Imagine starting a business when the word ‘entrepreneur’ especially ‘fashion entrepreneur’ sounded very foreign to Nigerians. That is precisely what Nike Ogunlesi, founder and CEO of Ruff n Tumble did. “I started in 1996, I was selling from the back of my car, I was selling at bazaars. Everywhere, there was a bazaar, I was there, my table and my suitcase, my children and sometimes even my husband. So it all started then, ” explains Ogunlesi in her recent interviewed to MSNBC.
What she started was the first ever Nigerian owned maufacturing and retail clothing store for children. From two employees (Nike and her mom) to, today, approximately “75 employees and distribution along the West African coast.”
In 1996, the economic situation in Nigeria was about the same if not worse. Currently, over 60% of graduating students according to the Education and Ministry branch of the Federal Government graduate and are unable to find employment.
Today, ‘Entrepreneurship’ is a sexy trend and many Nigerians are realizing, like Nike Ogunlesi did, that they don’t have to travel overseas to build their country. To that end, institutions are now implementing entrepreneur curriculums, busineses and government agencies are also now providing programs to teach entrepreneur skills.
“We don’t export now. Export to the West African coast, yes, along the West African coast, yes, but to say, America or to England, I’m not interested in it all. If 40 percent of the 120 million people in Nigeria are children, I have the potential of a huge market here,” adds Ogunlesi.
The potential for Nigerian fashion entrepreneurs to service Nigerians is truly mind blowing and if Nike Ogunlesi can do it, you can do it too. Watch her interview with MSNBC and be inspired to go make it happen for yourself!
Founded in 2007, Ladybrille® Magazine is a California based pioneer digital publication demystifying the image of Africans in the west through contemporary African fashion and celebrating the brilliant woman in business and leadership, with an emphasis on the African woman in the diaspora. Our coverage includes stories on capital, access to markets, expertise, hiring and retention, sales, marketing, and promotions.