Lara Rawa is a master bartender and a certified mixologist. In this interview, she shed more light on her life as an entrepreneur in the lifestyle industry
By Ayandola Ayanleke
Lara’s journey started 9 years ago as a young Nigerian without a job or any offers coming through.
“I decided to put my event management skills to use. In the course of planning events, I realized I could actually carve a niche for myself in mixology. So I swung into action, employed a bartender and much later, went to school in Europe to acquire the necessary skill and replicate knowledge.”
She started Eventi Cocktails as a cocktail design and consultancy company who creates bespoke cocktail experiences.
“The company will be 10 years in October 2019. We have been privileged to work with individual and international spirit brands like Diageo, Brian Munro, amongst others.”
With nightlife becoming more saturated, Lara explains what sets her apart from other cocktailers in the industry.
“For me, it is the ability to personalize my brand. I am the face of my brand. Every event has my personality infused with the experience. I have been able to achieve this by working closely with major spirit/drink brands in creating bespoke cocktail experiences and also, bridging the gap between the brands and their consumers.”
The mixologist has since expanded her business and inspired a few innovations in her industry. The Lagos Cocktail Week is one of such ideas.
“It is a 5-day fiesta celebrating the very best of the Nigerian cocktail scene. It is the place where cocktail enthusiasts and international drink brands come together in a fun, vibrant atmosphere. It is an initiative which serves as a platform for the celebration and promotion of the cocktail culture in Nigeria, through seminar, training, and events.”
“It was inspired by London cocktail week. I attended as a volunteer in 2013 and realized that we need the same platform here in Nigeria.”
The greatest challenge, she admitted to facing, is manpower. “It is quite difficult to find staff who buy into the vision of the business and who are willing to make sacrifices. It just seems like people like that are not ‘made’ anymore. Everyone wants to be an entrepreneur.”
When asked about something she knows now that she wishes she knew when she started, she says, “I wish I knew more about putting effective structures in my business when I started. I would have been a lot less stressed. Also, I wish I knew to work smarter and not harder. Working smart is an essential key to surviving as an entrepreneur.”
She was also kind enough to drop a piece of advice for a budding entrepreneur in the industry. “The hospitality and lifestyle industry is one of the most rewarding industries in which you can explore your entrepreneurial skills. However, it is also a very challenging industry. To be successful, you must build a brand. This is more than a logo. You need to be memorable; you must stand out from the crowd. Coupled with your passion, resilience, and dedication, the rewards will outweigh the challenges.”
Lara is also concerned about the rate of unemployement and youth empowerment. When asked about what she does to contribute to the growth of the Nigerian youth, she said:
“Generally, the creation of employment opportunities for the youth is unavoidably a global problem that must be solved. We can all play a part in solving this problem through employment or empowerment. Last week, I was invited by the Enterprise Development Centre at the Pan Atlantic University to speak at the Youth Entrepreneurship Dialogue. This platform was very effective. The rate of unemployment shared was alarming. Therefore, because we need to encourage them to also think out of the box, I am willing to mentor them and guide them through their entrepreneurial journey. Therefore, what I will be giving off as “The Spark” is committed time to mentor the youth who are interested in my line of business and also sharing my experience with them by speaking at various platforms.”