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How COVID-19 Lockdown Changed Face Of Parties – LAGOS Event Planner, MOPE ALLI

Mrs Mope Alli is a top Events Planner. She is the brain behind Treasures Party Affairs, an events company that has been in business for the past 23 years. She quietly does her business, but she’s achieved a lot within the industry. A no-nonsense lady, she used to be in the Advertising industry before she ventured into the events business. This 60-year-old lady says the trajectory of event planning in Nigeria changed with the COVID lockdown in 2020. She explains more to IYABO OYAWALE in this chat held at her Surulere office in Lagos.

When did you start Treasures Party Affairs?

Exactly on the 13th of February, 1999. We started small but God has enlarged us.

23 years in the business, how has it been?

There are so many stories. It’s been quite interesting. It’s a totally different call from where I was coming. I was trained as a Journalist. I read Mass Comm. and I was in the Advertising sector for about 13 years and you can imagine. I was also in the Executive. I was first of all the Treasurer of AAPN. Then I became the Secretary of AAPN. Then, I got a direction from God. I actually heard clearly that I’ll have a rental outfit and quite honestly, I didn’t have anybody who was into the rental business. So, it was really divine. So, I took my time, did some research, did some findings, did a feasibility study, and God told me not to resign yet. When I finally resigned, people were like why was I resigning to start a rental? They were like, ‘are you for real? Are you really sure you know what you’re doing?’ I said ‘yes’ because I heard the voice audibly. I said ‘I’m convinced.’ So, I started very small. Very very small. As a matter of fact, I remember when they came to dedicate the place, they were looking for the rest of the items. They wanted me to open the store so that they can bless them. And I said ‘this is all I have.’ And, the spirit of God came upon the people that came and they prayed. And, God moved and it’s been getting better and better. One thing I must not forget to tell you is that one day before I resigned; I sat in the office of one of my clients. The story is that the client was owing and my MD then said ‘don’t leave that office without collecting money and it was somewhere on Engineering Close in Victoria Island. A 3-storey building. I sat there, just meditating, and God said ‘this is your vision.’ I wrote it down and showed it to my senior pastor then and he said ‘read that vision every day.’

So, for the past 23 and half years, we have been reading that vision, except on Sundays. And, in that vision, He says ‘Treasures will be blessed, whatever it plants to the Kingdom shall yield a hundredfold return, whatever it does will prosper, clients will look forward to the opportunity of using us.’ It had a lot of promises that didn’t make sense to me at that time. But, as I kept on reading them, every day we see multiplication. It’s been amazing. That’s the beautiful story of it but the challenges; I can tell you it’s not a business for someone who’s not tough. You must be tough and you must have shock absorbers. Expect anything, any time. And, that’s the truth. It was a far cry from where I was coming from. Even though I had deadlines to meet, the type of people you deal with in the rental business is totally different. These field workers can turn your head upside down and staff are the most difficult people to deal with. You have everything planned on paper; you’ll just hear ‘I’m not coming today.’ They don’t flow around with what you’re thinking about. That’s one part. Then the clients, thank God I was in client service when I was in advertising. Clients are so wonderful. They tell you this, and the next thing they change their mind. In this industry, you have to be careful. Many times, they don’t book on time. We have some people that book well ahead of time but the majority of them book within the week. We have a lot of customers that book and they have the party tomorrow and you have to start planning how to satisfy them. The moment they drop the money, the story changes. ‘When am I getting my items? How come it’s too late?’ And, you’re like what? You have them to contend with but overall, it’s been a wonderful journey. I’ve met a lot of people and over time, we’ve learnt a lot of patience. You have to be very patient in this business. Another area where we have issues is that of Law Enforcement Agencies. They’re almost impossible. I understand that they want things to be in the right way but they ask for impossible things from us. Yes, sometimes, we are on the wrong side of the Law but many times, we are not. The moment they see a truck loaded with items, they wave them down. ‘You don’t have this.’ I must tell you the amount of taxes we pay in this industry. They’re enormous. We have all these taxes from Local Government and you know Local governments are an endless story. Sometimes, you try and deal with Lagos State, Lagos state will tell us ‘don’t deal with Local Government.’ The local Government will say ‘we’re the ones on the ground. Deal with Lagos State, when we’re passing, we’ll see you.’ We just try and weigh between the two of them. We try to please both parties at our expense. Then, there is the area of our items. Most of the items are contraband, chairs, etc, so, when we bring them in, we pay double, which does not translate into naira sometimes. It’s even worse after COVID. Thank God we just discussed the exchange rate. I can tell you that a Marquee now ranges between N25 to N50 million. That’s the landing cost. When are you going to make that money back? If you’re not careful, if you don’t make your addition well, I give you a very simple analysis. To go to Lagos now, we charge between N25,000 to N35,000 to deliver items. Many clients don’t want to pay it. Meanwhile, they know that diesel has gone up. They know. Over time, you start wondering, how am I going to balance things? We have salaries to pay. There are expectations that you want to meet, you just want to make sure that because you have a name for yourself, you just don’t want to go beyond standards so you go the extra mile. It’s not like before, diesel now is N790 per litre. To take our truck to Lekki, we’ll use about N20,000, because we’ll deliver and after a day or two, we’ll go and retrieve. The clients are not willing to pay. They’ll say’ is it not Lekki there?' That means, we’re robbing Peter to pay Paul. The money has to come from somewhere. Of course, the cost of labour has gone up now.  You just heard me discussing with the mechanic. He just fixed a small thing and collected N5,000. I had to beg him to even collect that. Yesterday, he said N10,000. Another one is N20,000 and you have to keep maintaining these vehicles to avoid breakdown and falling victim to the Law Enforcement Agents. Over and all, I’ll tell you it’s an interesting industry. You meet a lot of people, but my desire always is to make sure that every client leaves Treasures happy. One happy customer will tell a million others. A disgruntled customer will also tell a million people. And I tell you that, quite honestly, we do very little advertising. It’s our referrals that sell us. I’ll tell you that one of the major things that clients want is timely and clean items, then, they want you to have a relationship with them. I find out that, many times, I’ve become friends with my clients. So, it goes beyond ‘how much do you rent this.’ Sometimes, they sit down with us, they talk and talk and we‘ve become friends and I can tell you that we’ve had so many jobs from that type of relationship.

Why did you call the business Treasures Party Affairs?

I got Treasures from the Scriptures. I got it specifically from Isaiah 45 vs. 3 and it says ‘I’ll give you treasures of the darkness and the secret riches of hidden places. So, that’s where I got Treasures from.

You said you trained as a Journalist.

Yes. I trained as a Journalist. I did Print Journalism for my 1st degree and for my Master's; I did Advertising and Public Relations. I did my Youth Service in Nigerian Observer in Benin City, as they would always insist on having.

You now came to Lagos?

I was just posted to Benin for my Youth Service. I lived in Lagos at the time.

So, where did you work as Advertising Executive?


At Treasures Party Affairs, what do you do?

We do party rentals. We rent out chairs, tables, tents, marquees, fans, and the like. We also do event planning. Event planning, in years gone by, because we like making sure that our clients are satisfied, I know that even before event planning became such a major thing, I’ll sit down with people. Explain to them, ‘please don’t do this. Let’s do things this way.’ And, in the past 10, 15 years, it has now become a business, so, we added it on. Quite honestly, it’s painstaking. When you plan an event, it’s painstaking. It takes a lot out of you but I’m one, and I usually tell my staff, I like dotting my ‘Is’ and crossing my ‘Ts’. You can’t be a successful event planner if you’re not detailed. You must be thorough, keeping to time, making sure vendors get there on time, as at when due, and make sure that they do exactly what they’ve been briefed to do.

Can you tell me some of the parties or events you handled? I know you did for Mrs Dupe Gbadamosi when she clocked 80.

Coincidentally, we didn’t do event planning for Mrs Gbadamosi. She did a lot of the planning; we did the rentals and the décor. But with a relationship with Mrs Gbadamosi, you actually find out that there are some things you have to include in what you’re doing. If you don’t, you’ve left some things undone. With event planning, we’ve handled birthdays, and corporate events for people, but basically for event planning, what we do are birthdays and I think one or two corporate events. Basically birthdays and weddings.

During the COVID lockdown, there were no parties. How did it affect your business?

There was a lockdown and immediately after the lockdown, God has been faithful. The moment COVID happened, the trajectory of events changed. It wasn’t business as usual. We actually had to re-strategize. What we found out is that people were no longer having massive parties. We have one or two massive parties now but it’s not like before. Of course, you know COVID happened, dollars, money, everything happened. What we found now is that people do parties in the region of 200,300 and they want their guests treated very well. So, gone are the days where you have 1,000, 1,500 people, now people do parties involving 100 people and they want them done well. They want quality. We now had to go and sit down again, invest more in those exquisite chairs, those are the chairs that we displayed in the reception. Those are the pieces of all the chairs that we had to get. So, people changed the way they think about parties. It’s a new experience for us. During COVID, we downsized a bit, and we did away with a couple of staff, but after COVID, we sprung up again, in a different way.

What type of person is Mrs Mope Alli?

I’m not really an extrovert. I won’t put myself as an introvert, either. I like working and I have no apologies for it (laughs). I’m a hands-on manager. When you came in, you met me by the truck. I’ll always be there. I delegate but I still monitor. That’s what I try and train people to do. That’s the way Mr Niyi Alonge was.


Yes, Adwork. He won't just say ‘go and do it.’ He’ll be there. If it requires us staying overnight, he’ll be there too. That I’ve learnt. I’m also a very detailed person, that’s to a fault. Maybe because I did Mass Comm. And I was also the proofreader of a newspaper, I find myself spotting errors. I don’t like half-measures. I just don’t like mediocrity. It’s a problem for me.

How do you cope with the competition in the industry? So many young ones are coming into the industry as event planners.

Praise God for them. My own take and it’s the take of us that are growing older, the beauty of a person is to be able to hand down. It’s not just to compete. They must feel you and your handover. So that you can sit back and say things are being done well. And not to compete because you don’t even have the energy but you want to put them through and mentor them. That way, you become respected, instead of trying to compete and pulling people down. The world is big enough for all us.

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