Beautiful Farida Ladipo-Ajayi is the CEO/Founder of The Bookworm Café, a children’s book café that promotes a reading culture. In this interview, this dotting mum-of-two shares her passion to profit story with the Fabmum Team.
Please read and be inspired
Please tell us about the inspiration behind The Bookworm Cafe?
I’ve always been a bookworm. I read anything that was worth reading while I was growing up. I used to nurse dreams of working in a library or bookstore just because I thought that was the kind of job where I would sit down and read all day long. I have since found out that it’s not quite like this though, there’s hardly that much free time when you work with books. Naturally because I love books, I wanted to raise kids who would love books as well. So, when I was pregnant with my first child, I started researching ways to get kids to love books and everything I read pointed towards reading out loud to your children regularly. I started reading to my first son bit by bit from when he was around 3 months. I discovered that I thoroughly enjoyed sharing books with my son. My experience with reading to him exposed to me to techniques for sharing books with children and this gave me the inspiration to start The Bookworm Café. In 2016, I applied for The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program and I filled in my idea for a book club/library for children. To my surprise my idea was picked and the mentorship and funding I received from that program actually gave birth to The Bookworm Café.
At what point did you realise that it is indeed a profitable business?
During the Tony Elumelu Foundation program, we all had to come up with very detailed business plans including financials and experts reviewed these plans. The research I put into developing my business plan gave me an idea already about what the potential for the business could be.
You were still in paid employment at some point right?
Yes I was in paid employment. I actually just resigned after juggling a 9-5 and a business for close to 9 months. It was quite a stressful 9 months because that meant I got very little sleep, as I had to resume work on my business after my kids had gone to bed at night. I don’t know where the strength came from but it just came and I worked until the early hours of the morning. To be very honest, I can’t say that I miss anything about my 9-5. I love the freedom to spend more time with my kids and especially the freedom to plan my own day.
I actually just resigned after juggling a 9-5 and a business for close to 9 months. It was quite a stressful 9 months because that meant I got very little sleep, as I had to resume work on my business after my kids had gone to bed at night. I don’t know where the strength came from but it just came and I worked until the early hours of the morning. To be very honest, I can’t say that I miss anything about my 9-5. I love the freedom to spend more time with my kids and especially the freedom to plan my own day.
What do you love/hate about being a mumpreneur?
I love that I have control of my day. I love having more time to sit down and be still in my ‘quiet time’. These things were luxuries with my 9-5. I haven’t found a reason yet to hate anything about being a mumpreneur.
Not many are bold enough to walk out of a 9-5 to delve into the competitive world of business. Was yours any different?
It’s quite odd but at the time I walked away I felt absolutely no fear. I actually thought that my fears were delayed and would show up later. Well it still has not showed up. I should mentioned that my business was already giving me a ‘safe’ income at the time I left and I had up to a whole year’s saving already kept. I guess these gave me some sense of security.
How long did it take you to take the plunge and how long did you contemplate for?
I initially planned to take the plunge 6 months before I actually did but at that point after speaking to a couple of people I respect, I knew I wasn’t prepared so I moved the date by 6 months. I worked the hardest during those six months to be able to grow my business because I knew I couldn’t move the date a second time
Please share the top 5 fears you nursed?
Like I said I had no fears when I finally resigned. But the first time I wanted to resign when I found out I was not prepared, my major fears were money to sustain to current lifestyle, what people will say, will this business work, am I cut out for entrepreneurship?
Was/is hubby supportive of the move?
My husband has been supportive; I initially thought it was going to be difficult to convince him. But, it was not as difficult as I imagined and I guess the reason is because I had worked on my business to the extent that he could see there was good potential in growing the business to a very sustainable level .
How did you raise your initial capital?
My startup funds were from my personal savings as well as seed capital from The Tony Elumelu Foundation
What mantra drives you?
Today’s readers are tomorrow’s leaders, I see myself as responsible for motivating tomorrow’s leaders
Please tell us about The Bookworm Cafe and what the dream is?
The Bookworm Café is children’s book club, bookstore and library where we come up with innovative products and services to get kids to read for pleasure. The dream is to be the go-to destination when parents think of leisure reading for their chi
Any advice for mums who are still contemplating taking the plunge?
First examine yourself to determine why you want to take the plunge. Taking the plunge in order to free yourself from the stress of a 9-5 may not be the right WHY because entrepreneurship can be even more stressful. I am typing my response to this interview at 3:43am, I have barely gotten any sleep because there is a lot I need to get done to prepare for a new week. In addition, have a realistic set date and work backwards to determine what and what you need to put in place before that date
If given an opportunity to begin afresh, what would you do differently?
I would listen to what the Spirit is telling me (my gut feeling). I knew a long time ago that my passion was to teach and work with children but I concluded that teachers were poor so I just ignored that feeling. Here I am today back to basics.
I knew a long time ago that my passion was to teach and work with children but I concluded that teachers were poor so I just ignored that feeling. Here I am today back to basics.
Is entrepreneurship for everyone and who isn’t it for?
I don’t think so o because entrepreneurship is work chei but it’s a fun ride still.
What roles does social media especially Instagram play in your business?
Social media is my MARKET. I don’t have a brick and mortar café so I treat social media as my shop. I use it for customer service, marketing and collaboration with other brands
How do you stay abreast of competition?
Innovation! I innovate in my sleep lol. Also by being my brand. There can never be another person who behaves exactly the way I do. I infuse my personality into my brand so my customer’s experience cannot be the same as what they will get with my competition. Also, I must confess, I LOVE competition. Competition actually motivates me to be better. I learn from them and strive to do things better and differently.
I must confess, I LOVE competition. Competition actually motivates me to be better. I learn from them and strive to do things better and differently.
Who is a Fabmumpreneur?
A Fabmumpreneur is a mom who is an entrepreneur, a great mom, a great wife, a great friend and living life like it is golden.
You can contact Farida here – http://thebookwormcafe.com
Are you a Fabmumprenuer or do you have a similar story to share?
Please us send us an at email [email protected] and we will be glad to share your story across our platforms
Meanwhile, the first three mums to drop a comment on this article below will receive a freebie from The Bookworm Cafe