Parvenu Media Services is an Ibadan-based SME that is making waves in the personal and corporate branding business in Nigeria. The man behind this fast-growing venture, Wale Adebiyi, a journalist turned branding specialist has been running the business for about a decade. In this interview with FELIX OLOYEDE, he narrates how Parvenu Media Services has been successfully navigating the challenging business environment and increased its clientele base. Excerpts:
You trained as a broadcast journalist. How did you delve into branding and garment making?
I did not find myself where I am today by accident. I have been a lover of designs from childhood. As a primary school student, I turned most of my exercise books to comic books. So, I have been a lover of arts from inception. I dumped sciences to study Mass Communication to horn my communication skills as well as to be grounded in the art of advertising and public relations. These skills I will say have helped me greatly in the business of branding, which I find myself today. My love is for Journalism, but I am passionate about branding.
What stands your brand out from your competitors?
Without mincing words, my knowledge of Advertising and Public Relations has helped greatly in the area of setting the business on a good pedestal to stand out in the very competitive business of Branding. Our ability to employ best practices and prompt delivery of jobs has also been of great help.
It is important to point out that branding is an aspect of communication and marketing. So, I must confess that I find myself in a terrain I understand too well.
How do you compare branding in Ibadan with Lagos?
This is a big question. Lagos is where the action is. Doing branding is Lagos is massive, because there are many companies in Lagos and most especially, it is worthy to note that most multinationals have their bases in Lagos. Doing business here in Ibadan has a lot of limitations, because government here is really sleeping and the mentality of our people too is not really helping in the growth of business.
However, in the midst of all the limitations the internet is really helping. With the many social media channels, we are able to explore the markets in Nigeria and abroad. We get briefs and orders from different parts of the country and some parts of Europe and America. Although we have our business in Ibadan but we operate globally. That’s the beauty of the social media.
You once published a brand magazine, how did it start and what happened along the way?
I am always driven by passion to succeed and the love for journalism prompted me to go into publishing a Brand and Marketing journal. It started well, but we were unable to break even with sales, so we had to rest the publication and about five editions. I will say the bad reading culture of our people contributed to the failure of the journal. Starting a newspaper or journal in Nigeria is very difficult, because of so many challenges like distribution and getting money from agents after sales. We started printing with The African Newspaper of Nigeria publishers of Tribune titles and we also used their distribution channel, but due to “Nigerian factor” we could not sustain the business, so I decided to rest it and face branding fully. I still hope to revive the printing arm of our business as time goes on.
How do you source your raw materials?
Sourcing for raw materials remains a major impediment to the business, because demand remains higher than supply, especially now that government has placed a ban on some products. Before now, we sourced raw material from home and abroad and it was a bit easy to get jobs done but now materials are sourced principally from local markets. Now, it is more difficult to satisfy our clients because we don’t really get the variety of materials that we require. This development has made profit margins slump. I think the situation will get better if investors are encouraged to go into the production of textiles and other materials.
How has the devaluation of the naira affected your business?
Just like every other industry, it has impacted negatively on the business. Our purchasing power has reduced drastically and you know inflation rate it high. I expect government to come up with policies that will immune small businesses against the harsh effects of the present economy.
What was it like raising your initial capital?
Raising capital for business in Nigeria is really tough. I would say it was not easy at all. I started out with the little savings from my one year youth service allowance. I was lucky to have been posted to Cross River State, because I was able to save a reasonable amount of money. I used the one year to prepare a manual, which I also sold online after my youth service. All these added up to my seed money.
But it is interesting to say that I lost most of the money doing business. I had to go back to my drawing board to devise a strategy that worked for me greatly. I started raising money consulting for clients and I used this money to invest in equipment, which formed the basis of what we have today. Now, we can boast of a well equipped garment factory and an up-to-date branding outfit. We handle all the jobs in-house because of all these equipment.
Have you approached a bank for a loan facility and what was the experience like?
Yes we have, we have done that to shore up capital for expansion. When the present administration came in, most of the policies they introduced affected our business negatively and we lost a lot of cash. The need for expansion to meet the demands, the policies created prompted us to approach Micro-finance bank for funds. Fortunately, the Micro-finance Bank believed in our business and came up to the rescue. We were able to pay up the loan within the stipulated six months stipulated by the bank.
What is your expansion plan?
Having operated in this industry for close to ten years, we see a lot of prospects in the business. Our expansion plan is massive, because we intend going into production of casual urban wear for local and African markets. If you are a close follower of business in Africa you will see that demands for Nigerian products is increasing by the day, so, we wish to fill the need and make appreciable growth in our business.
Where do you see your business in the next 5-10 years?
That’s a million dollar question. In the next 5 to 10 years we hope to be a number one brand in the country. We are sure that we will make appreciable growth to be a major employer of labour in Nigeria.
Was there any time you searched for a white collar job?
The funniest part of that is that I have never written a CV in my life. I could remember telling my friends in school that I would never look for a paid job. So, I can’t remember contemplating looking for a white collar job.
What does it take to go into branding and garment making?
Before going into the business of branding or garment making you must first have or develop a passion for the job. If you love what you do, you will never get tired of doing it even if money is not coming in. So it takes passion, hardwork, consistency and above all God.