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The Perfect Wedding: A Planner, A Decorator & A Baker

By Remmy Diagbare

No truly big wedding is complete without them. By them, we mean the baker and the event planners. Marriage, for many, is one which begins with a ‘talk of the town wedding’. No small thanks to the expertise of our cover personalities, many a bride have had their dreams, eaten their cakes and have not wanted it back. (Who wants to eat and have back when the social media is awash with pictures of the breathtaking venue, event etc.?) They have preferred instead, the awesome fond memories of ‘a day in the life of the bride’.  So it is that parents and the entire family put all – money and soul – into ensuring a grand wedding.
Today, we feature wedding planners Bisola Borha, Yewande Adekoya and cake baking maestro, Tosan Jemide on why the wedding day is such a big deal and their journey to the wedding event.

Tosan Jemide:  The Cake Maestro

jemide

Popularly referred to as the Cake Maestro, Tosan Jemide is arguably Nigeria’s foremost cake artist and one of Africa’s most renowned.
Getting early exposure in cake making and artistry from his mother, he left the shores of Nigeria in 1996 for the United Kingdom to perfect his cake and sugarcraft skills.
In 1998, he attended the international five-day course in character modeling at Squires Kitchen School of Cake Decorating, Farnham, UK.
Also in the UK, he worked in several storied bakeries, the last of which was Gloriette of Knightsbridge where he was part of a team that created cakes for high street stores including Harrods, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Waitrose.
 He returned to Nigeria in the year 2000 to start ‘Cakes by Tosan,’ a thriving luxury cake business operating out of Ikoyi, Lagos. He is also very active in building a new generation of ‘homepreneurs’,  having tutored over one thousand mentees at open classes, specialized classes and exhibitions across Nigeria.

You followed your passion. What specific steps did you take to get to where you are today?
I cannot say that there were specific steps per se. What I can attest to are principles that underscored my work ethic over the years. They can be summarized as a good measure of diligence, unwavering focus and strong passion for bold creativity.

What process do you go through to decide on a cake for a wedding? What is the most outrageous request you have ever received and how did you deal with it?
A bride’s mother requested to pay for the wedding cake after the wedding. That was a major no-no for me.

When you started, there were not so many bakers but now, there is a proliferation of cake bakers. How much has that eaten into your market?
I serve a discerning clientele base that appreciates exquisite artistry and luxury. My clients have been loyal through the years and they continue to be because ‘Cakes by Tosan’ understands their needs and works hard to satisfy those needs successfully. Having said that, I have trained hundreds of other cake makers across the country and I know for a fact that the number of cake makers is rising every day. If one can create a successful niche for oneself, one’s business would stand out and remain successful.

What’s the significance of the cake cutting routine at a wedding ceremony?
It symbolizes the commitment of the bride and groom to a lasting union. By joining hands to cut the cake, the couple is saying to themselves and the world that they would stick together through life’s ups and downs. The feeding of each other that follows the cake cutting also symbolizes sacrifice for each other, which is a major secret of marital bliss and unity.

What innovations have you brought into your cakes that make them different from the next baker’s?
I believe that ‘Cakes by Tosan’ has helped to grow the level of luxury, artistry and bold imagination that goes into cakes in Nigeria. We consistently strive to push the boundaries of what is possible in sugarcraft and our clientele has come to expect nothing less from us.

How do you deal with the bride and family members making impossible demands?
It is the nature of the industry but I do not have to deal with it so much because I have reached a point where I do not feel compelled to take every job. One has to strike a balance that is mutually satisfying for both the client and the business.

How do you make your money?
If you keep your clients happy and satisfied by going above and beyond with the quality of your products and service delivery, you would be well compensated financially. This meticulous attention to product and service quality has been the Northern Star for Cakes by Tosan through the years.

What future do you see for cake making and events planning in the country? How do you intend to position yourself?
The industry is growing rapidly and this trend would continue into the foreseeable future. Customers are getting more sophisticated with their expectations and the average cake maker’s skill level is improving to match these expectations. I must say that from the demand and supply sides of the industry, there is very strong growth and I do not see this growth slowing down anytime soon. Cakes by Tosan remains positioned as the cake maker of choice for discerning individuals that appreciate luxury, artistry and imagination.

What is the highest amount you have ever charged for your wedding cake?
That information is 100% confidential. But let’s just say that the client, as with all our clients, derived every kobo of value for what the cake was worth.

There is a general perception that Nigerian weddings are way too opulent; an extravagant show of wealth. Is this a true perception? Compare when you started and now; marriages do not last long anymore. Is there more focus on the wedding rather than the marriage?
The focus on the wedding over the marriage is a very sad but true phenomenon.

How many of your brides have broken up? How do you feel when you hear this?
I cannot say for sure because I do not keep records. It is not my business even though I must say it appears to be a sad trend.

Tell us about yourself. How would you describe ‘you’? Are you impulsive, calculating and meticulous? What singular trait has made you successful?
I am impulsive, meticulous and passionate. Perhaps, a combination of these traits, amongst others, has helped shape me into the person that I am today. These traits are also encoded in the DNA of the business and are evident through the quality of our work.

What is your style sense like?
My work is very hands-on so I always dress to be comfortable. Comfort is a cornerstone of my style.

What is your philosophy?
Life is too short so make the best of every day. There’s never a better time to make the most of life than today.

Are you a movie, party or book person?
I am a movie person.
Money or character which is priority?
Character. It is the foundation of a solid personality. You could not buy it even if you had all the money in the world.

Finally, what advice can you give every bride for the perfect wedding?
I agree that every bride deserves a beautiful cake but I think brides need to downplay the wedding day, especially when there is a lean budget. Bench-marking a seemingly glamorous wedding with yours is not a good idea. Keep it simple and intimate.

Bisola Borha: The Events Guru

Borha
Borha

Bisola Borha is one of the leading event planners in Nigeria. Also known as “The Event Planner Extraordinaire” before founding ‘Trendy Bee Elite Events’ officially in 2013; she worked briefly with Nigerian Liquified Natural Gas (NLNG).
Born to Mayegun (Chief) C. A. Borha retired as Nigerian Ports Authority General Manager and Mobolaji Kehinde Borha, a director in Education.
Bisola attended University of Lagos Staff School, Queen’s College and the University of Lagos where she earned a degree in English Language. She also has Diploma in Law.
It was while working at CDIL that she began to help out at weddings, parties and other events. Recognizing that this was more than just a hobby and the significance of managing outstanding events – individual or corporate – with great ambition and confidence, Bisola established Trendy Bee Elite Events and applied for an event management course at the Lovegevity Wedding Institute in the USA with the aim of making her brand a signature event outfit, producing jaw-dropping moments and customer satisfaction.

Tell us about events planning and the role you play as a planner for a wedding or anniversary?
Anyone planning a sizable event can soon find the task daunting. The elements are many, the decisions seemingly endless and the possible mishaps plentiful; not only in the period leading up to the event but the affair itself. The last thing you want is a celebration marked by mistakes rather than happy memories.
Trendy Bee Elite Events (TrendyBEEvents) is a signature event consulting firm providing quality planning, execution and co-ordination. Our driven team brings you a combined experience at domestic and international level, working with your budget in serving private and corporate clients. We handle all processes leading to your event. With us, you are guaranteed a seamless event experience to create not just the right impression but a lasting one.

In what ways do you guarantee a seamless event?
We save your time. We are well connected and can quickly identify service providers whom you are not likely to know and work best to achieve the best for your event.
\We help cut costs while retaining the value. As planners, through relationship formed from previous jobs and partnerships, we know where to get bargains and save costs without reducing value.
We protect your investment. As planners and coordinators, we ensure that there is value for the money paid to every vendor and our service appreciated.

How important is it to engage an event planner?
Very important, especially as you save yourself a lot of stress and can get value for the money spent because you have professional supervising and ensuring that your wishes come true.

Event planning is an art. What makes an event great and what would you say is most important for a successful event?
When you have a strong professional team that can prevent obstacles and overcomes any challenge that could have affected your event without the client even noticing, then you are great.
When you can produce an outstanding event talked about months or even years after because of how well it was planned, co-ordinated and how it stood out, then you are great. This is what we stand for.

What were the challenges you faced starting out from Shipping and Inspection?
I believed in myself right from day one, hence the name ‘Event Planner Extraordinaire’. I saved up from my job; I gave myself a target of one year, getting busy and using every opportunity I got very well.
I am grateful to God.

What tips can you give for organizing a great party on a budget?
Hire a professional planner who can help negotiate costs and still get quality service for every naira spent.  It is important to get reputable vendors who know the job and have their brand at stake if they do not keep up with expectation. That way, you get more value; unlike, if you hire based on relationship or friendship to avoid spending more and then getting crap. Focus on the priority items you cannot do without reducing the number of guests to accommodate a realistic budget. Be realistic with your demands and focus on must-haves.

What have been your good and not so good moments on the job?
The stress that comes with the job can be very crazy. However, the end results make it worth it. I love making people happy.

How do you deal with the bride and family members making impossible demands?
As a professional, it comes with training and, over time, you get more comfortable getting a client to trust you after they have seen all the great jobs you have done.

How do you make your money because a lot of people accuse events planners of collecting money and under delivering?
We have a service fee which clients pay for us to deliver service. As a planner, it is important to be paid well so you are not distracted and can focus on getting the work done.

What future do you see for events planning in the country and how do you intend to position yourself?
Event planners in Nigeria are doing great and I am proud of them. I see us all getting recognition worldwide and participating in internationally known world-class events.

What’s your five, ten-year rolling plan for your company?
To be known worldwide for a great brand by God’s special grace and my grace.

What is your dress sense?
I love to stand out and look different. Hopefully, soon I can get to that point where I can have my constant style and be known for it. I love fashion. It is important to look confident and comfortable when going to those meetings. Look like you own it, girl! So smart corporate outfits and I love my heels!

What fashion and beauty item do you swear by and what can’t you do without?
Ermmmm Obagi is Bae.

What is your philosophy?
‘Follow your passion diligently and every other thing will be added unto you.’

Are you a movie, party or book person?
I love my movies and yes, going to the theatre to watch plays excites me.

Money or character, which is a priority?
A good character o! It will even bring more money to you eventually and the money will stay.

Yewande Adekola: Born To Design Events

Adekola
Adekola

Yewande Titilola Adekola is CEO and Creative Director of Aquariantouch Events. She is God-fearing and super creative and has produced breathtaking events within and outside Nigeria. She was born and brought up in Lagos, Nigeria; the third born of five children.
Her passion for events plannings started while studying in university. Once she stumbled on events, there was no going back as it was very clear that she was born to design and produce outstanding events. And with passion and determination, Aquariantouch Events was established.
After several training stints within and outside Nigeria, she is now a certified design guru who has designed world-class designs for every type of event.

You followed your passion. What specific steps did you take to get to where you are today?
I attended various events and met with top event planners. I did months of internships with them to gain experience and build myself. I also did lots of research on event planning.

Tell us about events planning and the role you play as a planner for a wedding or anniversary?
To me, event planning is a passion; I find it fulfilling to see each client is satisfied and relieved of the burden that comes with events logistics.

How important is it to engage an event planner? Events planning is an art. What makes an event great and what would you say is most important for a successful event?
Engaging your planner can not be over emphasized. No matter how much ground you try to cover sorting out event logistics, you find out that without a planner you encounter a lot of problems on the day.

Tell us about your company. What were the challenges you faced starting out from banking?
One of the basic challenges every new business faces is capital to fund the big dreams and to build up a client base.

What tips can you give for organizing a great party on a budget?
Know your priorities; whenever you can, be flexible. Keep it simple. (creativity trumps luxury).

What have been your good and not so good moments on the job?
Great moments for me are getting those ‘thank you/prayer’ phone calls and messages from my clients after a job well done. The not so good moments are when we get last-minute change of plans (changing of venue on the day of events).

How do you begin your consultation with your client?
My first consultation with my clients is usually about having fun, seeing if you connect and the creative process.

How do you make your money because a lot of people accuse events planners of collecting money and under-delivering?
First thing first. Event planning is a passion so money was not the motivation. I wanted to be so good to the point that my work starts to speak for itself. It took hard work and dedication. That is why my clients, today, cannot accuse me of under-delivering and over-charging. I make them see their money’s worth.

What future do you see for events planning in the country and how do you intend to position yourself?
In a country where there’s an event every week, even in this recession, event planning will be here for centuries. Learning never stops which is why I plan to grow and evolve with every new trend in this business. I still attend various training and conduct personal researchers to make sure I remain at the top.

What’s your five, ten-year rolling plan for your company?
To be the No. 1 go-to event planning and décor company in West Africa.

Tell us about yourself. How would you describe you? Are you impulsive, calculating and meticulous? What singular trait has made you successful?
I would say I am a combination of all three. There are situations I have to be impulsive and in other situations, I might have to be very calculating or meticulous. I love challenges.

What is your dress sense? What is your typical meeting-the-client clothes and the D-Day clothes?
When it comes to dressing, I believe in comfort and simplicity. A corporate black dress would do.

What fashion and beauty item do you swear by and what can’t you stop using?
My La Girl Gloss.

What is your philosophy?
Whatever is worth doing is worth doing well

Are you a movie, party or book person?
Movie.

Money or character which is a priority?
Character.

Creative Director: Nelly Mesik
Photography: Felix Crown
Makeup: CassKoncept
Stylist: Telvino Bespoke for Tosan Ayaba for Bisola and Yewande
Hair: Tony for Haircraft
Location: Maison Fahrenheit Hotel, Lagos

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