Home and You Limited, one of Nigeria’s foremost furniture design and manufacturing firms, has evolved since its arrival over two decades ago. Recently, its ultra-modern factory in Ibeshe, a fast-growing suburb of Ikorodu, Bamidele Famoofo reports
It was a gathering of very important persons in Lagos State to declare open the of expansive factory that parades state of the arts equipment. From captains of industry, to top government officials, traditional rulers, bankers and well-wishers, they all have the same words in common by saying, ‘Well done to a visionary founder.” So on July 10, 2018, Ibeshe, a surburb in Ikorodu witnessed an unprecedented crowd who thronged the area to support the vision of one woman, Feyisola Abiru, who recently turned her passion to a multimillion naira invest. For Feyisola, hers was a passion for living spaces which she conceived 21 years ago. Abiru, an alumnus of the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, decided to turn her hobby into a full-blown career in 1994, after she left the university. Since her passion has always been about enhancing spaces to make the living experience a bit more special, in the process of setting up her first home with her husband, Tokunbo Abiru, she worked with a number of artisans who helped to bring her designs and ideas to life. Shortly after, she began taking orders for interior decoration projects and so, Home and You was birthed.
Incorporated in 1997, Home and You Limited is a living space enhancing company, providing furniture and furnishing services for homes, offices and schools. It manufactures all its furniture locally, from its expansive workshop in the Ogba area of Lagos, using the best materials that are sourced with diligence from local and offshore suppliers. Its lines of candles and diffusers are simply outstanding, helping to create a delightful environment conducive for work and play.
As a startup, Home and You encountered various challenges, particularly unpredictable output levels as the company had to rely on outsourcing production to local artisans. This according to Feyisola, meant that project deliveries became sporadic, and deadlines were difficult to meet. To overcome this and stay on in business, she decided her company needed to approach things differently. The first step she took was to acquire more control over the production of furniture. To do this, she began using her family property in the Ogba area of Lagos as her workshop. She would later modify the space by procuring hand tools, woodworking machines and employing contract staff. This enabled her to meet customer demands and deliver on projects in a more timely and cost effective manner. However, as is usual in business terrain, challenges arose. Employing contract staff was progress, since it cut down on time spent finding the right labour for a job. “However, having temporary employees still made it difficult to expand output and grow,” she said.
The change came when she took the bull by the horns to approach the Bank of Industry (BOI), for financial assistance. “The company required capital to invest in bigger and more modern machines to benefit from economies of scale”, she disclosed. However, to qualify for a loan, Feyisola needed to restructure her business by updating the company’s accounts, becoming tax compliant and setting up a proper corporate governance structure. She also invited Chief Olusegun Osunkeye, former chairman of Nestle Plc, to head the company’s board and took a chance by hiring permanent workers in her factory. Three years after applying for a loan from BOI in 2005, the request was granted, and that makes the beginning of a greater future for the company. With a growth mindset, Home and You has set its sights on bigger horizons. Following the successful completion of business programmes at the Lagos Business School and the IMD in Switzerland, Feyisola became equipped with the knowledge, discipline and thinking needed to make strategic decisions in her business environment. Since then, she has attended relevant conferences and exhibitions both internationally and locally. Home and You successfully obtained a second loan from the BoI which only took a year to be approved. With the new facility, Home and You was able to up its games, it relocated to a bigger showroom in Lekki that accommodates a design studio; and launched its own fragrance line.
On July 10, Home and You opened the doors to a bigger and purpose-built factory with a semi-automated international standard production line. “From its humble beginnings as a startup that relied on manual labour, the company is preparing to expose itself to international best practices, and shift focus to a business-to-business strategy,” said the founder.
She dislosed that the products of the newly built factory will cater to schools, home developers, offices, hotels and interior designers. While the new machines acquired for the factory will allow for high volume output as well as precision dimension cutting. “Production will be predictable and huge,” she added.
Besides, she believes that she and her team will become game changers in the furniture industry within the next 10 years. Indeed, she has proven that one can small, dream big and reach the pinnacle of one’s career or professional aspirations.
Extolling the virtue of a visionary woman, the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, described the siting of the new ultra-modern furniture company in Ikorodu, as a key driver for the economy of the state and the country at large. Ambode, while delivering a goodwill message at the factory commissioning ceremony, said it will create employment and increase the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Ambode, represented by the Lagos State Commissioner for Environment and Physical Planning, Prince Rotimi Ogunleye, said the furniture produced by Home and You will compete favourable with foreign competitors. He disclosed that the government of Lagos State government has been of the company.
Executive Director of Bank of Industry, Mr. Waheed Olagunju, said the Bank has supported the company for about 13 years. “What’s being commissioned today is an expansion. Home and You is a role model for others to emulate,” he stated.
Olagunju added: “By every standard, this factory is one of the best in the world and if the owners come again, we will give them loan,”
He praised the management of ‘Home and You’ for their policy of providing good welfare for staff, noting that the company takes care of feeding and shelter for its workers.
Also, the pioneer chairman of the company, Mr. Olusegun Osunkeye described Home and You as a young adult going places. Osunkeye, the former Chairman of Nestle Plc , who has been chairman the board of the company for seven and half years, described Feyisola as a decisive lady, who is focused in her business.