My Background Prepared Me for Greatness, Most People Are Surprised I Turned Out a Success

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Tayo Kimberly Adejumo

Whenever the name, Tayo Kimberly Adejumo is mentioned, what readily comes to mind are the posh Kimberly’s Apartments in Lekki, Lagos. Yes, Tayo loves providing posh apartments. But there is more to her. She is a management consultant and founder of Kimberly’s Apartment Management Company. With over five years expertise managing and growing medium and large companies, she successfully maintains her role as part of the board member in charge of corporate marketing and sales. As a visionary leader, she leverages on her strong network and vast resources to provide hospitality solutions and alternatives for travelers both local and international. Tayo talks to Azuka Ogujiuba about her background, career and hospitality business

• I’m Work in Progress, On My Way to Being a Better Mum

Who is Tayo Kimberly Adejumo?
Tayo Adejumo is a woman trying to strike a balance with work, family and life. My standards and expectations towards things and people are high. I’m also a person who loves to learn, who is curious, supportive, and extremely experimental. I strive to be good and perfect in my endeavours. More importantly, I am a work in progress, and I’m well on my way to being a better mum, wife, boss, service provider and citizen. This is Tayo.

Tell us more about your journey into the short-let space and interior decoration?
If someone had told me I’d be in the short-let business, 10 years ago, I would have been confused. My passion and desire from when I was a child had nothing to do with properties, or interior design. I had no clue as regards interior decoration back then; however, I have always had a good taste of fine things and some idea on how houses should be.

At what point did you decide to venture fully into short-let housing and decoration?
Starting with my deceased neighbour’s house, I was fortunate to have met Mr. Amon of ‘MakeitNigeria’ through an uncle in an estate. Mr. Amon loved my customer service and passion for the business and started introducing me to property owners. Some houses needed furnishing and from the complaints got from the first apartment, I sought to correct some mistakes in the new apartment. I envisioned each house with the aim of making guests feel at home, to offer a suitable fit for them, provide a memorable experience and especially something to admire at every corner of the house.

This became the foundation of my furnishing for Short-let apartments. Furnishing for Short-lets is so different from that of a house. Most people make that mistake mainly because they don’t understand what guests look out for, want or expect. Keep in mind that furnishing for Short-lets is like furnishing a house for everyone. Luckily that, I do very well. Everyone likes different things, everyone wants different things, and everyone experiences different things.

How was it like for you starting up Kimberly’s Apartments?
Every step that brings us to where we are has prepared us for this moment. Life was challenging for me. I was lost a lot of time and made mistakes severally, now I see things differently from most people. By the time I started Kimberly’s Apartments, I wasn’t successful in many ventures. For me, they are needed experiences for me now. They all add up to what makes Kimberly so special.

All the things that would seem like a discouraging challenge became a friendly challenge. Mistakes I would have beaten myself on became an experience. Everything life taught me leading up to that point became useful. Let me give you an analogy. Over the years, I have picked up hammers, spanner, bolt, screwdrivers. I have these tools from my life’s journey. I am now at a place where my size 10 spanners did wonders, but guess what? I have it, I am in a situation that warrants needing a Hammer, I got that too. I picked up skills over the years, including graphics (Corel draw not Canva), web design, events planning, prints, hotel housekeeping experience from my time in the UK, my love and curiosity on tech, serve me.

All the random things I thought I failed at became a necessary tool to start up Kimberly’s. It has been an amazing journey, challenging but easily adapted with new experiences. Every challenge is an experience or an exam to graduate to the next level. I love challenges.

What is the one thing that has shocked you the most about the property market in Nigeria?
Developers…Nigerian developers. One of the problems and the most shocking beyond my control are the houses we buy from developers. We once got a house, five months after, all the sockets went bad while a guest was in. A pipe burst in the wall and everywhere was flooded. It was a bad look, as devices were damaged. No one foresaw that, I have never heard of that happening. With that experience, when a client wants to purchase a property, I engage in an intense survey of these things and more. It amazes me, how rare a well-built house is in Lagos.

Very few developers deliver a gorgeous house that ticks all boxes. Headroom, aesthetics (especially on tiles, wish I can put an emoji here to project my feelings) the cabinets, the lightning. It once took me four months to get one of my existing owners to get a second house for Short-lets, it is that bad. The shocking part is they sell quickly, I wonder who buys these poorly built houses. This still shocks me till date.

What has been your driving force over the years establishing a reputable short-let company?
Passion. Simply that. I love what I do. I enjoy it and marvel in it. I am delighted to host guests and manage properties like it is mine. My passion for the houses is more than that of the owners even. Also, my integrity, anything that has my name or has to do with me has a standard that comes with it – Accountability, transparency and quality. This is my force; this is my motto. Transparency and accountability are very important to me, communication with owners with these two, are my integrity. They can always take it to the bank.

These qualities are so rare in the country we live in; that’s why my owners’ appreciate me. I make the business stress free for them. They can always go and sleep with no worries at all. My passion for always wanting to succeed in my business too is what makes Kimberly’s special, Kimberly’s is me. I always come up with innovative ways to grow and make my staff grow along with me, to stay afloat, and ensure customer experience and satisfaction.

How do you handle pressure from clients and your contemporaries?
No pressure at all, my contemporaries and I are one and same. We reach out to each other and share overflows. We talk about our common challenges and agree on the way forward. I have been able to pull everyone together in the business. If you are with me, then you are with everyone in the business. I believe we can all grow together; the sky is big enough for us to fly. We can all coexist efficiently. On clients, communicating upfront about terms and conditions of the apartment in clear terms; written and verbal helps to avoid pressure. Some still try you out but there are consequences for violating clear terms and conditions. Staffs are also a challenge we constantly battle from. Dishonesty is a thing. However, being in sync with my contemporaries helps a lot. I am happy we are all aligned.

Why did you choose short-let apartments over long-term? What inspired your move into this segment of the real-estate market?
I love meeting new people, my business gives me that. Many clients always turn to family. Long term rental won’t give me that opportunity. However, due to popular demand from our clients, I have started my premium rentals, and that’s for long-term rentals. Getting a good house to rent is like finding a needle in a haystack. Our Kimberly’s premium rentals sift through the houses in the market and select the very good ones from our clients to choose from.

What personal development plans do you have for yourself as a leader in your space and field?
I have learnt something, anything you do for someone directly or indirectly, you do it for yourself. I encourage people who want to get into the business of managing properties. I help them and teach what I know. What I didn’t realise would happen is, these well-managed properties become part of Kimberly’s and gives us more unique properties to give to our clients. The market is big enough. Everyone has their strengths, and helping people to attain my level of growth has turned out to make me even bigger. I plan to continue grooming and mentoring people around me. I give room for their experiences too. Part of mentoring as experience is the best teacher. Personally, it’s important to me that anyone that comes or passes through me never forgets me. I always do significant things to help people grow or learn something. This helps me develop too, buttressing the saying ‘we rise by lifting others’.

Can we say you were born with a silver spoon?
Silver? Not even plastic! My parents gave us (my siblings and I) something against all odds – a good foundation. No matter what, my parents ensured we went to the best schools. Sadly, when I was 12/13 years they broke up, making me a product of a broken home. It was not easy, as most things I know are self-thought. As the first born of my Dad, the break up affected me the most. It wasn’t an easy experience growing up. Sadly, parents don’t think you have a problem at the time, largely because they are still figuring things out. More so, we all are eventually. I love my mum and dad so much; they gave me their strength and intelligence and my mother’s resilience also had a positive effect on me. I will choose them in a thousand lifetimes. They both give their all, every time.

How did your background shape your life?
My background prepared me for greatness. It didn’t feel like it at that time, especially with my disciplinarian parents. I was a very stubborn child. Most people who knew me then, are surprised I turned out this way. I was clearly misunderstood, as I was expelled from secondary school at some point. But I knew what I wanted and I wasn’t going to stop until I got there. I challenged a lot of things, knowing Yoruba/Nigerian parents; you get stigmatised and labelled as a ‘bad child’. Every ‘bad child’ is mostly a misunderstood youth. When I talk to my mum now, she says ‘I didn’t understand then.’ If you have a child at home giving you problems please take a step back and try to understand the child. Children are different; the stubborn ones turn out to be the greatest. You can make or break that child and that is dependent on the route you take.

What’s your favourite food and colour?
I love food too much to have a favourite. I love yummy food, but I’m not a fan of dry food. I love to cook and I have gotten private lessons in culinary (Na so I like food reach). My preference for certain colours changes and depends on my mood, but I love Emerald Green, Amethyst Purple and White. I love white too much with a touch of any of the above.

If you are not working, how do you relax?
Movies! Name a movie I have seen it. I love series. I also enjoy computer or phone games. It steadies me and calms my mind. It is also a good distraction from pressure.

As a growing child, was what the best gift you received?
Christmas Dresses. My dad always bought the dress in April or May, and my mum keeps it in the wardrobe. My siblings and I will always go and inhale the new scent of the dress. I still need to ask my dad where he got the dresses from. I love my dad. Every time I go down memory lane there are bits and pieces of things, he did that wasn’t relevant at the time but means everything to me now. Those dresses are the best for me.

Are there things you still desire?
Yes. More travel destinations, more children, patience. My patience level was zero but now, I can say I’m at 25%. I desire to be more patient; most of all, I desire to be a catalyst to great change for my country and the lives of people around me. I desire to make more impact in people’s lives. I have recently discovered my activism side, and on that, I want to make a difference in this country starting from my local Government Odo-Otin, in Osun state.

What are some of the lessons life has taught you?
Life teaches everyday. It has taught me to love to share and to keep dreaming. It has taught me to be honest as life is easier that way. It has taught me to speak up and be blunt with discretion. It has taught me to be the good mum and better wife to my husband. I am still learning, to handle disappointment. I really learnt that most disappointments are blessings and it may take years to know and understand, but looking back, I’m grateful I didn’t get something I prayed for because I was destined for more but I didn’t know or see it at the time. Life has taught me that anyone can become anything, irrespective of whatever circumstances. Life teaches me no condition is permanent. It can be good or bad or nice or exciting, but change is constant, so expect the change. Life is the greatest teacher and I’m a privileged student.

What are your thoughts on domestic violence?
Anyone that can use their words to communicate and express how they feel should continue to do so but those who only know how to do that violently should get help immediately. You may be bipolar and not know it. I strongly feel it’s a mental health issue. Unfortunately, their partners keep indulging them rather than encouraging them to ask for help. If they don’t accept help, kindly leave to avoid death that can’t be prosecuted by pleading insanity with evidence.