After winning the August Rookie contest to become the Rookie of the Month, Olamide Orefeko, a marketing student at Babcock University and CEO of Lami’s Clothier, a fashion outfit, received “The Spark” – an incentive to kickstart her business success – from The Spark: Sage, Honourable Ben Akabueze, the Lagos State Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget. Precisely on the 26th of September, 2014, Olamide was empowered with a 100,000 naira cash grant and a personal counselling session with the Commissioner.
In this interview with Thelma Mbachu, this empowered entrepreneur talks about entrepreneurship, Nigerian fashion and the impact of The Spark.
TM: Hi Olamide, please tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
Olamide: I am Olamide Orefeko and the third child of my family. I am a student of Babcock University as you know, studying marketing in my third year and I am a fashion designer.
TM: You’re a student of Babcock University and you run a fashion outfit, how do you effectively combine the two?
Olamide: Well it’s been okay, I have been able to marry that two and it’s been awesome.
TM: What’s the name of your business?
Olamide: Lami’s Clothier.
TM: For how long have you been into fashion designing?
Olamide: Two years now.
TM: What inspired you to start this business?
Olamide: I love making people look good and sometimes I find myself sketching designs during to summer. My friends then advised me to try making clothes.
TM: You specialize on designing female wears only. Why?
Olamide: I always find myself sketching female outfits and I love making females look good. I don’t know, but I just love making clothes for females.
TM: Given the high cost of obtaining fabrics in the Nigerian market, how have you been able to sell your designs at affordable prices?
Olamide: It’s not really about making any substantial gain right now, it is about the love and making people look good. Money will come from it much later.
TM: How did you discover the Rookie contest on The Spark website?
Olamide: My brother’s friend told me about it.
TM: It is evident that you had the most votes. How did you get so much votes from friends?
Olamide: I told my friends about it and the youth forum of my church because I am a part of them. I also put the link on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, I told my clients too, everyone supported me- my friends and family.
TM: Do you feel The Spark “ignited” something in you? What?
Olamide: Yes, the last sentence on the message you sent to me to congratulate me- “We believe in you, now believe in yourself”. That has really helped in many ways, not only in the fashion business but in school too and I am proud of who I am and what I do.
TM: As a young entrepreneur, you’ve probably had some setbacks since you started in 2012. Can you share a few with us and how you were able to pull through?
Olamide: When I first started it was a bit hard to sew. I spoilt many fabrics and sometimes I felt bad and at a moment I thought about stopping. But I had that one person who believed in me and kept on telling me I could do it and even gave me more fabrics to practice with. And my boss is the best, she was so good to me, she taught me well and I am so proud of myself now.
TM: It’s evident that you’ve been “connected”, in this case to the Commissioner, how would this all help you achieve your short and long term dreams and aspirations?
Olamide: First this is a very good platform for me, and my aspiration in life is to be successful. Meeting the commissioner will change so many things in my life and my business, and as you know connections and hard work is all it takes to be successful in life.
TM: Considering the very busy schedule of the commissioner and his high profile, were you nervous? What were your expectations from the session and all?
Olamide: Yeah I was a little nervous. I have never met someone of his high profile and standard, it’s a big privilege.
TM: What do you see yourself achieving in the next five years?
Olamide: Five years from now I see myself as a well-known clothier of great standards.
TM: Which Nigerian fashion designer would you say is your role model?
Olamide: I would say the woman who taught me how to sew and make designs out of ordinary fabrics. Her name is Temitope. She taught me well and she makes good designs too.
TM: As a fashion designer, which Nigerian celebrity would you like to dress and why?
Olamide: I would like to dress Toolz. I like the way she dresses and anything she wears always looks good on her because she is beautiful and gracious.
TM: What’s your take on the evolution of Nigerian fashion?
Olamide: It is going beyond imagination, it keeps getting better each passing day. I must say I am impressed.
TM: What advice do you have for young upcoming entrepreneurs like you?
Olamide: Do whatever brings you joy. That thing you know anytime you are doing it you never get tired of doing it. Once you can dream it you can do it. Just always believe in yourself.
TM: How do you plan to maximize the potential and benefits of The Spark- NGN100,000 cash grant and a personal counselling session with the Lagos state commissioner of budget and planning, Hon. Ben Akabueze?
Olamide: I want to buy an industrial sewing machine with the money and make good use of the things the counsellor told me. I am very sure I am going to be great soon. Thank you.