She is charming, creative, intelligent, and a woman whose imagination creates enchantingly beautiful designs and events. Ugochi Nwachukwu is not your average events designer; she is a woman whose work now attracts the patronage of some of Nigeria’s wealthiest and influential people. Ugochi Nwachukwu started out using social media to share some of her best works and designs, a move that not only earned her recognition for her work with Enchanted Events, but also the much-coveted opportunity of designing the wedding of Nigeria’s current First daughter, Zahra Buhari.
A Preston Bailey, New York trained events designer and planner, Ugochi Nwachukwu shares with us on Whoot Africa’s Inspiration Africa about the power of pushing through and staying the course with one’s passion.
Here are excerpts from our inspirational interview with her
About Ugochi Nwachukwu?
I come from a really close-knit family; my family always indulged me when it came to my creativity and being curious as a young girl. My mom was also into fashion and I spent so much of my growing up following and just being inspired by her creativity, tenacity and her ability to make the most out of almost anything, even as a single mum with so much responsibilities. I also have amazing siblings, and my family has always been my strongest influence.
Enchanted Events? I worked as a part-time model while I was at the University, and I was exposed to the world of fashion and events, the behind the scenes rush and the whole concept of putting together breathtakingly beautiful events. When I left the university, I worked with a Telco for 4years and somehow knew my passion wasn’t behind the desk; before I quit my day job, I had taken a few certification courses in events planning, fashion and make-up artistry. Even though I had interest in all three, I knew I needed laser focus if I wanted to succeed. And so, without a back-up plan or financial safety net, I packed my determination and drive bag and plunged into the world of events designing and planning.
My first year as an events planner was tough. I didn’t get any proper paying gigs, as no one was interested in paying me, even though they loved my work. I had organised a few events and decided maybe I had made the wrong decision, I realized my friends were happy to have me plan their events, but they weren’t so supportive with paying me and that taught me a big lesson about understanding my own value, and the place of friendship in business. I kept good records of everything I did and ensured to be top-notch with it. My breakthrough came when a woman who had seen my previous work came to me about designing her daughter’s wedding; I had worked as a planner for a while, but mostly outsourced my work, but she somehow challenged me to design theirs from scratch. Despite having no office or solid business model, she saw something in me and trusted me enough to pay me a six-figure sum to design a wedding for her daughter.
The wedding turned out to be a real successful one and the referrals kept pouring it. I was able to get an office, and set up properly, which has helped with branding the Enchanted Events people now know today.
The feeling that I am part of something inspires me, especially as a woman in business who is carving her own niche, doing her bit and building something that I hope and pray will continue to grow and be bigger.
Networking and Relationships in building her business?
Networking has helped me a lot. Abuja is a very small place, and quality work will always help in building more relationships because when someone needs quality work and they think of you, that is absolutely what building relationships and networking is about. We are also having this interview because someone recommended me to Whoot Africa. I learnt the power of positive networking and supporting each other.
The name Enchanted Events says it all; it’s bringing things to life, beauty, wow moments and experiences, and that means a lot of studying and creativity at its best. What is your creative muse when it comes to designing events?
Fashion is my creative muse. I could get the design for a chair cover from a skirt, and I also love the creativity of interior decorations. I follow a lot of interior designers because they all flow into each other, fashion design and interior designs are great creative muses for events design. It is such a beautiful experience creating something out of nothing.
Leveraging on the power of social media and the branding aspect of social media?
Designing events is about impressions. Just the way I have my office, and ensuring to put my best foot forward when a client walks in, is the same way I handle social media; every click is a potential client. I understand the power of impressions and that’s how my team and I leverage on the power of social media.
Lessons in 6years since Enchanted Events started?
Consistency! Apply yourself every day. One goal and full steam ahead. I know this is all I want to do and I want to be the best at it.
Challenges of being a woman in business?
The general expectations of being a woman in business, sometimes people don’t expect you to have that drive. Why are you working so hard? I had people I was in partnerships with in my early stages in business especially men who try to make all the decisions, but I am thankful for how hard I have worked and the growth my business now enjoys and now they won’t even make decisions without consulting me.
Business world inspirations?
Preston Bailey, he’s not your ordinary designer. This is a man who uses everyday stuff to create masterpiece designs and he’s not scared of hardwork. He inspires me to go the extra mile in everything I do with my work.
The vision for the future
Not stopping. Evolving into other things, I definitely want to continue to build on this. I would love to have my own home grown floral centre, event centre and just continue to grow and be blessed in what I do
Your advice to a woman who has taken the time to read your interview with us?
Keep pushing, find yourself the right support system, don’t give up and always put God first.