“You want to make money, have a good vision because money is a dividend of good vision”- Adetoke Oluwo.
As the Nigerian market space expands and the quest for authenticity and originality becomes myriad, there are some whose goal is to thrive in their own space. To them, there were defining moments that erupted a new trajectory on their entrepreneurial course. With us, is our guest, whose belief is that it takes more than just passion to fuel growth in the business space. To her, consistency, self-confidence and vision are thriving forces to growth and a successful business journey. Meet our guest, an aced entrepreneur driven by passion, growth and resilience in the fashion space.
She takes us through her successful journey of not only being a fashion guru but a prolific TV producer, content creator and UK trained screenwriter. In her interview, she simplifies the hurdles she has been faced with as she is scaling the business world of fashion which wasn’t so planned. Meet the delectable Adetoke Oluwo.
Let’s meet you, Who is Adetoke Oluwo?
Adetoke Oluwo is an energetic, passionate entrepreneur who is also a business coach and a seasoned TV producer. I’m an aced content creator and UK trained screenwriter as well. I began my career in TV presenting about twelve years ago. On a particular day, I posted a picture on Instagram, and then, someone reached out to me and said they wanted 1000 worth of pounds of what I was wearing. That was how the SGTC brand was born. So I’m first a producer, TV presenter and screenwriter. However, I write scripts for TV and media firms, with a strong forte in comedy and fashion.
To add to that, I’m a business coach, with a vision of helping businesses who want to build a great brand. I daily train entrepreneurs using my social media platform.
Could you share with us any defining moment you think has impacted your life or something you feel is a driving force for everything you do?
The defining moment for me was when I gave my life to Christ. Before then, I battled with low self-esteem and a lack of confidence. These are two things that are the key driving forces of any business person. So, I wouldn’t have been able to do all these today, without God in my life.
I just woke up one day and had that realization that I needed to accept myself for who I am, and that has been my approach to life since. That step defined my life and every success people see and attribute to me. All these come from giving my life to Christ and knowing God for myself. Those two things are like trees with so many branches and fruits on them.
We all have Motivational Force, somewhere and somehow, who would you say has inspired you greatly in your journey?
I would say my family, my father, precisely. My father has a good eye for fashion and he’s someone who always wants his children to look smart and stylish. I couldremember how he would insist I wear heels, so I could look nice and match up with the trends. He’s very much interested in how we look like fashionistas;so he would always buy us the latest of everything, and that inspired me growing up. I would say my family have also been very supportive. We’re a close-knitted family and we’re always there for one another. So, my dad is like our chief motivator, that is why I don’t really care much about what other people say, as long as my family cheers me on.
I’m not the only one in fashion in the family; my sister is a celebrity fashion stylist who has been featured in Vogue and other international fashion magazines, my brother is into PR, also my elder brother is into photography, so it’s like a family thing.
In your industry, what was your biggest challenge getting started in the fashion world and how did you overcome it?
I would say, I’ve been in fashion passively as a TV producer, going for fashion weeks and bringing back content for the fashion houses I worked with. So I would say I already know how people in the industry react to certain things. When you give people a hint that you’re good and know what you’re doing, they naturally gravitate towards you. I started my business officially in November 2016, and by December, I was already shipping worldwide. I wouldn’t call it easy, but my smooth journey is a result of the proper knowledge I already have about how the industry works.
The only thing I would call a major challenge was having lots of copycats. I would launch a product, and in one week, different people already made different prints of it in their name.Some would even sell with my picture. It was a battle, but I stood my ground. That’s part of the negativity that comes with going viral as a brand. Everything else was going smoothly, as a result of my prior knowledge of the industry.
In addition, the persistent rise in the price of raw materials was also a challenge. You might get a price today and tomorrow you get a different price, but I still would say the copycats are a huge challenge to the fashion industry, especially here in Africa, where people see copying you as a form of flattery, which is wrong. I believe in originality and creativity.
Everything in life requires the right winning strategy, what strategy do you recommend for fashion brands who want to gain influence and build their social currency?
One of the major things I advocate for in business is having a vision. Lots of people don’t have a vision because they just want to make money. You can’t be successful in business without having a solid vision of what you want to do and why. I have people who started their brand, having been inspired by my brand. But the truth is I have a plan, do you have one? Your why shouldn’t be because you want to make money; money is a dividend of good vision.
Also, the number one thing you should have figured out is how to provide solutions to an existing problem. When you think that way, money will always locate you.Back in 2016, I discovered a need to make stylish Ankara that people would feel comfortable wearing anywhere, at the time when people were running away from Ankara and leaving it for Western Wears. So, I identified a problem and developed a business around it. It doesn’t matter whether you’re building a personal brand or you’re into goods and services, you need to understand your ‘why’. Why do you do what you do? Money shouldn’t be the focus because sometimes it would be delayed. Knowing your ‘why’ opens you up to fresh ideas because there’s already a market for you. This is as a result of the problems you’re trying to solve.
The next thing is to know your “how”, these are the strategies and resources you need. Then your “who” is your target market; people who you are targeting with your solutions and are willing to pay for it. Once you have all these figured out, making money online or offline won’t be a problem.
To some people, fashion is a lifestyle, and to others, it’s a brand, where do you think they meet and how can one scale both?
It has to be your lifestyle before turning into a brand. You have to start by being passionate and consistent with what you do, then the money follows. That is when people start to see you and root for your brand. So, everything you do whether it’s dancing, losing weight or anything, has to become a part of you first, before it becomes a brand. You also have to be consistent at it first before others get inspired by what you do, and start to see you as a go-to brand for that particular thing. This is a major problem people face when engaging in influencer marketing, promoting their brand through an influencer whose lifestyle is not in alignment with their brand. Let’s imagine someone with belly fat, promoting a weight-loss drug. It’s definitely a failed marketing, but a gym freak with a special interest in maintaining his body weight would obviously help that product sell.
What are the top 5 core values you think a fashion brand must have and why do you think they ought to?
First I would say “vision”. Your vision must be clear because people would be able to understand what your brand stands for in a few seconds of visiting your page. The second point I would say is your page outlook, speaking from a social media angle, you must understand that people are moved by what they see, as human beings, they stay where they feel good about themselves. Integrity is the third thing. People should trust that you’ll deliver when you said you would. There should be no hurting of customers’ feelings. And four, you must give value, even if it’s just your brand, make sure people get enough value when they visit your page. If you want to grow, you must give value. When you give value and people come looking for you, you don’t have to chase them.
Lastly, always educate yourself, keep learning and evolving. Don’t just stay there and be deceived because you’re making money, lest you’re booted out of the market. If you want to stay relevant, you need to stay on top of the trends and learn as much as you can.
In creating a fashion style, what are some of the creative things you put together to create a perfect fit?
The truth is, there’s nothing perfect. Perfection is a myth. A lot of my best sales were mistakes, lots of them were unplanned, so there’s nothing like a perfect fit. You need to know what works for you, and what works for me might not work for you. I know the kind of people my target audience is, I’m well-positioned to serve them better. Also, combining colours for me is a marketing strategy, because colours pull people in. Another thing that influences my styles is trends, and like I said I attend fashion shows where they predict the trends and colours for the year, so I position my brand to be in tune with the international fashion statement.
What’s one thing you’re excited about right now, and where do you see your brand in the future?
To be very sincere, nobody can predict what’s going to happen in the next ten years, like nobody envisaged Covid, and it has shaped a lot of businesses and business activities. No one knew of Tiktok earlier before Covid, and today we have Tiktok influencers making a lot of money out of it. I have my projections and aspirations, like getting people like Beyonce to endorse my brand, having more outlets within and outside Nigeria, but my plans could change, because we live in a world full of uncertainties.
I’m super excited right now about the success of the brand. We’ve become a go-to brand when people think of ready-to-wears. We’ve had invitations three times to collaborate with Big Brother Naija, and it’s something that we did not lobby for. So having people tag us as top of the trend is a great thing. We’re a testimony of how a brand can grow from nothing to something. It all began from a TV producer posting a picture of herself in a basic attire, and now to a brand that the world knows of.
What are your final words to everyone still struggling to find their balance in the fashion industry?
The first thing I would say is to believe in yourself. A lot of people live their lives based on limits and beliefs set by other people. The first step to succeeding in any space is to first believe in yourself. Then you need to plan and prepare, educate yourself, research trends in your industry. Also, follow the right pages, you’re who you surround yourself with, either virtually or physically. You can’t just be around people whose dream is to consume and not create. You need to think more than your present situation and you must learn how to save.