Referred to, in a BBC documentary as “The Nigerian woman who sold two necklaces and never looked back”, she started bead making to keep herself busy until a proper job came and guess what? It never came. Meet Mrs Bimbo Balogun, CEO Bimbeads Concept, a graduate of Petroleum Marketing, Winner Most Outstanding Fashion Accessories Designer of the Year 2015 at the 4th Fashion and Life International Conference and Achievement Awards.
She talks about her journey into the bead making industry – the highs, the lows, and life generally.
Q: Let’s meet you.
A: My name is Bimbo Balogun. I am from Ondo state, the third out of seven children, married with two flawless kids. My company name is Bimbeads Concept, we specialize in beads and gem stones to make jewelry and accessories.
Q: You studied petroleum marketing, why did you leave petroleum marketing for the bead making business?
A: Yes, I studied petroleum marketing. I didn’t find a job after my NYSC. I needed to turn my passion into profit. I didn’t leave petroleum marketing, I had worked in an oil company, Okay Petroleum and JLT Fries during industrial attachment and before I got my call up letter. I just wanted to keep myself busy until “a proper job” came. And it never came. Ever since, I have been soaring like an eagle and loving it.
Q: What inspires you every day to keep going?
A: God. God, my family basically, people around me, plus I love what I do. I am never idle, I can’t be caught doing nothing.
Q: There seems to be a form of competition in the bead making industry, how does your brand stand out?
A: The word “stand out” is my slogan. There is originality in creativity. My designs are unique and they are crafted based on the individual’s taste, their personality, and the occasion the jewelry is being worn to.
Q: Over the years, you have built your brand, what are the key sacrifices you have made to bring your business this far which growing enterprises can emulate?
A: When I started, sales weren’t up there, it was a sacrifice. Most people at that point would have stopped, but perseverance and passion have made me stay. By the way, I don’t think I can do anything else. So, I do not take NO for an answer in my business, I also do not think there is any design I can’t make. I must always try and trust me, my trials are always worth it.
Q: At the end of the year, what do you hope to have achieved?
A: By the end of the year, I hope to be able to reach out to as many youths as possible. Especially people in this generation; there is no tenacity in this generation, they do not have this independent mindset, most youths believe that they have to know someone up there to get somewhere. So, I just want to be able to reach out to people, motivate them and try to transform them. I also started something, The Creative Mind, which is meant to bring together young people in the creative industry, people who are original in their works, so I am hoping that by the end of the year we would have accomplished what we started out to.
Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?
A: Apart from being a top jewelry designer, I see myself as a mother of youths, I want people to be able to look at me and say “She touched my life”. I want to reach out and change people’s mentality.
Q: How did friends and family take it when you made it known that you were leaving Petroleum Marketing for bead making?
A: I did not make it known. I didn’t even know myself. It was just something I did to keep myself busy till the real job came and from there it became a career.
Q: How has the journey been so far?
A: I love the challenges, the failures, the improvement, the progress I have made. I have seen myself grow. I know where I was ten years ago and I know where I am now. I have grown and I am loving it.
Q: How would you describe your fashion style?
A: I love fitted dresses a lot, and they must be comfortable too.
Q: What is your greatest extravagance?
A: (laughs) I am not extravagant.
Q: Which living person do you admire most and why?
A: Ibukun Awosika, the Chairman, First Bank of Nigeria, and I admire her a lot because she is a mentor and she is successful.
Q: Some parents do not support their children who want to learn a skill, which could be fashion designing, bead making, etc. What advice would you give to youths in this position?
A: Be persistent, because when I started, even my husband was like “What is she doing?” but as time went on, and I became a success, he became supportive.
Q: How can we reach you?
A: My website address is http://www.bimbeads.com , on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/bimbeads, on Instagram: @bimbeads, you can also visit the office: Rasul House, 96, Awolowo way, Opp. MAN House, Ikeja, Lagos.