IF we are to compile a list of party elements, Hajia Tai Elemosho-Okesanjo’s name will take vantage position. Her enviable social profile dates back to when she was not even married and according to her, her romance helped in no small measure in doing her business. Her client base cuts across the social divide. Montai, a business she established in 1999 has become one of the most sought after in the Lagos metropolis. ENCOMIUM Weekly ran into her recently where she revealed some of the tips to succeed in her kind of business and how she also keeps her home front intact.
How will you describe your coming into your kind of business, what was the motivation then?
When I started, it was not easy. Things were rough and tough, but we thank God today, we are still on Toyin Street, Ikeja, Lagos.
What efforts did you put in your business before you became big?
Humility, truthfulness. I sell the best products, you have to look for quality products or else nobody would buy from you. I have been honest with my customers, I have been truthful and I do good public relations with them. Most of my customers are like my friends, my sisters and my brothers because I also have men’s stock in my shop. So, it’s honesty and selling good products. I have clients that have been buying shoes from me since 1999 when I opened Montai on Toyin Street, Ikeja, Lagos and they are still wearing the same shoes till today. So, we stock good products.
Many people are afraid to go into business because of capital, when you started yours, how much did it cost you to set up Montai?
I can’t actually remember now. But it was a huge capital because the kind of idea I had then was to do strictly designer shoes. So, the take off fund was much but I thank God we are still there today. If you want to mention shops in Nigeria that sell good Italian shoes, at least, you will remember to mention Montai. I am a representative of a lot of manufacturers here in Nigeria like Mauri, Rodusof Sengarini and others. They are big time manufacturers that I represent here in Nigeria. We thank God we are moving higher.
Will you say your romance with the high society helped you in getting high caliber of client base?
Yes, good relationship helps a lot. You can’t afford to be pompous and proud as a businesswoman. You must respect everyone that comes your way either old or young. It’s God that helps somebody in business but you must also help yourself by trying to be humble. I have been humble and I try to treat my clients as if we are one family.
So, how do you balance your business and at the same time take care of the home front?
My husband understands the kind of job I do. We have known each other since my NYSC days at Savannah Bank (now defunct). So, there is nothing that I do today that is strange to him. I have been a party freak even before we got married and he knows all that. I have always gone to parties and he knows about it. He is my best friend, he is used to my business strategies.
Your children are grown up, that should make you do less work at home?
No, I still have a six year old, our last born. She is part of my business, she knows what I do. Others are grown up and doing well.
What are your future plans business wise?
That depends on God. I don’t know what will happen in five years, let’s leave all that to God. God is my maker, He has the best for me and the final say.
- FOLUSO SAMUEL
This story was first published in Encomium Weekly edition of Tuesday, July 3, 2012