What started as a joke during her NYSC days, has now grown to become a thriving cocktail business, serving a broad range of clients in the city of Lagos. Meet our Personality for this week, Motunrayo Faidat Olaonipekun of Motfint Cocktails, as she shares on her journey and experience in the business.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, your position, and background.
Hi, my name is Motunrayo Faidat Olaonipekun. I’m the CEO of Motfint Cocktails, the Head Mixologist for Motfint Cocktails. I’m a graduate of the University of Lagos. I studied Insurance; I’m also a member of the Chatered Insurance Institute of Nigeria. I’m the last born of the family of three; I’m married.
How did you discover your passion for making cocktails?
From the beginning, I wouldn’t say I had a passion for it, because it all started as a joke. During my service year, it was compulsory for all of us to participate in one skill acquisition; it was mandatory during my service year. So, I went for the food class, the culinary school, that was the group I joined. So, we didn’t really talk about drinks and all, the major was the food aspect. But later on, we did some little mixing in class, which was a basic cocktail then; let’s say we did Chapman, we did the sweet sunset and all. Then I started having an interest in the act of mixing the drinks; I was doing so much research on YouTube to see different recipes and all.
It got to a time I ordered a book from Konga; I think [it was] one cocktail guide, the Elles Ice Box by Chizoba. it helped me; the book actually really helped me, because prior to that time, I didn’t attend a normal comprehensive class about bartending and all; so the book really helped me recognise the basic tools of the business, the difference between glasswares, the difference between cocktails and mocktails, and all. So, that was how it started, I started mixing one or two things and all.
So, it got to a point, I got a call from my friend. she was my coursemate in Uni, so she wanted me to mix drinks for her wedding. I was like, wow, I’ve never had any official outdoor event. So, that was in 2017. So I took it up, I wrote my recipes down and all. The first time it wasn’t easy; because I enjoyed every bit of it and the drinks I was mixing for the event, most of them were my signature drinks, the ones I created myself. So, that was how I took it up. Then after then, I think I took a ten-month break and I came back.
When I came back from the break, that was when I did different training with some people in the cocktail industry (Drinkspro and Elles Icebox Cocktails) just to upgrade my class and to know more about the business, because I really wanted to know more about the business. So I learned.
If you weren’t in the cocktail business, what else would you have been doing?
If I wasn’t in the cocktail industry, I would have been an insurance broker by now; apparently, I would be in my office, seated, waiting for an insurance business to come in.
What makes Motfint Cocktails different from other cocktail vendor companies?
I would say Motfint Cocktails is different from any other cocktail vendor or any other cocktail company is because most of our drinks are signature drinks; they are own recipes that we created ourselves. 99% of the recipes are created by me; that’s one thing… we don’t say okay because we are in the cocktail industry, we want to make what everybody is making. Yes, there are some classic cocktails that everybody knows; definitely, we do that one too; we do those ones, the classic ones.
Another thing is good customer service. Because at Motfint, we build a good customer relationship. Customers, consumers, are the key and the life of the business. So we build a good relationship with them, because when you have a good, positive, helpful and friendly relationship environment with your clients, they would always come back and that’s one thing about us. We like to build a friendly environment with our clients, no matter how, because customers/consumers are the key; they are the lifeline of the business.
What does a typical week for a cocktail vendor look like?
A typical week for a cocktail vendor like me, when there is no event, I’m there running my other business; but the cocktail business is my major; so, but most of our weekends, we are always engaged in one event or the other, except if we have an event during the week.
What’s the most challenging thing about running a cocktail business in this part of the world?
Well, I would say the most challenging part of the business for me is this part of the world. It’s not everybody that knows and understands the craft; it’s not everybody that appreciates it. So, penetrating into the market is quite hard. When I mean it’s hard, some clients, you have to explain to them that this is the need for you to have a cocktail/mocktail at your party. Some people will say, no, rather than that, the money I will put or the money I will give a cocktail vendor, I will rather use the money to buy packs of juice and all. It’s not everybody that appreciates the craft, which is not easy; it’s not easy at all. It’s not easy penetrating into the market. It’s not just easy.
How are you tackling this challenge in your business?
Okay, tackling the challenge, I think mhm, thanks to the like of events like Lagos Cocktail Week, at least some parts of the public are now… even if it’s not everybody that is involved yet, at least people are now getting to see the need for cocktails, mocktails, the need for a mobile bar at your event. So people are now starting… they now see the need for it. At least that is even conveying some information to the public. Because that platform alone, people come in, seeing the need for it; one way or the other, it’s helping our business; I would say that.
What has been the most rewarding part of being in this business/industry so far?
Well, to me, I’d say, the rewarding part of the business to me is meeting new people, meeting new clients, making new friends; it goes a long way. I’ve met different people, even people that are willing to help outside making drinks for their events and all. It’s so amazing.
What advice would you give someone who desires to start their cocktail business?
My advice to anyone that wants to join the industry, please and please, learn, know your craft very well. Know what you’re doing; know what you’re mixing for your clients. Please, it’s very very important. Because each time you are out there as a cocktail person or a mocktail person, you are representing the industry as a whole.
Motunrayo Faidat Olaonipekun is the CEO of Motfint Cocktails, a cocktail vendor company based in Lagos, Nigeria. You can check them out on Instagram via @motfintcocktails.