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I Sell Lifestyle, Status, Fun, and Inspiration… Not Just Notebooks!

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BE'ZEL ARTS STUDIO

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Azukaego Freda Chukwuma is a young artist and entrepreneur. She's a graduate of Fine Arts from Ahmadu Bello University - Zaria, and the younger of two girls in a family .She registered her company in June 2007, but business started in earnest for her in 2008, then she solely supplied works of art to New Metro Bookstores as her major initial client. Azuka says, beyond aesthetics, she supplies value and functional works of arts.

Aside from her paintings which bring in quite good inflows from exhibitions, she now drives in her orders chiefly from book supplies, custom-made diaries, and other corporate gift orders. She however affirms that beyond notebooks, she adds glamour to her designs to sell lifestyle, status, taste, fun and inspiration.

Being a Goldman Sachs scholar, she points out that the 10,000 Women Initiative by the World's largest Investment Bank (Goldman Sachs) in conjunction with Enterprise Development Services of Pan African University to train Women Entrepreneurs has opened her to the business side of running an arts studio much more effectively.

FINDING THE MAP

From the very moment she was seated in the hot seat with a host of stern looking panelists who'd shortlist her as a Goldman Sachs Scholar; her cross examination didn't go down well as she was chided to get herself together in her business presentations -  being the youngest of all the women entrepreneurs present for the screening.

With an open mind ready to be moulded, she closed a deal with her very first client in the interview session - one of the stern looking panelists ordered 600 books right away! She'd found the compass to network a lot more clients from there.

What a good start it was for a programme in Entrepreneurial Management, she said.

GETTING ALONG

As capital threatened and amidst the global credit crunch, Azuka says if she were to start over again; she'd save tonnes of money prior to starting her business in earnest. Her entire mistakes as an entrepreneur, she says she'd have loved to conduct research in the background. But now being enlightened, the place of market research and development of new products would be of utmost importance before jumping the gun in her productions.

She has figured out that, to overcome the ever-threatening capital issue; she needs to focus on driving up her volume sales in books, diaries, and corporate gift orders to about 1500 to 2000 books per month; as well as her entire supply chain altogether.

THE CHECKS

Sacrificing everything from money (ploughing back her little earnings back into the business); to her time; her social disposition (as she says she doesn't even party nor take a fun-tour); she had to shelve a one-man workaholic approach to building her human resource to help meet up demand in time - with finishers only as helpers.

She attributes her successes so far in business to these tenets:

1.     Integrity (not compromising standards and quality)

2.     Discipline (brings you in sync with the right people)

3.     Skills (as it matters to art and business)

4.     Passion (enjoy the fun in your work)

With all these, the place of mentoring she says cannot be over-emphasised as well; as errors committed by others can be avoided. She found her mentors in business, in arts and in human resources management amongst others from a ready source of inspiring facilitators during her Certificate in Entrepreneurial Management as a Goldman Sachs Scholar.

CONCLUSION

With a plan to move out of home soon (as she runs her studio from a corridor in the house); she reiterates that the Goldman Sachs programme has equipped her for the journey ahead as an entrepreneurial tigress with a bull's eye focus, direction, and a good strategic structure on which the business will be further built!

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