Beautiful spaces. Happy Memories. Qualified Professionals
When there’s an effect, there’s definitely a cause – not arguable. So, when we asked Morenike Molehin what inspired her charge into the interior design industry, we knew there had to be something we didn’t know. She describes the question as an interesting one saying, “My mum was my inspiration. I grew up in a very beautiful space. At that time, I thought it was normal to live in beautiful spaces until I got married and beautified our space. People will come around and ask ‘okay, who did your space?’ I didn’t know that as I was growing up, seeds of beautiful spaces were already sown into me.”
Therefore, moving from a 9-5 job was a natural thing for her – she already had the ideas. “I started doing it on the side and…the rest is history.”
This is something you always want to hear from companies who have braved the storm. I mean, you ask: how did you do it? Morenike says Oak and Teak grew organically – no investor funding or partnerships. This growth, she says, was enabled by a strict adherence to avoiding waste of financial resources, like getting an office when it was really needed.
To back this up, the interior design enthusiast, and now expert/entrepreneur, says the company is focusing on expansion. “We are going into construction and collaborating with brands in that industry. This means that in another five years, we are going to have a construction arm of the company. We are also looking into real estate.”
The idea is to be “one of the top three interior design companies in Africa. Honestly, I love the way we are growing.”
Selling The Nigerian Story
This is tricky, especially for the interior design industry, but Morenike says collaborations with local manufacturers and artisans helps to tell the world that something good can actually come out of Nigeria – no brooding when negative stories need to be retold and no strict preference for ‘Made in China’.
Naming And Branding
Did you know trees symbolised abstract qualities? Guess you didn’t. We hardly knew too. With excitement that she’s telling us something relatively new, she says, “Oak stands for stability, endurance, success; it is a beautiful tree and the national tree for many countries in the world. So, because we knew we were going to serve the world we picked that. The Teak tree also stands for endurance. Sustainability, success, endurance is a big deal for us. This adds to the fact that my best colour is brown and I love trees.”
It only gets interesting at this point.
These days, you cannot make it if you cannot take it by the horn. You need to do it differently. You need to be intentional with what you are giving out. For Oak and Teak, ‘excellence is the driver’. Morenike says, “You can only distinguish yourself in this industry with the level of attention you pay to details. The other thing that makes us unique is customer service – we try to manage every situation. We have done over 80 projects and recorded a 95% success rate in all of them.”
Without doubt, the design process at Oak and Teak is simple and smooth.
You can only get better with challenges. Learn from them. Move on to a higher ground. We don’t know if Oak and Teak has other challenges it battles every other day, but Morenike tells us unusual ineffective communication and unskilled labourers have being her greatest challenges.
“I, sometimes, joke with my team, telling them that I can’t wait till the time when we work with only robots. Because we presently work with people that have different temperaments, ideologies, so communicating ideas to them is usually tasking. If anything is going to go wrong, it comes from the artisans or lack of effective communication. Once communication is on point, we hardly have challenges, really.”
“Interestingly, we organise an annual program for interior designers that have started or are about to start and want to scale. This has run for three years and it is free; hosting over 200 participants.”
Most Exciting Project
When you have run over 80 projects, you might have lost track of which one ended excitingly. What’s the yardstick for quantifying? It’s not as easy as saying my best day at the University was when I escaped graduating with a pass. Well, for the Creative Director of Oak and Teak, it is “our first job. Months after we started, I was just studying and garnering ideas. Then we got a client that asked us to do one bedroom but the client’s daughter asked us to do the entire house – from a brief of one master bedroom to a whole house. I got to know too that I was pregnant and so, all of those emotions came together to something I would never forget.”
“Understanding what you want to do is ultimate – more important than money. When we first started, we had challenges getting customers but we kept at it. There are some businesses where you get your customers right on the first day but this is different. Also, when you start, be consistent.”
Omoleye is a Content Developer, Editor/Strategist, research writer, journalist and social media manager