Atinuda | Oaken Event features Seyi Olusanya in 2nd Edition. Oaken Event will be bringing Atinuda 2 this year and it promises to be bigger and better. To kick start her second edition, Atinuda features speaker Seyi Olusanya CEO of Once Upon A Destination and Cedar Events.
Seyi Olusanya was also a speaker at last year’s Atinuda event. She talked about the importance of “The Power of Us” in her business. She explained that the people you surround yourself with from the start of your business should be the people you want to build something substantial with. She said, “If they made a movie of your life, who would be in the credits?”
The mom has always been a pro winning team (internally) and that is what has gotten her to where she is today. She also encouraged industry colleagues to support each other to achieve a collective vision and move forward. We can’t wait for her words of wisdom at this year’s Atinuda 2.
Photographed by renowned photographer TY Bello, Atinuda’s team asked Seyi Olusanya series of questions to help us understand the success story behind her brand and how she maintains a winning team.
Atinuda’s Rep: What advice would you give other ladies in the event industry?
Seyi Olusanya: Remember Rome was not built in a day, take time out for yourself and family, enjoy the journey, it can be very challenging but let your passion be your fuel and allow yourself time to breathe!
AR: How do you balance work, family and the home with a very demanding job?
SO: I couldn’t do it without the help of a great support network, I call them My Amazing Team O, they include my nanny, my sisters, my cousin, my driver, my PA and my long suffering ever supportive husband.
I made a deliberate and conscious decision not to go the corporate way but to start a business that could revolve around my children. They come first and it is a constant juggle to make sure that they get the care and attention they deserve whilst also making sure the business gets the care and attention it needs.
I learnt very early that I can’t do it all myself and I needed to equip my team and make sure they understand my vision both for family and for the business. I also empower them to function effectively in the roles they perform. They are allowed to make and learn from their mistakes and take ownership of projects I give them.
AR: Can you share with us some of your greatest highlights and achievements?
SO: Being the first event management company to host an industry networking event at the prestigious iconic Harrods was a major highlight at the time. The awards my team and I have won.
But these don’t compare to the highlight and the sense of achievement and euphoria I have seeing the happy faces of my clients and sharing in the most intimate experience of their life’s journey.
AR: What advice would you give young entrepreneurs that are excited about venturing into the event industry?
SO: Focus on giving the best service to your clients, hone your skills, get out of your comfort zone, attend courses and conferences both at home and in other parts of the world. Network and be open to change. It is inevitable in business. Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day.
AR: How best will you describe creativity and uniqueness?
SO: Creativity has different expressions, it is being able to form a picture, a story adding texture, colour and form to first in the mind and then translating the mind story to reality.
I believe an artist comes in whatever form and have their own peculiarity and uniqueness, that thing that makes them stand out from all others. It can just be something so little but so peculiar to their style of expression.
AR: As a powerful force to be reckoned within the event industry, what do you think has positioned you in such a recognised position?
SO: Hmmmm! I remember going to the industry with open child-like wonder and awe at all I saw at the time and being so incredibly excited about it all and to be honest I don’t think I have lost that child-like wonder.
I also think that the fact that I am inquisitive and not afraid to go to new places, meet new people and just be open to learn, share and connect with people on a real level. You never know where your next new idea or collaboration might come from. Consistently producing amazing work.
AR: Share with us secrets or tips that have kept you relevant through the years.
SO: It is so important to be open to new ideas and not be afraid to evolve and change. Change is inevitable…Embrace it!
AR: Do you have any exciting project coming up?
SO: I am so excited that our destination and travel concierge is finally up and running, this includes arranging bespoke honeymoon and personal travel experiences for our clients and we are quite encouraged by the response from clients who are using our services. Creating travel experiences is another creative outlet for me.
AR: Share with us one of your biggest event mistakes that eventually became a major lesson or stepping-stone.
SO: In the early days of planning destination events, I had an event in The Gambia and we had to Air Freight everything we needed for the event design and décor, – Candelabra, candlesticks, candles table cloths, napkins, décor items. Name it and we took it because we wanted to create a world-class setting in an environment that had very limited event décor resources at the time.
We arrived in Banjul and then had to clear the items with Customs which became quite problematic because I hadn’t factored in the cost of clearing the goods. We went back and forth and eventually got it sorted at the intervention of the Tourism Minister who had heard about another event we did in Banjul and had made contact with us a few months back.
Thank God I had kept in contact with her and was able to pull in that favour. I learnt from that experience to do extensive research and work with local contacts when I find myself in a similar situation.
AR: How would you describe the evolution of the event industry?
SO: The industry has grown significantly in the 15 years that I have been involved. The evolution of the internet and social media means that we are connecting beyond borders and learning from one another. I love the fact that creatives around the world are daring and unapologetic with their design ideas.
AR: Share with us some of the valuable lessons you took away from the Atinuda Experience, which held in 2016.
SO: There is potential for collaboration with like-minded people in the industry. We all have the same concerns and we will do well if we put our heads together.
AR: How would you describe your visit to Nigeria? Also, how would you describe the growth of the event industry in Nigeria?
SO: It was interesting watching the industry evolve from afar but now that I am here I have been quite impressed by the extent creatives in the industry will go to help make their client’s dream a reality. I love the resourcefulness and the fact we have embraced local artisans.
AR: Kindly share any other aspect that you would want the world to hear or read about.
SO: Watch out for Atinuda 2! It is going to be a transformational experience for you and your business. You don’t want to miss it.