I like to celebrate people who inspire others; I like to celebrate Africa, I like to celebrate young entrepreneurs like myself. The last time I was at the 2013 July edition of the LPM, I met an interesting young woman who fascinated me with her works by breaking away from the norm and doing something different.
It’s the CEO Hand Maid in Africa, let’s meet her. Nene Aderohunmu is a young woman who is into stationeries such as pencil cups, books, sticky pads, diary, and household decorative like wall frames, picture frames, and jewelry box all made with Ankara and hand crafted by her. ETHNIQUE: How and when did you start?
NENE: From my childhood, I have always been drawn to stationery: books, fancy pens and pencils, bookmarks, etc. Reading is a hobby I still maintain till today. My Father still lecture’s, my mum was a teacher and for some years was my Principal. I have a scar on my forehead – I was told I fell from the bookshelf! I love books, I love stationeries I love reading, I love writing. I even love fonts! My favorite font is Mattise itc .I started out by helping my sister make books during my Senior Secondary holidays (in the early 90’s). She groomed me until I could make a book all by myself. We bound journals in African fabric and made matching pencil cases. We progressed to toilet bags, block pads, even mirrors in an Ankara frame! I did this all through my University days, but sold a few books and gave them out mainly as gifts. When I came to Lagos for my Youth Service, I continued this ‘hobby’; but here it started to become a business. I sold books to friends and got my first orders for souvenirs.
ETHNIQUE: What inspires you?
NENE: Inspiration comes from everywhere. You attract what you look out for. If you move around expecting to get ideas, you will most likely be pleasantly surprised. Sometime I look at something, and think it would look better with a dash of Ankara. Other times I have a fresh idea and I write it down, or draw it. One thing I am most naked without is my journal. I write my thoughts, ideas, even evaluations. A true student of life should always have a journal because you are expecting to have something to enter into it.
ETHNIQUE: WHERE DO YOU SEE HMA IN THE NEAREST FUTURE?
NENE: My vision is to see Handmaid books in every hand anywhere I see an Ankara notebook. I want to see Handmaid soft furnishings like the Ankara picture frames or mirror in the living room, or a lovely lampshade in the corner. My drive is uniqueness. I want HIA to be different. There are many people out there doing like I do, but no one can do it like me. I believe we are all originals, as long as we are doing what God called us to do. It’s my hobby, my business and passion. I am not doing stationery because it is fashionable. I do stationery because I cannot imagine not doing it! It is the one thing, [besides reading an interesting novel], that I can do all night without blinking.
Nene loves quotes, some of her favorite quotes to mention but a few are:
1. Be a collector of good ideas, but don’t trust your memory. The best collecting place for all of the ideas and information that comes your way is your journal. ῀JR
2. You say, “The country is messed up.” That’s like cursing the soil and the seed and the sunshine and the rain, which is all you’ve got. Don’t curse all you’ve got. When you get your own planet, you can rearrange the whole deal. This one you’ve got to take like it comes. JR
3. We will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original. Galatians 5:26 TM
Nene is happily married to the love of her life
ETHNIQUE: what challenges do you face and how do you overcome them?
Nene: Self doubt, capital, workspace, technical partners. But thanks to God my source of inspiration, my partners, friends, and people who have great ideas I can inculcate into my work that is how I have been able to battle the challenges.
To give your offices, homes, rooms, wardrobe or your environments a touch of contemporary African looks and for that lovely souvenir, you can reach the CEO of HMA through her e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or her phone number: +234 805 600 3599