Interior Stop Centre has become a household name, in Abuja and Nigeria, in the business of interior designs. Naijassador caught up with the owner and creative designer, Mrs Gbemi Babatunde to talk about business and entrepreneurship.
Please introduce yourself:
My name is Gbemi Babatunde. I am an interior designer and the creative director of Interior Stop Centre (ISC).
What is Interior Stop Centre?
ISC is your one-stop shop for interior design. It is a design, décor and retail company. We are into residential and commercial design. Based on our clients’ brief, we come up with a design for you and do a total make-over. We also stage spaces. For example, if you want to sell a house to make it more viable we put furniture so people can picture how it will look when living in it. We also have a retail section where people just walk in and buy what they like. We have good quality locally made furniture and from across Europe.
How did you start this business?
The business started in 2012 with just window treatment (curtains and blinds) I later went for a course in interior design for 6 months where I learned more about design.
How did you come by the name Interior Stop Centre?
The name came from my vision for the business which is to be a final bus stop for everything interior. Everyone should be able to get anything on interior from low to high prices hence the name.
We know you were in the banking industry before now. Why did you leave the bank for interior design?
I initially loved banking. However, after working for a few years, I realized it was not for me but I liked the flashy part of it though (laughs). Also, I have always been very good with my hands. I love to design and to recreate, be it human (makeup, haircut) or homes. I remember back in school in Moremi Hall, OAU, people always admired my corner and wondered how I was able to combine the curtain with the rug and the beddings effortlessly In most cases, they ended up asking me to recreate same for them.
How were you then able to make the transition from banking to entrepreneurship?
It was quite easy. After I had my baby, I just got tired of a nine to five. My husband and I had a discussion on what I really wanted to do. I simply told him I want to follow my passion. My husband is a civil engineer, so we thought about how we can complement each other. That was how I made the seamless transition.
What are the profound lessons you have learned in business?
I have learnt a lot in business. First, you need to keep updating yourself, because you cant give what you don’t have. Also, you need to be able to add value. Business is not all about money but more about how you can fill a void. Once you can add value, people will look for you to pay for it.
The business environment in Nigeria is not very friendly, especially to the womenfolk. What qualities do you think have stood you out in the face of competition?
The quality for me is having an excellent spirit. There will always be a better way to do things. No mediocrity around me. My projects speak for themselves, hence our slogan “we make your interior do the talking”
I am a Christian by faith and I believe the scripture that says whatever your hands find to do, you should do it well.
I remember there was a time I was supposed to do a job for an embassy but for some reason, it did not happen but with what the ambassador’s wife saw, she gave my phone number to another ambassador’s wife who came to my house just to see some of my works and start a project. Somehow we get more jobs from referrals.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
First God. God is very pivotal to the success of ISC. I never lose sight of that fact. Also, the architecture of a place. Travelling, especially for exhibitions, also inspires me. I see myself as a sponge that soaks in what she sees wherever she goes. Inspiration also comes from the internet and fashion blogs as well including Aso-ebi Bella and Aso-ebi Africa.
Do you have any mentors?
My husband is my mentor. He has taught me to work very hard. He works day and night and never believes anything is insurmountable. Out there, I love Kelly Hoppen, Urban living, Psamyayo, Vivabella Designs, Beddings and Beyond, Andrezini and Paliamobambini.
Which of your works do you think stands out for you?
Every work I have done stands out but if I must pick one, it will be my first major work which I did for my sister-in-law, Mrs Tayo Asupoto. She believed in me when I didn’t even believe in myself. Thank you once again
Have you faced any major challenges?
Yes. There was a time my office had to be closed because a neighbor reported me for reasons best known to him. This was very painful, but it was a blessing in disguise. It was while moving one of the containers that we discovered termites under it. If we had stayed longer, all our furniture would have been destroyed. This is to tell someone out there that there is always a blessing in every disappointment. Now I have gotten more jobs than ever before.
What is your favorite quote?
“Whatever your hands find to do, do it well”
Thank you very much for taking time out to talk to us.
You are welcome.
You can contact Interior Stop Centre on
@Gbemi Ayo Babatunde
Telephone No: +2348033219425
More pictures after the cut.