Our Nigerian jollof is also a signature for Nigerian events — Ebere
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Our Nigerian jollof is also a signature for Nigerian events — Ebere

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Our Nigerian jollof is also a signature for Nigerian events — Ebere

For every event, a manager is important to put the square pegs in the square holes for a smooth scale. In this interview with JOY IMISI, an event manager, Ebere Ibikunle tells of her experiences in the business so far.

TELL us about yourself

My name is Ebere Ibikunle, originally from Imo State but married in Ikere, Ekiti State. I had my primary and secondary education in Delta Steel Company, DSC, Nursery, Primary and Technical High School, Orhuwhorun, Delta State. I studied at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State. I am an animal scientist with specialty in Genetics and breeding. I love white as a colour because of what it symbolises – peace, purity, and it connotes a flicker of hope.

What do you do?

I found my passion for baking sometime 19 years ago while I was still in secondary school. A friend came to teach my sister and I picked interest, and it has been a hobby for me until 2007 when it became a part business.
During my Master’s degree programme duration, I stumbled into the passion of event management. It came naturally, as I was able to pick and match colours for weddings based on my assessment of the bride, pick out asoebi materials and I went further to select styles for brides and the train, and draw them out for a designer to bring to life.
From there I started building my team, working with capable vendors for decorations, meals, small chops, Chapman/mocktails and other aspects. I took a leap forward by going round halls to negotiate and bargain deals and I got good partnerships from hotels. I was selling for them and they were also selling for me. I had mastered this business for over five years; I had to relocate from Owerri to Abuja and life happened. A passion is a passion; after two years in Abuja, I saw the need to get back in the industry and so the search for reliable, budget friendly vendors began and here we are today.

Can an event be successful without an event planner?

No. Events are incomplete without a planner. The planner can be called the manager; as you have in the office a manager, so do we have in social events. Every proper event needs a planner; even a burial needs a coordinator. The level of detailing and professionalism you need for your events depends on the planner and I must add that hiring one will save you stress a great deal. I have been a bride; I have seen those who take it upon themselves break down before, during or after the event. We don’t micro manage in my company; we put together various vendors and we make it happen. I handle some of the packages individually, but when a full event package is bought, I step out of the kitchen and office into the field to coordinate and ensure everything goes seamlessly.

When it comes to colour selection, how do you advice your clients on the best colour combination?

On colour combination, I advise clients based on countenance, also the season and theme of wedding and various choices are blended together to create combinations for the celebrants to choose from. I do a great deal of colour researches. I am also married to a biochemist who is an expert in colours; so I get a lot of inspiration from his work. We have various halls in Abuja who are partnering with us. So we take each of our clients to see the halls. They naturally know which to choose based on presentation.

Why did you go into event planning?

My passion for putting things together made me go into event planning. It gives me joy to plan parties and ensure everyone eats satisfactorily. This part started subconsciously in 2005 when I volunteered for an international organisation, Junior Chamber International, JCI, and I rose to be in charge of the Directorate of Welfare in a local organisation. I ensured everyone is well catered for at our conferences and conventions; so I naturally grew with more responsibilities designated to me.
Organising events probono for JCI gave me the grounds to learn, make corrections, adapt and master the act of event planning and management. And I thought to myself, if I can do this for free with fellow volunteers, then I can also subcontract professionals, put my negotiation skills into practice. Today, Bluboom Cakes and Events World, Abuja, has birthed Abuja Elegant Events; we are here now and we are already taking orders for the season ahead.

What do you think are the major roles an event company like yours should offer to a client?

Our major function is to deliver beautiful seamless events at the most affordable cost. For an Abuja event, our prices are unbelievably affordable. The reason is we don’t charge an extra fee for planning and managing any event. We have packages ranging from N700,000 – N2million only. The lowest price of N695, 000 covers 150 persons and for this you get an air conditioned hall, fancy beautiful decoration, three tier cake/customised cake for the event, small chops, customised bottle water, ice cold chapman, master of ceremony and standard DJ.
Other packages come with photography and videography, bed and buffet for celebrants, free programme of events, etc.

What are the major challenges in the business?

Some of these issues are unavoidable but we do our very best to minimise any hitch. And to this effect, we have multiple vendors per item and our vendors are open to work together. The most important factor is we stick together as a team and deliver the best.

What are the major meals or snacks that must be in every event?

Every event should have a classical mocktail. Fruity Chapman is one of our best sellers and we serve at almost every party. It’s refreshing because it made and marinated with freshly squeezed fruits. There is also desserts and small chops, whichever is affordable, but it cannot be skipped. Our Nigerian jollof is also a signature for Nigerian events. Even in our events in neighbouring countries, it is a delicacy that is standard and finally a range of local soups as the celebrant desires.
Every other thing is formality when it comes to stomach department in events. Our meals are healthy and made from fresh and natural products. We do not joke with our clients who trust us, and we always deliver.
Advice to couple or people that want to have any form of celebration
First, our payment comes from our vendors. They charge according to our budget and pay us a certain percentage for bringing the jobs every now and then. It’s a team thing and I am good at this.

Which is better, buffet, take away packs or serve in eating plates?

For smaller events, we always advice on controlled buffet, but for events with over 250 guests, we serve the same meals in plates. It makes for a more organised setting.

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