Lorenz Onyekachi, the Chief Executive Officer of Artplus Gallery Designs and Prints, speaks with NNAMDI ABANA on his journey as an entrepreneur
What is Artplus Gallery Designs and Prints all about?
My brand, Artplus Gallery Designs and Prints, is a creative agency that provides both budding and established brands (personal or corporate) with the needed creative services to excellently project themselves, memorably appeal to their target audience, and promote their offerings (products, services and events) the right way. We also specialise in works of art such as digital painting and handmade greeting cards.
When did the idea of free enterprise come to you?
I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur. Though, I worked (as an employee) a bit.
Why did you quit your job?
I conceived an idea. I saw a need in the lives of people and in the businesses around me and beyond, one that I was confident that I could meet with my unique approach to graphic design and print services. So, I gave it a shot.
Any formal training?
Though born with flair for arts and passion for design-related endeavours, I acquired design training at the Abinibi Creative Academy, Ikeja, Lagos State, Nigeria. I was trained by the award-winning graphic designer, James ‘Alabi’ Abinibi, a privilege I will forever be grateful for.
How fulfilled are you now?
I couldn’t have wished for anything better. I love the works of my hands!
What challenges did you encounter when you started the business?
They were several, but I will mention just two. The first was the difficulty in successfully landing projects; getting people to grant me job privileges, to trust me with their design/print projects. Out of boredom, I resorted to offering my design services for free, on various levels to small business owners and churches around me. Occasionally I got paid, and, oh, what a joy that was! At those early stages of my career, I offered to render design and print services during birthdays of prominent church leaders.
Majority of the works comprising my portfolio today date back to those jobs I did for the ministry. Thereafter, the knowledge of my skills and expertise started growing via word-of-mouth and social media; I started getting jobs from outside the ministry, within and outside the country. And it has been amazing ever since.
The other challenge was funding. I had the skills, I understood my industry (print) and I had an idea of what I wanted to do and how I wanted to run things; but the necessary funds to get what I needed back then (a computer, office space and equipment) were not available. It was tough, but I coped.
Where do you see your business in the near future?
I intend taking this business to a higher level of operation, in terms of job quality. In the near future, I intend this business to be a trusted brand, the go-to name for professional design and print services for individuals and businesses in West Africa.
Did your family support your career?
Not very much. I didn’t get any form of encouragement from them from the outset. But family is still family, and I love them dearly.
Who is your role model in business?
Donald J. Trump
To you, what makes the entrepreneur tick?
An entrepreneur is a visionary, someone with a valuable idea (an invention, product or service) of immense benefit to a target audience, with a good enough system to market it. He is far apart from an employee – someone with a job, contributing his or her time, skills, efforts and loyalty towards the advancement of the organisation he or she is working for.