I am Queensley Offiong Bassey, a native of Efut Akwa Ikot Ekpe Clan, Efut Ekondo, Calabar South Local Government Area. I am thirty-three and the first of three children in a family of five.
I hold a B. Sc in Environmental Protection Management from the University of Calabar, a Post Graduate Diploma in Education (in view), Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH).
I grew up in a loving and supporting family; in Calabar South where menace and hoodlums are the order of each day. A place where people dread having businesses for fear of robbery and business stagnation. It is a place with tales of woes for thriving businesses. Despite knowing how the terrain has been, instead of fear, I took to prowess and allowed it consume me. So I ventured into the business of serving busy people’s stomach with good food.
First, I see business as passion brought to bear, if it must succeed. Cooking is my passion. I love to see satisfaction on the faces of people and I soar at the sound of “good food”. Having known all the hassles of this terrain, I braced up for the task ahead and the fight against all odds to excel.
In 2003, with the help of my ever supporting and loving parents I started Queenieez Eatery. It was then located at White House by Nyong Edem Street, Calabar South. I remember that I began with two crates of drinks and about fifteen plates of food in the midst of existing eateries.
I beefed up my marketing strategies with the intent of keeping my business alive. My first major setback was waking up one morning to find the shop empty, except for the freezer which apparently couldn’t be carried that night.
I swallowed this bitter pill and ventured into selling ice block with the freezer left. Determined to excel, I started outdoor catering….. Oh My! It wasn’t easy, going by the number of caterers on ground already, I was sure in for a competition with household names.
Was I deterred? No! Through outdoor catering I was opened to a whole new world of food business, I employed people who were dedicated and it showed their existence was partially dependent on what we were doing.
I thought of having my place but funds didn’t come. So in 2014, fate smiled at me and I got appointment into Calabar South Local Government Council as Chief Press Secretary to the Executive Chairman, Hon. Majorie Asuquo.
This brought a new lease to my business as I could access a loan facility with First Bank through my Salary account. The first shop I saw at Edgerley had me duped of N350,000. I couldn’t open Queenieez Kitchen in March as planned.
Family and friends came to aid, and with the amount left from the loan, I took this place where I am currently operating from i.e. Queenieez Kitchen No. 102 Yellow Duke Street Opposite Church of Latter Days, Calabar.
Three months after Queenieez officially opened, I was looted at gun point at about 2pm. Again in May, 2015 I went to find my shop open at 6am and staring at me…. So very empty. It felt like because I am a woman, so anyone could ruin me and go free. I felt pained and really was at the verge of giving up.
Again I reasoned that if I closed down, I would give people reasons to laugh and mock at me, that I would disappoint people who looked up to me, those who couldn’t wait to have a taste of Queenieez Delicacies, that I would displace my employees and my signature which had become a household name would no longer exist.
Thus I bounced back better with prowess in my veins. I remember fondly, Dr. Chioma Gershom Bassey’s advice that “I should be proactive about my passion which I brought into business line”.
I opened up for criticism, tried new meals, changed patterns, I became aggressive in marketing with Facebook, Twitter, imo pages, I even took advantage of the Mtn Caller Feelers, all of these not forgetting that God promised to prosper me, and I refused to look down on my little beginning.
The most interesting thing is that for each hit and heat, the grace to give Queenieez Kitchen a face lift, a new view and Outlook was bestowed by Elohim. The most important thing is that I am an employer of labour, I put smiles on the faces of my clients, I deliver food to their off desks and I’m making waves eventually.
Being an entrepreneur is beautiful but adding passion to it makes it classy. Never letting the fall take the best of your is what makes it business.
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