Christina Ty Adegbaju 28, is a Lagos based events planner with a difference. She is CEO of “Typearls Events N Craft” an events/venue management and consulting company. She plans and organizes everything from weddings to funerals.
She is also a self-taught craftswoman producing handbags, shoes, Jewellery and assorted beauty products mostly with homemade fabrics but adds she sometimes has to import material she uses depending on her clients taste.
Her clients include high ranking people in Nigeria and organisations. She has travelled as far as the USA in pursuit of her trade.
She worked as an aviation and safety engineer and a banking officer but for the last two years, joined the fashion/beauty and events industry and currently making waves.
She blames university graduates who leave school and think they can sit back and have ready-made jobs come to them. Francis Ngwa Niba has been talking to Miss Christina Adegbaju.
Q You plan and co-ordinate social events, what does that entail?
I help in the planning and event co-ordination of most events I handle, sometimes, I just provide one feature of a given event like say catering. Events have to do with a lot of things, including food and drink, decoration, catering. A successful event has to do with a great ambience and quality food and drinks. Most times, I get requests to handle the whole event from decoration, entertainment, providing hostesses, souvenirs to catering.
Sometimes, I am hired to provide just the make up and accessories for the bride and groom during a wedding ceremony. Some people don’t want any stress especially with organizing big events, they just want a professional to handle the necessary details.That is where I come in.
Some of Christina Adegbaju Handcrafts
Q What does it take to be a good events manager?
To be a good events manager, you need to be reliable. You need to be sincere with your clients. Your clients need to trust you and know you will provide a good service. They know with you handling things, nothing will go wrong. They know you can do more than what you actually offer. You can’t go to your clients on the last day and start complaining you can’t do one thing or another or you need more money to provide a service, clients don’t like all that. You must be able to communicate with your clients well, they should be no gaps in communication and that is very important. You must be patient and give clients just what they need and asked for. You also need to re-train and be up to- date always so you know exactly what to do and to keep updated with changing modes. I always tell people who want to join the business that they must learn from those already in the business, you gain a lot from their experience and challenges. You must be organized and focused because that is the only way to provide a good service. You can then take control of other peoples’ events
Q Events management is all about business management then, where did you pick up your business skills considering that you were trained as an aviation engineer?
Well, I am an engineer graduate but I have done some managerial courses. I did a course with the Nigerian institute of management and did economics and business administration in school. I have a qualification in proficiency in management. In events management, you need some business and entrepreneurial skills because you meet all types of challenges on the field. Business skills are therefore very helpful. When you train with an experienced events planner, they give you some of these skills. I teach people how to start and run their own businesses and that is the only way you can survive in this business
Q How does an average day looks like?
When I get up in the morning, I begin by praying to God to make sure nothing bad happens or goes wrong. I then look at my schedule. If I have an event, I need to get there as early as possible to make sure I don’t miss anything and can handle any difficulties that might arise. If I don’t have anything doing on a particular day, I prepare and check if I need to go to the market or do other things. There are days when I am less busy and those are the days I concentrate on my craft making. I hand produce jewellery, bags and some days I make shoes. I am therefore always busy doing one thing or another but when I have events, I am usually away most of the day and only come back late at night, eat something and crash for the day. It’s a busy life.
Q Where did you learn to produce handicrafts?
Some I learnt from others I have worked with, some I picked up when I was growing up. Some of my hand craft I picked from the internet. Home economics lessons in secondary school were also very useful. If I need a particular skill, I go and learn from people who are experienced. Handicraft has a lot to do with creativity and inspiration. As you keep doing it, you get inspired and get more experienced.
Q Talk a bit about the things you create with your hands, what type of materials do you usually use?
Let’s take for instance, bags and purses, there is a craze going on in Nigeria now where people want to use locally sourced material or fabric so we source local material like Kente, ankara, adire and leather for the fashion accessories. Most of our material is local but sometimes we import material from abroad depending on the quality that clients want. We import materials like crystals, beads, and precious stones we use in producing jewelry. We try as much as possible to use anything that we can source locally. For earrings, bangles, we use material from Nigeria.
Q Do you have a workshop or you mostly operate from the comfort of your bedroom?
I mostly operate from the comfort of my bedroom. As soon as I get an idea or an inspiration comes in,I get up and start scribbling them down on paper,I just start designing before I forget. I also have a workshop where I train others to do some of the things I do. I usually have to take things to the workshop to finish what i began at home. So I work at home and in a workshop.
More designs by Christina Adebadju
Q How big is the team with which you work?
I have a permanent team staff of 5, I have trainees who come in and leave to set up their own business and I have people who are contract staff, who I call on when necessary.
Q You are a university graduate who did not wait for a job and just went out and did something for yourself. What is it about you that makes you different from the thousands of graduates who leave the university each year and keep searching for jobs they sometimes never get?
Maybe it is because I am ambitious and always felt that I must take charge of my own destiny. I always thought I should be the one to control what happens to me. If jobs are not coming, I have to go out and look for them myself. I need to be self-reliant. I go out, get jobs and help others to get jobs too. I need to be self-employed. Most of the things i do are a passion and if you can get a business out of your passion, that is fine. I don’t believe in staying back home and doing nothing as the best thing to do after graduating from the University. Most of the people who succeed in life are people who are doing their own thing or self-employed. They refused to allow the government to control what happens to them.
Q So what will you tell those graduates out there across Africa who are doing nothing? If you have them in one room, what will you tell them to do?
I will tell them I can train them to be self-employed. They must learn to survive on their own. It is not the number of degrees you have but the way you impact society that matters. I tell them they should not sit back in the house and do nothing. I don’t train people to take their skills and go and remain at home. They must go out and use them. I train people to become entrepreneurs and they must have interest in a business to make it grow. I tell them you don’t have jobs out there waiting for you. You have to go out and take the bulls by the horns, you need to create something that will help you and your family.
Q What is the best and most memorable event you have organized and what did it take to organize that?
All the events I organize are memorable
Q I know but there is one that made a big impact on you
Ok, that was when I organize the funeral for a renowned personality, I won’t be mentioning names, What made the event memorable was that I went beyond what I was expected to do because I was dealing with people who knew exactly what they wanted. I was given total control and cooperation and everything went well. Some clients who want you to manage an event for them don’t know what they want and keep changing their minds. The funeral was really not a sad event; he died at an old age which is considered good in Nigeria. He needed a befitting burial. The event organizer needs to create the necessary ambience atmosphere, do the necessary decoration and provide food and drinks that will satisfy guests. We believe that when a man dies above 80, he needs a befitting burial and that is exactly how we organized the chief’s funeral.
Q And what was the worst event you organized?
Oh, that was a recent occasion I organized, a wedding. The client was not honest from the beginning. They told me they expected 100 people but at the end of the day, more than 300 people turned up and they expected me to take care of that which is not easy. I also did more than I was paid to do. The event went well because as an event planner, you need to be prepared for any unexpected things happening. It is always helpful when a client is honest with an event’s organizer.
Q You probably will not be telling me whose wedding that was?
Of course I can’t
Q What advice do you have for other young ladies who might want to be event organizers like you?
The most important thing is that they must have a passion for it. Without passion, you cannot succeed. Event planning is a career and you must take it at such. You need to be sincere too because it is a job that deals with a lot of referrals because people who like what you did will refer you to others. I did just one job for a certain lady and she has referred more than a dozen other people to me. She keeps recommending me to others because she trusted me and the work I did for her. Always try to challenge yourself and always exceed what your clienst expect from you
Q What will be the ideal event you will like to organize?
Most times because of sentiments, some people want to control everything an events organizer does for them. They want to keep giving you all types of ideas forgetting you really know what you need to do. There should be little interference from clients after they have outlined what they want for their event. Advice from the client is always welcome but let the planner do their job with your support. A client needs to be honest about their budget. Don’t give event planner money to feed one hundred people and a thousand turn up. Clients should be clear about what they want and not keep changing their minds every time.
Q Because we are all Africans, you can’t really say you invite 100 people and just that number turns up. There will always be gate crashers
Gate crashing is not a big problem as you think. As an event planner, you need to be prepared. When someone tells you they expect 500 people, prepare for 800 because that is how things work in Africa. if a client hires a venue that sits 300 people and tells you he is expecting 50 people, you should know something is not right. Why will a client hire a venue for 500 people and tell you he is expecting only 50? The events planner needs to be smart enough to know more people will turn up and plan accordingly.
Our wish is always that clients are honest but we know they sometimes don’t tell us exatly how many people they are expecting because they don’t want to spend a lot of money. The events manager then plans accordingly to avoid any friction with their client.
Q I presume you are not married, and the most memorable occasion you will want to organize will be your marriage, will you plan that yourself or give that out to some other events planner?
I will just wait till that time. I have many people in the same business waiting for that. I don’t want anything to stress me out during my wedding and if giving that out to someone else to manage will be the best thing that is what I will do.