Sometimes the most extraordinary things are birthed from tragedy. On this edition we feature a doctor who is taking the love and pride of Africa fashion to the world.
After Bolanle John Emaimo had a bike accident that fractured her left leg and caused her to be bedridden for 4 months, she used this tragic period in her life to immerse herself in art. She began by doing scribblings to crayons to watercolour pencils to digital paintings on Procreate.
“The legacy I would want to leave in this world is that I am the girl who dreamed of it, worked towards it and became all that she wanted to be.” – Bolanle John Emaimo
She then moved to making beautiful designs which she was then advised to place on T-Shirts and that’s how her fashion brand came to life.
Bolanle is the founder of Africa Arise Clothing Line and one of the 20 female finalists’ part of the High Growth Coaching Program. We had a chat with her, and this is the story of her entrepreneurial journey with tips on how you can be a better businessperson.
Give us a bit of background about yourself, where are you from and how you came to be the person you are today?
Growing up in a Yoruba and Efik home, I remember that I avoided and despised anything traditional cloth that was made or bought for me. I preferred the English clothes because I felt they looked more stylish and creative.
I was someone who always had an eye for fashion since I was young, but I didn’t just believe our African wears were stylish enough maybe due to the colour of fabric chosen then or the combination or the style it was designed into.
My mindset went through a major reset and a good reformation when I went abroad. While abroad (Take Russia for example where there was Racism), being African and proud was more than a necessity, it became my identity.
I identified with our culture more and valued our African textiles. The way I saw how our textiles stood out and told a great story of our identity as colourful, joyful people and also seeing European people take pride in our African clothing made me value it more.
What is your favourite aspect about being a fashion entrepreneur?
Being able to create that which I have been ruminating on my mind, representing Africa using our African textiles and changing the narrative about African Fashion.
Tell us more about your business?
Africa Arise Clothing Line is a Pan-African Fashion clothing line with the aim to deliver the most artistic, creative and Afrocentric fashion pieces that will make you strut into any room with Confidence as you take pride in our African clothing.
What’s been the most crucial thing you’ve done to grow your business?
Opened myself to challenges, stepped out of my comfort zone and became part of this year’s HGCP training program.
What has your experience been like as one of the finalists to the program?
It’s been awesome – I live my life daily with a focused purpose. It’s been an intentional moment of growth for me personally and for my business.
By the end of the 12 weeks with HGCP, what would you like to have learned from the trainers and coaches?
How to delegate tasks and how to inspire other people.
How do you stay focused and productive every day?
I always put the end result before my eyes. Whenever I lose focus or want to give up, I remember the end goal which I am driving at and keep pushing
What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our community?
Stop procrastinating and just start right now.
What are some of the things you think new entrepreneurs should invest in to grow their businesses?
It’s important to learn new skills. Be willing to always develop, read books about business and marketing. Put yourself out there and network with other entrepreneurs – online and offline.
What is that one thing you would like to be remembered for and what is the legacy you want to leave behind?
I would like to be remembered as an African woman who represented Africa both locally and globally. One who influenced many other Africans to love Africa and take pride in being African.
I would love to use Fashion as a means to achieve that.
The legacy I would want to leave in this world is that I am the girl who dreamed of it, worked towards it and became all that she wanted to be.