Hi, my name is Chioma Mercy Okereke. I am from Umueze Atta in Ikeduru Local Government of Imo State and was born at St. Christopher’s Hospital Atta Ikeduru. I grew up in Aba, Abia State, there l had my primary and part of my secondary education but had to come back home sometime in 2003. I was enrolled at Atta Girls’ Secondary school Atta, Ikeduru where l finished my secondary school education and later took my WAEC in 2006. Later I proceeded to Imo State University Owerri in 2008 where l was offered admission to Study Library and Information Science. I graduated in the year 2012 with a Second Class upper and subsequently I was called upon to engage in the one year compulsory National Youths Service Core (NYSC) which l did at Ogun State.
What exactly do you do?
At the moment, I make beaded jewelry of all types and designs for people and I’m also a student. I went back to school for a second degree in librarianship (M.Sc.).
How long have you been running Beads Palace Emporium?
Well it wasn’t Beads Palace Emporium from the onset. Initially, I started with Beads By Oma which was the first page I created and also the first online platform where I show case my designs. I created Beads by Oma sometime in April 2015, afterwards, I realized that the name was used by someone else and with time I realized that I wanted a different Brand name, something unique and something not too common, so on the 29TH of May 2016, Beads by Oma was officially changed to Beads Palace Emporium.
What kind of training courses did you enroll for before you became a professional?
I enrolled for training in professional beads making, I was also given lessons on products knowledge (beads), on packaging and its influence on your business and color combinations.
What was your ambition growing up?
Hmmmmn You know most times we don’t end up were we always wanted. Well I wanted to be a lawyer, but I guess God had other plans for me and now we are here and no regrets.
What are the major challenges you’ve encountered and how have you been able to overcome them?
The major challenge l encountered in this business especially when l was starting up was trying to convince people on the difference between my works and other inferior beaded jewelry that flooded the market. Secondly, being in Owerri where just maybe 40% of the population appreciate creativity. We’ve also had people complain of cost, but hey good things don’t come cheap and at Beads Palace Emporium, we don’t compromise on quality.
However, God has been faithful, we have surpassed those challenges, we may not have reached our target but we will get there.
How has the journey been?
So far so good, the business is moving, people are gradually appreciating the creativity of my works, sales have increased, as well as publicity. It’s one thing to do something and it’s entirely another thing to do it well. Due to the creativity in my designs, I have captured the interest of people around me.
Which aspect of bead making would you consider the most difficult?
I will not say it’s difficult, the only thing is that it needs attention and commitment plus you must be creative on your own as an individual. This will help you make something out of nothing.
Tell us more about the training programmes you organize.
Well, I just started that few months back. I took just two people to train at the moment. I teach them the simple as well as the complex designs.
Are there people you look up to in the industry?
Sure Gbenga Ayo-Dada and Mojisola Obajimi
How do you deal with customer dissatisfaction?
I try to meet all the requirements of my customers and in the rare event of any dissatisfaction, I try as much as possible to give them that which they want.
Given the chance to do anything differently, what would it be?
I would have started beading at an earlier age.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
What goes around comes around.
What do you think about creative entrepreneurship in Nigeria?
Yes, I am impressed with the growth so far. Different people are coming up with different ideas every day. The rate of unemployment in Nigeria now has forced most of our youths to think outside their comfort zones thereby making them embrace entrepreneurship in different forms.
What are your long term goals?
I want to be a renowned professional beader and a lecturer, a wife and mother.
What would you regard as the most important attribute for an aspiring bead maker?
For you to be a bead maker, you have to be patient and committed.
What are your thoughts on what we do here at Pave Africa?
What you are doing at PAVE AFRICA in showcasing and promoting Africa’s creative entrepreneurs is greatly encouraging and inspiring. You are creating a beautiful platform for us to showcase our designs to the world and thereby bringing to us more patronage. I can’t thank you enough for this offer and to think that you don’t charge for it? You are amazing. Thank you!
BEADS PALACE EMPORIUM