Statista estimates the revenue of Nigeria’s furniture market at over $1 billion and expects it to grow even more in the short term. Nigeria’s growing population increases the need for homely comfort, but not everyone knows how to provide it.
Idayat Briggs, the founder and CEO of Ibeez Gems, is a passionate and accomplished entrepreneur determined to redefine quality and customer service in Nigeria’s furniture industry. Since its inception in 2016 and official opening in December 2017, Ibeez Gems has morphed into one of the most valuable players in Nigeria’s furniture market, with a rich portfolio of esteemed clients across the nation such as West Africa Exploration and Production Company Limited, Fussion Group, Hog Furniture, and several others.
In an interview with Ventures Africa, Idayat discusses how her passion for comfort made her brand successful.
VA: Tell us about how you started Ibeez Gems.
IB: Before I founded Ibeez Gems, I worked for a furniture company for over 18 years. The company dealt with office furniture, and I got to meet a lot of artisans and experts in the field. But during my time there, I saw that there was a need for affordable home furniture. People need comfort in their homes, but not everyone can afford it. So I set out to solve that with Ibeez Gems. The business started with e-commerce, partnering with Guaranty Trust Bank’s SME Hub. I didn’t leave my job immediately, so I was funding it myself. But our business eventually took off after we won a $5,000 grant from the Tony Elumelu Foundation. Since then, we have grown. Now we don’t only make furniture, but we also refurbish to clients’ taste. So you don’t have to throw away your old furniture, we can make it beautiful again for you.
VA: You spent a lot of time working in the furniture market. But why else did you choose the furniture business?
IB: I think we all get to that point where we love what we’re doing but know we can do more, especially concerning creativity. I wanted to express myself more than I was doing at the time. I had ideas that we wouldn’t execute at my workplace. It was only right for me to try it out on my own. Fortunately, it worked.
VA: How has the brand navigated the tough Nigerian market?
IB: During the COVID lockdowns, we couldn’t produce furniture. Aside from the fact that we couldn’t go to work, people needed food more than they needed anything else. That was a challenging period for us. But we found our way, like every other time, by evolving. We couldn’t sell to offices, because they had not opened. So we started selling in-house accessories. We figured that since people were still staying indoors, we could make the house more beautiful for them. That has become one of our core products today.
VA: What have been your success secrets so far?
IB: The primary thing I’d say is ‘passion’. I’m very passionate about what I do. I love to make people’s homes beautiful, and I don’t want them to break the bank to have that. I believe everyone is a king in their home, and they should feel like that whenever they sit down, eat, sleep or even cook. I’d also say ‘experience’ because I’ve been at this for many years, even before I started Ibeez Gems. The time I’ve spent in this field made it easy to grow. Thirdly, çonsistency’. The brand has a mission and has stood by it for years: to provide all our customers with the best quality products while offering the best customer service.
VA: What’s next for Ibeez Gems?
IB: We want to make Ibeez Gems become IKEA for locally-made furniture. We want Nigerian furniture to become highly in-demand outside the continent. We are on track for that dream. We have already started sending our products to the United States, including our Ankara-printed duvets and pillows. We’re also hosting an exhibition on March 3rd. This is just the beginning. You can follow our progress on social media.