Binta Suleiman is the Creative Director and CEO of Albedo Institute of Interior Designs. A lawyer turned design connoisseur, and one whose work and attention to design details continues to grow her ever increasing portfolio. Binta Suleiman has taken her love for interior designs a step further by working to develop Nigeria’s first curriculum of interior designs in hopes to regularize the industry and ensuring more interior designers get the professional qualifications before practicing.
In this chat with Whoot Africa’s Inspiration Africa at her Abuja office, Binta Suleiman talks to us about her love and passion for creativity, designs, being a business woman in Nigeria and her vision for the Albedo Designs brands.
A little about Binta Suleiman?
I am a woman who is driven by integrity and seeing the right things being done; I am not a pushy person and I am not a push over either. I am a strong phenomenal woman who has tackled some of life’s challenges with persistence and tenacity, I have also overcome things I never thought I could handle and I never do anything halfway. One of my greatest qualities is my ability to always see things through; I finish whatever I set my hands to do unless it is detrimental to or injurious to someone else, if not, I go all the way with everything I do.
The Albedo Journey?
Interior decoration has always been something I have been passionate about, I started early in life by just rearranging things every now and then. I am very particular about things being in order as they should be; when I was at the university, I got dilapidated homes for cheaper rates and then renovate them, in fact, the last apartment I lived in as a student, the owner saw what I had done to the house and asked that I stayed my last year for free.
I have always been entrepreneurial in my approach to life, I started out early trading in different products as the trends and markets demanded. I helped my mom run her business before I got into the university, and the school strikes also gave me a little opportunity to engage in businesses every now and then. When my husband and I relocated to Lagos, I had to resign my job with the FCT High Court. I was bored at the time and decided to start designing bedsheets and also set up a store in Kano. I’d renovated the shop and thought to myself I can actually make a business out of this; I decided to get certifications in interior designs and decorations and started to work for friends and family for a start.
By the time my Husband and I moved back to Abuja, I was confident I could pull off working on my own and that was how I went into interior decoration and designs full time. I have big dreams and I am not one to start small, I know that sounds ridiculous, but I have always been a big dreamer and I work equally as big as I dream.
I think I am fearless, even though someone people will describe it as being reckless. I understand the power of pushing and above all, I do these things to set an example and also motivate my children to dream big and be passionate. If you believe you are going to survive every challenge you go through, pushing through becomes easier.
The Albedo Institute of Interior Design and the journey to teaching?
Teaching wasn’t just about passing on what I had learnt; it was about the deficiency in the industry. I realized this was a free for all industry, with a lot of people practicing without certifications.
My quest to have things in a logical sequence led to the birth of Albedo Institute of Interior Design. I knew realizing this dream of mine meant bringing the right educators on board, if you work with people who don’t know what they are doing, they will drag you down. So, I found someone who is an interior educator and bought her on board to put a curriculum together and we have given this curriculum to a professional body to certify and we are optimistic and excited to see what they come up with.
The Albedo Institute of Interior Design aims to put emphasis on practice and teaching with what is more obtainable in Nigeria, than just the theory aspect of what interior design should be and look like. The experience has been amazing, and I think it is one of the best decisions we have ever made as a team.
Inspiration and Creative Muse?
Seeing my business succeed in every milestone remains one of my biggest inspirations. I wake up every morning excited about the future and just the power of possibilities with doing what I love the most.
My creative muse also lies in bringing my client’s design vision to life; looking at the end product inspires my creativity beyond words
Challenges, and Eureka Moments?
The challenges are the normal entrepreneurship challenges; you don’t get jobs, you don’t get paid. You also have to deal with the complexity of working with sometimes dishonest artisans and various teams. As for eureka moments, I get encouraging feedback from clients. But my best moment so far, came when we transformed a home as a surprise from a husband to his wife, she was speechless and for me, pulling that off in less than a week with my team was truly a good one
Challenges as a woman in business?
As a woman in business, what I hold dearly is my integrity and respect. I will never do anything that compromises my integrity and respect, making money is great, but I don’t see it as a life or death thing. I have great respect for my husband and my home, and as a married woman, I set strict standards that ensure my interactions in the business place doesn’t jeopardize the standard I have set for myself as someone’s wife and a mother. Unless in cases of emergencies, business calls are limited to business hours; I put in my best in everything I do, that way I don’t have to chase anyone for contacts or contracts, my work speaks for me and they come to us if they need our services. I keep things strictly business and professional.
The journey so far in a few words?
Interesting, enlightening, growth, learning, discovery and capabilities.
More growth and better playing fields because right now we are still very disadvantaged as interior designers, but we are trying really hard to change that. We hope the government would recognise that this is a profession and they need to encourage it. I hope the African design body would be encouraged as well and hopefully we can make it happen in the coming years.
Advice to young people needing inspiration and motivation?
Believe in yourself, know that you can do it. Be honest, be persistent, you cannot afford to just throw in the towel every time things get tough, always see the bigger picture and nothing will be impossible. Set out to do things right, no cutting corners and just do your very best at what you do. Be true to yourself and commit to doing the right thing.
What would you want to be remembered for, after all is said and done?
I want to have trained as many people, impact many lives and change the interior design space in Nigeria.
Official Website – Albedo Design School