Through our #MemberStories we introduce you to some of the awesome members of our community. Our member community is made up of entrepreneurs, freelancers and business owners, building businesses, working on exciting projects and having fun while doing so. Today we are putting a spotlight on Ibiola Alabi (Beeba), the Chief Everything Officer of Ara Lagos.
Q: Hi Beeba, tell us about Ara Lagos and what inspired you to start your business?
Ara Lagos is a ready-to-wear brand that provides womenswear, simple everyday pieces, casual wear that can be dressed up or dressed down.
I saw my friend wearing Adire and asked her if I could meet the artist who made it. My combined passion for supporting local artists and making womenswear inspired me to start Ara Lagos. I love dressing women, making them feel comfortable, confident, and just beautiful in whatever they are wearing. So I’ll say my love for making womenswear and my love for making beautiful things is what inspired this business.
Since I started using Prospa, the financial part of my business that I didn’t really understand has been much simpler.– Beeba, Ara Lagos
Q: What would you say is the hardest thing about running your business in Nigeria?
A: The most challenging part of running my business in Nigeria is Delivery. There are so many factors involved that are beyond my control like the constant traffic. You can’t be sure when items will reach the buyer most of the time. We try to do same-day deliveries or ensure that buyers have their item the next day but unfortunately a lot of things comes into play.
The other challenge will be doing business on Social Media. There’s something about doing business on social media that is continuous. Previously, you walk into a store to buy an item, then you go home. Or you order on the website and wait for 7 days to receive it.
But doing business on social media, you’re always expected to be there and always expected to respond to questions even if you’re having the worst day in your life. I realized on social media you can’t close at a particular time, forget closing you’re not a shop.
There’s this pressure that if you don’t respond, your customers will forget you and move to another business. I don’t know how to explain it, there’s no time for yourself, you’re just doing everything at the same time which isn’t a bad thing. But someone has to come up with a manual on how to work around it. These are hard things, these are areas that are not very well understood. So nobody really knows how to work around it.
Do you prefer being an entrepreneur or working in a 9-5 and why?
I definitely prefer having my own business to working a 9 to 5. I come from a family of business owners and I’ve always wanted to be able to control my time.
From early on in my life, I knew I wanted to have children and be a mother. I knew I wanted to have time for my children, not just a little bit of time, I wanted to have enough time to take care of them myself and entrepreneurship allows me to do that.
I mean, if you have a career and your career is successful, I think something always suffers. If you are someone that wants to focus on your children, something always suffers somewhere, something has to give.
For me what was more important for me was focusing on my children especially at a young age when they are very little and you need to mould them. Some people can have careers and their children are fine as well, but that is the thing I didn’t want to suffer.
What is your favourite tool or app for running your business?
My favourite tool for running my business and which has made starting up a business so much easier is Prospa.
How did you find out about Prospa?
I found out about Prospa through a family member. I think I’m one of the O.G members of Prospa. In the beginning, there were features I would wish for that were unavailable but I love that whenever I had to update my app, I’ll see that it’s been added.
What is your favourite thing(s) about the app?
My favourite feature on the app is Invoices. I love that it allows me to keep all my invoices in one place and save customer details so I don’t have to always request information from repeat customers. It also allows me to add items from my inventory on the app. I can see when my stock is low or if an item is sold out. Prospa simplifies the whole process.
It also allows me to add shipping costs. For instance, if you want to ship to Abuja, it allows you to add the cost and customers will pay but since shipping costs are for the delivery companies, it doesn’t reflect in your final statement. I can also add my tax rates or automatically add a discount. Once I’m done, I click on create invoice and either download or share it with my client on WhatsApp. Also, because my client email is already there, I can just click on mail invoice and it goes directly to my client so we love it.
Some of my other favourite things are that I can easily know how much I’ve made, download my account statement, and the ease of opening a bank account. It’s such a great app, it’s almost like simplifying your business on the financial side for you, let me put it that way, it just helps you.
Especially for people who haven’t had any training or anything on how to run and grow a business. It’s also great for people who don’t know how to separate their business funds and personal funds. I feel everyone who has a business should have the Prospa app.
What impact will you say Prospa has had on your business since you started using it
Since I started using Prospa, the financial part of my business that I didn’t really understand has been much simpler. It has helped me separate my business and personal account. It’s almost like an online office, something that helps you simplify everything in your own kind of language. It is not difficult to use, anyone can use it.
Very soon we’ll have Prospa cards which are fantastic, then you know your business account is totally sorted. You don’t need to go to the banks to open an account in these Covid times. You can do it on Prospa at the click of a button. I don’t know any other app that simplifies business solutions like Prospa.
Q: If you were starting your business from scratch, what advice would you give to yourself?
A: I’ll just tell myself to just go with it and everything doesn’t have to be perfect because there are a lot of things that will get better along the way. I’ll tell myself don’t wait for everything to be perfect, don’t wait till you have enough money, just start because you can’t be afraid. There’s nothing to be afraid of and if you are afraid, then do it afraid and just start.
Where do you see Ara Lagos in 5 years?
In 5 years I’ll love for Ara Lagos to be known worldwide because we are working on a lot of things behind the scenes. I’ll also love to see a brand that has grown with its customers.
I’ll want to see a brand that is giving its customers what they want and what they need. I know we are making clothes and clothing but there is a reason why a woman sees a piece of clothing and buys it, it’s offering a solution.
ln 5 years, I want to see us keep our customers and that our customers love what we do. I hope our quality is much better, I hope we keep getting better. I mean there’s so much but that’s all I can say.
Prospa is a modern account for your business. Open a business account in 5 minutes and discover an incredibly fast and easy way to manage your business finances, from your phone.
Thousands of Nigerian business owners, freelancers, startups and growing companies use Prospa. Packed with features to put your finance operations on autopilot and give you time to focus on growing and succeeding.
No queues, no banking halls and no complicated processes. With world-class member support built into the app, you’ll never need to leave your office for help.
A Prospa account comes with:
- Bank account number in your business name
- Receive transfers from all Nigerian banks
- Send transfers to all Nigerian banks
- Create sub-accounts
- Auto-Split your funds across sub-accounts
- Manage your customers
- Send invoices
- Pay vendors and partners internationally (Ghana, Kenya, UK)
- Add team members
- And more
*This interview was edited for clarity.