Meet Awele Ogwu, founder of The Art Room NG
In this week’s Business Spotlight, Awele talks us through her journey, some challenges she has faced, and what she has found most rewarding through it all
On a journey to de-stigmatise anxiety through a series of art therapy sessions across Nigeria, Awele Ogwu has turned a personal experience into an opportunity to create an outlet for many others to network, express themselves and find relief in moments of anxiety. Founded in 2018, The Art Room NG is a therapeutic arts space based in Lagos and Abuja.
In this week’s Business Spotlight, Awele talks us through her journey, some challenges she has faced and what she has found most rewarding through it all.
Tell us the story behind The Art Room?
The Art Room was an idea I came up with after I dealt with anxiety in 2017. Moving back to Lagos I realised there was a marketplace for people who needed to destress using art and that was how the art room came about.
In 2017, I had a therapist who actually told me to find my outlet when I had to destress and in that I started painting more and I started using that as a means to destress and get over my anxiety.
How was your first session?
It was quite nerve-wracking to be honest. To see something that you once had as an idea become something in reality but it was also quite exciting and rewarding. We had prepped for this session for over a month just waiting to see how many people would show up. We put the word out and sold out in a few days, which encouraged us to push through and put more into the session.
What’s the mission statement for your business?
It’s not particularly a mission statement but it’s a statement I have chosen to live by with this business - it’s to eradicate the stigma behind anxiety one art session at a time.
How did it grow?
Our growth has been quite organic. It’s grown from one session to another through word of mouth and people singing our high praises to whoever they want to; that’s basically how we’ve grown.
What’s your favourite thing about the work that you do?
My favourite thing at The Art Room is seeing how people feel after a session. We have these typical feedback forms that we give people after a session. Just seeing the feedback and how the work we’re doing is basically being projected into these people’s lives is very rewarding. You see people who say things like, “I came in here very anxious and I had a panic attack before I left, but now I feel well”. It makes me feel like I’m part of something bigger.
What is the future for your business?
The Art Room has grown over the years, but I still feel like there’s so much more we need to do. We are currently in Lagos and Abuja, but I see a world where the Art Room expands to other states in Nigeria.
What challenges have you faced whilst running your business, and how did you overcome them?
I would say the pandemic. That was a period where a lot of small businesses struggled. It was a period where we had to think quickly. We also had to learn how to adapt to the changing situation.
How did you hear about Brass?
I found out about Brass on Twitter when it was still in the testing stage, and I decided to find out more about it.
Why did you decide to try Brass?
I’m naturally a curious person. I like to try out new and exciting things when I see them, so I decided to try out the banking service and see what it was like.
What has the experience been like so far?
My experience at Brass has been completely seamless from the get-go. It’s a very user-friendly app, even for people who aren’t very tech-savvy. I think it’s very easy to navigate, which was something that I really wanted in a bank. I also wanted a bank that was very particular about keeping the customer experience top-notch.
What do you like best about Brass?
I remember when I needed help with something, and the founder actually reached out to make sure everything was resolved, and there was a solution to the problem. That was profound to me.
What is your favourite feature?
My favourite feature on the Brass banking app is the sub-accounts feature. It enables us to manage our taxes, our savings and our investments and to be able to separate them into different sub-accounts, which makes it easier for us to manage these things without getting them mixed up.