Mrs. Modupe Ogunlesi, the amiable woman behind Adam & Eve, an upscale luxury home life store is a victor’s delight. She effortlessly takes clients through the nitty-gritty of every item at her store that you feel like carting away all the items.
ENCOMIUM Weekly had an interview with her on what Adam & Eve is all about and why every household needs to visit the place…
What is Adam & Eve all about, ma?
Adam & Eve is a luxury home life store. It is not only in terms of price but also what makes life more pleasurable. It is cheap, expensive, different things to give you pleasure. The most important thing is that, it should fit your lifestyle. If you have a simple lifestyle, come to us, you will get something simple. If you want something flamboyant, yes, you can come to Adam & Eve as well.
The name Adam & Eve, how did you come about it?
Adam & Eve was the first home on earth where you have a man and a woman who lived in the garden of Eden which is supposed to be the most comfortable place, with everything being pleasurable. That is what we have tried to replicate in Adam & Eve.
When you come in here, anything you get here is supposed to make life more pleasurable, more comfortable and enjoyable. When you come into the kitchen department, we have various little things that make life easier in terms of cooking. For instance, I have something to clean your garlic so that it will not smell on your finger nails. We have a metal shop that you can use to wash your hands and the smell of fish will go off instantly. There are little things to make life easier and colours to brighten your day.
When we talk about colours, in developed countries, they have snow, when the sun strike, it is dazzling. There we have the sun, it is yellow, gold in colour, naturally we are drawn to colours but the white man wants still or white colour. When you do white, you are happy with yourself until you go to your neighbour’s kitchen who does colours. That is when you will know your kitchen is sterile, that is the truth.
What inspired the take off of Adam & Eve?
Accident! I got married early. I got married at 23 years, had my children early. At 21 years, my daughter was about to get married. I was about to be a granny of 45 years. At that age, there was no way I could say I was retiring. I had advantage with my mother. She would not let you leave home with the children and the house help. She will stay with the children and the house help. It doesn’t matter when you would return from work. My parents were very supportive in terms of bringing up children. At 45, there was no time. I couldn’t offer that type of support. I told them, it was no use the two of them go out to work.
The house help would do anything to their children while they were away. I told them, it is better for one person to be doing business, with that, the house help will not be able to determine when either of them will be at home. That way, the children will be better looked after. That gave birth to what she could do.
When she we getting married, she wanted a place to get her wedding list and couldn’t find. I suggested maybe she could set up a place to provide that service. As an accountant, I offered to give them my advice for five years till the incubating period of the business is over.
Three years down the line, the two of them came to me that she wanted to set up a night club. I had to buy the business from them. And I enjoyed it. I like it when you are entertaining at home. When I got married, I had a special Sunday plate. After church, the family will sit down and use it. When I had more money, I got better plates for Sunday and the formal Sunday plates became regular ones. That was the way I always moved forward. Sometimes, I give the old ones out. That is what I will advise people to do because if you buy good quality things, it doesn’t stay with you, you can pass it on.
8 years of Adam & Eve, how has the journey been?
There is no business that is easy in Nigeria. Except the President is your brother and he is giving you monopoly. When you are doing business in Nigeria, tighten your belt for five years. Don’t assume the profit you are making for the first five years is your profit. You must learn to plow back, otherwise, you will never be out of debt. Now, five years is even not enough. Things
happen, your generator may develop fault, anything can happen. That is why you need to reinvest.
What is your most memorable moment of running Adam & Eve?
I have many. What I find very inspiring is somebody who has not been to Adam & Eve coming in and is wowed! It makes me feel the journey has been worth it. I enjoy the shopping. If you see me at a fair, you will know I enjoy it. I can get to the fair by morning and still be there by closing time. If you put all those things in the shop and nobody comes to buy them, it is very disheartening.
Sometimes it is the husband that sees the shop and tells his wife to come to Adam & Eve. At first she might grudgingly be going, but at a point, her eyes were opening up and she would tell her husband, I will buy this and that and the list is endless. It makes one feel good.
How is the hike in exchange rate affecting your business?
It is terrible. It means overnight your capital is half. We are taking it softly all the same.
Looking at Adam & Eve, one will have the impression that it is for the high and mighty?
Adam & Eve is not over-priced, which is why I can comfortably say it is a no-discount shop. I have done different levels for different people. If you go to Oke Arin, you can get a cutlery set of 16 by 10, but as you are washing it, it gets dull. I wouldn’t touch that or have that in Adam & Eve. I can give you 18 by 10 cutlery that will give you a fifty year guarantee. I can give you that for N30,000. They can do some extra polishing and décor and it goes up to N1.8 million. That is the price. That is how I bought it. If you come here, you can make your choice depending on what your needs are and where you place yourself.
When you look at glasses, from the name Royal’s Court, it means they are designed by the royal designers at the Royal Court of England. If that is what you want, you have to pay the price. If you want a glass that will serve you, it must be clear glass made in Italy.
I am not competing with far off glasses. I am buying what I think is best so that there would be no problem with quality control. That is what I am offering. It is better to stretch yourself and have good products. I have dinner plates that your children can balance on their head and be playing with it. If it falls, it will not break, yet, it is not plastic. I have stuffs made of acrylic, it will not break. You need to stretch yourself If that is what you want.
People don’t think twice about carrying an expensive bag, yet when you get into their house, it is crap. Some will complain, the house help breaks them, so what? If a dry cleaner spoils your shirt, will you stop wearing shirts? It is about the way you look at yourself. When you want to differentiate your home, you need to make that home special. Don’t wait for the man. Buy that place if you can afford it. His friends will come and admire it. He would praise you and give you money next time. People may have the perception that because we are located in GRA, things would be expensive, it is not.
Wares here are affordable to the low, middle and high income earners. People should come in. They will see lovely wares of their choice and what they can afford.
What are the challenges of running your business?
Electricity and of course traffic. People say why don’t you have branches all over, but where will I get a hectare of land to spread like this. People come and tell me to come and look at their house. How many places would I visit. Those are some of the challenges. We have a branch in Abuja and it is doing well.
How much is Adam & Eve worth?
- SHADE WESLEY-METIBOGUN