Barrister Oyenike Adebiyi (Mrs.) is one of those entrepreneurs you meet for the first time and you immediately get the feeling you’re doing business with the right person. Her calmness, confidence and sense of sincerity would certainly go a long way in reassuring you that you would get great value for your money.
This undeniably pretty lady, who by the way, is also a fantastic lawyer, is the CEO of wave making Cocktail brand, February 25. She started the business about seven years ago and has since transformed it into such an incredibly big brand, but the very modest Oyenike would rather play down her accomplishments and concentrate more on the bigger goals she’s set her eyes on.
Nevertheless, those who know will tell you that her cocktail outfit, February 25, is always visible at most big parties these days, offering its top notch quality service to some of the most prominent personalities in the land. It is no wonder Oyenike’s outfit won the Cocktail brand of the year award at the recent City People’s first ever Female Entrepreneurs Award held at the prestigious Lekki Colliseum in Lagos.
Few moments after she received her award, City People’s Senior Editor, WALE LAWAL, engaged the very warm and intelligent woman for a quick chat and got her to tell us about her foray into the cocktail business. Enjoy excerpts of the interview.
How do you feel being recognized as the Cocktail brand of the Year?
I feel so honoured. It tells me that I really need to work hard. I had no idea some people out there are watching us closely, monitoring what we’re doing. These challenges me the more, and it tells me there’s still a huge task ahead for us to always strive to be better and outstanding as described on the award plaque.
The name February 25 of your outfit is one name that you hear and it sticks, you don’t forget it easily, how did you come about the name?
Okay, the name February 25 was derived from my birthday date. I was born February 25.
When did you actually start the business?
I started in the year 2011.
What informed the choice of Cocktail? Why not any of the fashion and beauty line?
First, I like attending parties and I feel when you want to start any business in life, you need to check the audience, your prospective clients and see where you fit in. Aside from having passion for creativity, because the art of creating cocktail requires being creative, you also need to go out of your way to give your clients something extraordinary. So, the creativity I put in most of the things I do was what informed my going into the business.
Did you go through any form of training or served under anybody before starting out on your own?
Yes, I have done several trainings outside Nigeria. I’m a certified Bartender or Mixologist.
Did you require huge sums of money to start off?
I don’t believe in starting business with a lot of money. If you can afford big money, that’s fine, but when you watch your business grow from little and it’s what you have passion for, the few profit you make you keep investing until you get the desired results which is a continuous thing. I didn’t start with a lot of capital, that I can tell you, but with the help of God and our clients who have been patronizing us so far, I know we have moved far from where we started.
What were the initial challenges that you had to contend with at the time you started seven years ago?
One big challenge we always had when I first started is when we go for events and over a hundred glass cups get broken. And some people would take the glasses to their car while having their drink and we may never get to see the cups from there.
And we have some of our glass cups that are as expensive as N7,500 and N10,000. But right now, all that has reduced because as we grow on the job, our experience begins to help. And to the glory of God, and with the help of my very fantastic team, the losses we make are much lower than the profits we make.
What would you say has been the strength of your brand, especially when you consider that there are lots of strong, competing brands out there?
We strive hard to impress our clients. That’s why, for every event we go for, we try to put in our best. This explains why, each time people take our drinks they tell us, this is nice, can we have your card? I started with making drinks for friends and families. I remember when we started, my first job was from a family because it takes a lot of trust for somebody to give you such a sensitive job to do for them when you have not quite established yourself in that line before.
Why is it that most big parties these days serve a cocktail? It’s become almost like the standard to have a cocktail at every party nowadays?
The thing is, in the last couple of years, cocktail has become an integral part of every great party. Aside the great refreshing taste it brings to the mix, it also adds an incredible touch of class to parties so much so that it can’t be ignored anymore.
I understand that you are a Lawyer, how has your Law background rubbed off on the business?
My Law profession has really helped me because I see Law as a foundation that helps you to do so many things right. So, Law has really helped me in that regard. Fine, I may not be quoting sections of the constitution while mixing the drinks, I can assure that Law is like a passport for you to do things right.
Then, I have a fantastic husband who supports me, who criticizes me. Like I said while receiving my award, he’s my number one cheerleader and my number one critic. When I need the truth, I know I’m going to get it from him.
When the Emcee was reading out your CV, he seemed to have a difficult time catching his breath and putting together everything you’ve accomplished because you do have an intimidating CV. But it’s interesting to see that, in spite of all these, your passion for cocktail came out the strongest and it seems you have literally dumped Law for cocktail….
I have not dumped Law (cuts in).
So, you still practice?
I still practice till date. I own Explicit Legal Services. It’s a Law firm that has about eight staff in Ikeja, both permanent and temporary staff. So, I still practice my Law profession.
Which of the two would you describe as your first love?
(Smiles)My first love is Law which has helped me to do the Cocktail business well. In everything I do, my Law profession helps me. So, it’s Law that’s my first love and I don’t know if any other thing can outshine it because it brings out the best in other business that I do.
Now, talking about the art of mixing drinks itself, what is it that you do differently with your drinks that people have found special, apart from your quality service delivery of course?
Well, according to feedbacks we get, most of my clients tell me that, oh, Nike, you have done much more than we paid for. And I hear that over and over again. So, I think honesty is important. When you pay for a thousand guests, I do at least a thousand one hundred. And when so many people ask for more, we have complimentary glasses. I can assure that the secret to my own success is honesty.
Where are you looking to take your brand to within the next couple of years?
Global, that’s my dream.