Iquo Patricia Udoh is the MD/CEO Pattyclues Events and Décor. As the name implies, her outfit is into events management, decorations, party planning and whole sale supplies of food and food related items. This entrepreneur left a job in the banking sector to pursue what she sees as fun. In this interview with UZEZI ADESITE, she talks about the nitty gritty of her business.
It is easy to understand why Pat, as she is called by friends, is drawn towards event management and decorations. She puts life and colour into her work the way she lights up a room when she walks into silence. She loves to engage those around her in conversations and has a knack for figuring what type and line of conversation someone would be willing to make, and toils it without sounding boring.
Aside this being her personality, it is a characteristic one must have to succeed at managing events, due to the inter-personal skill involved. When asked what the job entails, she said she must get to know her customers’ taste.
“Everybody is unique and will want his or her event in a certain way,” she explained. We all have ideas and dreams on how we want to celebrate our special days, so I try to get to know my customers ideas and dreams and do my best to bring it to actualization.”
One of Udoh's designs
And she has been doing this for over eight years. When she started, she didn’t realise it was a business she could pursue. “I was doing it unconsciously at first,” she said. But by the time this hobby of hers started engaging most her time, she decided to drop everything and pay it all her attention.
One of the things she walked away from - a step that hinders a lot of great businesses from being established - was her job as a marketer in the banking sector. At first, she juggled her job with her business, but with time, one had to go. “I left paid employment because I found myself spending a lot of my time in event planning and management and I discovered I was always looking forward to weekends. So I decided to give it a go. It was not an easy decision though.” She admits that her experience as a marketer has helped her greatly in her business.
In dropping everything, Udoh says the only challenge; which she doesn’t necessarily see as a challenge, is keeping up with the trends. “The fast evolving nature of event designs tend to keep you on your toes, I try my best to be up to date with what is out there. For example you buy an assorted lamp today and the next hour you see something more beautiful from the same manufacturer. And before you know it your accessories are obsolete. So to stay competitive I try to move with time.”
And in staying competitive, the Akwa-Ibom native implies one has to understand themes because every event cannot be a wedding or a party.
“There are different managements for different events,” she said. “The way I’ll manage a wedding ceremony would be different from the way I’ll manage an Annual General Meeting or a Book Lunch, or a child dedication and these are just some of the types of event that I do.”
Years later, she says she is very satisfied working for herself, despite working much harder now. “I work more as an entrepreneur but it is fun.”
Interestingly, even in this line of work, event managers aren’t spared from common generalization. Udoh says, she has heard people say event managers are jobless people who use event management to pass time until a proper paid employment comes. “But I don’t think it is so,” she said passionately, defending her line of business. “It is really a tasking profession that a lot of people have left paid employment for.”
For people considering starting this line of business, she says the most important thing one needs isn’t money. “Money is secondary, I think the most important thing you should have is the passion. Seeing the event happening gives a sense of fulfillment,” she admonished.
Then for tools, or skills one needs, she stressed passion again as the most important. “Then you have to be creative, you should have not just a team but a reliable team, you should have patience and also, reading is important; I read about events a lot and it really helps.”
Contrary to what some intending entrepreneurs say about working under someone, Udoh believes the best kind of training one can get is to work with already existing event companies. “There, you’ll see all the mistakes, the sacrifices, the deadlines and everything about making an event. Though I hear people study it now as a course, I don’t know how much that would help, but I think being outside and trying to match the colours and lighting effect would help shape your skill better.
“And also, you have to be very organised. Definitely, you have to be meticulous because every detail matters. You must be a good manager of time because from the moment you are hired to do a job, time is never enough. You have to be careful about everything, from the lengths of ribbons to shades of your lights. It is no small task but proper planning sees you through.”
For Pattyclues, plans are ongoing to grow their client base by growing the company. “We want to have an online presence like a blog or a website where I’ll put up pictures from my events so that people can look through,” she explained, saying that presently, she used her personal Facebook profile (Udoh Iquo Patricia) to promote her business, which already is very visible on Instagram (pattyclues). “I want to reach out more to prospective clients and let people know that employing the service of an event manager is necessary. Celebrants have enough to worry about so let me worry about the event for them.”
Have any questions for the entrepreneur? Drop them in the comment box. She will answer them.