IJEOMA Ubosi is the owner of Kontessa, a store that stocks bags, shoes, clothes, leather wares and gold. The successful entrepreneur, who is also the wife of Chris Ubosi, MD of Beat and Naija FM, opened a N50 million outlet on Sunday, July 15, 2012 at Victoria Island, Lagos. In a chat with ENCOMIUM Weekly, Ijeoma, a first class graduate of Pharmacy opened up on the new store and sundry issues.
You just opened a multi-million naira fashion outlet on Victoria Island, Lagos, why?
I discovered that our other outlets have become too small for our goods and growing clientele. We have goods littered on the floor. I just felt the time has come to get a place I envisioned. Thus, I opened this place, Kontessa on Agoro-Odiyan Street, off Adeola Odeku, Victoria Island, Lagos on Sunday, July 14, 2012. Thus, it was borne out of the urge for expansion.
How long have you been into this business?
I have been in this business for 15 years. That was when I moved back to Nigeria. I was based abroad but immediately I came back, I delved into this. I started with sales of trousers. I started from the scratch. The beginning was humble. I started with one store but now I have over six outlets. Although it has not been easy but it’s worth it, because I am blessed with good and quality clientele who appreciate the quality of goods and services offered by Kontessa. And through dint of hard work, it has grown into a huge success.
You are into shoes, bags, accessories, leather wares and gold, which are you addicted to and most lucrative?
I am a lover of shoes. I am addicted to good quality shoes. We all have our fancies. Funny enough, while I was in England, I used to trade with it. Although my profession does not permit such but my passion for it motivated me.
What did you study?
I am a Pharmacy graduate. I studied in England and graduated with a first class (laughs). People find it difficult to believe but I worked briefly as a pharmacist in England before coming home.
It’s interesting to know that you graduated with a first class from the University of Bath, England, but turned into business, why and any hope of going back to your profession?
I decided to quit when I came back to Nigeria to follow my passion in 1997. That’s the establishment of Kontessa. However, I tell people that I would go back to my first love, Pharmacy, when I am 60. Also, what put me off was the proliferation of the profession in Nigeria by quacks. Thus, it has affected the reputation of the industry. NAFDAC was not effective then but things have changed now. That’s why I am considering going back to it when I am 60.
To every glory is a story to tell, what has been the greatest challenge so far?
The major challenge now is the ban on shoes and its quite expensive importing shoes. And sadly, Nigeria does not have a thriving leather shoes manufacturing company. Thus, it costs a lot to bring them in because at Kontessa, we offer only the best.
We observed your clients are strictly the upper cadre of the society, why?
Actually, we cater for the upper and middle class. The reason is that we sell quality stuffs and good things cost money, that’s why. We also cater for a wide spectrum of the society.
As an entrepreneur, what would you say has been the source of your inspiration?
My father. The reason is that I learnt my entrepreneurial skills from him.
Can you tell us about your love life with your hubby?
I have been married to Chris Ubosi for 15 years and the marriage is blessed with three children, two boys and a girl. Funny enough, we met in the village in 1992.
How do you intend to wow your customers to this new multi-million naira outlet?
I have been very lucky and blessed in that my customers have grown along with me. The clients I started with 12 years ago are still with me. And with the opening of the new outlet, we have launched a privilege site to reward our loyal customers. Once they come in and buy stuffs in any of the departments, they get an extra discount. That is a way of rewarding them for their loyalty.
- FEMI OYEWALE
This story was first published in Encomium Weekly edition of Tuesday, July 24, 2012