Here comes the bride! She may be looking kind of stressed but it’s her big day. Preparing for a wedding can be hectic but thanks to the Internet, brides can ease the burden a bit. Hadassah Bridals is a growing brand that delivers wedding gowns to brides through its website. Its founder Ifedolapo Olayemi-Okewole recently completed a World Bank-sponsored course at the Enterprise Development Centre at Lagos Business School. Here she shares tips on running an online business in Nigeria and how to make the most out of your wedding day.
Who is the person behind Hadassah Bridals?
My name is Ifedolapo Olayemi-Okewole. I’m the woman behind Hadassah Bridals, a business that came to being in December, 2012. The idea for this business was birthed in Manchester, UK in 2012, a year after I got married. I recall that it was my experience as a bride that was at the heart of this business idea. I had a very tight schedule during preparations for my wedding.
When I was doing my wedding shopping, I didn’t have the luxury of time and resources to visit a lot of stores for wedding gown trials and the likes. I did most of my shopping online and I received all my packages in good condition, including my wedding gown.
Our business idea then was to make wedding dresses of different varieties available to brides online and at reasonable prices. So we decided to offer bridal gowns of very good quality and designs to target this class of brides.
We stock our gowns from other designers; we also have options for custom-made wedding gowns. Custom-made wedding gowns are made based on the specifications of the bride. This gives the bride the opportunity to add a lot of details to her dream wedding gown. We take such requests and forward to our designers.
Why the name Hadassah?
The name ‘Hadassah’ is from the Bible. Its one of Esther’s names (Esther 2:7) and it means Compassion.
Tell us a bit about your experience with the World Bank sponsored program.
The program is a Certificate in Entrepreneurship Management sponsored by the World Bank. I won the Women X scholarship last year. I took that step because I needed hone my entrepreneurial skills. I was not sure I was doing everything according to the books. A friend sent me the application details online and I applied. An interview was conducted and about 50 women were selected for my class, which was Cohort 4 in the Women X scholarship program.
The 6 months in-class training changed my perspective totally on business and living a fulfilling life. I met women who were in different stages in business and this made me realise that I am not alone in the entrepreneurship drive. The school faculty was and is still highly supportive because they provide us platforms for business growth.
As a Nigerian company based online, how do you make effective sales?
Our idea is to understand our market sector and develop strategies online to reach them. Because we started online, we use a lot of the social media platforms for sales. This is complimented with an open cart-enabled website. We also use eCommerce stores like Konga and Kaymu to drive sales.
What online platforms do you use to cater to your clientele? Have you had any challenges with them?
Over the years, we have built a robust BBM channel. This has our largest followership and has become a critical platform for our business outreach. Customers place orders via our BBM channel or Whatsapp Social chat platform. We also use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest for our social media campaigns.
We have a physical store in Ifako, Gbagada, where we also attend to customers.
Most online Nigerian businesses focus on Abuja or Lagos, how do you reach clients in other/smaller cities and towns?
We can confidently say today that we have a clientele that is widely spread from Maiduguri in Northern Nigeria to Bayelsa in the South-South region and from Cuba to cities in Europe and South Africa. This has been made possible through our online platform and partnership with a leading courier company like Courier Plus. They handle our door step deliveries to all the states in Nigeria, and also our international shipments.
How can a woman make the most of her wedding day?
A woman should be happy on her wedding day. She is the center of attraction and she dictates the mood of the event. A vibrant bride makes for an enjoyable ceremony. One of the things I tell my brides is to ensure that they have light breakfasts on their wedding day. The wedding day is filled with a lot of activities and the bride often forgets that part.
What old wives tale should all brides listen to at all costs?