Business partnerships are known to be tricky so it’s even more amazing when a couple also manages to run a successful company together.
The latter is what Nigerian musician, Darey Art Alade and his wife, Deola, have achieved running Livespot, a Lagos-based intergrated Communications firm with offices in Abuja.
The couple who have been married since 2007 have also managed to keep their private lives away from the prying eyes of the public.
In this interview with Premium Times, the pair open up on what it is like running a business together.
PT: What is like running a business together for more than a decade and as a couple?
Darey: The thing is when we are working we are not husband and wife.
She is my CEO, so when we are working because we have strong human resources policies in place, if I do anyhow I will see anyhow.
But seriously speaking, it’s actually fun, working together. We make it fun not just between ourselves but together. The tongue and teeth don’t get along sometimes so it’s only natural that we disagree sometimes but we make sure that we keep our eyes on the ball.
Deola: I think we value our friendship and respect as well. You know because we are best friends first and foremost we respect each other in and outside the office.
PT: What roles do you both play in the company?
Deola: Livespot is a 360-degree creative collective company. So while Darey drives the company’s creative vision, I am the design expert who oversees Livespot’s activities and makes strategic decisions that have helped us grow the outfit.
Darey: Even when my wife was running interior design business, I really learnt a lot from her about her business just by being around her.
She has also learnt a lot about my music business just by being around me. We really do complement each other because no one person knows it all.
PT: How involved is Deola in your music career?
Darey: Deola has always been involved in my music and career as far back as when I was producing my old music, planning campaigns, even up to the writing of the music.
Once I sound it off her first and she likes it I am fine. When I return from the studio, the first person I play my music to is my wife. She is my first consumer at home.
Sometimes when she is not around and our son walks into me creating music and doesn’t react, I don’t even bother myself. There is just no need because at that point I just know that I have not tried.
I have to go back to making the song better. So, we have always unconsciously cultivated that level of involvement in each other’s business.
Deola: I am my husband’s biggest critic. So, across everything, whatever decision we make, we run it by each other. We work well together, creatively even if there are any differences we know how to resolve it together. It’s always about the end result which is the greater good.
PT: Don’t you think channeling so much energy into Livespot would affect your music career in the long run?
Darey: To answer the question of music, what I do or who I am is reflected in the works that we all do here at Livespot. So, from campaigns to events, to creating jingles or campaign music for different brands, to sometimes performing at certain events or hosting events, all are related to what I do as a musician.
PT: During the tour of your office, I observed that Deola has a bigger office. Does that mean her work load is more than yours?
Darey: My office is just okay for me and I don’t need a lot of space, moreover I also have my studio as an extension of my office so if I combine both offices, mine is a lot bigger.
But as the CEO, she has more guests and gets to see more people. Most people who come to Livespot are her guests not mine. There is really nothing to the size of the office, it’s an architectural ‘mistake’.
Deola: Darey you didn’t tell her that it was your idea to have it that way.
Darey: I didn’t add that there is a toilet in my office and none in hers so that means she has to come into my office if whenever she wants to use the ladies.
PT: What are some of the projects your company has been involved in?
Deola: We have put together some of Nigeria’s most remarkable experiential and digital marketing campaigns and concerts in recent times. Between 2014 and 2016, Livespot was responsible for Darey’s “Love Like a Movie” which saw in top celebrities – Kim Kardashian, Kelly Rowland, and Ciara.
In December 2017, we handled production, experiential marketing and digital engagement of Falz’s debut concert, The Falz Experience.
We have also worked with leading brands like Airtel, GTB’s Fashion Weekend, United Bank of Africa (UBA), Heineken, World Economic Forum, First Bank and so many more providing integrated marketing solutions.
PT: Whose idea was it to set Livespot up?
Darey: It was collective but majorly under the leadership of our CEO, Deola. She was the one that mostly invested in all of this.
Deola and Darey Art Alade (1)
Deola and Darey at the Live Spot Music Studio
PT: Deola, this must be one of your very first interviews. How have you been able to maintain your privacy all these years with regards to your business?
Deola: It’s a no-brainer for me because at the end of the day what I am doing is about the business and not about me.
I think a lot of our people get it twisted, you do a job, let’s assume it goes viral, people hear about it, they start to hail you before you know it you start showing yourself it’s no longer about that job.
Our work speaks for us and I strongly believe you don’t have to show off. For me, it’s not about accolades because I believe your work should speak for you and not your face speaking for you.
PT: And what is like being married to a star?
Deola: He, Darey, is the star so we allow him be the star and we are behind him and that’s fine. I am a private public person and this is why you don’t get to see me everywhere.
Some people are all over the place, but I am not. I only show up where I need to and when I am not at work, I go back to my house and I am okay.
Darey: Everything has its time and I think that’s what she is saying you just have to balance it. Water and oil, they don’t mix, so we keep your egos aside and let the work speak for itself.
We put in a lot here at Livespot and we are focused on getting the job done, client satisfaction and not the face or the happiness. We will continue to have conversations but I think we can quickly come out and watch the show real.
PT: How do you manage to stay scandal-free especially in this era of social media?
Darey: I mind my business there are just too many things to do. The distractions are everywhere and over the years I have been actively involved in growing our business, music career and raising my family.