Just call her Yeye Aje. For Aderonke Mohammed, life is about being bubbly, its about being happy. Today is her birthday and she’s got the verve for what she does. The Chief Operating Officer of Borrydollar Luxury Jewellery Company, she sells high-end Brazilian gold, American diamonds, Italian gold and many gold-plated fashion accessories. Based in Canada, her large clientele in Nigeria is quite impressive. She talks to Owambevibes in this interview.
Owambevibes: How do you feel today as you clock another year? You know on your special day. You want to feel good and we want the people around us to make us feel special and loved as well. We want attention and affection — because we need it. Honestly, l feel grateful for my life and the connections that l have acquired in life.
Owambevibes: Borrydollar is over 25 years and into jewellery. Are you changing your line of businesses to selling Geles now?
Changing line of business? Never! We are an award-winning jewellery store and will always be. I sleep , bathe, eat ,dance ,play in jewellery. Most of my life is dipped in jewellery. We want to make sure that Borrydollar Luxury Jewelry remains a ONE STOP SHOP. For all jewellery needs, we are able to serve all class of women regardless of their social and financial status. Talking about Gele business, we always take customers feedback into action. Most customers always request for head-ties, lace fabrics, shoes and bag from us.
They want to do all shopping, if possible, from their trusted vendors. It is not a new line of business for me. I have been helping my grand mum “Iya Alaso ” to sell Gele and fabrics since l was in secondary school. And l continued after my university education. It’s a business l was brought up with and have been all through but we might be extending our line of business to all women needs.
Owambevibes: You are based in Canada and you do loads of business with people in Nigeria…How do you cope especially with the time zone? Honestly 60 per cent of my customers are Nigerian resident despite the fact that I am based in Canada, Nigerians recognize quality and are willing to go extra miles to secure it. In terms of time zone difference, this has been challenging but we always pushed through. Owambevibes: Do your children love to sell jewellery?
Of course! l have four boys and a girl.My daughter Princess Teniola is obviously up to the task. She is multi-talented and a high risk taker. She can turn $1 to $100 in a twinkle of an eye. And also a great advocate for less privileged girls. I can go on and on.
Owambevibes: How is the jewellery business abroad? Are Nigerians really crazy about buying Jewellery? To God be the glory, l have received many acknowledgements and award as an outstanding jewellery merchant, who has been able to carve a niche for herself in Nigeria and in Diaspora. I am particularly proud that my customers swept across all walks of life, regardless of class /economic status. This includes people living in Nigeria, all over Europe and North America.
Owambevibes: Are Brazilian gold jewellery acceptable among society women? What makes the difference between Italian and Brazilian Gold? Brazilian Gold is widely accepted by society women because of its unique design, quality and durability. Moreover, they are most importantly cost effective. It can always pass as Italian gold when worn. Most times, l advise and provide my manufacturers with unique and exact Italian gold design.
Jewellery from Italy is considered one of the best, and people all over the world have enjoyed it for centuries. In the past, women love to invest in Italian gold but recently, due to the state of insecurity especially in Nigeria, most people prefer to buy Brazilian Gold rather than Italian Gold. On the other hand, few people still invest in Italian gold.
Owambevibes: Does any aspiring merchant need millions of Naira or dollars to have a business like yours?
I have always shared with intending jewellery merchants that, ‘you do not need to break the bank to start this business, just start from whatever you have.’ I am proud to say that l have groomed over 1,000 entrepreneurs in jewellery business and it is still counting.
Owambevibes: Kindly proffer advice to young entrepreneurs on how to stay successful in a business like yours My advice to young entrepreneurs is to stay focused, persevere and endure. Also, having a role model is important to successful business owners but it is not a must. While working hard and remaining focused despite challenges ahead, it’s helpful. I will not tell you it is a free ticket to success but your ability to sustain challenging moments will help you. Finally let your “yes” be “yes”. You will need to build trust with your customers in order to expand your network. My watchwords are integrity and endurance. Integrity is what made me relevant in business up to date. Slowly and steadily you will get there.
Owambevibes: Does your husband support what you do? My handsome and God-fearing husband, Alhaji Abdulakeem Mohammed, is the Aare Bobagunwa of Oyan Kingdom. He has been very supportive and understanding. These achievements could not have been possible without a great man behind me. God has also blessed me and my husband with absolutely brilliant children as well and I’m very grateful. God has been good to me. Owambevibes: How was growing up? I was born in Lagos Nigeria. My dad and mum are from Ogun State, specifically Ijebu Ode and Ago Iwoye. In my high school days, l grew up in Ijebu-Ode with my grandmother who was a major clothing merchant at that time. After finishing my secondary school education in Ijebu-Ode, I returned to Lagos to continue my education at Yaba College of Technology and the University of Lagos.
Owambevibes: How fashionable are you? What determines your mode of dressing? Generally, I just love looking good and making others look good. Regardless of how I feel, I just like to look good and not necessarily putting on expensive accessories. It can be simple and nice.
Owambevibes: the jewellery industry is vast and many entrants come in daily, how do you manage competitors? Apart from my passion, I think honesty, timeliness and perseverance are crucial in making headway in business. Customers appreciate when you are transparent and make delivery promptly to meet their specific needs. Also when things are not going the way you expect them in terms of sales, your ability to come up with business strategies to increase sales and persevere is really important. One of the strategies that has worked so well for me is to keep the profit margin extremely low to beat competitors.
Owambevibes: Why is this birthday so special to you?
I am excited about my birthday. I usually thank God for sparing my life to see another new year.