The ‘Ladybrille Woman of the Week’ is a feature on Ladybrille that celebrates women who empower themselves and others, through their contributions and actions, in their local and international communities. These women are intelligent, courageous, confident, and innovative. They strive for balance in their personal lives (whether emotionally, mentally, and spiritually), are persistent, and when they fall, they get right back up. These women honor and stand in their truths. They are business and community leaders, visionaries, and game changers. They are our sisters, aunties, mothers, friends and so much more. They are “Ladybrille” (brilliant) women.
If you are a woman or know of a woman who should be celebrated as a ‘Ladybrille Woman of the Week,’ please feel free to email ([email protected]).
This week, we celebrate Ronke Ademiluyi, the founder of the now popular Africa Fashion Week London.
LADYBRILLE: What do you do professionally and what have some of your accomplishments been to date?
RA: I am a fashion industry entrepreneur and my particular niche is creating promotional platforms through which undiscovered African inspired talent in the fashion industry can be given much needed visibility so as to reach the right audience and be assisted in turning their innate creative abilities, into economic self sustainance.
So professionally I can be described as a fashion business promoter if you like, but for me it goes a bit deeper than that; there is a bit of a calling to it. My greatest motivating factor in launching out to do what I do is my coming to realize the tremendous potential within the fashion industry which if properly harnessed, can create jobs, channel youthful energies and talent into constructive use, bring economic emancipation to African women and youth and improve the economies of African countries. So I launched out and started with whatever means I had. Therefore I see myself as this person who just had to stand up, roll up my sleeves and do the hard work which is giving African fashion a voice in the UK, in an all ramifying spectrum, covering the designers, the models, the fabrics,the photographers, the make-up artists, the hair stylists, the milliners, everyone indeed. I don’t know if there is any one single professional description for that.
My greatest accomplishment so far is the fact that I was able to put Africa Fashion Week London on the launch pad and fire off! The very first edition was a dream that lived in my brain for years before I was able to summon the courage to start planning and organizing in 2011. The fact that it was a success is my life’s greatest fall-back pillar. With it at the back of my mind, I can never be frustrated or dismayed into giving up on my dreams again. Today we have had three successful events, have showcased over 200 designers and had over 35,000 people attend our events. We have enjoyed broadcast in over 200 media platforms, from print to online magazines and blog to TV and online video tubes. We have also concluded plans to have the Africa Fashion Week in Nigeria, Amsterdam and Brussels and we also founded an association which aims to raise funds for Emerging & Established African Inspired Designers. we have opened a concession store where designers can stock their brands and we have started our 1st reality TV fashion show for designers in Nigeria all are offshoots from the success of the first Africa Fashion Week London.
LADYBRILLE: What drives you to make a difference the way you currently are?
RA: No matter how good you are, you can always be better; improvement is a never ending process. For me there is so much to be done, so many young people are out there wishing someone could just give them the leverage they need to succeed in life and leave the unemployed roll call. So many women are out there, hoping someday, they have the opportunity to sell their products and skills to more affluent clientele and so enable them to pay school fees and put more food on the table for their kids. For me, if the fashion industry can be turned into a wellspring of opportunities to make these people’s dreams come true, I will be fulfilled. Until that happens, I will keep on struggling.
LADYBRILLE: What is the positive talk you have with yourself on days you find thoughts and feelings of self-doubt trying to creep in?
RA: I always know that nothing ventured is equal to nothing gained. To me the greatest risk is failure and but the only implication is that I just have to pick up and start afresh, having learned how to do it better! So I have nothing to lose. The only person who died from failure is the person who tried to play God. I am just a woman with my own fair share of imperfections. If I can fail at any one thing, I can succeed at another thing. But I will not stop trying, because the prospect of success and the joy it brings, the thought of it and dwelling and hoping on it, is like opium to me, very addictive!
LADYBRILLE: As a successful woman executive and entrepreneur, do you think crying is a sign of weakness or strength? Why?
RA: Crying is the secret recharge process for the modern woman executive and entrepreneur. It is an advantage we have that most men do not have. It is not easy doing business in the world today and yes there are indeed brick walls. However, when you are beaten by the odds, go into your room, cry, vent your frustrations on your pillows, but wake up in the morning, fully drained of your depression and ready to fight better. Don’t wait for someone to notice that you are up late and come pity you, the world of winning has no time for that.
LADYBRILLE: What makes you smile?
RA: As far as I am concerned, joy is not an instantaneous emotion like anger, happiness shock or surprise. For me joy is a state of mind that dwells on the positive no matter what. It is deep, it is conscious and deliberate. So I always manage to smile out of my own self created joyful heart at my difficulties, failures and successes. The frustrations that make me cry today will surely be a source of good laughter tomorrow when I reminisce on them. I derive a lot of pleasure in seeing other people smile as a result of something good I helped bring about in their lives, I also share lots of moments of laughter with my daughter.
LADYBRILLE: Health is so important but often many brilliant women simply neglect self because they are always so busy serving others. How are you taking care of your health?
RA: I am very careful with what I eat. I drink a lot of water, eat vegetables and fruits and work out every morning at the gym. I also make sure I get at least 7 hours of sleep daily and of course do a yearly health check with Bupa.
LADYBRILLE: What is it you hope, when you look back on your life, you never regret not doing or being?
RA: I spent my university days reading Law and that was because all my teenage life, I was fascinated by that discipline. Also there was something deep inside of me that wanted to be a kind of voice for the oppressed. I wanted to bring justice nearer those to whom it seemed far from. However, having a passion for fashion and earning a living as a fashion buyer immediately after University threw open another vista of opportunities and challenges within the global fashion industry to me. I was practically pulled into it by the sheer enormity of what I saw that needed to be done. Initially I had hoped to bring myself around somehow, to this place where I will be able to be a lawyer with a fashion enterprise. But right now, I don’t know if that will ever happen and I really pray to God that I do not regret it. If I hadn’t been a fashion entrepreneur, I would definitely have been a Human Rights Lawyer.
LADYBRILLE: How do you define yourself, the Ladybrille (brilliant) woman?
RA: I am the woman that affects, that touches and is felt. I cannot be at the same place for twenty four hours and not leave a positive impact! Because I have eyes that see, ears that hear and a heart that cares. I am the woman that is unthinkable to ignore and impossible to forget. I am the woman that fears only God and loves all human beings as God’s creatures.
LADYBRILLE: As a woman, what is the one most inspiring/empowering piece of advice you can give to our community of brilliant women as they navigate their personal and professional lives daily?
RA: I would like to tell them that CAPITAL is just one of the six ‘C’s you need to start a business, whether it is creative industry or any other industry, Capital is just one of the six ‘C’s. there are five others:
COMPETENCE: you have to be very good in what you are doing or want to do. You have to know it like the back of your hand.
CREATIVITY: You need to think outside the box if you are always towing the line and you are never thinking outside the box, you will not get anywhere.
CONFIDENCE: You need to have a healthy dose of confidence in yourself. Not overconfidence, not under confidence, there has to be a healthy dose of confidence in what you can deliver.
CONVENIENCE: You need to try to sell the benefits of what your brand or business represents.You should let them know that creating convenience for people is very important.
CHARACTER: This is related to integrity. What do you want and how badly do you want it and what price are you willing to pay for it.
CAPITAL: It is the last the last thing so it is approximately 17% of the things you need. So cash is about the least in importance. Nobody has said it is not important.
So we need to tell the people that it is not all about money. If you give people money that they did not work for, it will mess them up.
NOTE: Ladybrille designers if you are participating in the 2014 Africa Fashion Week London, click here for more details.
Watch highlights from the 3rd annual Africa Fashion Week London 2013
A running feature for 12 years on Ladybrille.com, The ‘Ladybrille Woman of the Month’ celebrates women in business and leadership, who empower themselves and others through their contributions and actions in their local and international communities. In 2014, the feature expanded to include a podcast show. If you would like to nominate a woman to be celebrated, please email [email protected].