Udoka Uju is taking the business of painting beyond decorating homes, she is making lives beautiful. In this interview, she talks about her journey to entrepreneurship and her mission to produce more lady painters in Nigeria.
Can you briefly describe yourself and your business?
My name is Udoka Uju. I am The Lady Painter, Nigeria’s number one creative wall designer. I work with my team of professional painters. We paint interiors and exteriors of residential and commercial spaces and provide wall maintenance services. I am a graduate of the University of Port-Harcourt, studied Economics.
What is it like being a female entrepreneur, and why did you choose to be one?
It’s amazing being an entrepreneur, you get to discover a lot about yourself and make a lot of life changing decisions that you never knew you could do. I chose to be an entrepreneur because that’s the only way I could ever be me. I used to work in one of the leading banks in Nigeria and while I was there, I was always restless because I knew I should be doing more. When I could not take it anymore, I had to resign from the job to start painting houses and making lives beautiful with colours.
What new innovation have you introduced to your business?
For most of the paint jobs that I have done, I develop a 3D visual for my clients with the design ideas and the best colours depending on the function of the space for them to give me approval before I start painting. I take my time to deliver a realistic visual so my clients know exactly how their space will look with whatever design or colour they chose.
What will you say is responsible for your success so far?
Definitely, first, God is the reason. He placed this purpose in my heart. The other reason is that I listened and I followed my heart. I am passionate about what I do right now. If I was not passionate about it, I definitely would not have come this far. So yes, I would say God and a passion for painting have gotten me this far.
In your opinion, would you say that there are any unique challenges that female entrepreneurs face?
Yes. Some women lack confidence in their business. If we are all confident enough to be ourselves, we will bring a different perspective to our businesses. Thankfully, a good number of women are rising up now and we are delivering excellently in our businesses by becoming nothing less than who we really are.
What values and principles have helped you so far?
Most of the jobs I have done are based on referrals. Honesty and dedication on every job got me those referrals. I make sure I deliver exactly what I promise my clients and even more but when I cannot do a particular design, I make it clear to my client that I can’t. I am also dedicated to every job, from start to finish.
Why did you decide to go into this particular line of business?
I did not choose this line of business, it chose me. I have never been artistic, but I have always loved beautiful spaces and colours too. From starting an Interior Design company in 2014 of which painting was one of the services my company offered, out of nowhere I decided to do the painting for my clients myself in 2015. I became interested in painting because I knew there was more to painting than my local painters had to offer. As my interest grew, I did my research, got painting tools and practised on my own. When I realised it was a line of business that we really have not tapped into here in Nigeria, I decided to run it as a business in 2015.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced, and what’s kept you going?
Being a woman in a male-dominated field and introducing this kind of painting service in this part of the world is still a bit of challenge. But because I know I am doing it differently and even better, I am determined to keep pushing.
What’s your five-year plan for your business?
In the next couple of years, I plan to expand the business to have more Lady Painters, have them trained to be professional painters. I plan to operate nationwide, so we would be able to transform homes all over Nigeria. In five years’ time, The Lady Painter brand will be a household name in Nigeria.
What do upcoming female entrepreneurs need to do to be successful on this path?
Generally, to be successful in any business, your business must be all about making people’s life better. Also while you are being passionate about your business, there will be times when it is tough, now that’s exactly what the road to success looks like.
The Leading Ladies Africa Series is a weekly interview series that focuses on women of African descent, showcases their experiences across all socio-economic sectors, highlights their personal and professional achievements and offers useful advice on how to make life more satisfying for women.
It is an off-shoot of Leading Ladies Africa, a non-profit that promotes women empowerment and gender inclusion for women of African descent.
Do you know any woman of African descent doing phenomenal things? Send an email to [email protected] and we just might feature her.
Follow @ynaija on Twitter