Mrs. Oluseyi Abdullahi is the founder and chief executive officer of Crafties, the pioneer craft company in the country. She has passion for the Nigerian crafts and has been in the business of growing the industry. She spoke with Ikechi Nzeako on the craft industry and activities of her company.
Give us background to what Crafties does?
We teach people how to make things and we supply the tools, the materials and the books; we supply all the things they need to use to make crafts.
I can see various designs; who designs the materials that are on display here?
We did not design the materials on display; we do not sell finished products. It is the people that make the crafts that buy the raw materials from us. We provide with the materials to make the finished products. We have handles, gloves and all the things you need to make a bag and other crafts; that is where we stop.
How long have you been in this business?
I have been in the business for 14 years. We are the pioneer craft company in the country. We teach people how to make beads, jewelry; we also teach them how to paint on fabrics; that was how we started and that is what we still do.
What did you have in mind when you ventured into this business? What was the objective?
I believe that Nigerians have the abilities, the capacity and the skills to turn raw materials into finished products. When I visited Hong Kong, I saw people doing wonderful things with raw materials and I knew that Nigerians could do better and they have proved me right. So my inspiration came from there, knowing full-well that Nigerians are a talented people and all we need is have the materials, the tolls and somebody to teach them and everybody will be able to make materials for themselves. In the country now people are doing different things in a great way.
How have you fared in the business over the years?
We are growing; the business is growing and the people in the business are also growing. Many of the businesses in craft industry are thriving and many people are coming into the business. With the recession in the nation’s economy, people are looking at what they can do to beat recession and many are coming into the craft industry. We are in the business to stay and we want to see Nigeria grow and prosper and that is what we are working at.
Despite the progress that has bee recorded in the industry, some still buy foreign made crafts. How do you react to this?
Not anymore. When the cost of the dollar was not so high, some Nigerians bought imported crafts, however, with the high rate of foreign exchange, Nigerians do not do that any more and because they cannot afford to buy imported crafts, they are buying local crafts and people are coming into the industry to make things and they are smiling to the bank. We have the population and the market. How many nations in the world have the population that we have? So businesses are assured of succeeding in Nigeria if they are well managed. All it takes is for people to be diligent and produce high quality goods and they will be assured that they have a ready-made market. If they do this, businesses will thrive and we will not have to import more that the raw materials that are found in the country. Once there is adequate supply of electricity and the machines are available, the economy of the nation will grow.
How do you access the materials that you sell? Do import them or do get them locally?
We import some of the materials and there are also those we get from the local market. People add value to the raw materials that we sell to them and in that way they can make an income for themselves. This is better than buying finished products from any country and making richer them and making us poorer in the process.
Source : Independent