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firsts

May 29, 2010 1 comment

It is my 23rd birthday today. I took a professional photograph over month ago, and it arrived yesterday. I guess it is a gift to myself. I watched the trailer for The Adjustment Bureau yesterday and it seems to me that the message behind the movie is essentially – Life is simply a compilation of the series of events we individually experience. I was basically just sitting and reminiscing on my life thus far, and thinking “wow! time flies!”. I decided to take a trip down memory’s lane and remember all my firsts experiences, ahem, business-wise. This should be fun!

My first Button was a National Button.Basically because they were all I initially planned to do. It was the market demand that made me go into the All-Me Buttons. Anyway, it was a Nigeria National Button as is understandable. When I held it in my hand, there was this rush of accomplishment that filled me. I put it on my t-shirt and immediately took a photo!

My first Sale was the next day to a friend, Tega O*. Well, I practically forced the button on her lol, and then, on Pelumi A*. It was only Nigerian buttons then, because I hadn’t begun to network. I wanted to start building my sales confidence, and I started with people I could easily relate to. I think I made $14.00 in my first week!

My first Contract was kind of informal. It was for the Beijing Olympics in 2008. We partnered with a bigger company because of the minute size of my company in relation to the size of the others. The more official one was for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games for which I got a Certificate of Membership from the 2010 Business Network, an official letter from the Provincial Government of British Columbia and an official lapel pin.

My first Event was when I was still coming up. It was AfroFest 2008 at the Hamilton Convention Centre. AfroFest is an annual multicultural Africa-themed event organized by the McMaster African Students’ Association (MASA). That event fetched me and the company a lot more student popularity! I was so happy making sales lol. The first more public one was the Tiara Festival. You can read more about it via link. The other events were when I had gotten more serious as a businessman ;-). The first of which was at an event in Windsor, Ontario.  You can read more about it at: You can read more about it via link.

My first Speech was on Saturday, March 28th, 2009 at the AfroFest 2009/Hands of War/Mikono Za Vita. We about half an hour allocated for the acknowledgment of student entrepreneurs. I was the MASA secretary, and therefore in charge of preparing the program and allotting time for the different segments. The entrepreneur thing wasn’t my idea though! I was actually shocked to see it in the program the President, Nnamdi N* handed to me. The entrepreneurs were Amal Awadh of Um-Aisha Orphanage, Sylvester Kay-Adade of Pearl Creations, Poize Magazine, and Olumide Adewunmi of Gidilounge. I was doing a lot of running around making sure the show went on without a hitch, and simultaneously organizing a speech in my head. Finally when the hour arrived, I went up confidently on to the very brightly lit stage to introduce myself and Pearl Creations. I spoke about where I come from, Pearl Creations, some my personal experiences and some events we have been privileged to sponsor and partner with. I was nervous and perspiring profusely! A friend in a front seat said he could see the sweat rolling down to my cheeks! I got laughs a couple of times from the audience which helped me calm down. I ended by announcing, “For the purpose of this show, we have buttons every African culture and our stand is in the back so please feel free to come, have a look and possibly buy one or two. Thank you”.
It’s all kind of blurry after that. I do know I felt a lot better later on, probably after I had the chance to cool off and wipe all the sweat off my face lol. I got a lot of positive feedback during & after the show about the speech, and even a couple of days after. Also got a couple of physical & oral pats of the back from friends, admirers and parents. Oh and as usual, business & partnership proposals from other students and entrepreneurs.

Well, I think those all my firsts…for now. I hope to have a lot more sales, attend a lot of events (national & international) and give a lot more speeches soon! Umm since it’s my birthday, I thought I’d also add some things (pluses) that I’m thankful for; and things I’m juggling in my mind.

Very recently, help came in the form of more partnerships and business offers – not too long after “complaining” in a post a while ago. I got some impressive offers this time though…thank goodness! Some being:
-> A friend wants to invest towards the next Olympics.
-> Another wants to help advertise in bigger cities.
-> Two people brought forward the same business idea which I think might be Pearl Creations’ new venture because I’ve thought of it too. But first, I want to figure out who’s the more serious of the two and hopefully go into partnership with him. When it does come out, everyone would be made aware.

Another night, I came across a group of people brainstorming over a business venture. I joined in as was expected, but for privacy purposes, I won’t disclose zip, but I will say this – the venture seems like a pretty good idea. However, it is capital-intensive and requires some labor as well. It seems to me that this venture will have a fixed consumer base almost as soon as it hits the market. It is a risk, but if you don’t take risks, you’ll never really know. We’re going to give it a shot very soon…watch out.

I’m also thinking of expanding some more. The dealership and partnership idea is working, but I want to give more people opportunities. I’m still thinking on how to get more people with great button ideas involved without the PCC-ideology ‘cuz I want something that attracts/helps people, but also profits Pearl Kreations as well. After all, it is a business!

I’ve started paying salaries. Before now, people used to work for free, but I’ve noticed that now, with money as an incentive, they do a much better job! Plus the sales people are more aggressive lol!

That’s it! I don’t want to spend the whole day worked up in front of a computer screen. It’s a shame I have nothing planned. Well I didn’t plan because I’m not exactly thrilled, but I hope somehow I enjoy my day! After today, I’ve got to get back to work because Pearl Kreations has over a 1000 buttons order that need to be delivered in about two weeks!

Happy Birthday to me! Yay! Lol

honoranium

July 7, 2009 Leave a comment

Sometimes, I like to type Pearl Creations into Google to see if something comes up and what it is. Today, I did it again and I ran into various forms of “acknowledgments” – some I was aware of and some I didn’t even know about! Here are a couple of them:

1. From a past event: http://www.womenpower.ca/events.php. If you scroll down, you’ll run into a picture with three (3) national buttons. This was from the second event Pearl Creations appeared in – The 2008 Tiara Festival. This is what was stated –  PEARL CREATIONS: If you want to show your support or concern for a country of your choice- Kenya, Sudan, Israel, Pakistan, Iraq, Zimbabwe, you name it. Pearl Creations makes national buttons bearing the flag of any country.

2. From a fellow young entrepreneur and blogger: http://inspiredtosucceedbysituations.blogspot.com/2009/02/check-out-pearlcreationsorgits-all.html. I was shocked to see this. I felt very honored – it’s always nice getting recognition from your pairs. This is what was stated – Hello everyone, the last two post has been about business creativity. I really loved the concept being pearl-creations with the use of the All-Me-Buttons. From my own personal perspective, it takes a very creative thinker to come up with new ideas such as personalizing one’s own personal buttons. Go check them out on their blog and website listed below: pearl-creations.blogspot.com. Have a fabulous Sunday.

3. From UNICEF there was some acknowledgment given to Pearl Creations: http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unyin/iyd2008.htm. When you scroll down to the arrangements for each country, Pearl Creations comes up as below:

Nigeria:
(i) The YMCA Northern Zone Youth Forum is marking the Day with an 8-day summer camp. Besides regular camp activities, the commemoration includes a visit to the Plateau State House of Assembly to encourage legislators to support action on environmental issues. (More information: simonkaru@yahoo.com).
(ii) A young student who started a company in January this year, to make button badges, will be making and distributing buttons on the International Youth Day (IYD) to tell young people about the part they play in saving the planet. (More info: http://www.pearlcreations.org).
(iii) A road show and an endurance trip from one end of Abuja to the other, which will pass through major city centers and present messages on the theme of the Day. (More information: info@aygf.org; http://www.aygf.org).

I have been trying to get the attention for various schools – particularly mine (McMaster University) and University of Windsor. I finally got the attention of both and on the same day…weirdly enough.
There’s a store in McMaster University’s Student Center called the Union Market. It is operated by the Student Union. It will have the National Buttons and All-Me Buttons up for sale soon.

4. I also got a 500-word advert spot for the National Buttons from the University of Windsor. The ad was mailed to all the students and the Button Up ad was put on the website (http://www.uwsa.ca/pulse/) as well! This is what was stated – Button up! Do you miss home and you can’t go back yet? Is it your independence or national day, and you want to celebrate in a stylish and affordable way? Or do you just want to show your support or concern for a country of your choice? Well, look no further – we’ve got the National Buttons bearing the flag of any country. Represent where you’re from in style and let the whole world know who you are and where you’re from. There are over 100 flags, slogans and impressions to choose from. We take single and bulk orders and offer great discounts. For more information email mr.buttons@live.ca or visit us www.pearlcreations.org.

Perseverance and hard work actually do pay off!

Also, I found this website/program that values a website according to the number of its daily views as well as some other criteria. I tested the website and discovered pearlcreations.org is valued at about $1000USD! Not bad I guess!

die hard

July 27, 2008 1 comment

Back home in Canada, I finally successfully exhausted all my fliers by the midnight of July 13th, and contentedly waited for orders to come in. Amidst the wait, through God’s inspiration I came up with a couple more marketing strategies.

I started by making forwarded email messages with info on Pearl Creations, like other companies do. The first one wasn’t too cute so I made another that beat it hands down and made another about 3 weeks later that had some of my info and stuff. Hopefully, the friends and family I sent them to, read and forwarded them as well.

Next, I started reading a really good magazine- black enterprise. It’s a magazine that publishes the success stories of black executives, big & small time entrepreneurs. It also had tons of hints and advice for upcoming entrepreneurs. I followed their methods closely and it was super helpful. I learnt how to draft a good business proposal and how to make a good company information script- a document that had the information about my company in a clear, precise and attractive form.

I got a lot of help from black enterprise. I also read an article about what makes a good website and quickly updated mine. I actually got a lot of help on the improvement of the website though. I got a customer from West Africa who liked the idea, but just didn’t understand what exactly the buttons were. He thought they were like shirt buttons. I found that very amusing, but then I figured he might have not been the only one who wondered. So I first of all, I took the pains to explain to him in detail although, I got frustrated a couple of times. He eventually placed an order 🙂 so it was worth the trouble lol. That same night, I made a “product” page that explained what the products were especially the buttons; and then put in some extras as well. I read about an article about a good “about us” page. Got the proper format, applied it and modified mine…I also got some help with that from God and my uncle as well.

My uncle said nothing beats word of mouth, which I agree. So along with the lesson I learnt from my mistake at the Tiara festival, I decided to get business cards. I designed a business card and ordered a couple. At least with that, I could walk up to people, talk to them about my business and give them my card to contact me…it’s also kind of cool as well giving out cards….”here’s my card, you should give us a call sometime” lol.

The next strategy was probably the best suggestion I had gotten yet. An uncle of mine in the U.K. advised me to send emails out the organisations. I tried it earlier, but I kept my focus very low. I emailed literally hundreds of ethnic student groups and got about 3 replies. It was quite discouraging. I hadn’t look at the big picture or realised the business’ full potential. I visited the websites of various ethnic and multicultural groups, got their contacts and emailed them one after the other. I told them about myself, how I started, what I do, how I could be of service, sent pictures of buttons that would interest them, and also, just to prove my authenticity and I wasn’t a fraud, I added the link to the write-up on me in the news- the Hamilton Spectator.

Surprisingly, I got feedback from a lot of them. I’d say about 35% of the emails I sent were responded to. I began to see how much work working is as compared to school. You know you have to do it to survive, while with school, well it’s sort of negotiable.

After doing that, he also suggested I emailed international organisations such as Wimbledon, the Olympics and U.E.F.A. etc. and tell them I was seeking contacts with them…that way I sell in bulk, make more and get more publicity. This meant my emails were going to be contractual applications/emails. I thought it was a long shot and going to be a big leap, but I did it anyway. Since these were big organisations, I decided to email and write them. I sent my emails in the same format: introduction of myself and then of my company, my products, my services, usefulness to them, my plans, attached pictures of buttons that would interest them, and the news link. I also applied the same format in the letters except that I had to make them very formal (obviously), brief and precise. I couldn’t attach pictures or the news link. This is where the company information script came in useful. I was so happy everything fell into place. I addressed one to the Olympics Committee in Beijing, China; one to the 2010 winter Olympics committee in Vancouver, Canada; and several to several European organisations and groups. I gave the uncle I was staying with the finalised letters to proofread…lucky for me he’s an English language major. He made some minor corrections and I necessary adjustments. Next, prayed over them, I attached all of them in an email and sent them to my uncle in the U.K. He also proofread them and then mailed them for me.

All in all, I’m sure I emailed and/or wrote about 60 organisations and groups! My fingers were burned out! Within weeks, I was almost losing hope and contemplating re-sending emails and letters. Eventually, I got very positive feedbacks from the first two and the go! I was so excited and thankful to God! I think I even blacked out cuz I can’t remember what I did besides beaming all over the place lol. This was a good sign and a good beginning – the dawn of $$$ lol.

Less I forget, I also decided to make a survey. I read in an online business article that surveys help you better your company’s productivity, customer service and makes the customer feel important and like part of the company. After about 2 days of learning how to make one, planning questions and editing, it was ready. I emailed all my former customers, all my facebook groups’ (pearl creations, national buttons and all-me buttons) members and announced it in my status message…I’m presently still announcing it. I also continued with my emails to organisations, companies, groups and event organisers. I dwelled a lot on Canadian organisations especially those in Ontario. After all I discovered Ontario was one of the top 5 places to do business in Canada, so what did I have to lose?

I put my printer to a second good use and printed out my 2 fliers/sheet posters. I made about 50 color and b/w copies. I made a few adjustments too. For example, the Canadian fliers have the national buttons of the major ethnicities in Canada, like China, India and Italy; and also included the company’s telephone number. I did that so people could call instead of waiting till they got home before they could order. And I bet by then, most people would be tired and would have forgotten about the flier, talk less of the website or ordering.

The first day, I began by pasting my fliers between the hours of 3.00am and 5.00am in apartment buildings, shopping complexes and light posts. Later that morning, I woke up to a message on the answering machine. I was like wow, an order already? I got my order booklet, a pen and pressed play. It definitely wasn’t an order. It was the superintendent of my own building saying he didn’t like the fact that we posted fliers all over the place, he had taken all of them off early in the morning and we shouldn’t do it again. Thank goodness he didn’t know it was me lol. I figured no one got a chance to see them. I didn’t get calls from all the others, but I guessed it might have been the same case cuz not one order came in 😦

I decided to take a different approach. I emailed my friends in different colleges across Ontario asking if they knew of places in their schools where students could put posters/fliers without hassle. They all replied positively. I asked if they wouldn’t mind printing out the fliers for themselves and pasting them for me, and they all agreed. So now I have the fliers in some colleges across Ontario :). Plan to contact some friends in the states soon. Next, I decided go to places and ask for permission to post the fliers in their offices, apartment buildings etc before doing so. I’m yet to begin that though lol.

My most recent endeavour and leap of faith was my approach to the Nigeria High Commission, Ottawa, Canada. I sent an email in the usual format: my name, company name, products, services and contract permission. I made a letter in the usual formal format and attached the company info script. I was extra nervous because I was going to send this one out myself. This was the embassy I was sending this to, not just anyone, and I addressed it to the High Commissioner for that matter. I proofread my email and letter about four times, and sent both email & letter out the same day. I sent the letter by XpressPost so it could get there the next day and so I could also track it. To my greatest delight, I got a call from him in the “flesh” about 10 days later. When I heard my cell phone ring, I picked it and saw the caller ID – Nigerian High Commissioner. I was shocked, cleared my throat and sat up straight lol. I guess I was more surprised cuz I thought he’d tell his P.A. to call or something. I was respectful and tried to sound as calm and business-like as possible. He asked me to explain the types of buttons and how much they were. He was particularly interested in the Canada/Nigeria blend. After my explanation, he said he’ll keep in touch, but one of his colleagues would contact me soon. He also said he was going to keep the company information script in his files. I was so happy, I was like thank you sir and have a lovely day lol and he said you too :D. See how I’m all psyched about the call lol. It took a while, but true to his word about 2 days ago (Tuesday), a minister contacted me via email. She said she was requested to ask me to send a sample of a Nigerian button and a Nigeria/Canada Button. I replied that I would immediately. I got 2 samples, packaged them and headed for the post office. I emailed her when I got back home that I had sent them and thanked her. She got back to me and said she’d get back to me when she received the package at the embassy. I also sent it by XpressPost. I hope to keep you posted.

Based on the feedback from the survey, I had to be more explicit in my information, improve the color and size of the buttons in the slides, send reminders of independence days, increase shipping costs, change the free delivery criteria, improve delivery time, make the website more colorful and interactive. I basically had a lot to do. I spent 7 hours (8am to 3pm) straight in front of my laptop editing the website- general info, changing pictures, altering shipping prices, contacting Canada Post and a lot of stuff I can’t remember right now. I also had to improve and edit the company information script. It was then I realized why the Ambassador had questions about the buttons, I talked about everything except explain what the two (2) buttons I was blabbing about were! I added a concept subheading and explained what buttons were and the concepts behind mine. After I did all that, I had to back up all the information as I usually do. When I thought I could finally rest, it dawned on me that I had better send a new copy of the company information script to the ambassador. Since he was going to save it in his files, he might as well have the new proper information. So I drafted a new letter. I also used it as an opportunity to thank him or his call, and that I appreciated his interest. I also added that as he had said, a colleague of his did contact me. I contemplated calling his mobile, but I figured that might be too forward and it might seem like I’m trying to be familiar. I printed out the letter & new script, and headed for the post office again.

All that was yesterday! I spent today chilling, uploading pictures of new buttons, taking down new orders, packaging buttons, making calls to the customers and of course, blogging. I contemplated putting all this info on my blog, but one faithful blogger told me, in her own words, “Everything is bloggable”. I decided it could help encourage other young entrepreneurs as myself, but I blotted out names and financial figures for security purposes. That’s all (for now) folks! It’s the end of the month, so I’ve got to go do my accounts!

right on the button

June 15, 2008 Leave a comment

My very first interview! I edited a few things. For example, that is not the photo that was used in the article. I couldn’t get the actual photo. The rest of the story/interview is as it appeared in the newspapers on Thursday, May 15, 2008 by Suzanne Bourret of the Hamilton Spectator.

His name is Olusola Adade. His business is buttons. Not just any old buttons, his have a noble mission. They bear the national flags of different countries to promote multiculturalism. And they are an avenue to show support for war-torn countries.

Olusola, 20, is a McMaster University student who hopes to go back to his native Nigeria to serve as a doctor. Since he launched his button business in late January, he’s become known as Mr. Buttons.”It gives people from different countries the opportunity to be ambassadors, proudly representing and celebrating their countries on a daily basis wherever they are,” says Olusola, who came to Canada two years ago.

A year before, a close friend talked about a Nigerian button for their country’s independence day. Olusola suggested they make them for every country, but the means to make them was not possible in Nigeria, he says. This past year he remembered their idea, did research and contacted his Nigerian friend. But he had lost interest. So Olusola decided to do it himself. He started by making a group of buttons on Facebook, but the flag idea didn’t really fly with the younger set. Many who responded asked for personalized buttons.

Shortly after, the All-Me Buttons were born. They are custom-made, created to individual taste and specifications. Now he sells both kinds. And at a toonie for the national flags and $2.50 for the All-Me, the one-inch buttons are definitely affordable. He keeps the price low to give everyone the opportunity to be patriotic in a simple way.

In just a few short weeks, loads of people ordered them, says Olusola. It became difficult to balance the buttons’ production with his health studies and psychology course, and with “old school” equipment, he says. So he traded it off on eBay to find someone who could make them at a discount until he can save up to buy better software and up-to-date equipment. Alice from the U.K. surfaced and they have been a team since March.

Now he sells both personalized and national flag buttons at events, such as last week’s Tiara Festival. He’s also seeking interest from different ethnic groups.”My initial idea was to provide the buttons to all the different embassies all over the world so they can give them out to their nationals, especially on occasions such as independence and flag days. I will definitely get there soon by God’s grace.

He finds it amusing that a lot of people wanted to invest. “That is funny especially since I can’t give dividends and I’m not ready for a hostile takeover just yet!” For more information, go to pearlcreations.org or e-mail Olusola at mr.buttons@live.ca.

Link to the Original

tiara

June 4, 2008 1 comment

I was happy I sucked it up, and paid the $50-$70 for a table at the tiara festival because I got to meet other entrepreneurs and their own creative products. After about 5 passers-by, I decided to write down what my business/buttons on two separate sheets of paper since I was visibly the only one without a flier of some sort to give to people or explain what I was about. After I did that, some people stopped to read what they were about and bought one or a couple of buttons. An old woman bought a Columbia for her best friend. An elderly couple actually planned to buy one for every country they had been to, but unfortunately they did a lot of European trips and then I didn’t have too many European buttons. A lot of sales were from Sudanese people.

Well, as the evening drew in, people reduced. I was thinking of leaving having been there since 9am when a lady walked up to me and told me she loved the idea. She told her she was Suzanne and worked for the Hamilton Spectator. She gave me her jotter and I told me to write all about my buttons, my name, website and everything! I thought I was dreaming lol. I started to write, and then when I thought it was enough, I stopped, returned it to her, and then she in turn gave me her card. Also, the High Commissioner of Lesotho came around, but unfortunately, I didn’t have Lesotho national buttons. I felt so bummed. She asked if I had a card, I didn’t; and then she left. As a sharp guy, I went to ask her if I could have hers and she gave me…cool! Anyways, eventually, I sold about 25 buttons that day, which wasn’t too bad, considering all the publicity and exposure I got.

So a week or so later, Suzanne sent me an email to add a little more to what I wrote- where I’m from, what I want I’m studying and where, when I came to Canada, how I started and a few funny experiences I’ve had since I started. A couple days later, she told me she would be running my story on the May 15th Edition so I needed to do a photo shoot. I could keep anywhere I like or the Photo Studio. I picked to Studio for 12:00pm the next day. She asked me to put on my trad like I did for the tiara festival.

Getting there was a little stressful ‘cos there’s no way in except I’m coming from West Hamilton. But then, I was coming from Downtown. So in the heat, I walked in my trad to the place through Dundurn. Anyways, got there, signed in and security called for her. She came down and together we went to the 4th floor (I think), met with the photographer, took 2 pictures- the one on the paper and another with about 30 buttons in my hands- to symbolize I have the world in my hands. I guess they eventually went for the picture of my and my “trusty” bag.

During the shoot, the photographer Ron (as he told me to call him), kept saying funny stuff and taking hundreds of shots. I wanted to have a straight face and not smile, but he said that was how photo shoots are done. Finally, I left the studio went into the huge office floor to look for Suzanne and thank her. We had a little chat and she asked me a bit about Nigeria, my parents and if I could send her the songs on my website. I did. Altogether, I felt so good, I didn’t even feel the walk from there to Jackson Square!

When the paper came out, I bought 2 copies ‘cos that was all that was left by the time I made it to the newsstand by the Sheraton Hamilton Hotel. A couple of days later, I ran into 3 people who I didn’t know, but who knew me due of the article. They complimented me on the buttons idea, encouraged me and have me tips on good sale spots!

I’m a star in the making, I guess lol!

All glory to God 😀