•The CEO, STEPHANIE GEDDES Tells City People Her Story
When Stephanie Geddes, the petite lady behind Stephanie’s Bar N Lounge located at 52 Calcutta Crescent, Apapa, Lagos invited many celebrities to the 9th Year Anniversary of the club, they were all pleasantly surprised that the club had come of age. It was a nite to remember at the one spot bar for unlimited fun. It was a night of fun and entertainment, Gloria Ibru & Her G Notes were on the band stand and DJ Humility set the roof on fire with a lot of other hot DJs. All the big names in showbiz stormed the all nite party held at the Apapa Club. Bijiano was there. So also was Jazzman Olofin and the Hypeman was MC Noise. The celebration was proudly supported by Jonnie Walker, Guinness, Nigeria Breweries, and of course City People magazine. The list of VVIPs was a long one Olorogun Oskar Ibru came and he sang along with his sister, Gloria.
Benson Anumudu was there. He is the older brother of Willie Anumudu of Globe Motors Musa Wada was there. So also Dr. Chijoke Ezendo. Patrick Doyle was there and Peter Iriah. Gloria Ibru and Sammy Okposo’s daughter, Alula Okposo were there. Diplomatic OBJ of Wazobia also came, so also Muma Gee.
Stephanie, in this interview with City People Publisher SEYE KEHINDE, reveals how tough it has been sustaining Stephanies Bar at 9. Below are excepts.
How has it been running Stephanie Bar for the past 9 years?
It hasn’t been easy. Like I always say, if you don’t like heat don’t go into the Kitchen. I have got great passion for what I do. The passion has kept me going. It is me. That is what I like to do. Sometimes it is good, sometimes it is bad. Sometimes it is fantastic. But come what may we are there.
You have to be creative. In this kind of business you have to be creative. You can’t be static. You have to keep bringing in and injecting new things into the business to make it really spicy for your patrons and customers, friends of the bar.
What makes your club unique?
It is one stop fun loving place where you can find any drink you want. We cater to the needs of our patrons. It is like an event centre. You can eat Ikwobi, fried rice. You can have birthdays there. You can have parties there. Its like an events venue. You can have after-wedding parties. You can have all sorts of parties. There is outdoor bar. Where you can get fresh air and sit outdoor and enjoy yourself. You can have Barbeque and all African food. We have the VIP upstairs and we’ve got the club which operates on weekends and on Wednesdays. Its a one stop shop and fun spot for everyone.
What has kept you going for the past 9 years?
Its my passion. I love what I do. Its me. That’s me. My passion for the business. Sometimes in every business you want to quit. If you don’t have a passion for what you do you may want to quit. I am out. I am gone. But I can’t do that because I have got passion for what I do. It has kept me going. I like what I do. I enjoy what I do.
Can you recollect how the whole idea started for you?
That wasn’t my plan actually. When I came to Lagos, initially, I started distributing Cement. I relocated to Lagos from Port Harcourt I began to load cement from Apapa to deliver to customer so during the day, when my trucks are loading I will go and look for food to eat in a restaurant. I felt there was a vaccum to be filled. That was when I started getting the idea, what about if you do something like this? It will be nice. Initially, I didn’t know many people in Lagos. I didn’t know anywhere. I only knew the road from my house in V.I to Apapa. From my house in V.I to the Airport. Many people tried to discourage me. They said this is not a womans job. You are not going to succeed. Its a mafia business. You have to be in the system. You have to be born and bred in Lagos. You have to know people in Lagos. I proved them all wrong because I was sure if you do something well and if you do it right, all these will not matter they will come. I am glad I proved them wrong. I am glad I went against everybodys decision and I stuck to mine and it paid off.
One has seen the various changes that the club has gone through over the years. Can you take us through the various changes?
Where we are now is our property, when we started off we were renting, eventually our rent was always increased, maybe they felt we were making a lot of money, we had to go look out for a place to build. Our present location is purposely built for the bar-the outer bar, the VIP, the kitchen, the service room, so thats it.
How have you coped with running the club?
It takes its toll on you because when you finish from your day time job, you have to shower take care of the kids and then face the club. You don’t have time to socialise. You don’t have the kind of time you want to spend with your family, with your kids. It takes it’s toll on you. It hasn’t been easy. It has taken its toll on me. It is not easy. I am still trying to balance all these roles, as we speak.
Has the economy affected the Cement business?
Yes. It has affected it greatly. It is 4 years now. Unlike before we used to get a huge demand for supply of Cement. It has dropped now. We have property development companies that used to develop properties and they get you to give them 5 trucks, 10 trucks. It has really, really dropped. It is not what it used to be Cement is falling. It is not like you do one truck, 2 trucks and you make a lot of money. No. It has to be steady. It is a volumes game. It has a lot to do with the volume. It has a lot to do with the turn over. So, the economy has really affected us in a negative way. But if you are focused, if you are determined, you can attain anything you want. You can achieve anything you want. Things might not be easy but that does not make them impossible. so, we getting here today wasn’t a walk in the park. It hasn’t a walk in Hyde Part at all. For me to get here I have fought for everything. I have put in time. I have put in energy. I have worked hard. I have worked smart. So, it hasn’t been easy. Nothing has been easy. Its just been hardwork, being focused, being disciplined, being determined and being positive.
How did your growing up years in Port Harcourt prepare you?
My growing up prepared me for challenges. Yes. But not this type of challenges. I had my daughters when I was really young. When I had my twin daughters and they gave me then to carry, I looked at them in my arms over and over again and then the world changed. For me, the world changed. Everything now revolved around them, to be the best mum I can be. That was in Port Harcourt. For me having my kids early in life prepared me for a lot of things mentally and emotionally. Every business and every experience comes with different kinds of challenges. But like I said, you have to be focused. You have to have a reason for doing what you are doing. You have to have a Passion for what you do. I take one day at a time. And I try to do the best I can to the best of my ability to deal with the challenges knowing that if you keep working hard, working smart, nothing is impossible. It might be difficult but not impossible.
Why did you settle for the Cement business? Why not something else?
Actually, it was accidental because I thought there was a lot of profit inside it until I got into it. I bought a property in Lekki Phase 2 when I came to Lagos and I wanted to sell it and start some work in the property sector. I then asked for how much a truck of cement is. I made the calculation. They told me how much the Retailers were buying. I did the mathematics and I said wow the business must be getting good profit. Why don’t I go into this business? That is how it started. So I started supplying people around there in trucks and then I started getting major customers. I started by accident. Its been tough but its worth it.