#LadyBossInterview: “Sometimes things don’t go as planned but as long as you have set a goal, stay focused and continue to work towards it” #LLA Meets Toluwani Wabara, CEO, Wanni Fuga

Toluwani Wabara is a certified Civil Engineer turn Fashion Designer who founded “Wanni Fuga” in 2014 with the aim of creating comfortable yet fashionable female ready-to-wear attire. Simple yet chic, her fashion pieces are disrupting and redefining fashion and style for the African woman. Wanni Fuga as a company offers customers ready-to-wear attire that appeals to a broad market. Ever since its inception, the Wani Fuga brand has carved a niche for itself as a female ready-to-wear brand until recently launching a men’s one-stop shop in April 2019 called Mazi Lagos. If you have ever doubted yourself as a creative then Toluwani Wabara’s entrepreneurial story is your morning dose of inspiration. Ready? Scroll.

Can you briefly describe yourself and your business?

Wanni Fuga was founded in 2014 by a Civil Engineer by study but an assertive business owner with a flair for cutting-edge fashion- Toluwani Wabara. A dynamic creative and Fashion entrepreneur, she attended the London College of Fashion, UK in 2018.

The company Wanni Fuga offers customers ready-to-wear attires with trend-setting abilities that appeal to a broad market whilst engaging clients through top notch service.

What is it like being a female entrepreneur, and why did you choose to be one?

Being a female entrepreneur in Africa serves as an inspiration to me, that women have the ability to achieve all things. Balancing my time between family and running a business that requires surplus attention can be overwhelming at times, but being well organized certainly helps.

I actually did not intend to become a business owner or an entrepreneur, I thought I might work in my area of study. Also, coming from a household of various engineers, it was more likely I would follow the path of most of my siblings and father. However, I had a certain impulse to fashion and trendy designs. With this interest, I thought it would be nice to start making outfits for myself. So basically, I started out my entrepreneurial journey by tailoring outfits that I would like to wear.

What new innovation have you introduced to your business?

The most innovative part of our business would be the e-commerce platform. Since the introduction of our website in 2018, we’ve been able to overcome geographical limitations. Through our platform, we’ve built a brand both nationally and internationally that customers can rely on and trust. Ultimately, we’ve made purchasing our designs a seamless experience through our platform.

What will you say is responsible for your success so far?

Well, God has provided a lot of direction in the affairs of my business to date. Secondly, hard work, determination and the passion I have for fashion are the important factors I would attribute to where the Wanni Fuga brand is today. When I started designing clothes in 2014, it was mostly for myself until I identified a gap in the market for ready to wear outfits. While in school in the UK, I could casually walk into stores such as Zara, Mango, etc and pick up a reasonably priced outfit and look stunning. However, in Nigeria, we did not have many stores like those at the time. So, I would say, identifying a gap in the industry, filling that gap and doing business with the grace of God has been responsible for Wanni Fuga’s success so far.

In your opinion, would you say there are any unique challenges that female entrepreneurs face?

I would say being a full-time mother, wife, and entrepreneur has its challenges when attempting to balance them all but I wouldn’t say this is unique. I believe many women in Nigeria today are actually dominating the entrepreneurial space in Nigeria. I’d attribute this to the passion women have for what they do and their sincerity in doing business. If you ask a banker who they would most likely grant a loan to between a male or a female business owner they would most likely say female. This shows you that some economic policies actually favour female business owners to a great extent.

Looking up to certain women like Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, who is currently the Chairman of one of Nigeria’s oldest banks highlights the fact that women can overcome challenges even in large institutionalized organizations that are predominantly run by men.

What values and principles have helped you so far?

I believe, sincerity, a sense of purpose, and organization have been some of the fundamental principles I live by and these are the things that have helped my business thrive today.

Why did you decide to go into this particular line of business?

As I mentioned earlier, this was not the plan from the beginning; however, I believe the entrepreneurial life actually chose me because of my keen interests in fashion.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced, and what kept you going?

The infrastructural gap in the country I operate is a huge challenge. Running cost is quite high due to electricity instability in Nigeria. Secondly, I believe employees play a huge part in the success of any business, and the ability to select the right personnel can prove to be challenging sometimes. Despite all these, I believe what keeps my company running and striving for growth is the joy that comes with satisfying, or exceeding, customer expectations. Our customers have stayed loyal to us and we really appreciate that.

What’s your five-year plan for your business?

We have a number of things in the pipeline for the company. We launched a men’s one-stop shop in April 2019 called Mazi Lagos, which will provide bespoke men’s clothing, accessories and men’s shoes. Secondly, we will be launching a luxury line for women by the year 2020. We are doing a lot to work with upcoming creatives for these projects and some of the ideas are great. So I am excited for what the next few years hold.

What do upcoming female entrepreneurs need to do to be successful in this path?

Upcoming entrepreneurs should stay focused on their goal and put in everything to see it is achieved. Sometimes things don’t go as planned but as long as you have set a goal, continue to work towards it.

The LLA Lady Boss Series is a weekly interview series that highlights the achievements and entrepreneurial journeys of African female entrepreneurs. The idea is to showcase the Leading Ladies who are transforming Africa and the African narrative through enterprise and business.

It is an off-shoot of Leading Ladies Africa, a non-profit that promotes leadership, inclusion and diversity for women of African descent.

If you know any kick-ass women of African Descent doing phenomenal things in enterprise, email lead@leadingladiesafrica.organd she could possibly be featured.

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