s words, “You do not have to wait for people to get things done for you” this mantra made me believe in myself from a very young age.
However, on getting into the real world, I saw the evident bias the society had against women but my reaction to this had always been, judge me by my work and output before you talk about my gender.
A lot of people get stuck in thinking growing a business just takes planning and hoping to achieve – and end up not doing the actual work it really takes. What would you say to these people?
I feel like a lot of people think running a business is glamorous but the truth is that running a business requires lots of sacrifices. You may need to sacrifice your lifestyle, your time, and a lot of things that people will ordinarily see as a cool way of life. Literally, you have to be willing to give up so much and I say this contextually. The level of sacrifice you are willing to make will be dependent on the enormity of your vision. Moreso, I have come to the realization that our attitude to work in this clime can be sometimes lethargic.
Having said that, as a business owner, until you find “a staff” and I mean that figuratively – I refer to employees who are reliable and dependable; your active involvement in the business is key to sustenance and vision actualization. If you stray away for a moment, you might wake up and find out that you do not even have a business anymore. Get involved.
Was taeillo self-funded or did you have to find investors, or take loans?
When we started out, our funding model was ploughing back profit. The first furniture that we produced was funded by the first customer. The customer made a deposit, we produced the furniture and once the balance payment was made, I reinvested the profit into making other pieces. Subsequently, I took loans from friends to keep the business running until we had our first investment from a seed round, raised back in 2019.
Watch Jumoke’s feature on CNN’s Inside Africa
View this post on Instagram
Let’s talk Social Media – I can honestly say I can spot a taeillo photo anywhere. Plus, your brand uses a great mix of branded images, influencer content and user-generated content. How does one come up with a winning social media strategy?
I wouldn’t say we had a planned social media strategy when we started out. The brand literally worked out its own strategy based on its affinity amongst the target audience. We have grown a community of people that loved the brand and I think this love emanated from a place of positioning and brand value. This set of people is always happy to associate with taeillo so they naturally refer their folks and create user-generated content when they purchase a piece.
When you run into other women in business, in and around interior design & furniture making, what is the one thing you discover you have in common?
I am not a socialite, I am not outgoing, so I rarely get to meet these people. However, based on the descriptions I have garnered from employees and friends, I realized that I have a couple of things in common with women in business. I get to hear things like “they are very passionate and goal driven“. I recall meeting a woman like that during my internship, she was disciplined and structured – she was quite keen on having people follow systems and processes. These women are visionaries, they are hardworking, tenacious and goal-oriented, give them their accolades. lol
Knowing all that you do now and going through all that you have, would you have started taeillo in 2018?
I don’t think so. I probably would have done something else. What would I be doing if I didn’t start it? I cannot really say but I don’t think I would have started a business. Well, maybe I will be working in one of the coolest places as a creative designer. Although, there is a Yoruba adage that says “you do not get into the stream and start complaining about having a chill”. The reality is that I have started this and I cannot afford to fail or back out now. taeillo has come to stay and the brand will continue to impact lives positively across all spectrums of our stakeholder universe.
Amazing words of advice and key insight we hope you have enjoyed reading.
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Photo Credit: taeillo