#StarsConnect! Meet Oyewole Sawe, the CEO of Xquisit Ushers
You are welcome to Stars Connect Network, a Subsidiary of Jetheights Services. Stars Connect network is a programme that brings together entrepreneurs, business owners, inspirational speakers, pastors, and leaders in the society, upcoming artistes, NGOs, people giving back to the society and the world at large. We conduct interview sessions to find out everything we can about their journey to stardom, we hope to bring together stars who can be of benefit to one another and who can synergize with Jetheights in other to impact the community. Once again you are welcome to Stars Connect.
Could you please introduce yourself to the StarsConnect Community?
My name is Oyewole Sawe, am the Coordinator, Xquisit Ushers which is one of the arms in Xquisit Management Concept, it’s actually an event outfit and we do modelling, organizing and planning of seminars, we train ushers, then we go for events, strictly consulting business.
How was your childhood days like?
Growing up, I used to be somebody that read a lot, I still read and I have this belief on the length and breadth of knowledge, I always know that you need to know everything about something and you know little things about everything. So, I decided to discover my passion, since I was young, I go to places where programmes were organized. I was also part of the worship team called Worship Whiz with Gbenga Adenuga. We did a concert for 4 years every 2 weeks and we needed ushering aspect of it. So, I just thought we can put things in place, let people sit accordingly, welcome guests and all those things. We did that for 4 years back to back, every 2 weeks, that was where the passion came from. Then, I was like; we could take this to events, hosts, friends of the bride, parents, church, reservations or normal guests that come for event to take care of them.
Oyewole Sawe with Olusayo Afolabi on StarsConnet
I’m from Owo town, in Ondo State, my family is kind of complicated, am the only son from my mum and dad. I’ve lived all my life with my maternal grandparents. I’m still with them when I travel home; I still have a room in the house. I’ve known them to be my parents, because I was dropped there when I was 3 months old. I school-live and work in Ibadan.
Tell us about your Educational background
I went to Divine primary school, formerly Tender Care which I was the head boy, then I went to Baptist Secondary School, Liberty road here and went to the University of Ibadan to study guidance and counselling, 1 finished with a 2.1, am proud to say that I finished with a second class upper because it wasn’t easy in U.I. I had started to do ushering since my diploma days in U.I but it was a test run before we actually made it professional.
Tell us your journey to the Ushering Business
Like I said, the passion came in the way of organizing and making things work for a concert we do every 2 weeks then. I’m a commercial person, a community person; I like people around me to be very organized, am not really that organized but I feel to an extent, am still organized than some people. So, I feel I can make an impact by making them organized. Then, for events, when I was in school, I found out that we have a lot of young ladies that doesn’t know what to do with their lives, you find out that people take advantage of them, am a feminist, in fight for ladies a lot, maybe because of what I do. So, I was like what can I do to reduce all these molestations, prostitution, not taking ladies serious, God should just give us an idea that will run every week, that will make us earn some money. So, we came about the ushering for them, so for every event they go for, every weekend, they get paid. I know of a lot of ladies that doesn’t do a lot of dirty things to get money now because of the ushering. Presently, we are working with over 200 young ladies, we work with over 600. It was born from the passion to help young people to at least get something as a peanut almost every weekend. We’ve worked with almost all the best event planners in Nigeria, even in Ghana.
How do you get events?
Most times, it’s due to referrals, people see us and are like woow, we always have a statement of woow when we provide our services, so you having us as ushers in your event, we add colours to your event, the service we render is woow and you will always recommend us to somebody else. Social media has been of help too, it has really pushed us to people that don’t really know about us and then they get to contact us and then we have a connection. By the time we do one or two events with them, they stay.
What is your greatest strength? How does it help you as an usher?
Every business has a reason or why they started something. How we started was quite different. We started as being an added value to something or an event, we didn’t go there because of the cash, we were there to make sure that let see how this thing will bless the community at large, which is the client and let’s see how the people that’s adding value to can get money. So, it’s a bigger picture, it doesn’t come like we just wanted to be the best, though, people say we are the best. You know, I was still talking with one of the best agencies in Lagos that I still refer to as the best agency, he was saying you do more things that we don’t do, we don’t do empowerment, we don’t do trainings, we don’t do all these seminars but you do them, then I told him, that’s because the call is different.
Oyewole Sawe with Jetheights Staff
Who influenced you, and how did they influence you?
Growing up, there’s a notion which I believe, you must know everything about something and know something about everything. I know that at the back of my mind but I didn’t know what I want to do but I got myself into contact, maybe because I was a Christian, I met Gbenga Adenuga. So, we joined the team worship ways so we decided to run a series of contact every 2 weeks, which was where the passion and I was like it has to be event. I just thought I had to know everything about the event but must take one after the other. The arm I worked with was in the ushering department, which I was spearheading, so, I thought passion and the discovery of knowing everything about something and something about everything.
Are you married?
I’m not married yet.
How do you manage female folks?
Well, like I said, I read a lot, when we started; I get angry with them because they are annoying. Ladies are really annoying but really lovely to be with, but I read books like why people behave the way they do, how to know people’s temperaments. So, I know how to deal with this one and that one. I just believed am called for them, am called to them and am meant to listen to them, people don’t listen to them. So, I will listen, they tell me all things. Handling them has been easy for me. I took my time to know them and I just have to study them and believe, this is why this lady behaves and all those things and I found out that they need someone they can lean on and you have to be there for them, am trying all my best. Sometimes, we have ushers, when they come for auctioning and we finally don’t pick the ones we don’t want to work with us, maybe because of some criteria like height or beauty, we still find a way to say what area of passion you have again. Some might say fashion, make up, we probably will just talk with someone and say, give us free trainings, we want to give some set of training, we still want to empower them and not let them go away like that.
Share the challenges you are facing in this profession?
You know people associate with success and then people believe you for what you give. I’ve been able to talk to a lot of people. Sometimes, I call on Aunties, Uncles and am like I need you to help me do this and that and I have some people I need you to help me empower. Now, the future of Nigeria presently is saying there’s no job, some people become entrepreneurs, but the annoying part I don’t like is that because we know we can’t get white collar jobs, some frustrated people, goes into entrepreneur, some are called to be an entrepreneur but because of the frustration, there’s no job in Nigeria everyone diverts to be an entrepreneur who they are not called to be.
You, a guardian and counselor, could it be the situation of Nigeria that made you to divert into ushering business?
No, it wasn’t at all, i was the social prefect when I was in secondary school, I was a commercial student, I had this event going on, then called your opinion in secondary school days. We just pick a topic and we ask ourselves, what you feel about this thing or that. Studying guidance and counselling was a thing I know, I wanted to study something related to human beings, how do I deal with them, dealing with them made me have an idea to pick guidance and counselling. Nobody chose it for me o, I chose it myself because I want to relate with more people. One of the project am working on is guidance and counselling as a customer service. You know people don’t know how to handle people, it’s hard o, some people will just get on your nerves, but am also on a belief that when you get on my nerves, and am so sure am right, I will step on your toes for excellence to prevail.
What are the challenges you are facing in this profession?
Number one challenge for everybody is finance, finance in the sense that I wish I can show pictures, and get to check pictures online and a lot. Getting a costume for the ushers to wear is very expensive, maybe that’s one of the reasons people say we are the best because we use a lot of expensive things. Finances have been a problem. Committed ushers have been another problem, you don’t know what is biting this one, what is biting that one. So, by the time you need their services, they might not be there, it’s a lot of challenge. Another challenge is the up and coming competitors that are not even trained to be an entrepreneur. I believe I don’t have competitors because originality is the key and we don’t do photocopy and all those things, and consistency. I started in the year 2005 unofficially and officially 2006 till now. So, I have been consistent with what i do, which people don’t know. But I see them as a challenge because they are destroying the market, event outfit, talking about the charges, we charge high, we are the highest paid ushers in Ibadan, and clients will be like how come you are that expensive, how come the other people who are like this are not expensive, but our services are different na.
Oyewole Sawe with Jetheights Staff
How do you manage events and your ushers?
There’s a skill in the agency, auditioning season is a kind of hot seat because we need to know why you want to be an usher. We’ve seen occasions when girls will say, please we don’t even want the money, just put us where governors are, they know their way, so we need to scrutinize them, there’s a scheme for them in managing them, they need to come for orientation, after orientation, they pick up their form and after the training that we do, we pioneer the training for ushers in Nigeria. We act as event hosts and hostesses. That’s my experience in events that made us start the training. We have done like 3 auditions of massive ushers training for ladies to take it as a profession. We’ve been able to manage them because there’s a scheme for them; we pick people with passion to work with us. For our clients, we all those saucy clients, we have good clients, we have clients that will say a lot of dirty things, I have had a client that said, don’t bring girls to my event o, because they will snatch people’s husbands, you just have to tell them what we do and why we need to use ladies and not guys. Some will say they want only guys, they will still say those guys will be staring at other people’s wives and you are in between, should we do boy-girl, some people will just want to ridicule you. There was an event when the mother of the bride gave us a wrong date, maybe because she was so excited or probably because she had a lot of things in her head. The event was meant to be on the 17th, she said 18th and on the 17th they were expecting us, we were preparing for tomorrow, they were expecting us today, one of the decorators just asked one of the aunties and she was like it’s Wole, we’ve not seen him o, so she called me and said you guys are meant to be here now, I was like I didn’t know, what we had was 18th. I had to gather 15 of us; we were late, because a lot of people were at different places. Until, I came out with the document and showed the bride’s mum, this is it, this is what you told us. But if we had made a mistake, it would have ruined us down, because she would have probably spread the news and ladies’ words, very powerful, they make or mar you. You have to document everything.
What skills have made Xquisit ushers the best?
First find your passion, for every passion, there’s always a secret to that passion. You must find the secret of your business. Using business term, it’s called business edge, your business advantage over other people. What are the things you want to create that other people don’t do. We create uniformity for instance; you can hardly see our ushers on events without not wearing the same hair or wearing the same costume, its part of our business edge. That’s just one of them, we have a lot. You just have to create a niche, find a passion. Every business has it’s secret, know the secret to your business. Then prayer, you can’t do without that. Then, have a personal plan for your business.
What’s the most rewarding part of being an usher?
That question has 2 answers, there’s the general for the agency and there’s individual. Now, for the agency is ensuring that what you are paid for is being done and your clients are fine and they do feedback which I call testimonies, we have them in archives, many people will say, thank you, you guys did wonderful. For me, that’s been an edge because that’s why they gave us the money. But for ushers, some might be like thank God, I tried all I can and it was worth it. You know, some is because they get paid, thank God i needed this money, I was able to use this money to get this. There are a lot of people that have started a lot of things with the ushering, may I have seen a lot of them, they probably won’t collect the money, want to use it for training, I want to learn tailoring, use it to pay my school fees, want to use it to get my mum’s drugs. A lot of issue, and for me it’s a personal thing I’ve always wanted to do, being an added value. Of course, they are working for it but it’s a privilege that they are in place where they can still get paid. They might be nursing it and say I want to do this and that and you might not have an avenue to do it.
What is the worst decision you have ever made in this business and what did it teach you?
I can’t say am fulfilled right now, but am on my way to fulfilment. Now, fulfilled that I’ve gotten what have always wanted to do, being a network to a younger generation to earn money almost every weekend. That one is gone and settled am fulfilled and adding to lives. But, am not fulfilled because i still have a lot of things i want to do, so am not 100% fulfilled but am on my fulfilment road. At least, i’m happy. I can’t say i have made a worst decision like that, but maybe when people come for auditioning, and then we pick them, sometimes we don’t get back to them because we are overwhelmed with a lot of work. I could remember we did auditioning simultaneously for the same set of people and i wonder why we didn’t document it ,it was because there was no time. I felt bad about it because i know they came for a purpose, but we didn’t get back to them. I don’t like that idea, but there was nothing i could do because we had a lot of events. I could remember there was a month we had more than sixteen jobs and people waited to come for auditioning, but the set of people didn’t come back again. We felt bad losing them though I don’t know them. Since that time, we’ve never taken anything unseriuous, when we call for auditions, we are ready for it, thats why we will tell you please hold on until we are ready for it.
Oyewole Sawe with Jetheights Staff
How do you handle your clients?
I call events place a market place where you have different people saying different things at the same time. Some are receiving calls, some are doing this, some are doing that. We were able to manage them because there is a structure called floor plan, where you know how to relate with people, so as an usher, you are assign to a particular set of tables, let’s say five tables, each table has ten seats, as an usher, you are in charge of fifty people. Anything they need, you’ll be in charge. However, there could be some nasty guests. For instance, we got slapped one time and it was due to d carelessness of an usher whose earring dropped into d food of a guest. The next thing we heard was “gboo”. They’ve been trained on how to hook up their earring properly, maybe she didn’t come for that training or she was rushing to come out of the dressing room, something might just have happened. Some would say its ok, but, the next thing the guy did was to slap her. Another was a day we made a reservation for the governor’s wife and one of the big women in the market juts came and said “who did you reserve this seat for?, do you want me to curse you?, who is she?” this and that..
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
We don’t have any yet, we still hope that the greatest will come, but we’ve done some great jobs. For now, one of my greates achievements as a group is working with the big event planners in lagos from where you are in the city. They discover where you are and every time they come to Ibadan, they want to work with xquisite ushers, big event planners oh! That have over one hundred thousand followers and they just ping you. For me, its a lot of greatness and then i could remember when wedding planner gave us free advertisement on her mag because she saw us on a job and she felt, wow! I just have to encourage these people, and wedding planner magazine has been a platform where I’ve always thought of doing advertisement but I’ve never had that money to do it because it was about N150,000. Its a lot of money, I think you can use to buy two machines for young ladies to just start their businesses, Ive been thinking about it and all of a sudden we got contact with her and she really loved what we did. She gave us free advert, it was like wow till tomorrow. That started a relationship with her, since that time, she’s been wonderful. All big event planners in Lagos, let’s say out of top ten, we’ve worked with six, even advertising agencies., there are some advertising agencies that we worked for too, they might not be that big but when you put their names on the CV for events, you get jobs. By the time clients ask who you have worked for and you mention some of these names, you get the job.
What are your future business plans?
Everybody has a business plan and a personal plan. For my business plan, we are looking at a bigger place where we would have lot of things to do. We are thinking of the empowerment scheme having an empowerment centre where we could do something else apart from ushering, where we train people to be independent financially. We are working on that and personally, we are presently doing an entrepreneurial training almost every month. We’ve done like four to empower practising entrepreneurs, the ones that have started on how to boom their businesses, thats personal for me. Nigeria is actually a good country and I’m proud to be a Nigerian. I just believe that everyone has put something on the table. My own area is in form of events, trainings and counselling too, because of my profession. I’m a personal brand and events strategist, that is me, that is Wole Sawe. You come, we help you brand your events, we strategize for your brands, probably your sales, or probably on marketing, just to make sure that things are going on the right way, and be an added value, and make money.
What is your advice for young and aspiring people reading this interview?
First thing is to know your purpose in life. Why are you here, what are the things you want to do. What are things you want to achieve but I will say don’t stop doing it. Believe in God. There is no way you can remove that God factor, no way. Everybody is a sinner, someone like us that does events, you might do one today, you don’t know when the next will come, but the way God will have it, someone will just call, so, no one would have done that, your power can’t do it, its only God that will make it possible for someone to remember you and say let me choose this one and we would draw up conclusion. I’ll say to them, please just keep doing what you are doing in a positive way. If you are to unlearn some things you know you need to unlearn, and if you are to learn some new things, you need to learn, because too much of the thing you think you know worries a lot of people. You need to just unlearn, find a passion, get someone to mentor you, study mentors you want to be like from afar, be creative, be real, be original and you can’t miss out the God factor.
How do you relax being a busy person?
It has been a busy problem up to date, maybe because there’s a vacuum that is just too big for me to relax, so im always occupied in so many things, but sometimes if i want to relax, i just do swimming, and probably, i reply whatsapp messages I have, over 6000 whatsapp contacts, I have over 2000BBM contacts, I might just relax and reply a lot of people. I sleep maybe four hours a day, i don’t watch football, I’m not a football fan. I watch movies sometimes.
How do people reach out to you?
Address- No. 18, Obisesan street, off new Adeoyo Hospital road, Ring Road, Ibadan.
Instagram: @wolesawe @xquisitushers
Phone no: 08033635253
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