The popular phrase “girl power” which is used as a term of female empowerment, independence, and self-sureness defines everything about Ifeoluwapo Opajobi, the CEO of iRoyal Cocina. Born into a noble family with Master’s degree in Biochemistry, Ifeoluwapo has decided to create a niche for herself in cocktails services. In this chat with Ibadankiniso, she talks about her person, business and visions. Enjoy!
IbadanKiniso: Can we get to meet you?
Ifeoluwapo Opajobi: My name is Ifeoluwapo Opajobi and thank you for having me.
Ibadankiniso: Kindly give us an insight into your background and education
Ifeoluwapo Opajobi: I come from a humble nuclear family of five children and I am the first born. We have three boys and two girls. While growing up, our parents ensured we were prepared for life through certain skills and love was our watch word. I am also from Ibadan though so many people don’t know about this, but the truth is that I am from Ibadan, Oke-offa Babasale to be precise. As for my education, I have a bachelor’s degree from Bowen University 2013 and now I have my master’s degree from the University of Ibadan. Both first and second degrees are in Biochemistry.
IbadanKiniso: What is iRoyal Cocina all about?
Ifeoluwapo Opajobi: Yea, iRoyal Cocina is a brand that specializes in cakes, small chops, cocktail drinks, deserts, fruit trees, grills etc and all those things that attracts people and spices up parties. In the past, the normal thing is just food and drinks. But these days, there is more to events than the amala and jollof rice. People are looking for something to keep them seated all through; they are looking forward to a memorable event experience. So, iRoyal Cocina gives that uniqueness to every event. We spice up events by adding colour, clamour, class and fun.
IbadanKiniso: With your educational background, one would have expected you to go into Job hurting. Why iRoya Cocina?
Ifeoluwapo Opajobi: It all started while I was growing up. When I was kid, my mum used to bake cakes whenever we had to mark our birthdays and then, it was for family consumption alone. So I got interested in it. When I got into secondary school my interest for baking and cooking saw me joining the food and nutrition class. All these were just because I love anything that deals with food. Sometimes, I would just sit and try something new to eat. Eventually, when I got to the university, I got to know more about being an entrepreneur and how I could turn my passion for cooking and baking into a profession. So I felt like developing my passion and also fetch myself money and go places. This is why we are here
Ibadankiniso: Would you say your mum was the building block that prompted you into this line of business?
Ifeoluwapo Opajobi: Yes, she has been very supportive and the solid rock so far.
Ibadankiniso: How lucrative is this business?
Ifeoluwapo Opajobi: Like every business, there are pros and cons but for those who have the determination, definitely they will reap. As long as am concern, all legitimate business are profitable depending in so many circumstances such as environment, resources, skills and determination of the person or people involved. Now, talking about my business, I would say yes, it is lucrative and profitable. Though, the early stages may be very challenging and frustrating. I have been into it for two years now. Though I am not that satisfied but I can see what the future hold if I keep doing what I am doing. So, the money that is coming from my business is usually poured into the business. As a professional, one has to make sure you have all the equipment especially when you have someone coming for training. Besides, I attend training to update myself.
Ibadankiniso: While in school, how were you able to combine meeting the demands of clients and facing your study?
Ifeoluwapo Opajobi: Combining both was not easy. I went into this line during my master’s program which was very challenging and I don’t like saying no to clients. So I actually stabbed classes sometimes to attend to clients especially when the pay is good but when the pay is not good I decline. But I must state here, that it is not always about the pay. Sometimes I do jobs that are not too profitable but because every event teaches a new lesson, I grab it as an opportunity. I remember when it was a week to my exam, I had a job and I still did the job. My mum was disturbed and she persuaded me to drop the job and focus on my exams but I couldn’t because I have learnt the power of availability and consistency in business. Eventually, I did the job and sat for my exams
Ibadankiniso: What challenges have you faced since you started?
Ifeoluwapo Opajobi: I have had challenges with transporting myself and my goods. Because our products are easily damaged, it is very challenging sometimes to get them all across to the venue of the event especially through bad roads. Another challenge is underpricing. Nigerians can sometimes frustrate one with bargaining. A client would be requesting for a service worth for example a hundred thousand and wants to pay ten thousand. How do you expect me to cope with such? And if I decline they may misinterpret and sometimes labelled one as too expensive
Ibadankiniso: Are you too expensive?
Ifeoluwapo Opajobi: My services are affordable depending on the wants of the clients
Ibadankiniso: What are your strengths? What would you say has been keeping you going?
Ifeoluwapo Opajobi: My strength has been my passion, the joy I derive from what I do and because I know where I am headed, that keeps pushing me.
Ibadankiniso: There is this views that cocktails are elitist services. Services meant for the rich and mighty in the society. What is your take on this?
Ifeoluwapo Opajobi: That is a total misconception. We are in a modern age and everything is passing through some forms of branding. Tell me, do poor people use cakes for their events or not? Do some of them take pepper soup or not? Of course they do, though the quality may be different but they definitely do. We have cakes that cost 200,000 and we have cakes that can go for 20,000. It depends on what the individual can afford. These days, even students can afford our services. So, I totally disagree
Ibadankiniso: If you are faced with the option of choosing between going full time into your business and pursuing a career with biochemistry, what would you choose?
Ifeoluwapo Opajobi: Truthfully if I am faced with that option. I am not interested in going into biochemistry as a profession. I would rather go into my business full time and expand it. And if you must know, I can as well make good use of my discipline in my business. In fact, for me it is a plus
Ibadankiniso: Why go for a Masters then if you are going to abandon it someday?
Ifeoluwapo Opajobi: No knowledge is lost they say. I had to go for master program because I needed to be more exposed, and meet with people. If I didn’t go for the masters I would not have met more people and also network my business.
Ibadankiniso: What have been your defining moments since you started the business?
Ifeoluwapo Opajobi: When I get positive feed backs after delivery my service, it gives me joy and those have been my defining moments as well as getting referrals from clients.
Ibadankiniso: What has been the biggest deal that you have sealed?
Ifeoluwa Opajobi: I won’t say I have sealed any big deal yet. I am still coming up so I would say I have not had the biggest shot in the business. But I believe I am laying the right foundation. Sooner than later, it will happen and ibadankiniso would be the first to know about it. (Laughs)
Ibadankiniso: Who are your mentors in this line of business?
Ifeoluwapo Opajobi: My mentor is Funke Awobukun , the CEO Cocktail In and Out, she is based in Lagos and Abuja. She is really a mentor who leads and advises. In Ibadan I look up to Bankyloola’s Cuisine.
Ibadankiniso: So what can you say about doing business in Ibadan
Ifeoluwapo Opajobi: It is quite challenging I must confess. There is this cliché that nothing grows in Ibadan but thank God for this new Ibadan movement which I believe ibadankiniso is part of. We are getting there gradually
Ibadankiniso: Thank very Ifeoluwapo for coming around and having this conversation with us
Ifeoluwapo Opajobi: Thank you for having me.