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The Iron Will That Propelled An Entrepreneur To The Top Table

Anselm Tabansi dropped a thriving career in law to lead the way in design and hospitality in Nigeria.

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Anselm Tabansi left a cushy job as an associate lawyer at a prestigious Nigerian firm to follow another path. He was heeding a call and is now a staple in Nigeria’s design and hospitality industry.

“I am a lawyer by profession, so this is not a familiar academic terrain for me. I worked for a law firm specializing in industrial and intellectual property and did that for about four years. I woke up one morning and decided it was not the path for me,” says Tabansi.

An Anselm Tabansi designed space leave a lasting impression on design aficionados. His is a story of passion and intent.

His creativity reaches back to his academic years in England where an interest for architecture blossomed. While it wasn’t pursued, Tabansi subsequently found himself trading in interior accessories, supplying interior designers and shops at the start of his design career. Wrought iron was the aesthetic trend in England at the time. Tabansi, believing this trend would thrive in Nigeria, made a decision to test the market at home. Following some research, he took the plunge, opening a small-scale production workshop in Lagos. He started with one welder and soon added a painter.

It was a bumpy start, with the new company, Svengali Designs, struggling to gain any prominence. He needed to create some buzz and began producing samples for friends and furniture shops to gauge their interest. Tabansi’s new venture soon proved to be a great decision. Within a year, there was a surge in demand for wrought iron furniture in Nigeria, catapulting Tabansi’s business.

“I started producing wrought iron furniture, wrought iron for balconies, railings, stairs, and gates. It was in high demand at that time but a couple of years later, the trend began to shift away from wrought iron. It had become a fad. I knew we would start to lose a significant amount of clients. The trend was shifting to wood-based furniture. Aluminum and stainless steel for railings, followed closely. We made the necessary shift and we have never looked back,” says Tabansi.

This shift would transform Tabansi’s company from one that produced a single product to a multi-faceted one.

Nigeria’s creative industry has enjoyed rapid growth as homegrown designers were given a more enabling environment. A few challenges still exist however, power and policy being at the forefront.

“The need to generate our own power is mandatory. This makes production very expensive as we were constantly burning diesel. The raw materials we use for our production are also heavily taxed on duty. This poses a huge challenge and we hope the incoming government addresses this.”

From conference tables to living room furniture, Svengali Designs has carved out a large slice in the market with production for hospitality projects taking off in 1996 and a growing customer base that cuts across key sectors.

Interior design is a key service the company offers. With a mix of locally produced and imported merchandise, clients come from far and wide. The factory has 160 employees.

A joint venture with Turkish company, Poliform, led to Svengali-Poliform, a production arm for stainless steel and aluminum railings. This has a 43-man workforce.

Looking to grow even further, Tabansi ventured into the hospitality business. Nigeria’s hospitality industry is saturated with international brands. Identifying a gap in the homegrown hospitality management industry saw the birth of Fahrenheit Hospitality.

“I am focusing on the boutique segment of the hospitality industry. Through my various past operations, I have assumed full control of over every aspect of delivering on this kind of project. Design, construction, outfitting, supplies and management is all handled within the group. We have not just reduced our costs but also ensured the quality of our design is adhered to.”

“Every final piece is a reflection of my style and taste.”

As he also plays the role of Creative Director, Tabansi supervises all steps of the production process. He says that the quality assurance at Svengali Designs gives his company an edge.

“Over the years, people have come to associate us with quality. It is my joy to hear that pieces that were purchased from us over 15 years ago are still in top form.”

Under the Fahrenheit Hospitality brand, there are plans to roll out a series of boutique hotels.

As opposed to starting the furniture business years ago, where organic growth was needed, the hospitality brand is a capital intensive project.

“We are currently trying to attract investment with vested interest in our projects,” says Tabansi.

Despite the infrastructural bottlenecks, Tabansi‘s decision to remain a Nigeria-based producer is a conscious one.

Likening his personal style to a simple sophistication, Tabansi urges budding designers to follow their passion.

“I discovered my passion in design. Defining a space, deconstructing it and redefining it. From this, I get so much joy and constantly strive to outdo myself.”

Tabansi tries to cater for a wide spectrum of clients. He, however, says that quality comes with cost.

“Our pieces are affordable and we keep our products within the reach of many.”

Tabansi has exciting plans for the future of Africa’s design and hospitality scene. He aims to be on the frontlines, pushing the envelope.

Entrepreneurs

From The Arab World To Africa

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Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi; image supplied

In this exclusive interview with FORBES AFRICA, successful Dubai-based Emirati businesswoman, author and artist, Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi, shares some interesting insights on fashion, the future, and feminism in a shared world.

Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi wears many hats, as an artist, architect, author, entrepreneur and philanthropist based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). She currently serves as the CEO of Paris London New York Events & Publishing (PLNY), that includes a magazine and a fashion house.

She runs Velvet Magazine, a luxury lifestyle publication in the Gulf founded in 2010 that showcases the diversity of the region home to several nationalities from around the world.

In this recent FORBES AFRICA interview, Hend, as she would want us to call her, speaks about the future of publishing, investing in intelligent content, and learning to be a part of the disruption around you.

As an entrepreneur too and the designer behind House of Hend, a luxury ready-to-wear line that showcases exquisite abayas, evening gowns and contemporary wear, her designs have been showcased in fashion shows across the world.

The Middle East is known for retail, but not typically, as a fashion hub in the same league as Paris, New York or Milan. Yet, she has changed the narrative of fashion in the region. “I have approached the world of fashion with what the customer wants,” says Hend. In this interview, she also extols African fashion talent and dwells on her own sartorial plans for the African continent.

In September, in Downtown Dubai, she is scheduled to open The Flower Café. Also an artist using creative expression meaningfully, she says it’s important to be “a role model of realism”.

She is also the author of The Black Book of Arabia, described as a collection of true stories from the Arab community offering a real glimpse into the lives of men and women across the Gulf Cooperation Council region.

In this interview, she also expounds on her home, Sharjah, one of the seven emirates in the UAE and the region’s educational hub. “A number of successful entrepreneurs have started in this culturally-rich emirate that’s home to 30 museums,” she concludes. 

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Kim Kardashian West Is Worth $900 Million After Agreeing To Sell A Stake In Her Cosmetics Firm To Coty

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In what will be the second major Kardashian cashout in a year, Kim Kardashian West is selling a 20% stake in her cosmetics company KKW Beauty to beauty giant Coty COTY for $200 million. The deal—announced today—values KKW Beauty at $1 billion, making Kardashian West worth about $900 million, according to Forbes’estimates.

The acquisition, which is set to close in early 2021, will leave Kardashian West the majority owner of KKW Beauty, with an estimated 72% stake in the company, which is known for its color cosmetics like contouring creams and highlighters. Forbes estimates that her mother, Kris Jenner, owns 8% of the business. (Neither Kardashian West nor Kris Jenner have responded to a request for comment about their stakes.) According to Coty, she’ll remain responsible for creative efforts while Coty will focus on expanding product development outside the realm of color cosmetics.

Earlier this year, Kardashian West’s half-sister, Kylie Jenner, also inked a big deal with Coty, when she sold it 51% of her Kylie Cosmetics at a valuation of $1.2 billion. The deal left Jenner with a net worth of just under $900 million. Both Kylie Cosmetics and KKW Beauty are among a number of brands, including Anastasia Beverly Hills, Huda Beauty and Glossier, that have received sky-high valuations thanks to their social-media-friendly marketing. 

“Kim is a true modern-day global icon,” said Coty chairman and CEO Peter Harf in a statement. “This influence, combined with Coty’s leadership and deep expertise in prestige beauty will allow us to achieve the full potential of her brands.”

The deal comes just days after Seed Beauty, which develops, manufactures and ships both KKW Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics, won a temporary injunction against KKW Beauty, hoping to prevent it from sharing trade secrets with Coty, which also owns brands like CoverGirl, Sally Hansen and Rimmel. On June 19, Seed filed a lawsuit against KKW Beauty seeking protection of its trade secrets ahead of an expected deal between Coty and KKW Beauty. The temporary order, granted on June 26, lasts until August 21 and forbids KKW Beauty from disclosing details related to the Seed-KKW relationship, including “the terms of those agreements, information about license use, marketing obligations, product launch and distribution, revenue sharing, intellectual property ownership, specifications, ingredients, formulas, plans and other information about Seed products.”

Coty has struggled in recent years, with Wall Street insisting it routinely overpays for acquisitions and has failed to keep up with contemporary beauty trends. The coronavirus pandemic has also hit the 116-year-old company hard. Since the beginning of the year, Coty’s stock price has fallen nearly 60%. The company, which had $8.6 billion in revenues in the year through June 2019, now sports a $3.3 billion market capitalization. By striking deals with companies like KKW Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics, Coty is hoping to refresh its image and appeal to younger consumers.

Kardashian West founded KKW Beauty in 2017, after successfully collaborating with Kylie Cosmetics on a set of lip kits. Like her half-sister, Kardashian West first launched online only, but later moved into Ulta stores in October 2019, helping her generate estimated revenues of $100 million last year. KKW Beauty is one of several business ventures for Kardashian West: She continues to appear on her family’s reality show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, sells her own line of shapewear called Skims and promotes her mobile game, Kim Kardashian Hollywood. Her husband, Kanye West, recently announced a deal to sell a line of his Yeezy apparel in Gap stores.

“This is fun for me. Now I’m coming up with Kimojis and the app and all these other ideas,” Kardashian West told Forbesof her various business ventures in 2016. “I don’t see myself stopping.”

Madeline Berg, Forbes Staff, Hollywood & Entertainment

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Entrepreneurs

Covid-19: Restaurants, Beauty Salons, Cinemas Among Businesses That Will Operate Again In South Africa As Ramaphosa Announces Eased Lockdown Restrictions

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South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation announcing that the government will further ease the country’s lockdown restrictions.

Restaurants, beauty salons, cinemas are among the businesses that will be allowed to operate again in South Africa.

The country is still on lockdown ‘Level 3’ of the government’s “risk adjusted strategy”.

President Ramaphosa also spoke on the gender based violence in the country.

“It is with the heaviest of hearts that I stand before the women and the girls of South Africa this evening to talk about another pandemic that is raging in our country. The killing of women and children by the men of our country. As a man, as a husband, and as a father to daughters, I am appalled at what is no less than a war that is being waged against the women and the children of our country,” says Ramaphosa.

Watch below:

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