CEO of Nigeria’s Largest Furniture Brand, Ibeez Gems, Reveals Secrets to Success
Statistical estimates the turnover of the Nigerian furniture market at over $1 billion and expects it to grow even more in the near term. Nigeria’s growing population increases the need for home comforts, but not everyone knows how to provide it.
Idayat Briggs, Founder and CEO of Ibeez Gems, is a passionate and accomplished entrepreneur driven to redefine quality and customer service in the furniture industry in Nigeria. Since its inception in 2016 and its official opening in December 2017, Ibeez Gems has become one of the most valuable players in the Nigerian furniture market, with a rich portfolio of esteemed clients across the country such as Dangote Refineries and NNPC.
In an interview with Ventures Africa, Idayat explains how her passion for comfort has made her brand successful.
VA: Tell us about how you launched Ibeez Gems.
BI: Before founding Ibeez Gems, I worked for a furniture company for over 18 years. The company dealt with office furniture, and I met many craftsmen and experts in the field. But during my time there, I saw that there was a need for affordable home furnishings. People need comfort in their homes, but not everyone can afford it. So I decided to solve this problem with Ibeez Gems. The company started with e-commerce, in partnership with the SME center of Guaranty Trust Bank. I didn’t quit my job immediately, so I was funding it myself. But our business finally took off after winning a $5,000 grant from the Tony Elumelu Foundation. Since then we have grown. Today, we not only manufacture furniture, but also renovate according to customer tastes. So that you don’t have to throw away your old furniture, we can make it beautiful for you.
VA: You have spent a lot of time working in the furniture market. But if not, why did you choose the furniture sector?
BI: I think we all come to that point where we love what we do but know we can do more, especially when it comes to creativity. I wanted to express myself more than I did at the time. I had ideas that we wouldn’t execute in my workplace. It was just for me to try it out for myself. Fortunately, it worked.
VA: How did the brand navigate the difficult Nigerian market?
BI: During the COVID-related lockdowns, we were unable to produce furniture. Apart from the fact that we couldn’t go to work, people needed food more than anything else. It was a difficult period for us. But we found our way, as always, by evolving. We couldn’t sell to the offices because they hadn’t opened. So we started selling home accessories. We thought that since people were still staying inside, we could make the house more beautiful for them. It has become one of our flagship products today.
VA: What have been your secrets of success so far?
BI: The first thing I would say is “passion”. I am very passionate about what I do. I like sprucing up people’s homes, and I don’t want them breaking the bank for that. I believe everyone is a king in their home, and they should feel that way every time they sit, eat, sleep, or even cook. I would also say “experience” because I have been working there for many years, even before I started Ibeez Gems. The time I spent in this field made it easier for me to grow. Third, consistency”. The brand has a mission and has been sticking to it for years: to provide all our customers with the best quality products while offering the best customer service.
VA: What is the next step for Ibeez Gems?
BI: We want Ibeez Gems to become IKEA for locally made furniture. We want Nigerian furniture to become in high demand outside the continent. We are on the right track for this dream. We have already started shipping our products to the United States, including our Ankara print quilts and pillows. We also organize an exhibition on March 3rd. This is just the beginning.