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Check Out Maureen Apugo’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Maureen Apugo.

Hi Maureen, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
As a kid, I always had an interest in the arts. I had done art competitions as a kid and even had my art featured in the school display entrance and at the local library. As I got older, I became more focused on my studies, and I allowed my passion for the arts to slip to the wayside. I come from a Nigerian background, where it’s expected that you become a professional i.e. a lawyer, nurse, doctor, engineer, etc…

I fell in line with this expectation and became a lawyer- however, I will note, I actually LOVE being an attorney, LOL. I graduated from the University of Baltimore in 2017 and subsequently became a member of the Maryland bar. I am currently employed as an attorney and represent indigent clients in the courtroom. When I am not in court, I am designing and decorating events.

I started ESQuisite Events in October of 2019. While it seems like a random venture on my part, my interest in events was peaked after designing and decorating my sister’s bridal shower and Igba Nkwu, traditional Nigerian Igbo wedding, a year or two prior to my starting the business. I loved the experience so much and held the idea of starting a decorating company near and dear. My now husband encouraged me to pursue my passion and even bought some of my first event decor items. Even till now, I couldn’t explicitly tell you why I chose October 2019 to start my business, but I felt it was time to rip off the band-aid and putting myself out there. As soon as I started my business, I was hired to do work for two large name beauty industry clients in the Baltimore and DMV area, which helped propel my business to popularity.

THEN COVID hit! I didn’t know what to do like most people in the industry. However, my creativity kicked into high gear. I created videos on my social media of me working on various balloon projects, which created a buzz for my business. I created an at-home series of me setting up for events at my home. I also created a custom gift box called the ESQuisite Box to sell to clients celebrating their loved ones.

As folks started to realize COVID was the norm, folks adapted, and this created a lane for intimate events at home. I was soon doing event setups in folks homes. This allowed me to build my event experience, and I’ve gained a loyal number of customers as a result. Now that the world is opening up, so are the number of events I am doing, and the number of guests I am doing events for. This has been an amazing experience, and I can’t wait for what is next for my business.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Absolutely NOT. When I started in business, I thought I had to take on every event, and while balancing my full-time job. And it was extremely difficult. I had no idea that the business would be as in demand as it was, and I had no idea about the seasons of the event industry i.e. summertime is BOOKED and BUSY.

This made it difficult for me to keep up with work my first year in business, and I experienced burnout. Which I never thought was possible. I was handling social media content, responding to inquiries, creating event materials, and obtaining event items.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I am the owner and lead designer at ESQuisite Events. An event decor company located in the Baltimore Metro area. We service clients locally and in the DMV area. What sets my company apart from other businesses is that I am dedicated not only to creating a memorable event experience but I am also interested in creating a transparent experience that is collaborative with the client, and also educational for other event decorators. When starting out in business, there is no manual. I found that the business wasn’t as transparent as I liked, and I want to debunk that. I often share tips with other business owners because I want others to do well.

My proudest achievements in business were my completion of several floral installations and a floor wrap for businesses in the 25th street/Charles Village area. The area is home to several black, young, owned business owners. I love driving in the area because I’m reminded that a piece of my business exists in these businesses. Further, knowing that these business owners, like myself, are so passionate about their business and were willing to take a step out on faith, like myself, I feel connected to their business. It literally is the best feeling ever. My other proud moment was creating flowers for the Ese Azeanbor Trunk show in Tyson’s Corner. I LOVE Ese’s work, and I am so amazed that I was given the opportunity to be a part of her show.

Before we go, is there anything else you can share with us?
At the expense of sound cliche: “Don’t allow that idea that is taking up space in your head to exist rent-free”. Go after it. There is a reason why it consumes you.

Contact Info:

Image Credits

Photography by Wyman J Productions, Eagle Eye Photos, and Kashief Burton.

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