Ighiwiyisi is a heartfelt worship leader, an articulate speaker and writer but those are not the only incredible things about her. She happens to make the most amazing sets for Store windows, Themed events and more under the auspices of her brand, Hermosa Boda. In this chat, she tells us how she started. She saw a gap and she decided to be part of the solution leveraging her God-given imagination.
Where do I start? There are so many amazing sides to you. Tell us about yourself. How did you become a minister?
I started singing in public as a child in primary school. It was my graduating year and we always had a school play to commemorate the graduating class of the year. The year I began singing was also the year my school chose the Sound of Music as the play for the year. I have always loved the story and the songs within it so as you can imagine, acting it out has become a most treasured memory for me.
When I got to Secondary School, singing became second nature. I found myself singing on stage in Church on Sundays and that was where all of it really began.
How did you set up Hermosa Boda, what was the inspiration for it? What led to it?
Hermosa Boda was born out of two experiences.
My younger sister got married four years ago and it was a big celebration. It ended up being a great success but it was not without a few challenges. I realized from that one event that there was a niche in the market that wasn’t being catered to. It dawned on me that there are a few people, not many, who genuinely do not want to see drapery or flowers anymore. These people want an experience. They want to relive a memory. They want to express a childhood fantasy. They want “different”.
And so I knew that something needed to be done about that.
Now, if you remember, I said earlier that Hermosa Boda was born out of two events. My sister’s wedding was the first. The following story is the second.
When my sons were still toddlers, we went away on holiday to Dubai. It was my first time there. On one of the days, I decided to go shopping with my sister. Now, to those who do not know me or my sister, that last sentence would appear on the face of it to be harmless. But those who know us know that just one of us going shopping is commotion. But two?
Sigh. Let’s just say it isn’t necessarily a great idea. At all.We shopped from sun up to sun down.
Now, when I was in the mall, I didn’t realize that we had been there that long. I could have sworn at gun point that we were only there for an hour. It was not until I stepped out of the building that I realized that about twelve hours had gone by. By this time, my husband had called me at least ninety seven times. I’d left both the babies with him alone you see.
Sigh. It was a messy day all around.
Anyway, by the time the smoke cleared and everyone had been apologized to and soothed, I took a minute to think about that day in the mall and three things crystallized.
There are no windows to the outside world in malls. Once you are in, you are in until you emerge again.
The best malls are designed to meet nearly every need you could possibly have without necessarily having to leave. Well, Dubai malls are. They even have hotels inside them.
That one is like cocaine to an addict for me. So that’s a no-no. Wouldn’t want to cripple anyone’s economy now would we?
The third (and life altering for me):
The window displays!
There is something almost hypnotic about the effect of window displays in malls. They draw you in. You don’t even realize you are doing it until all of a sudden you are trying on sunshades instead of the tampons you actually came to buy.That was where the seed was formed.
Fast forward to today and I am now creating the same type of things that got me in trouble that day in Dubai. Visual merchandising and Set Design is my JOY. I look forward to actual designated high streets in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and to decorating every single window on every single street.
What projects have you worked on? Tell us also about the latest one?
In the nearly three years since we began, we have worked on several sets for weddings, birthdays, a movie premiere and several store fronts in Lagos.
The last project was a Christmas lunch. We were commissioned to create a custom closed set. The theme of this year’s Christmas set was the Twelve Days of Christmas.
Obviously, you've had challenges in the course of your work,tell us how you overcame or are overcoming them.
Oh yes! I have hated going through them, but I have come to love the results. One of the greatest challenges I have faced is funding. When I dream my dreams for each of my projects, I don’t think about money. I think it is a creative person’s weakness/strength. I don’t care how much it costs, I just want to bring that thing in my head out exactly the way I have dreamt it and I want everyone to love it as much as I have loved it.
I have found however, that the real world doesn’t quite work that way. It is possibly the most crippling thing to a creative to have to worry about what their creation costs, but there is no escaping it. It must be done. Money must be raised. Invoices must be drawn. Receipts must be sent.
And so, my training has been to find a balance that allows me to create what I have dreamed of without getting steamrolled by reality.
I have learnt that creativity is currency in itself if one learns to wield it properly.
I have learnt that there is no avoiding getting down on your hands and knees to get your dreams to take physical form.
I have learnt that sleep is a luxury and time is money.
I have learnt that a Design Team that understands your process is worth its collective weight in gold.
I have learnt to NEVER. EVER. EVER. EVER. give up.
We've seen the successes but what have you failed at? Many can learn from your failures as well and it will help people see that, its ok to fail and dust oneself up.
I once embarked on a project with a client that went south. This was years ago. It would be the first and by the grace of God, the last time that that would happen. The sequence of events is too long to type here but I learnt three vital lessons from that singular experience.
No detail is too small to type in an email.
You MUST, absolutely must write everything down and send it via a means that can be referred to in the future. It acts as both a guide and a guard. That way neither you nor your client will be able to claim anything to the contrary at the end of the day.
In retrospect, what you have done better and what advice do you have for talented people who do not know how to bring such an amazing business venture to life?
I wish I had started earlier. I wish I had pursued my passion from the very beginning. However, I am grateful to Jesus for patiently guiding me to the point I am now at.
This is what I will say to anyone who wants to do anything of any value:
Don’t start a business to make money. Start it because there is a problem that exists and you are the solution to it.
The people who excel at what they do are not driven by money but by fulfillment. The more you fulfill a need, the more fulfilled you become.