Personality Focus: Funmilayo Ayanbadejo – “The Queen Of Blings” Introduces Hair Crystals In Nigeria

Funmilayo Ayanbadejo is an enterprising woman, she started her Fashion Supplies and Crystal business in 2006 in Nigeria, however two years ago she got requests to use crystals as branding for Nigeria’s 50 years independence anniversary and during other political campaigns in the country, this lead her to produce a variety of crystal designs with the Nigeria Coat of Arms, Nigeria Flag and specially “blinged up” Logo for state governments and political parties.

 

 

The main company Patrick Ayanski is a leading brand that offers the broadest and most creative ranges of quality Zips, Unique trimmings, Ribbons, Stones, Buckles, Bag Handles, Swarovski Crystals, Korean crystals, Corsages, Feathers, Haberdashery, Neck motifs, Neck bibs, Flower motifs, Crystal motifs/transfers, Sequin, Wired crystals, Threads and many more Sewing and Millinery accessories.

 

Patrick Ayanski’s focus is in meeting the needs in the fashion, bridal, millinery and craft industry as they are the sole distributors of Cremalleras rubi- manufacturers of zips for Pepe jeans, Levis jeans, Zara and many more high street brands. They are also distributors of YKK, Swarovski and Rigilene products.

 

Patrick Ayanski has also introduced their brand of zips called Ayanski and brand of crystals called Blings by PA

 

Blings by PA has brought the contemporary method of incorporating your company logo into T-shirts, Bags, I-pod cases, practically anything that can be used to promote anyone’s business and products. These crystals are a source of creative inspiration Fascinating contrasts that captures attention. The opulently sparkling crystals and stones can be used to create embellished designs on basically anything.

 

Beyond the sky is the limit for Funmilayo Ayanbadejo as her company has a huge supply of ribbons, trimmings, fashion and decorating, home and catwalk accessories. Patrick Ayanski products are used by the leading designers in Nigeria who have been featured in leading fashion publications across Africa.

 

Blings by PA brand clientele base includes corporate bodies such as First Bank, Eco Bank, Agip, People’s Democratic Party, Action Congress of Nigeria, Lagos State, Cross Rivers State and Bayelsa State Governments, House of Tara, Sixth Sense, Elizabeth R, Bimby Lads, Queen’s College Alumni Class 91, Total Woman and many more.

 

Funmilayo Ayanbadejo was born in Lagos State, Nigeria, she did her primary education at Staff School and Command Yaba, Lagos State and Secondary education at Federal Government Girls College Sagamu then she proceeded to University of Lagos for her first degree where she holds a Bachelors (BSc) in Science in Computer Science. She also holds a second BSc degree in Business Management from the University of Hull and a Masters degree in Information and Technology with SAP combined from Sheffield Hallam both in the United Kingdom.

 

She had previously worked in Investment Banking with some of the biggest firms in the UK including Investec, Societe General and then went on to work as a SAP Consultant and Test Manager for companies such as Glaxo Wellcome, T Mobile and GE Pharmaceutical.

 

Ten years ago she made a turn in her career path when she decided to start up a company called Milliner Warehouse in the UK, which she still runs till today, Milliner Warehouse is one of the biggest Millinery Wholesaler in Europe with customers in Europe, Asia, Australia, America and Africa.

 

With the introduction of a first of it’s kind hair crystals product in Nigeria, this busy entrepreneur, wife and mother takes time off her busy schedule to talk with us about doing business in Nigeria- where and how she started and how she has been able to grow it to where it is today and she puts it all to her passion and integrity.

 

 

OB: How was the Nigerian market when you started? 

 

FA: The market was interesting, we had loads of supplies to the fashion industry but most of which was very poor quality.

 

OB: Take us through the different elements in your business?

 

FA: Basically, we have two arms of the business now – Patrick Ayanski which the main products started from zips then we moved into crystals, trimmings, Neck motifs, Gutermann thread- a high brand of thread and later introduced our millinery and bag handle range that we carry in the UK.

 

The second arm is Blings by PA which the main product is crystals – we do loose crystals and also customised products in crystals, our newest product is the hair crystals- it is straightforward and easy to apply and doesn’t damage the hair.

 

The market for blings is a large one in Nigeria, it is a new dimension in branding, it can be used on almost anything- Ankara prints, T-shirts, towels, throw pillows, bags, shoes and loads more.

 

OB: How was the market when you started?

 

FA: Very interesting and challenging as there were loads of low quality materials and supplies in the market. So when we introduced high quality and durable products, people were eager though we had the problem of pricing because we were a bit higher than what the market offered with the low quality products but we had to explain the difference in price was due to the quality they are getting. Now, our products speak for themselves as we are encouraged by customers who are still demanding our products.

 

OB: How have you taken the business forward from where you started to where you are now?

 

FA: For me it was all about integrity and passion. I wasn’t ready to compromise on quality or my words, we sell all over the world and a lot of people do business with our parent company (Milliner Warehouse) based on reputation so used same strategy. Our main company in the UK supplies materials to the likes of the Royal family and award wining hat designer Phillip Tracey and Stephen Jones so supplying quality was key.

 

We also did a programme where our foreign partners from Germany, and Spain came to Nigeria and our customers attended. The most important thing is that people attest to our products and recommend us to others.

 

OB: How has the economic downturn affected your business?

 

FA: We started this business four years ago, the year 2009 was a bit challenging as it was when the recession first hit Nigeria and people stopped spending for a while. However, 2010 and 2011 business has picked up as people realised that clothes are essential items and they can’t stop wearing them or buying them.

 

OB: What is your staff strength?

 

FA: We have six core staff strength; we contract most part of the business like marketing and design. I believe that when you outsource staff they deliver more.

 

OB: How has your business been able to adapt to Nigeria?

 

FA: We have coped like everyone else. The first issue is the lack of power situation; however I am not hit as most businesses that depend solely on power as I do not constantly need it. Secondly, I found information from the government in Nigeria very poor, back in the UK, the information is all the same but in Nigeria we do not have readily available information on the websites and the laws and information change when governments do, which can be a bit frustrating. Thirdly, the people tend to outsmart each other when it comes to pricing but being that I am Nigeria also I made a point to start from my own little end to change that aspect by sticking to the same pricing strategy except you belong to our loyalty programs where you get certain discounts.

 

Fourthly, for employees, I have been lucky and I have tried to adapt skills I have learnt in the UK and bring it here. My staff have told me the reason they have stayed on working with me is the way they are treated. There’s nothing as being involved in the personal development of people that work for you, the key is to treat people well, be transparent, and be detailed and document everything with regular audit checks.

 

And lastly, online marketing in the country is a developing area, people like to hear and talk hence maybe that’s why television and radio is still appealing to them. In the UK, I conduct most of my businesses online, I hardly listen to the radio or watch television, online is a very important aspect that needs a lot of work.

 

OB: Where do you source your products from?

 

FA: Spain, France, China, Italy, Thailand, Hong Kong its quite wide basically I go anywhere I can find the quality products.

 

OB: What makes you different from others in your field?

 

FA: We sell good quality materials at affordable prices. For one, there’s not anybody in Nigeria that does original zips in Nigeria – we supply quality and authenticated zips like YKK, Rubi and our brand Ayanski. We are the first to introduce crystal branding. Some of our competitors have visited us and been impressed and asked to partner with us. With the Blings by PA, we are ahead of everyone, we keep creating new products like the hair blings that has just been introduced into the market. We are loyal and will not compromise on integrity and quality.

 

OB: How expensive are your products?

 

FA: We are not expensive, we have a standard pricing that varies from what you are looking for. When customers come to the shop they always go for the high-end products like anyone would do before lower end products. Our zips start from N50.00 but they are good quality.

 

OB: What is the next frontier for you?

 

FA: We are going to keep promoting our crystals and zips. We have just introduced the hair crystal and sequin motives, which will be available in Nigeria in next two weeks. We are rolling out the Ayanski zips and stones as well in the remaining part of the year and we are still bringing in our other products. We are also opening a new branch in Ikeja in December.

 

OB: What do you do when you are not travelling around the world for business?

 

FA: Stay at home and be mothers to my two boys, a wife to my supportive husband and I do a lot of charity work with the church by helping people start their businesses.

 

OB: How are you able to balance work and family life?

 

FA: I just go on and God gives me the grace. My policy is “just do it!” and move on. There are days I get very tired and there are days I just want to be a housewife like I tell my husband sometimes and he goes ahead to say I should sit at home, he is very supportive, understanding and does anything to make me happy and he also finances my business. He lets me chase and live my dream freely. Again, Proverbs 31 is my favourite verse in the bible, it basically talks about a hardworking woman that takes care of her family and works hard. I have a very close family network, my mother, brother and sisters all step in for me from time to time to take care of things when I am away travelling.

 

OB: What is the best place to shop and why?

 

FA: I am not into shopping for myself, I buy things as I travel around. I love the spa experience, so when I travel, I love to stay in hotels that have lovely spas, so I do a lot of spas and good restaurants than shopping.

 

OB: What essentials can you not do without?

 

FA: I will always rather have my bible and my laptop with me always.

 

For more information on Blings by Patrick Ayanski visit: www.blingsbypa.com or www.patrickayanski.com 

Address: 1st Floor 83 Bode Thomas(Opposite GTB & Beside MTN Building ) Surulere, Lagos, Nigeria
Mobile: 08038237303, 08095117828, 08032134754, 08020555626
Email: info@blingsbypa.com

 

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