Marvis Marshal Idio is a young ingenious Nigerian entrepreneur and CEO
of JACMARVIS, a company involved in interior design, building
construction and furniture, located in Port Harcourt, River State. In
this interview with Peter Uzoho, Idio who emerged winner at the Next
Titan Season 3 show last December, speaks about her experience at the
competition, her business operation and challenges, amongst others

Can we meet you?

My name is Marvis Marshal Idio; wife, super-mum and entrepreneur. I
hail from Imo State. I am a graduate of Architecture from University
of Uyo. I also hold a Master’s Degree in Interior Design from Florence
Design Academy, Italy.

Can you tell us about your brand?

Our brand name is JACMARVIS; we are in the business of crafting
elegant art forms in interior design, building construction and
furniture. We are growing start-up, currently located in Port
Harcourt, River State.
Our core mission is to become the brand of choice in the interior
designs and contemporary furniture space. Our aim is to provide high
quality aesthetic creations at affordable value to clients across all
income bands. Our creative process is defined by a “waste to wealth”
mind set; consequently our raw materials include used rubber tyres,
pet bottles, cardboard, discarded furniture pieces and shipping
containers

What inspired you to go into this line of business?

My late father, a truly gifted Civil Engineer ignited my interest in
furniture making. I guess I inherited his passion for designing
intricate yet functional pieces. Studying Architecture was naturally a
course for nurturing my passion. Attending design exhibitions during
my post-graduate studies overseas deepened my intellectual
appreciation for the concept of translating waste to wealth in a
practical, commercially viable and fun way. These experiences
catalysed what is now a continuous adventure in my research and
experimentation with recyclable materials.

How do you source your raw materials?

I go to dump sites to pick them depending on what I need. After which
I sort them out to know the ones that really meet what I need them for
and then use them for my construction. You know going to dump sites
directly to pick them by yourself you don’t have to pay for it- it
saves cost. Even those that pick for us go to dump sites to pick them.

Was there a problem you intended solving through your business?

Most certainly, furniture and furnishings is an essential part of the
home, and building is no doubt a necessity. The reality is that the
cost of importing these pieces is outrageous, when we can produce them
here, use, and also export.
My aim is to bridge the gap between the expensive cost of housing,
furniture and furnishings and the inability of the modest income
earner to afford them, and invariably reduce the need to import
furniture largely. And definitely, through recycling we will greatly curb waste problems

What were the major challenges when you started and how did you overcome them?

My major challenge while starting up a business was definitely lack of funds, so
I concentrated on producing samples. It is not enough to tell people
what you do, you need to show them. I ensured I persisted in my
endeavours.

Presently, the country’s economic climate has not been favourable to businesses. As a young entrepreneur, are you in anyway
affected?

Certainly! Culturally, our appetites for furniture are deeply embedded
in conventionality- conventionality of raw materials and process.
Essentially, people consider wood to be a more cost-functional
material; the materials I choose to work with are considered “exotic,
luxurious and cost ineffective”. So, in a recession climate,
functionality prevails over exotic. Secondly, access to capital, be it
loan facility from banks or seed capital from Angel investors is
strangled in a recession climate. Although government has set up
numerous funding initiatives for cottage industries and SMEs,
penetration is shallow and bureaucracy leaves many young entrepreneurs
uncaptured.

How is your business contributing to reduce the unemployment challenge
in the country?

Presently, I have seven people working with me on contract basis and I
pay them. Being a contract thing it’s about you doing your work and
you get paid at the end of the day. So as you can see in my own little
way I’m helping in that regard and hope to do more if things improve.

You participated at the Next Titan Season 3 last year and emerged the
star prize winner. Can you explain how it went?

It was for me, a truly titanic milestone on my personal journey. For
over eight weeks, I was nested with some of the most-compellingly talented
persons I have ever met. There was an overflow of passionate
creativity; there were several “light bulb” moments of new wisdom from
our accomplished panel of judges; there was the intensity of bare
competition, the irresistible nudge towards collaboration and the
obvious vitality of diversity. Being away from my baby girl forced me
to draw on a reserve of inner fortitude and sharpened my focus to the
point where I wanted to win for her.

What do you think gave you an edge over other contestants at the show?

It was definitely grace, complimentary to originality and practical
perspectives defined in my business plan. True, I was saved by the judges on a number of occasions; I took every such occasion as an opportunity to raise the
bar for myself and translate my talent with greater clarity.

The money and the car you won do they have any impact on your business?

I have been producing most of these pieces using the most stressful
process due to lack of appropriate machinery. So yes, it will have a
huge positive impact on my business.

Do you think the initiators and organisers of the Next Titan
Entrepreneurial show deserve commendation for the work they are doing
on the lives of young Nigerians?

Yes, they definitely deserve commendation. Beyond the price money, they
are constantly awakening the entrepreneurial spirit in young
Nigerians, building hope and making dreams come alive. The auditions,
boot camp and tasks carried out while in the academy opens your mind
more to your plans and pushes you to actualise your goals.

For three consecutive seasons Heritage Bank has been the chief sponsor
of this life -changing and economic empowerment programme. What do you
say about that?

This is a clear show of their passion for entrepreneurship and support
for young Nigerian talents.

Would you say you grabbed your destiny by hard work and by taking
advantage of an opportunity?

The word ‘hard work’ can’t be over emphasised, it surely paid off.

Being a female entrepreneur in Nigeria, does it come with any challenges?

I wear the badge of “womanpreneur” with great pride. I’m happy to join
the vanguard of amazons and Titans who are spicing up the business
domain with our unique and high-heeled talents. That said, being a
womanpreneur used to be considered ‘Norm-defying’. However, I’m happy
that many before me and many after me will re-define the narrative
with our success. I like the novelty of my identity, female carpenter!
Truly iconic. Work – life balance is perhaps the trickiest aspiration; combining my
roles as a home-maker and creator-in-chief can get knotty.

What is your message to young Nigerians?

Keep your head high, challenges are bound to come, don’t give in.
Everybody doesn’t have to believe in your business idea at first but
keep at it and someday they would understand. Also ensure you get the
right kind of mentoring.

Can you tell us more about your family?

I am code-named “double-o three” in a family of three girls and a
gentleman. My mum is “double-o one”. We were raised with Christian
virtues, and my (late) father’s magnetism and generosity meant we
always had a full house. We are a closely-knit unit, and it’s usual
for all four ladies (mum included) to go out for social outings and
fun. My family is my most committed fan base!

Who would you say has been a major influence in your life?

My mother, she has believed in me even when it didn’t make sense,
always pushing me to be and do better.
I have always admired her strength to bounce back after all the
challenges she had to go through. I call her ‘My African Queen’- she is a true African Woman

How would you describe your husband’s support to your venture?

Frankly speaking, I am married to a good man who is not afraid to let
me be all I set my heart to and who is constantly supporting me every
step of the way.