I used to start businesses and sell them off once they became profitable – Anita Ashiru

On this week’s episode of Money Moves With Trove, we spoke to Anita Ashiru, the talented set designer behind top music videos like Davido’s “Fem” and “Jowo”, Flavour’s “Good woman” Omah Lay’s “Godly”, amongst others. She spoke to us about her life, career and a saving formula she practices. Enjoy!

Can we meet you?

I’m Anita Ashiru, a production designer and art director. A huge part of what I do is developing and executing creative ideas by bringing visuals to life.

That sounds fun…how did you get into that line of career?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been creative, even right from high school. During school plays and events, I was always very hands-on with the decorations, and costume design so it has always been a part of me. Even in the university, I was always the creative director of something. Although I studied Journalism school, I have always been creative. Towards the end of my university, I fell in love with marketing and advertising. I fell in love with the idea of developing an ad and seeing it come to life. I worked as a marketing strategist for about two and a half years. I loved it because it helped me craft my ideas in a more realistic way.  My job requires me to interpret a client’s brief accordingly, irrespective of what they want. It involves building the set, bringing props, working with artisans, and much more.

It sounds pretty exciting…

Oh yes, it is! There is no limit to what I can create. For example, if our client needs a spaceship, we’ll build one. Clients’ requests always give me the opportunity to think big, because irrespective of their request, I will always make it happen.

Have you always wanted to be a creative designer?

Not exactly, I always knew I wanted to be in the creative industry, but I couldn’t pinpoint the exact thing.

How lucrative is it?

Hmmm…it’s tricky. Because of the nature of my job, I don’t necessarily have a monthly salary but on the flip side, it makes me a better financial planner. Once I am paid for a project, I save a percentage of it. Initially, when I started working on my own, I didn’t save properly. I could get paid as much as five times in a month, but because I knew money would come the following month, I won’t save as much.

Haha… YOLO, right?

Haha.. not really. Things changed when I decided to confide in my best friend. She is amazing with money! She earns adequately, but with the life, she lives (she travels a lot), you would think she earns millions. She taught me how to manage my money better. When I confided in her, she taught me a method that I began to practice.

Care to share?

Oh, sure! She told me to always half whatever amount I pay myself for a job. This simply means that if N50,000 is the profit I get from a job, I spend only N25,000 and save the rest. I have been doing this for over a year and I have saved more money than ever. Now, I have a more disciplined approach to spending my money.

That’s fantastic.

Oh yeah! The nature of my job also helps, such that clients give a particular budget, and I have to execute their idea within the budget.

What was the first thing you invested in?

My friend’s business. Also, when I was in school, I used to start businesses and sell them off once they became profitable.

How did that work?

Let me explain. I started a fashion business where I would buy a lot of ankara fabrics from Nigeria and make them into t-shirts, bandanas, and pillowcases. I would now take them to Nairobi (where my school was) to sell. When it got profitable in six months, I sold it off and used the profit to start a cocktail business.

You’re quite the entrepreneur and investor…

Yeah, it is something I love doing. I also invest in other people’s businesses. There was a time I invested in a barber’s shop (laughs). It is safe to say I was brought up to be entrepreneurial. When I was younger, my mum used to buy wax to teach me how to make candles, decorate them and sell them in church.

Do you understand how stocks work?

Yes and no. I invest in the stock market through someone. I give him money and he trades it for me and my profits are sent to me.

What is a major financial challenge you have faced?

During the pandemic, a lot of productions were put on hold so I wasn’t really working. Due to how spontaneous the pandemic was, it wasn’t something I had planned financially, I had just moved to a new country to school, and the dollar rates kept going up. It also didn’t feel right running to my parents for help, as the pandemic affected the whole world. I started a ready-to-go cocktail business in school to make more money without relying on production work. It was also a nice way to distract myself from all that was happening. I learned a big lesson from this, My saving and money management habits improved immensely, and I started paying more attention to financial planning.

Thank goodness!

Yes oh, it was a learning experience for me.

Do you have any financial regret?

Oh yes, I do. I’m such an impulsive buyer. My friends say I don’t “calm down”. (Laughs)

What do they mean?

Let me explain. I see a flight ticket today and it’s 500k, I buy it immediately, instead of waiting it out a bit. Then in two weeks, I see that same ticket for 350k. The same things go for clothes, shoes, and bags. I don’t think of how to get cheaper alternatives, I just buy immediately. 

Is there a major financial commitment you’re working towards?

Oh sure! I want to travel to Jamaica soon. In terms of my work, I want to open a props store facility where people can rent any type of props they need for any occasion.

That’s great! We wish you the best!

That’s great! We wish you the best!

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