Furthering your studies and running a successful business is not for the faint hearted. Our High Growth Coaching Program finalist, Adedamola Oni, is making it look like a walk in the park.
Adedamola was raised by an entrepreneurial grandmother who fuelled her love of fashion and drive for life-long learning. Thanks to the women that came before her and taught her what she knows, she is who she is today; the creative director of Mama Eto Alasooke (also called MEALasooke).
“I believe in the ability of the African people to create prosperity for themselves that’s why I am creating one of the fastest-growing fashion manufacturing businesses to achieve this end.” – Adedamola Oni
She prides herself in having an upscale fashion brand that promotes African ingenuity and fashion.
Adedamola is a leader that’s passionate about bringing significant contributions to humanity, helping Africans feel good and confident in their bodies.
We had a chill and chatted with her to pokeHGCP 2022 Participants: Adedamola helps Africans feel good and confident in their bodies her brains. Through telling her story, she shares tips and insights to help aspiring entrepreneurs navigate the rocky terrain of business.
Tell us a bit about your family and the relationship you have with them?
I am the first child out of 3 children of my parents whom I lived with until the age of 2, before going to stay with my grandmother in Somolu Lagos.
My relationship with my family has been a very educational one, my grandmother has always prioritized personal and self-directed learning which has become a habit of mine till this day. I am currently completing my Masters program with the determination to become better, all this because of lessons from my family.
My parents are still alive, and together, their union has helped me build self-confidence about the future and what it holds.
Have you always been entrepreneurial from a young age?
I had always wanted to be a lawyer or an educator like my grandmother, until she introduced me to fabric manufacturing, since then I have always dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur creating a business that produces lots and loads of fabrics
What would you like to be remembered for? What impact would you want to make in this world?
I will be remembered as one of the most inspiring women entrepreneurs of my time, as someone who has as significantly contributed to the human race and has helped elevate the status of African fabrics as exotic on the world change.
I will be remembered for bringing prosperity to local artisans in African space
What is your ‘why’ i.e. bottom line, and how do you stay motivated?
My biggest reason is Africa. I want to see it become a global giant, to see its people live in prosperity, and I believe a business that employs in the fashion space can help. I am motivated knowing that I can harness technology to create change for the world and ensure the sustainability of African culture
What led to you starting your own business?
I fell in love with the making of Asooke, when my grandmother introduced me to the space. In 1999, she had an idea to start making her own asooke with young people as her primary focus.
I was introduced to her community of co-artisans, we went shopping, did accounting together and loved the smell of newly woven fabric.
However, her business failed because she was unable to access a consistent market for her products, hence unable to mass produce.
I observed that this was the case for other artisans within the space, whom in addition were growing old.
When she passed away during the Covid-19 pandemic, I caught a vision of what world I could create with the skills she had thought me and with a knowledge of modern business and marketing. I decided to revive and start an African fabric company that makes use of technology and digital tools to promote local fabrics
Today, we have served more than 150 customers in more than four (4) continents of the world.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
I love making the money…but then I love the “Thank you’s” and feedback I receive from customers and also our artisans. We have worked with more than 80 artisans in the last 2 years.
I also love the marketing process of my business, and the co-creation with customers. I also love to create strategy and content for business
Introduce your company the way you would to a potential customer?
A potential customer in this case will be an About-to-be-wedded couple.
I am Adedamola from MEALAsooke, and I will make you feel so confident and special for your big day. I am sure you would want to know why.
We understand that your wedding day is the celebration of your love journey together and the beginning of a happy ever after, and on this day you would want to have all your loved ones come celebrate you in style. We will make you look so sweet and special by co-creating and recommending the best designs that will paint a story of your journey together.
10 years from now, you’d look at your wedding photos and beam with pride!
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
- The skill of Leadership to lead the organisation to its goal
- The skill of Never-ending Personal Development
- The skill of Discipline to do what must be done to succeed
What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our community?
The best advice is the one I received from my mentor during the HGCP program, to never give up and consistently refine my products for the final customer
How do you handle or manage stresses of being an entrepreneur?
I always try to invest in relationship and when I am stressed I find it relieving when I talk to my spouse, close friends and my mentor about what I am facing and how I can be helped. I also do some creative writing during such times…
What do you feel are your biggest achievements?
I don’t have any biggest achievements, I believe the best of me is yet to come. But I can point to a few feats that have inspired me.
And this is when I realize that we have been able to impact the lives of more than 80 artisans in less than 16 months and have been able to manufacture thousands of bundles and sets of Asooke annually.
What key activities would you recommend entrepreneurs to invest their time in?
I recommend that entrepreneurs invest in
- Actively thinking about opportunities
- Executing high value tasks like team building, vision casting and selling.
What has your experience been like as one of the finalists to the program?
My experience in the program has been an insightful and interesting one. I have enjoyed invaluable coaching sessions from my mentor Abiola Adeniran; I have also gained so much knowledge capable of transforming my business and boned with other exceptional founders.
By the end of the 12 weeks, what would you like to have learned from the trainers and coaches?
How to further scale our business, how to seek and get global funds and how to rightly diversify the business or utilize technology.