Meeting ‘Billy’ as she’s informally called was by chance, you know that moment when you run into someone at a hangout , then the ‘hi’ and ‘hello’ turns to ‘what do you do’, and that as well turns up the nanotechs in you because that moment really seems just different from many others and you turn on your mental recorder, deliberately guiding the convo which seems like a salsa dance, and smoothly taking mental notes of everything being said with one thought in your mind, ‘she caters, paints walls, lays floor tiles, sells and rents wedding costumes, she is the shit’.
She is the shit, perhaps you might not think so, but out of ten women I have crossed paths and had deep chit-chattery with in the past few months, only one didn’t have the same thing in common with the rest, and that’s Billy.
You see in a country filled with hazy crossroads, poverty, unemployment, mediocrity and drudgery, most of the denizens like to embrace trends, not many are ambitious as to creating one, not too many have the balls and audacity to be creative at all, not too many are willing to figure out new paths, they just follow already defined ones. A one-minded country where people just wait for someone to come up with an idea or venture after several trials, errors, nervous break downs and near insanity, success, and boom, the market gets filled with mediocres chasing shadows all in bit to cut pieces out of that success-labeled’ venture.
Duncan Mighty, Nigerian musician, singer, and music producer in his song titled Ikemefuna said “You know in this life you musto carry your own cross, oburo maka wetin your friend do, a man must have his own calling (In this life you must carve your own path, and not following that of anothers)”.
It’s not wrong following trends and making money out of them just like everybody else, but I just think Nigeria would be a better place if many created their own trends, their own cakes for people to bite chunks from. In the case of Billy, perhaps her venture is not a trend she created, yet I find her quite fascinating because there’s a bit of what she’s doing that not many ladies I have met do.
Billy is quite a jovial young CEO who juggles interior decorations, events managing, large scale cooking , bridals and many more under her company name Billy’s Bridals and Interiors. When she talked about her venture, the way she laid the words, I thought nightingales were singing to me. She’d always wanted to do her own thing since becoming self aware she told me. Having a home economist for a mother spiraled her into the path she walks today as she learned almost everything from mummy.
While we chatted, the aura she reeked of was not that of the most popular perfume or bath scents, but that of someone who has no clouded decision or judgment of what she wants to do with her life. An undergraduate of Bayero University Kano, studying Mass Communication, Billy believes she could combine both, studying and working. “We all know that there are few jobs in the country, and the few available are jostled for by hundreds of thousands of Nigerians. Everyone longs for a white collar job, but not me, I am doing my own thing now, school is good, sometimes my work gets in the way, but trust me, being self employed is tops she says to me wittily.”
“I love what I do”, she continues, “Getting what you really want or giving the best in a job is not all about knowing how to do it, but loving it, wanting it, always having that urge to want to learn more and do it.”
“People say they have ideas but don’t have funds, good, but you see, you don’t have to wait for someone to fund your idea for you, I started out by going to my mum’s catering school, and after a while she found out I was really in to it, she introduced me to a friend of hers who taught me advanced catering, icing, sugar works and all that. When I graduated from there I started helping people out with their own jobs, and then I got my very 1st client, apparently someone thought I was good and decided to give me the chance to prove myself.”
Billy rates herself 9 on a scale of 10, perhaps she is that good because being independent is an idea she has always nurtured. You see in my line of work, there is what we call ‘Entrepreneurial DNA’, not many have it, and it cannot be faked; this Billy seems to have in quantum.
Her venture like every other has its zigzags; “The profit depends on how often you get a job, and how often you get a job sometimes does not determine the profit. It depends on the type of job or size of contract you get. Sometimes I stay for like three months without a contract, but because I just like what I do, whenever it comes, I still do it. The hard times don’t matter, I am addicted to it”.
Billy has a team of two each for her work, those who work with her on events and catering and those for interior décor. She believes two years is a long time to scale on to another level. “I usually purchase a one-of-a-kind dress or costumes for women from my international and reliable contacts and these women can choose to resell it to me after use, and then the costumes become part of my collections available for rent.”
When I asked her about what she thinks of education in Nigeria, she frowns and doesn’t even want to hear of it, but then she talks about it with contempt. To her our education is so not it and clearly says that although she has good grades, she is not really the school type. Billy suggested I shouldn’t have asked what she felt about education in Nigeria because there is no education, citing the colleges of education that have been on strike since December, and the strikes of Universities in the years past.
She says it’s a pity many are just there sitting down wasting time, on searching for white collar jobs when they should be looking deep down to realize what really makes them tick. She stressed that no one really knows you better than yourself and that the government cannot get jobs for everybody.
“White collar jobs don’t even pay as much as hand work jobs she says smiling, “I’m making a good living out of this and I employ people too. “
Then she talked about her challenges….
“One of my greatest challenges was when I got a 3million naira job, the contractors said it was their budget but after estimation of what was to be done, I knew I would run at a loss were I to take the job. Somehow at a point it seemed like I was being boxed in perhaps because they knew I was up-coming. I was caught between letting go of the contract and taking it. At the end I had to forgo the contract with a thought of trying not to be too desperate.”
The chat with Billy was quite brief, yet it clearly threw pointers on how many Nigerians ought to think. It also pointed to what many men would want from a woman. Not many men want a lady who is not illustrious or independent, in fact in today’s life, it’s on the top of the list of qualities men desire.
It is said that a man is the bread winner of a family, but do you not think it better if the woman also wins akara (bean cake) so the family can have bread and akara, after all it is said in the good book that man does not live bread alone.
Or perhaps you can tell me what you think.