Olabanke Subair, also known as “Nee Banjo” is the Founder of Cyrus45 Factory, a company that focuses on up-cycling waste into bespoke and ultra-modern furniture pieces while also contributing to the reduction of environmental pollution, facilitating a greener future for the next generation. The innovation to up-cycle tyres was inspired by her sister’s neighbors who were ready to dispose 20 tyres. As a creative, with a passion for environment, Olabanke had a light bulb moment, that has birthed today a company that is creating Art& solving economic problems. Olabanke sits with us today on our Lady boss series and shares her entrepreneurial journey.
Can you briefly describe yourself and your business?
I like to describe myself an all-round creative with a passion for the Arts and environment. I have a B.A in French from the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, Osun State and I am the Creative Director of Cyrus45 Factory. Cyrus45 Factory is an art-inclined company which currently focuses on up-cycling waste into bespoke and ultra-modern home wares while also contributing to the reduction of environmental pollution, with the goal of facilitating a greener future for the next generation.
Our products, all locally made, are perfectly designed to give comfort and aesthetic value to the art savvy. At the moment, we offer a range of household furniture pieces which include coffee tables, kiddies’ stools, mirrors and ottomans. We proudly support goal 13(Climate Action) and 12 (Responsible Consumption &Production) of the 2030 Sustainable Developmental Goals hence our mantra: Recycle. Revive. Revamp.
What is it like being a female entrepreneur, and why did you chose to be one?
Firstly, being an entrepreneur equals being a problem solver. It means continuously discovering innovative ideas and methods that will improve one’s immediate environment and the world at large. But being a female entrepreneur is changing the history’s narrative of the woman. It is redefining the saying “what a man can do, a woman can do better.’ It is giving hope to the next generation of women and telling them you can be a girl boss beyond your home. Ironically, I didn’t choose to be an entrepreneur; I strongly believe entrepreneurship chose me. It recognized my creative eye and passion for solving problem and threw Cyrus45 Factory my way. If I didn’t have Cyrus45 Factory, I most likely would have endured a 9-5 because it is easier.
What will you say is responsible for your success so far?
God, Purpose and Passion. These three have been the driving forces for my success.
In your opinion, would you say that there are any unique challenges that female entrepreneurs face?
The most common challenge female entrepreneurs have a tough time dealing with, is creating a sane work-life balance. Between being a CEO, a wife and a mother, it can be quite stressful but it is important to discover what works for you. Once you do, this challenge won’t be so much of a challenge.
What values and principles have helped you so far?
I believe the values and principles that have helped me in my entrepreneurial and life journey is seeking God first, humility, and being teachable.
Why did you decide to go into this particular line of business?
My venture into up-cycling was purely coincidentally. The idea was inspired by a pile of 20 tyres that were about to be disposed by my sister’s neighbors. Where they saw a problem, I was able to identify an opportunity which led to the establishment of Cyrus4 Factory.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced, and what’s kept you going?
The Recycling/Up-cycling industry is fairly new in Nigeria so the support for emerging SMEs like mine is not as big as other industries such as tech and agriculture. The necessary infrastructure and equipment needed to facilitate production of our pieces are limited and expensive to acquire. Also getting the right people on board who believe in this dream can be quite frustrating because most young people want to get rich quickly without doing the work. This has been a huge challenge; however being resilient, tenacious and unrelenting has helped me manage so far. Also, having a vision with an end goal in mind fuels my ‘can do’ attitude, which most times is a conscious effort.
What’s your five-year plan for your business?
I see Cyrus45 Factory changing the narrative of Made In Nigeria products in the next five years, with extensions of our company in various parts of Nigeria and hopefully, Africa. I am also hoping we become a permanent solution provider to the tyre waste disposal problem in Nigeria.
What do upcoming female entrepreneurs need to do to be successful in this path?
What they need to do believe in themselves. Believe in their dreams. It is also important to have a ‘can do/do it afraid’ mindset and attitude because there will always be naysayers. But most importantly, seek God constantly and consistently because He is the ultimate inspiration for all things creative, innovative and successful.
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.