At School Kits Limited head office in Gbagada, Lagos, I waited patiently to meet the CEO in one of the offices to extend my appreciation for the generous donation of school items for visually impaired young Samuel, a beneficiary of the Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative school support project, I and my team initiated.
A door opens and in came a beautiful woman. She had a simple demeanor to her personality and as we were introduced, she welcomed me warmly. I couldn’t have guessed that she was the Chief executive officer of the company. Mrs. Temilola Adepetun chatted away with me like we had known each other for ages. Now that is the kind of CEO I would like to be. As I thanked her on behalf on my team and me for supporting our efforts in giving this vulnerable child access to quality education and an empowered future; I felt Mrs. Adepetun passion as she responded and talked about the need to give back to our society as privileged citizens.
I became curious about how she started her company, School Kits Limited which had now grown to have 3 outlets in Lagos and one in Abuja. My nose for news picked up the smell for a great and inspiring story and so I asked her to share her story.
Me: I would love to know what inspired the idea that birthed, School Kits Limited
Temilola Adepetun: Many years ago my first son got admission into secondary school and I had to shop for the things he needed. Back then I worked in the Oil and Gas industry and had a very busy schedule. I had to visit about five different markets to get everything my son needed. It was stressful and so I thought to myself, “isn’t there a shop that has everything one needed for school”? I mean for parents like me who had such a busy schedule, it will be a great relief.
Me: After that thought crossed your mind, what did you do with the idea?
Temilola Adepetun: I remembered a few shops that I shopped in while doing my A-levels in England between 1977 and 1979; this made me think that it was possible to replicate such a shop here in Nigeria. I put down my thought on paper and spoke to a few friends who were enthusiastic about it and said that it was doable. Soon afterward in the year 2000, as another school session was about to begin, I collected my son’s school list and got a few friends to also share their children’s list with me. Then I traveled to Dubai to get the items and a few more. On getting back I decided to hold an exhibition to test the market. I sent out notices to parents of different PTA directorates and friends; it turned out to be a huge success. And in September, that same year, the company was Incorporated and opened her first outlet to the public at Onikan, Lagos.
Me: Surely the ride hasn’t been a smooth one, how have you managed the challenges that come with running a business and company?
Temilola Adepetun: Passion for what I do and the service I provide which is to offer a one-stop shop for parents and students keeps me going. It feels rewarding that I am able to meet the needs, my customers. The company has also evolved and grown over time. A time came when the company became much bigger than what I could handle alone and so I engaged a business strategy consultant to help restructure the business. That step created room for hiring a Chief Operating Officer for the company. It is a move that has produced great results and we have expanded to having different arms at School Kits. Apart from providing wholesales; we now operate our own cloth production line and we are still expanding.
A few take away points about what is required to step out and start your own thing/business that stood out for me as I had this conversation with Mrs. Adepetun:
- Ideas can pop up from your own life experience and needs.
- Write down your thoughts, brainstorm about your idea and share with trusted friends.
- Try to think about where you have seen a prototype of your idea that worked.
- Be creative with your idea and step out; test your idea.
- Once you achieve success in operating your idea on a small scale, start your business.
- Get registered and be visible to the public so clients can find you.
- As you grow and expand don’t try to do it all alone, hire experts and professionals who will compliment and provided the required skills for your growing company.
School Kits prides herself in providing quality Uniforms and school items to cater for needs of the parents and students population
School Kits: Everything you need to kit for school – Temilola Adepetun
Adebisi Adetunji (C) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Media content provider, Trainer & consultant-@debisibusybeemedia, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer, Principal Producer (FRCN) Catch me on Twitter – @DebisiBusybee, Facebook & email – firstname.lastname@example.org