Designing business success: Chioma Idigo CA
Chioma Idigo CA, Director of Padook Designs seeks to bring high levels of craftmanship and artisanal goods to the African and global markets. She talked to Eleanor O'Neill about launching her unique brand.
Based in Lagos, Nigeria, Padook Designs is a home décor and furnishing retailer that works with local artisans to showcase West African art and techniques in high-quality designer products. Chioma founded the business in 2016 and was a finalist in the Entrepreneurship category of the 2017 ICAS 35 CAs under 35 awards.
What drove you to start Padook Designs?
I wanted to create an African business with international standards and reach. Ultimately, to become a profit-making multinational company.
After months of research, I noticed a gap in the furniture market. I observed that furniture buyers often complained about quality when purchasing locally-made pieces and the price when buying imported goods.
We also noticed that because of the generall poor quality of Nigerian-made furniture, artisans were not being compensated enough for their work.
This drove me to start a business that would improve the quality of African-made furniture, compensate the artisans fairly, and satisfy consumer needs.
Did you face many challenges?
The biggest challenges I faced were securing financing and working through the economic recession in Nigeria during 2016 and the beginning of this year. We had to innovate new ways to offer our clients more value for their money.
We also had to research the international grants that were available to us and found that expanding our horizons opened the door for a lot of external support.
What are you most passionate about in your work?
Bringing the talent of the local African carpenter, painter or carver to the doorstep of the domestic and international customer.
I am passionate about introducing depth to the Nigerian furniture industry through using these local artisans and excited about creating a scalable and exportable business that empowers them financially, and through technical developments.
How has the CA qualification helped you pursue an entrepreneurial career path?
As a founder of a multi-faceted business that is building a unique Nigerian brand, I have been able to lean on the resources provided by ICAS and learn from all the successful CAs I read about in the CA magazine and online. Their stories are not only a great learning tool but also motivate me on those hard days we go through as entrepreneurs.
Moreover, I feel very supported by ICAS, not only through the resources available to CA, but also through the awards and recognition given to entrepreneurs and those doing well in their respective fields.
Do you have any advice for budding CA entrepreneurs?
My only advice would be to work as hard as you can and not to give up. It is important to have a reason for going down the entrepreneurial route that you can keep in mind on the days you can't seem to find a breakthrough.
I would also encourage entrepreneurs to find and connect with a society or group of business owners that they can turn to for motivation or encouragement.