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#Under30entrepreneursinNigeria: How Teerasi Empire was birthed – Itee

#Under30entrepreneursinNigeria: How Teerasi Empire was birthed – Itee

In a nation where some of the youth are seeking wealth in questionable ways, PREMIUM TIMES is running a series on young entrepreneurs in Nigeria, tagged #Under30entrepreneursinNigeria. The series is anchored by Oluwaseyi Bangudu.

We have written these inspiring stories with the purpose of encouraging the youth that, with a little patience and perseverance and contentment, they can become financially independent and do not have to resort to malicious means to survive.

Meet our second #Under30entrepreneur, Itoro Akrasi, the owner of Teerasi Empire.

PT: Can you tell us about your past and how you became an entrepreneur?

Itee: My name is Itoro Sunday Akrasi. I am 28 years old.

I studied Human Resource Management, under Business Administration. I graduated from the University of Cape Coast, Ghana, in 2017. I started doing business when I was in my 400 level. I came to Lagos for my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in 2018 and finished in 2019.

PT: Did you work at all, after your service in 2019?

Itee: I tried, for one week, and I resigned because I couldn’t cope. I have been into business since I was in school, but I tried. I had a job offer from a company in Lagos. I went for a week and I resigned.

PT: Why did you resign?

Itee: I could not cope with the traffic, the stress; then leaving my business. My business was suffering without my presence.

PT: What type of business were you into at that time?

Itee rendering a cosmetic treatment (pedicure), to a client.

Itee: I had a shop. We were doing make-up, nails, facials, and pedicure.

PT: Was that the first line of business you started off with?

Itee: Oh no. In my 400 level, I started with hairdressing and the sales of female wears, shoes and handbags. Then I now introduced the selling of hair. So, I used to come to Lagos from Ghana. I will come to Lagos to buy and then go back to sell there.

A female item displayed for sale by Itee
A female item displayed for sale by Itee

PT: So when did you add all the other businesses you are into now?

Itee: For interior décor, I think that happened when I started living alone. I lived alone in Ghana, but when I started living alone in Lagos, I realised I love changing the interior of my house and people were like, ‘ah, I love your interior, I love your interior come and I was now like, okay, why don’t I go into interior décor?

I took an online course in interior decorating. That is how I knew my way around it, and I started selling interior décor stuff.

A porch refurnished and brought to life by Itee
A porch refurnished and brought to life by Itee

PT: And writing business plans and proposals, revamping of CVs?

Itee: For the business plans, proposals, and business coaching, I used to write business plans for people. I already knew how to write proposals and plans for small businesses. So, last year, I took a course on business coaching, so I can now write for bigger organisations as well.

My other businesses, I just pick interest in them, and I just do them.

PT: When and how did catering services come into the picture?

 Food prepared and packaged by Itee
Food prepared and packaged by Itee

Itee: I just used to love cooking. I just want to cook and let people eat. When I came to Lagos, I decided to monetise it. I think my cooking business in Lagos started with catfish pepper soup. I just realised that a lot of eateries don’t know how to make the catfish pepper soup in my tribe’s way.

They don’t wash the fish the way we wash our fish and it has this after-taste and scent, and I didn’t like it, so I said okay, let me start with mobile catfish pepper soup, so that is how it started. So people would now ask, ‘do I cook other things?’ That is how I started.

PT: How do you raise funds to cater for all these businesses? How do you manage each of them? Do you have managers for each of your businesses?

Itee: Yes, I have people working for me. I have a team. There are people who manage my social media pages. I have staff that work for me. I have suppliers in the market. Sometimes, I do not have to shop for items in the market.

So, sometimes, what I do is, I have printed (customised) bags and I give them to my suppliers. When I am not able to go to the market myself, I can send a supplier of an item my customer’s details. The supplier would pack the item in my bag, address it to the person, and send it. That is how I manage deliveries, sometimes.

PT: So how about raising funds? Was there a particular time you got a huge capital to expand?

Itee: I saved so much when I was in school, so I really didn’t need capital, but sometimes, people just … I have had three investors so far in my business. We would come to a mutual agreement on what I pay them, maybe monthly, and when it is the time for them to take back their capital, I would just refund it back to them.

So yes, I have had people put in money, but then, I have not sourced funds to support the business.

PT: How do you manage your time overseeing these businesses? What is your typical day like?

Itee: When I wake up in the morning, I cook people’s orders, that is, orders I had the previous day, and send them out. When I send them out, I will go to the market, because I know that probably, a member of my staff has opened my workplace.

So I will go to the market some days and come back. Then I can go to the shop, too, while I am obviously taking orders online, for the next day. So that is how my day goes. Then at night, I shoot video content, because I am also a content creator.

PT: How did the content creation start off, especially the comic ones?

Itee in the full glory of one of her comic characters
Itee in the full glory of one of her comic characters

Itee: I used to love content creation right from when I was in school. I love shooting content, but I did not really know people actually make money from content creation. My own was just to make people laugh.

Naturally, I can’t say I am a funny person but I think I just say things innocently, and people just laugh. And maybe I act in a way that people just laugh. Then I realised, oh TikTok. I joined TikTok during the lockdown. Then, at some point, I got so busy with business and I didn’t know how to create time for that, so I just left it.

So, I think late last year; I picked interest in it again, and I think so far, I am doing well.

PT: If you were to pick one among all the businesses you do, which would it be for you?

Itee: That would be my skincare brand. That is what makes me the most money. I can let others go, but I can’t let that go.

PT: Once again, how do you do all of these? How are you into so many things and still have your clients satisfied with each of the services you offer?

Itee: It’s just about knowing how to control your time. Fine, I know there is not much time, but there is also time.

You can just do everything in the twinkle of an eye. You just have to find a passion for something. I think when you have a passion for something, you will not even consider the time factor, the stress or anything. You will just want to do it, without stress, without complaining. Sometimes, I don’t see it as stressful, because it is what I enjoy doing.

That is why I don’t do things I don’t have a passion for. I don’t do things because I see people do them. I do them because it’s what I have a passion for and it’s something I enjoy doing?

PT: If you were to get a grant, into which of your businesses would you invest it?

A skincare product formulated by Itee
A skincare product formulated by Itee

Itee: I would invest it in my skincare brand. I will open a place where I would do production for my skincare brand.

PT: Were your parents in support of your going into business after schooling?

Itee: At first, they were like; we sent you to school, and I was now a hairdresser or salon owner.

My parents actually wanted me to study Law, and I did, for one year. Then, I switched to Business Admin, without their knowledge. It was when my mum came for my convocation that she realised that it’s not Law I have been studying all along. But, my only consolation was that I came out as one of the best in my school, so she could not complain, she was just happy for me.

PT: What advice do you have for budding entrepreneurs?

Itee: So I’ll say, so many times in business, you will want to give up. You just have to remember… and that is why I said you just have to be passionate about, and you have to have a strong reason why you are starting your business.

You don’t start a business because you are broke or because you see people making money.

Your reason for starting a business has to be so strong that whenever you think of giving up when you remember it, that would be the only push you need to keep you going.

PT: Where do you see your business in the next five years?

Itee: Already, I am being a household name in Lagos, but in the next five years, I see myself breaking into different countries, and having venues where I train people in different aspects of what I know. I will just train people, train young ladies.

PT: After such a demanding schedule, how do you relax? What’s your hobby?

Itee: Creating funny videos. I just love to watch my videos and start laughing. When I am not doing anything, I just want to create content, or just make posts, funny posts. So, making funny videos – that is my hobby. Asides that, I love to go to the beach. I love to hang out with my friends.

PT: Thank you so much for your time

Itee: Thank you too.

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