Omodolapo Balogun is a fashionpreneur and a final-year law student at Lagos State University.
She comes from a close-knit family of five. She is the second of three children. She has an amazing relationship with her parents and sisters. In her words, “They are the first set of people I consult whenever I need to do anything, either for my business or even academics”. She is a native of Iseyin in Oyo state, though she was born and raised in Ibadan. She is the owner and creative director of The Omodolapo brand. The brand caters for both male and female fashion needs.
She likes to describe herself as a creative as opposed to a fashion designer because she does more than that. As a fashionpreneur, she combines many things, including fashion designing, styling, creating fashion-related content on social media, and running a clothing store. During our conversation, she said, “I am a fashion enthusiast, anything related to fashion, just plug me in”.
Dolapo has always wanted to study Law ever since she could talk and hold conversations. She loves getting people to understand her point of view, especially defending people she feels cannot defend themselves. Being in her final year is exciting for her and though she still has to go to law school, she says, “I’m so excited! Though I still have to go to law school, but every win is a win, so I will take this for now”.
The conversation that follows has been slightly edited.
YellowLyfe Mag: So, have you decided on the niche you want to focus on?
Omodolapo: Yes, I have. Initially, I wanted to go into corporate law and focus solely on Petroleum law. However, during my study, I have done many courses that have sparked my interest, so I have decided to focus on intellectual property. As an expert in IP, you can work in the fashion field or even any field as long as it’s in the corporate world. Everybody needs IP because people are creating every day. It is a vast area of Law, but I also have an interest in Fashion Law as well.
YellowLyfe Mag: How long have you been in business?
Omodolapo: Officially, I started in 2016 but I have always been in the business. My mum is a fashion designer, so I learnt from her. I used to go with her to the shop and I would practice with the little pieces of fabric left from her work. Post-secondary, I didn’t gain admission immediately, so I decided to take a 2-year gap to learn more from her and also from a male designer. I decided to learn how to design male clothing because I don’t want my brand to be just a female-focused brand. I want to design pieces for both males and females. I learnt that for about 6 months as well.
YellowLyfe Mag: How is that going? Do you make more female clothes or male?
Omodolapo: Honestly, I haven’t really been producing because school is taking so much of my time. However, the recent ready-to-wear I launched was for both males and females. That’s what I want for my brand, I don’t want it to be just female-centred, I want everyone to be able to wear my pieces.
YellowLyfe Mag: You were once called, “Pearl apparels”. What inspired that?
Omodolapo: Oh my God… (chuckles), that feels like a long time ago. So, my English name is Pearl. I started my business pretty early, making clothes for my friends and then they started referring but they needed a name to use. I needed a name, but I also wanted something posh, so I settled for Pearl and added Apparels. Some people still call me Pearl though I want to be addressed as Dolapo.
YellowLyfe Mag: I mean, Pearl was the name back then. Pearl and Omodolapo are the same person, why did you decide to switch to Omodolapo though?
Omodolapo: I really liked Pearl, and I still do, but I just feel like I need something more original for the kind of brand I’m building. Also, a lot of people were using the name and it was causing a lot of issues. So, I just decided to change to Omodolapo.
YellowLyfe Mag: What makes you happy right now?
Omodolapo: There are a couple of things that make me happy. First would be my family. I’m blessed with such an amazing family; they are always there when I need them to be. If I am ever troubled by anything, I speak to my family first, including my dad who doesn’t live with us. I call him when I need to rant. My brand also makes me very happy. It is not where I want it to be, but I am grateful for the growth. Finally, I make myself so happy. I have a way of taking myself out of certain situations like overthinking or self-doubt creeping in.
YellowLyfe Mag: Hm. So, you talked about self-doubt, how do you handle that when it creeps in?
Omodolapo: Ah, I’m such an over-thinker and I get anxious easily. Sometimes, when I think about some things, I just shut down. However, as I said, I have a good support system, my family. Also, I talk to God. I am not an overly religious person though, but I have a personal relationship with God, so any time I am bothered about something, I just pray about it. I meditate as well, and then I try to get my mind off it because constantly worrying about something does not make it go away
YellowLyfe Mag: How do you combine school and work?
Omodolapo: Ah, this is the question of the year, because even I don’t know how I juggle both. It’s a lot of work, I will tell you that. However, I manage to make it work. One thing I have been doing recently is outsourcing and it has been working for me because it is still a one-man business, I do all the work. For instance, for the ready-to-wear pieces I just launched, I decided to outsource to people whom I know would make them just as perfectly as I would because I am such a perfectionist. Before this, I had not outsourced in such a long time because I have this mentality that nobody can do my work as well as I would do it. But I just decided to give it a trial and I put in the effort to find the right people who can deliver because I am very particular about quality. Thankfully I was able to find people who matched my energy and attention to detail. There were trials and errors and I lost money but eventually, I found the perfect people for my brand. I intend to keep doing that because school is resuming soon but business is not going to stop. Whatever I can do, I will do. If I can’t, I will outsource it.
YellowLyfe Mag: Have you ever had issues with a customer?
Omodolapo: Yes, I have.
YellowLyfe Mag: Tell me about that, how did you handle it?
Omodolapo: When I first started, I was very particular about quality, but I also wanted to sell. I started reducing my prices and doing ridiculous things. I compromised on a lot of things, not quality anyway but price and all of that. I had a lot of customers, but I couldn’t satisfy all of them because the math was just not mathing. After all, by the time I take out the money for production, I would be left with nothing. Consequentially, I experienced a lot of burnout during the Covid period, and I just couldn’t function. I had a lot of orders that I wanted to process but I couldn’t function because I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. So, I had this customer who is very loyal to my brand, but I completely messed up her order and it was a huge mess. I apologized though and I offered her a discount. We are good now, but she was a really good customer, so I could never forget that experience. It made me feel so bad and that was when I knew I had to re-strategize.
YellowLyfe Mag: Sorry about that. What would you say is the most challenging part of combining both school and work?
Omodolapo: I would have to say Time. I barely have time for myself, but I would take it for now. It is the price I have to pay for building a brand. If I’m not working, I’m schooling. I don’t have an in-between. Though, I am trying to create some sort of balance because I have learnt that “You can’t pour from an empty cup”, I have to create time for myself as well.
YellowLyfe Mag: How do you unwind?
Omodolapo: I love to read books. So, whenever I’m free, I just like to relax, grab a book and read. I like to go out with my close friends and family because I am more introverted. I like to go out and have drinks with my close friends.
YellowLyfe Mag: Nice! What kind of books do you read?
Omodolapo: I like inspirational books. I have a couple of them, I’m currently building a library because like I said, I overthink a lot and I get very anxious at times, so it is a way for me to meditate and calm my nerves. Also, you can get a lot of knowledge from books. I would say that most of the things I know, I learnt from reading books.
YellowLyfe Mag: What is the most interesting thing about your work?
Omodolapo: Creating! The idea of creating is the most interesting thing about my work. The fact that you can just think of something from scratch, and you can turn that into a product that people would see and love, that is the most interesting thing about my work. That’s why I don’t think that I can ever stop doing what I do because I love it, the satisfaction that I get when I see people like what I create is just over the top.
YellowLyfe Mag: Let’s talk about Pricing
Omodolapo: (Chuckles)… that’s a very tricky one.
YellowLyfe Mag: I know right. How do you determine the price to place on a product?
Omodolapo: When I was starting, I had a huge problem with pricing. I had no idea how to cost my product, but I started doing some research and I found out the proper way to do it. What I do now is, divide it into three parts: Production cost which includes Fabrics, Finishing, and Outsourcing (if I am outsourcing). Packaging cost which includes branding and deliverables, then my actual profit because those other things are money that I have invested, and I have to get them back before my profit. I wasn’t doing this then, it used to be just Vibes and Inshallah. I didn’t have a proper structure in place.
YellowLyfe Mag: What inspires you daily?
Omodolapo: I think things around me generally, like nature. I could step out, see something and I’m like, I could actually design something like this, and it would turn out nicely. The satisfaction I get when I see people put on my pieces also inspires me to want to do more.
YellowLyfe Mag: What makes the Omodolapo brand unique?
Omodolapo: Well, I think what makes my brand unique is the fact that I’m building a sustainable and eco-friendly brand. I also put a lot of thought into what I am creating. I consider the impact it might have on the environment. For instance, Pollution is one of the biggest challenges in the fashion industry. A lot of the big brands make a mess of things. So, a lot of thought goes into the creative process, the choice of fabric, and how sustainable they are. It is not just about building products, it is about building quality products that can sustain the customers for a long time, so they won’t have to worry about changing their wardrobe in less than a year. They are getting products that would sustain them for at least five years.
YellowLyfe Mag: Can you describe your journey using five words?
Omodolapo: Educative because I’m always learning, Inspiring, Fulfilling, Beautiful, and Creative
YellowLyfe Mag: If you weren’t doing fashion designing and Law, what would you be doing?
Omodolapo: Hmm… if I wasn’t doing fashion designing and law, ah, what would I be doing? I would probably be a teacher or a coach. I know I like to share the knowledge I have been able to acquire with people. My friends know that if they need any advice on things that I am vast on, they can always reach out to me, and I would be happy to give them my two cents.
YellowLyfe Mag: Do you plan to practice Law?
Omodolapo: Oh yes, I do. Maybe not full time though but the 6/7 years I spent studying it cannot just go to waste like that.
YellowLyfe Mag: What is that one piece of advice that you would give to a student who also wants to be an entrepreneur?
Omodolapo: Hmm… I would say, start from where you are now. There is no perfect place or time to start, just start and keep growing. I have been in the business for a while, and I am still growing. So, you can grow from anywhere, there is no specific starting point, make do with what you have now and just make something beautiful out of it. Be consistent as well. This is something that I am also learning that consistency is the key to building anything. Let people know that this is what you do. Show up for your brand, even on days that you don’t feel like it, just show up.
YellowLyfe Mag: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Omodolapo: In five years, I want my brand to be known as one of the most sustainable brands in Nigeria and Africa at large. I also want to be genuinely happy in whatever field I am in. I would love to write a book someday, maybe a biography or something for startup businesses. I don’t know if that would happen in five years, but I want to do that.
YellowLyfe Mag: Awesome! What is your favorite quote?
Omodolapo: My favorite is always to take time for yourself because you cannot pour from an empty cup. I resonate deeply with that because it is something that I have experienced first-hand. I know what it feels like to neglect yourself and just cater for the things around you. Always add value to yourself, that’s when people would see you and appreciate you for who you are and what you represent. Focus on yourself first and then you can pour into other people’s cups.