The founder and chief executive of contemporary Nigerian restaurant Patio London talks about creating a hub to celebrate African culture and finding her superpowers
Did you study a hospitality-related course at school, college or university?
I studied digital design, digital communication, and media and multimedia at Brunel University London.
Did you do any work experience in the industry at a young age?
No, I did a couple of graphic design, content creation and communications internships at interior design firms and a national bank.
What was your first job?
This is it!
What initially attracted you to working in hospitality?
I love Nigerian culture and food is so integral to that. Afrobeats is being exported around the world on a scale that I'm not sure anyone could have imagined, and I want to be a part of making the same thing happen for Nigeria's culinary offering.
How did you decide on your career direction? Were there any influences, or experiences that encouraged you to take the route you have taken?
I'm fuelled by my heritage and the experiences it has afforded me. I aspire to build bridges, celebrate cultures and inspire innovation on an international scale.
In addition to running the Patio, I'm a Nigerian semi-professional rugby player, who loves design and meeting and feeding people. The Patio is my conduit to navigate that tapestry of design, sports, entrepreneurship, culture and food, and I want it to be a part of shaping a corner of the world that is not only creatively rich but also inclusive and inspiring for all.
That vision, combined with knowing that I didn't want a nine-to-five job, meant the restaurant was the right career path for me.
What industry networks have you been part of that have supported you in your career progression?
The brilliant thing about the Patio is that often networking bodies come to us. We bring communities together, so I have had the opportunity to learn see what leadership looks like in various industries. I have to give a shout out to one of our ongoing partnerships, the Marmalade Collective, a 3,000-plus community platform dedicated to bringing Africa's culture and stories to life – it's pretty much the dream network to have partnered with.
What are the biggest challenges you've faced working in hospitality?
I'm young, in my twenties, Black and African. And I'm a woman. This means I'm not always afforded the luxury of being taken seriously when I walk into a room. On the positive side, having to fight the extra barriers that come with people's assumptions means I've learned to back myself – but constantly having to go that extra mile just to prove I'm capable can also be exhausting. For instance, in the year we've been open, I've changed the way I dress to appear more ‘managerial', so I can spend more time concentrating on the work rather than justifying my presence with senior stakeholders.
While some may assume that being a young Black African woman is three strikes against me, I feel that these are my superpowers – they're what motivate me every day to redefine the narrative for both me and my culture. It's why the Patio London was nominated for a Be Inclusive Hospitality Award within our first year in business and why we were hand-picked by the mayor of London's team to take part in last month's inaugural Black on the Square celebration in Trafalgar Square.
What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Stay humble – it's a learning curve!
Would you recommend a career in hospitality to your friends and family?
I have a family full of creatives, corporates and entrepreneurs, some of whom have also dabbled in hospitality in Nigeria. It's challenging and can be unpredictable but that's what keeps it exciting.
Who inspires you in the industry?
Alexander Amosu is an entrepreneur and founder of Lux Afrique, who has seen success across hospitality, technology, luxury retail and events like Lux Afrique Polo. Like me, he's committed to creating hubs for African celebration, through food, music, sports, entertainment and networking.
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