Vendor Spotlight - Oeuvre Events
In our vendor spotlight series, this week we caught up with one of Kampala’s celebrated creatives- Revival Kemigisha. She is the proprietor Oeuvre events. Her wedding décor is exceptional. We caught up with her to tell us, how the team manages to pull it off every time!
Tell us about you. What sets you apart from other decorators?
For starters, my name is Kemigisha and I own an events management company called Oeuvre Events Limited and we do a number of things. We do wedding decoration, corporate events styling, everything decorative and we also do a bit of interior designing.
What we believe sets us apart is our creativity. We have an eye for detail and we don't just do our work to just get it out of the way, our client’s minds are our driving force, for example, we may have this client who wants a fairytale kind of décor for their wedding so we keep that at the back of our minds when putting together such a concept to ensure that we push that forward. Secondly, I believe another thing that makes us stand out is our desire for continuous improvement, we always try to think of how we can add spice to whatever we are doing so that we are not doing what every other decorator is doing.
So where does the Oeuvre name come from?
Oeuvre means a perfect work of art in French and we associate this to us because we are artistic and creative. We love this name because it raises eyebrows, people asking “what does it mean?” So, with that we get to explain where we come from and best of all, the name stays with the person so they can easily remember us.
What drives your design decisions? What are some of your biggest aspirations?
We have that imaginary bit in our minds so when we see, for example, that outside space over there, we can think of how we can add lights and beautify it. Secondly, we are heavy on the internet so we are always doing research on what is new, what has been created, which lights are trending, which chandeliers should we now have on board. We get a lot of inspirations from everywhere and then we also see different things in nature and when you put them together you can execute one beautiful thing.
What questions do you typically ask your clients before getting to work, and how do the answers factor into your design decisions?
The first question we ask is if they have the pictures of what they would want? So what helps us usually is that most clients know what they want such as the colors, the lights and so forth because they have the idea in their minds. So, with that, we take their preference or idea and we add our spice because we do not want to do what some other decorator did or some other extraction done in Europe. So, we get that, put it together and add our additives to make it unique.
Another question we ask is the client’s budget range, for example, a client may come and tell you that they have a budget of 30 million so you work within that then another may say their budget is 15 million, so you still work within that.
What makes an event successful and how do you measure that success?
We believe that when a client is satisfied then that event was successful. An instance, sometimes it can rain when you have outdoor functions and everything gets messy and you have to redo some things but you will find the client is happy because, one, you executed what you had to, it looked beautiful so even if for you, you may think the rain has disorganized everything, they are happy, they're happy with you, despite the rain bit, and for us, it was successful, we delivered, because that's our job.
Personally, I measure success if we get like two or three phone calls after that event, of people saying how they were at a very beautiful wedding and we did this and that or someone texts you “this was beautiful how much did you do it for?” We've gotten referrals from people seeing what we have done so that means it was impressive and we always get more business from that. Another thing on our side which I can use to measure success is if the team itself is happy and they can say “yeah this function, we out did ourselves!”
Have you ever fallen behind schedule at one time, that one wedding where things didn’t go well?
Yes, we have, we had a certain wedding last year, we had a number of weddings on that same day so I trusted someone, one of our managers with a certain site and they forgot to decorate the church, so they kind of messed up the thing. The client was not amused at all but on the lighter side, the reception was perfect however much the church side of things flopped. It was sad because the mother to bride really wanted the church to be the main emphasis. That wedding stayed in my heart and I was like, oh God! I apologized to the couple but the good thing is that the couple was not furious because the main part was the reception. So, it was the mum who had financed the décor herself who was like, “I told you to work on the church”. We still rose above that, collected ourselves and we learnt our lessons for the betterment of tomorrow.
What was your most successful wedding?
Our most successful one was also last year because amidst that whole Covid-19 saga, God helped us because we had quite a number of scientific functions and even when that serious lockdown ended, we were able to do a number of beautiful functions. To be honest, I did my biggest function during the Covid-19 pandemic. I also got the biggest deals during the pandemic, I got money that I had never gotten before, during the pandemic. Everyone has their angle of looking at things but for us we are grateful.
What do you do when you feel stressed out during the event planning process? How do you stay motivated when things go wrong?
I like using the algorithm of, I draw strength from within, I am a Christian, born again to be exact so I believe nothing from without can affect me. That is mine, I don’t know what works for other people. So, whenever I feel stressed, you know that moment when you feel like things are not exactly moving like you want them to be, you’re running behind schedules, maybe you don’t have enough financing, I draw my strength and energy from within. I look for what motivated me to start in the first place. I look to God who always comes through and look within myself and tell myself “you are resilient; you can do this”. I push myself from within.
Then to relax the body and soul, I like to go massaging.
All in all, I’ve learned to have empathy when dealing with a team because previously I’d be like, “deliver, why aren’t you delivering?” Now like the florist actually, he had issues, he wasn’t delivering. Previously I’d be like, “you know I can replace you like right now, because florists are many” but that humane in me, which I’ve learnt over time, sits me down and am thinking, why isn’t he delivering? Eventually I found out he wasn’t okay health wise and he also had some other personal issues. So, I try to be human when dealing with this team and it helps.
Have you ever dealt with a difficult client?
As a team, an instance is on 29th May, we had a kuhingira and there was a miscommunication somewhere on the bride’s gazebo. So, we setup everything and she comes and she’s like “take it down please!” ‘Now!’ The whole gazebo-after putting on flowers, lights, she was very serious! She’s on top of her voice saying “take it down, take it down”, it is at night and the kuhingira is the next day at about 10am. We had to look for new material, we basically had to put the whole thing together because she didn’t like the setup. As for the setup, sometimes we use boards, cloth, uganza etc. She wanted uganza with metals and we had done board.
We had to take it all down which was a big setback for the team. I told them “you know, these things happen and this is the first of its kind where a client has told us to take everything down.” So, we took it down and setup the new gazebo. Of course we were behind time. They had mass I think at 11am and it was coming to 11am and we were just concluding, so the priest is there, he didn’t know we are trying to finalize and chop a few things. So, during our evaluation meeting as a team, I sat them down, I told them how it was my fault and the miscommunication was from my side. It wasn’t on the team. So, I took all the blame, I thanked them for what they had done and for being able to work in such a rush hour.
What personality traits, skills, and education do you think all decorators must have?
In regards to personality traits, one, I believe every decorator must be patient because if you are not patient you are going to burst. There are a lot of things that sometimes don't go quite as the client wants it, it happens a lot just that most of the times they are a bit minor so you can overlook them but every decorator must be patient. Secondly every decorator must be innovative because if you're not innovative you are going to be kicked out. Everyone is doing décor, if you look at Uganda right now, 1/6 of the ladies are doing decoration. So, you have to find your niche and rise above that and that’s through innovation, resilience, empathy and so forth.
You know, there are clients who really speak rudely to us a lot of times because they are showing you, they are giving you, their money. So, if you decide to both go on flames against each other then you risk losing your brand because they will de-market you everywhere. The worst could be on social media where they write a whole essay of negative stuff, so every decorator must have that self-control. As for education, personally I didn’t study interior design because I did computer science. That’s why for education I don’t know and I cannot speak from that angle because I didn’t study it but I have done business short courses here and there that have helped me on the overall, run my business the fact that I didn’t do business at school and with our education system, I don’t think they teach them the relevant skills for the field.
On the other hand, am so grateful that I didn’t waste my time on it and for these other courses such as Human resource and so on that help a business to run smoothly, I’ve learnt them on the side. I do a lot of self-education, I read a lot, I attend a lot of courses that pop up so yeah that’s what I can say.
Where do you see Oeuvre Events Limited 10 years from now?
It's going to be the greatest thing and yes, I can back it up. I don't have to go so much in detail but I know that we grow steadily. Our vision and objectives are very clear and now that we are launching a magazine, a wedding magazine, we intend to make the magazine international so as its content that’s why we are calling it, “Cosmopolitan Weddings”. We want to create a very strong presence online, build a very strong website so it can be all over. Then two, we want to see how we can train different people so we can have agents in different countries so that if say someone in Australia, which is very good at wedding stuff like décor, cakes and so on. So, if someone over there needs anything wedding like, they can link up with our agent over there.
We also want to sign up different personalities on our website. It’s a big thing and we know we are going to achieve it.
Thank you for honoring our invite for an interview.
Thank you, I like what you guys are doing to grow the industry.