For the College of Medicine, University of Lagos-trained doctor, Soji Akinkugbe, it is ‘me and my furniture forever’. Apart from the training he received in school, he hails from a family of doctors. Yet, he has never been really attracted to the hospital.
Rather, he has always fancied creative and entreprenerial endeavours. This is a dream he has pursued for decades, and it has given birth to fruits that have in turn made him fulfilled.
A symbol of that is that he will be at the centre of attraction on July 27 when people are expected to rally round him in Lagos, where he will open a four-day furniture exhibition that will also mark the opening of his new outfit – Colours in Africa.
It is the climax of the pursuit of passion by the man who designs and collects fashion products as well as art works – especially before he went into furniture manufacturing on a large scale.
“I am too restless to be in a hospital,” Akinkugbe says. “Some are gifted to be professionals. I know I am a gifted designer. And I am cut out for entrepreneurship. Since the time I was in the university, I have known that medicine is not for me. I read widely. I travel widely. I am inquisitive. It is great when you make something and people come to appreciate it. From day one, I have always made something.”
Based on his experience when he first imported furniture, Akinkugbe says quality and standard ought not to be negotiable. Hence, according to him, he aims at any standard available anywhere – in the making of his products. His clientale cuts across individuals and corporate organisations.
In his factory located in Ibadan, Oyo State, some of his staff are hearing-impaired people who, he notes, he has been able to impart skills into. They form part of the 160 people in his employee base, a number that intrigues him as an employer of labour.
Akinkugbe says, “Even if I found a hospital, I don’t think I would have employed 160 people. We need manufacturing. That will take people away from the street.”
The exhibition holding at the new showroom located in Victoria Island, Lagos is expected to be formally declared open by the Lagos State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Sola Oworu.
According to statement from Colours of Africa, among the activities lined up for the opening day is a talk on ‘The Nigerian Standard’ by the Executive Director of the Benin Owena River Basin Development Authority, Mrs. Ifeoma Idigbe.