Ololade Oladipupo: My mother inspired me to start Esmadelle

Mothers are so awesome, we don’t need to say that twice. Consider this, you’re young, creative and itching to earn your own income using your talents. Yet, you have little or no idea of what to do or how to get started.

Ololade Oladipupo has been there and done that. As the creative designer of Esmadelle, Ololade was able to make strides in her Motherland Mogul journey thanks to the huge support from her mother.

Recently, SLA contributor, Kofoworola Ayodeji tracked down Ololade for what turned out to be a heartwarming conversation. She shared with Kofoworola her inspiration, as well as the process of getting started with a fashion designing business and growing it into a profitable one, right from home.

Not long ago, I attended a friend’s wedding in Lagos and it was real fun. Although there was more than enough to bite and chew and drink, I had to notice the wedding dress —it was simple yet very stylish and charming.

Quickly, I inquired about the dress. And what I found was that the dress, which I had thought was from the “overseas” or perhaps from a big player in Africa’s fashion industry, was made by one young and aspiring fashion designer in Lagos.

Tell us about yourself

My name is Ololade Oladipupo. I’m the creative designer of Esmadelle, a female apparel clothing line.

It’s a female apparel brand which started in 2012 and is focused on every woman of every age and way of life.

How did you develop the courage and optimism to become an entrepreneur in a country where many young people have given up on their dreams because of  a lack of opportunities?

I am a lover of arts, and the big secret is: I might not have ended up as a fashion designer if not for my mum. She gave me the motivation.

It was my mother who provided me with the first sewing machine with which I started my career, before expanding. She gave me the much needed courage to enter the fashion industry, thereby giving my dream a big lift.

A tulle waist draped sequin illusion dress made by Esmadelle
A tulle waist draped sequin illusion dress made by Esmadelle

You’ve got quite an interesting startup story. How did it all begin?

Even as a Microbiology graduate of Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), I started working from home as a tailor. I was mainly into casuals then. People loved my work and me, this helped with the much needed initial rise.

Though Esmadelle started in 2012 as Lahdele, along the line, we had to change the brand name due to some circumstances. Now, we have expanded into making bridals too and also into training aspiring fashion designers.

Your designs are stylish and charming. What inspires them?

I am inspired by everything. I draw inspiration from a myriad of elements like nature, arts, and culture to create designs that are unique. Fashion is everywhere. We can’t deny that.

And, I never felt I had a choice because it seemed natural to me to want to always translate my ideas into fashion. Everyone is looking for how to express themselves and show their personality. I think I am able to translate mine into fashion.

Fashion designing, like all other ventures has its peculiar challenges. Tell us about your challenges so far

Like many other aspiring entrepreneurs, the biggest challenge to expanding my business is finance.

I hope to surmount that.

What are your plans for Esmadelle? Especially in the areas of expansion and mentorship

Even though my business is still evolving, my vision is global awareness for my brand. I want my creativity to stream through Africa to the rest of the world in a most unique style.

We would also be moving into Esmadelle’s new workshop next month when it will be officially opened. Currently, I have two workers, and five students who are due for graduation later in September.

How would you advise young women looking to being their own bosses?

It doesn’t matter how small your business is in the beginning, just make sure you’re living your dreams.

Let no obstacle stand in your way; chase your dreams vigorously and you will be making a difference in the world.

Are you willing to share your thoughts? I’m eagerly waiting to hear from you. 

About Kofoworola Ayodeji

Kofoworola Ayodeji is a Pan-African writer, transformational speaker, socio-political commentator and passionate advocate of women's rights. He's the co-founder of @Pepnaija.

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