Olufunke Adepoju is the creative director of Nigerian Eponymous brand, “Funke Adepoju” Her love for designing began while in the University from re-inventing old t-shirts and skirts for her classmates. Birthed in 2008, the brand – Funke Adepoju, consisted of bespoke pieces for women, but soon after extended its arms into Ready-To-Wear and children’s line.
In 2009, Funke Adepoju won the City People Best Designer of the Year and has proudly showcased its pieces at several notable fashion design exhibitions and also on editorial pages of well known magazines with a wide range of clientele, including a host of Nigerian celebrities, entertainers and dignitaries. Funke Adepoju is our guest this week on the lady boss series and she shares tips on what is responsible for her success and so much more.
Can you briefly describe yourself and your business?
My name is Funke Adepoju, I’m a fashion designer based in Lagos, Nigeria and I make bespoke and ready to wear outfits for beautiful women all over the world.
What is it like being a female entrepreneur, and why did you chose to be one?
It’s interesting, it’s challenging but also fulfilling. I chose to be an entrepreneur because I feel like it was the way I could best express myself. I am happy doing what I do, I tried 9-5 but it didn’t work for me.
What new innovation have you introduced to your business?
The newest innovation added to my brand is the ADIRE fabric, we’ve infused it into our designs and manipulated the fabric to work according to our brand aesthetic.
What will you say is responsible for your success so far?
I would say a lot of hard work, not taking anything for granted (I’ve been in this industry for 10yrs and I still fit my bespoke and made to measure clients as much as possible), good management of people and the grace and blessings of God over my life.
In your opinion, would you say that there are any unique challenges that female entrepreneurs face?
I would say finding the right balance between family life and work. If this isn’t managed properly, one will suffer and thereby leading to failing in that area.
What values and principles have helped you so far?
Having good work ethics, having a personal connection with my clients, and always putting my all in everything I do.
Why did you decide to go into this particular line of business?
I went into this particular line of business because I needed pocket money in school and the only way to get it was to do something that came easily to me. Which was embellishing and revamping old clothes for my school mates in exchange for cash. And then from there I graduated to finding a tailor, buying fabrics and telling her to reproduce my designs.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced, and what’s kept you going?
Finding and retaining skilled workers and the others are usual Nigerian issues that affect all sectors, e.g. poor power supply and irregular consistency of supply of standardized materials and trimmings.
What’s your five-year plan for your business?
I don’t have a 5yr plan, I tend to take it 1year at a time. It’s easier and not as cumbersome when I do that. Also, it doesn’t seem so unreachable.
What do upcoming female entrepreneurs need to do to be successful in this path?
Be very focused, do what comes to you naturally, find a niche for yourself and in everything that you do, give it your all.
What does Entrepreneurship mean to you?
Entrepreneurship to me, is the ability to have an idea, build on the idea, and birth little babies around the idea. Create new innovations to improve on the idea, deal with the risks and challenges that come with the idea. Stay with the idea and create a success out of this idea.
If you weren’t an entrepreneur, you would be…?
If I wasn’t an entrepreneur I would work in a charity organization or crèche taking care of children.
If you could have a lunch date with one Lady Boss you admire – who would that be and what would you ask her?
In Nigeria, It would be Mrs Ogunlesi, CEO of ruff n tumble. How her brand has stayed the test of time and is still very relevant today, with all that’s going on in Nigeria and is in fact still expanding. Abroad it’ll be Oprah, would love to ask her how she created her brand and made it global.
3 book recommendations for entrepreneurs?
I’m not a reader, I’m a listener. So I listen to a lot of podcasts and audio books. I listen to a lot of “How I Built This”, Guy Raz, Brand Against the machine” John Morgan and The Road Less Travelled.
The social media platform that has helped your business the most is? How? The social media platform that has helped me without a doubt is Instagram without a doubt. It’s so simple to use and readily available to everyone. The impact it has is phenomenal, you put up a picture, immediately get a response and payment is made. One can also reach a very large audience, people all over the world. It’s a global market, you even get investors or people that can help you take your brand places. All from Instagram. Thank God for Instagram.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, and she could possibly be featured.