Story By Cherish Loto
“The price we sold was actually good. I remembered that I ordered again because most of the Chinese companies at that time were shutting down because of covid, so for those of them that were willing to take the risk to ship out were doing it at a very expensive rate”
With the rapid outbreak of the COVID-19 in early 2020, not many businesses survived the effects of the pandemic. Lockdown became a major constraint for businesses due to control measures such as social distancing, transport restrictions, and a ban on the opening of marketplaces to curb the rapid spread of the virus.
In the wake of the pandemic, there has been a shift in the way businesses and organizations operate. From closing down productions and operations to a drop in consumer confidence, COVID-19 continues to impact businesses and even threaten their existence.
As many business owners were counting losses, only those who could reinvent their business wheel that was smiling to the bank.
Creative Director, 1208 Souvenirs and Gifts, Bamitale Balogun narrated her experience and how she was able to mitigate the effects of the crisis and operate sustainably during the period.
Bamitale said that her biggest breakthrough came in the midst of Covid-19 when she was contacted to do some souvenirs and gift items for a 70th birthday celebration.
“I catered for the souvenirs and that was how ‘I blew’. I made lots of money. I also made a lot of money from selling face-shields online. Face shield at that time was scarce, I really needed to import and the importation price was really cheap.
I did my calculations, checked my account and that was it. I brought in a thousand and five pieces. Before it arrived in Nigeria, people have started selling it at ridiculous prices that I needed to reduce my price, but still had huge profits from the sales”, she explained.
She pointed that she sold most of the face shields on telegram and other online platforms.
“I found myself in a telegram group and someone was asking for face shields. I was selling less than the amount she was willing to buy. I was selling 100 Naira cheaper. I sent her a message and that was it”, she explained.
According to Bamitale, she said she was among the first set of people that sold face-shield before it became rampant that everyone knew the price.
“The price we sold was actually good. I remembered that I ordered again because most of the Chinese companies at that time were shutting down because of covid, so those that were willing to take the risk to ship out were doing it at a very expensive rate”
The Institut Superieur de Communication d’Organisation et de Management graduate said that she started her souvenirs and gifts company in Nigeria before she travelled to ISCOM University, Cotonou, Benin Republic where she studied Computer Engineering.
“When a friend is having a party, I would ask them what they were going to give the people coming. I will help them scan for items, buy them without adding a dime as a service charge”
Bamitale’s interest in helping her colleagues finding gift items for birthdays prompted her to change her name on Instagram to a business name.
“The name was Accurate Souvenirs and my School Mother gave me that name because I was always accurate to time doing things, but the name was later changed to 1208 Souvenirs because I needed something I could relate with. 1208 is December 8, 12 for December, and 08 for the date. I was born 8 December”, she noted.
She said she started monetizing the business when one of her friends in school called her to brand 300 polo shirts for a function in Adamawa State.
“I did it so well that I said to myself that I must add some changes to it because of other costs involved. I told my friend and he said I should go ahead”
In what she has taken as a profession, her client-based has continued to grow.
Bamitale said her plan for the next 5 years is to have a gallery where they would be able to do everything under the same roof.
“We will do all kinds of printing under the same roof, ribbon job, – at least I still do that myself but right now, we outsource our printing to printers. It would be nice to have all kinds of machines for printing and packaging, and our own delivery service”, she explained.
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