Designing Success; The Journey of a Young Entrepreneur and Interior Designer

Anita Oghenevwede Precious has remarkably carved out her niche in the interior design world. The 29-year-old business entrepreneur, interior designer, and lifestyle influencer has an eye for all things aesthetically pleasing and a passion for curating breathtaking spaces. As the first of five children born to Urhobo parents, she developed an interest in the arts, poetry, and storytelling from an early age.

After graduating from Novena University, Delta State, where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in international relations, she immediately pursued her interior design business. By the age of 21, she embarked on this entrepreneurial journey, leveraging her expertise by founding Noani Home. This decision resulted from noticing a gap in the market for a variety of well-detailed decorative art pieces. Through her unique perspective, she is not only shaping trends in the industry but also setting a new standard for young entrepreneurs aspiring to make their mark in the world of design. Noani Home has since gone on to become a household name, having at least 1 in 10 local art customers buy one of her paintings. Her company currently empowers art students from all over the country, focusing on giving upcoming artists a chance to contribute artistically to the design industry; helping them become financially free as students by purchasing their art for all her design projects.

As Noani Home gained traction in the interior design ecosystem, she found her niche in what she calls “Caffe latte-themed spaces.” Owning her passion for creating beautiful spaces by combining elements of her environment and all the things she values, she has owned a piece of the market, amongst the high-network individuals who have a flair for luxury and style within their space. Noani Home has brought about some of the most beautiful residential and corporate spaces, both locally and internationally.

The company also partners with international brands to create some of the most aesthetically pleasing spaces for both individuals and organizations. Anita, the founder of this brand, is very proud of what she has achieved, as her company employs over fifty people within Nigeria, making it a key contributor to the national GDP, while also crushing it as a fitness and beauty enthusiast and travel influencer.

In her personal capacity, she spends most of her time working on new design and art projects, traveling, listening to good music, and just living life to the fullest with friends and family. All in all, Anita Precious continues to push the boundaries of traditional design, leaving a lasting impact on the world of interior design.

It is often said that entrepreneurship isn’t for everybody. Can you tell us a bit about your journey and what inspired you to pursue this path at such a young age?
Anita Precious: I definitely agree that it isn’t for everyone. I come from a family of industrious women. I am an Urhobo woman, and Urhobo women are one of the most incredibly industrious groups of women. My grandma was a fisherwoman from her early years up until she was 85 years old. I grew up watching these women around me do incredible things, so it is what I know. I became an entrepreneur mostly because of my desire for financial independence, but I also wanted to impact the Nigerian design industry. I am already creating new directions in the Nigerian home decor ecosystem. For me, building a legacy that those after me can latch onto is important.

You founded Noani Home at the age of 21. How does your business contribute to Nigeria’s GDP and overall economic growth? Are there services you provide that directly impact the country’s GDP?
Anita Precious: Noani Design sources at least 80% of her resources from local producers and manufacturers. We have a staff strength of over 50 people, from the full-time office staff to our contractors & artisans in the factories, to our artists. We are supporting the livelihood of these people by employing and exporting their products and services internationally.

Interior design is an exciting niche. However, you call your niche “Caffe latte-themed spaces.” What does this niche mean, and how does it reflect your artistic vision?
Anita Precious: This niche has always been our go-to, however, I put the name “Caffe Latte” to it when, during a handover after finishing a project, my client, upon seeing his home, goes; “This space looks like a nice cup of caffe latte.” It’s like he put the perfect words in my thoughts. Caffe latte is Italian for coffee and milk, which pretty much describes a flow of a range of browns to beige and all the creamy colors in between. When you mix a nice cup of Coffee & Milk, it just reminds you of my designs. I love it! However, we explore several other themes in our designs, but we like to incorporate “Caffe Latte” into as many of our projects as we can. It’s our thing.

How did you identify the gap in the market for well-detailed decorative art pieces, and what steps did you employ to address this need?
Anita Precious: When I first got into the design market, I initially didn’t notice a gap until I mentioned to an interior designer mentor of mine at the time that I loved painting and was pretty good at it. She instantly asked me to create her pieces for her projects because, according to her, unique decorative art wasn’t easily accessible. I also realized there was a market for art lovers in Nigeria. So I quickly positioned Noani in that market. I initially painted my art pieces. Yes, I am a prolific painter as well (if I do say so myself, lol!). However, the demand grew, and I couldn’t keep up, so we scouted for very talented university art students from around Nigeria, many of whom were excited to earn a good income while schooling.

Noani Home empowers art students by purchasing their art for design projects. How do you select these artists, and what impact has this initiative had on their careers and the local art community?
Anita Precious: We started off with recommendations, and then we went further into researching and sourcing. In terms of impact, we’ve helped fine-tune many of their painting techniques. We also provide more advanced materials for them to use, which broadens their artistic appeal. These students are now exhibiting their art locally and internationally because of our commercialization of their skills. This, I am so proud of and grateful for the opportunity to contribute to their success. Opening doors of opportunities like this for students while allowing them to earn good money is such a privilege that the Noani Brand doesn’t take for granted.

Listening to good music is one of your passions. How does music influence your creativity and design process?
Anita Precious: Music for me, is my favorite companion, it helps my creative juices flow. I am able to quiet my mind and channel my energy into all the right places. Music is my major mental stimulant and body relaxant. In so many ways than I can accurately articulate, Music is the very thing that has been able to help me escape the distractions that cause creative blocks or hinder productivity. Music is a creative’s fuel.

Who or what inspires you the most in your journey as an entrepreneur and designer?

Anita Precious: Traveling inspires me most, it opens up my mind to more possibilities and allows me to see endless ways to grow and explore new prospects. Whenever I go shopping or eat at nice restaurants, I am always mostly fixated on the decor and setup. Lately, however, I have been drawn to lots of unique designs and innovations that inspire me. When I watch Korean dramas, their art and designs are aesthetically astounding! Koreans are world-renowned creative wizards.

Can you tell us about a recent project or a specific project that was memorable for you and why?
Anita Precious: We handed over a 3-bedroom project in Ikoyi recently, it was especially memorable because myself and the client never met in person; everything was done virtually, from negotiations to installation and handover. But he trusted us like he had known us forever, he gave us design liberty. He was fine with all our terms and operations. Everything was seamless. And at the end of the project, he was so pleased. Easy clients are every entrepreneur’s prayer request.

What advice would you give to other young entrepreneurs who are interested in pursuing a career in interior design? Are there any key lessons you have learned that could help others?
Anita Precious: I have a few important lessons;
1. Having a passion for designing spaces is not enough, you must develop a passion for the hectic process of creating and producing to stay the long course.
2. Treat your workers/artisans like family, they are as important as the client.
3. Communicate any challenges/hiccups to clients in time, to avoid as many problems as possible.
4. Have an air-tight contract from the jump. Make sure the terms are clear, and yourself and your clients are on the same page before commencing any project.
5. Finally, don’t take on a project out of desperation. There is always a disaster waiting to happen down the alley of desperation.

How do you envision the future of interior design in Nigeria? What trends do you foresee shaping the future, and how are you preparing to adapt and capitalize on these trends in your business?
Anita Precious: I see Nigerians being more intentional about what their space looks like, and spending more resources on interior design. Before now, many people who will spend so much money buying a house, get very frugal when it’s time to furnish.
In terms of trends, I see more out-of-the-box designs, and many people will begin to explore designs that represent them more and not just copy and paste from what someone else has done.