AW WomenPreneur Series : A Time To ‘BeAdorned’ By Yetunde Salimon-Akande

By Onozasi

Above Whispers WomenPreneur Series is a platform to showcase amazing businesswomen. Young women who have taken the bold step to starting a business and fighting the odds surrounding entrepreneurship in Africa. We share in their journey, share in the challenges and growth process to inspire other women. We believe that when a story is shared, there is a leap in the heart of those struggling with doubts. The purpose of this is to push that woman out there to engage in what she has been afraid of, by reading through the inspiring stories of other women.

 

 African print and styles have been in trend for quite a while now. Fashionable wears made from African Prints or infused with African Prints have been a source of exportation most especially in the Nigerian Fashion Industry. On this episode of AW WomenPreneur Series, we decided to have a chit chat with one of the fashion designers who has grounded her craft in the industry, making well-tailored fashionable wears infused with African prints, designs.

Mrs Yetunde Salimon-Akande is the creative director of ‘BeAdorned By Yettie’ a renowned house of fashion in Nigeria. She takes us on a journey on how she started, the challenges and the zeal that keeps her marching forward in the industry. Do enjoy this exclusive interview.

 

FullSizeRenderMrs Yetunde Salimon-Akande. Creative Designer, BeAdornedbyYettie

 

AW : Kindly introduce yourself to us

My name is Yetunde Salimon-Akande. A native of Ibadan, Oyo State. The first out of three kids. A practising Muslim. I studied Communication and Language Arts at the University of Ibadan and graduated in January 2015. I once worked as an editor in a book publishing firm before I eventually resigned in order to pay maximum attention to my business. I am married with one child currently.

 

AW : You can be rated as one of the successful fashion designers in the country, how did you grow to build such a great brand?

Becoming who I am today was ‘accidental’, it wasn’t planned at all. A classmate and friend of mine saw a woven fabric neckpiece that I made for myself during the holidays and asked that I should make the same type for her friend in order to present as a gift. I didn’t take her request seriously until she reminded me days after, with an upfront payment, that was when a new dawn set in for me. It just happened by chance. Being rated as one of the successful fashion designers in the country is a very great privilege for me. I can boldly say that God’s Grace, passion, creativity and consistency are the major factors behind this affirmation. I never gave up and I will never give up, even on the darkest and toughest days of my business. Like I stated earlier, I started my business when I least expected; when I was supposed to pay utmost attention to my studies. It was in the beginning of my final year in the university, imagine joggling a final year academics with a new business. Although, it wasn’t stressful for me as expected because I was able to achieve a balance between getting a degree and building a business brand (making extra money apart from the stipend from my parents.)

 

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AW : When you started your brand, what did you pen down to make you stand out from the others?

When I started my brand, what I penned down as my standout clause is that ‘my passion and creativity will always speak for me’.

 

AW : Some years ago you won the under25 award, did that platform expose you to the Nigerian market and market outside Nigeria?

Yes, it did. It gave me the opportunity to meet with the United States Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Nigeria; Ambassador W. Stuart Symington. It was a closed-door meeting alongside other winners of Nigeria’s 25 Under 25 Awards. We were asked to showcase some of our creations. The ambassador highlighted opportunities that could help Nigerian brands grow and have a place in the international market.

 

AW : Tell us about your brand

BeAdorned by Yettie is a unisex African fashion brand that produces ready-to-wear clothes and accessories. Started in 2014 as a jewellery and accessories line with a rebirth and addition of wears in 2016. The brand is highly inspired by Africa and arts generally.

 

AW : How did you come about the name ‘BeAdorned’?

I came about the name BeAdorned in 2014 when I was sourcing a befitting name for my brand. I sat and thought, I wanted to start making people more good-looking with my products; jewelries and accessories. To adorn simply means to beautify. I didn’t want to use the word ‘beautiful’ as it’s a very common word. I searched for its synonyms, saw a lot of similar words but the word ‘ADORN’ got my attention. It felt more detailed and conveying than others. Lo and behold, I settled for it. Then, I added ‘by Yettie’ to make it more personalized and to have my name follow the brand name everywhere.

 

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AW : How did your parents react to your business venture?

My mother knew the inception of the whole business and brand thing and she was very supportive. My father, on the other hand, is more interested in a child’s academics more than any other thing. So, today, I can boldly say that my father has not been involved or attached with my business as he should have been. But all the same, I’m very sure that they’re both happy with what has become of me today.

 

 

AW : As a young business person, how would you describe the Nigerian market place?

The Nigerian marketplace is like a war front. It’s tough and not for the fainthearted or those who give up easily and cannot persevere. Right from raising capital to start a business, sourcing for customers, getting the right marketing strategy, dealing with imitators and competitors and many other negativities. It takes the strong determination of a Nigerian entrepreneur to be successful in their venture. Our watchword should be, ‘despite all odds, keep your head up, raise your shoulders high and keep moving!

 

AW : What are the many frustrations of being an entrepreneur in Nigeria?

They are many but I’d mention few. Poor electricity is my major frustration, my business, in fact, most businesses, thrive on adequate electricity but Nigeria lacks that. It’s one of this country’s greatest nightmare. Some of my machines need electricity to function properly. My generating set can’t power my pressing machine. Whenever there’s no power supply, we’d have to wait for it to be restored before proceeding with pressing wears for shipping thereby slowing down the production process. Another frustration, especially in the fashion industry is the plagiarists/imitators. These people literally steal your intellectual property, your idea and concept and don’t give you credit for it. It is so rampant. I’ve been a victim of such severally. The advent of social media also made it very easy for the perpetrators. I pray we will get to the end of this very soon.

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AW : Do you think people are willing to be daring when it comes to fashion?

Yes, I think so. Some people choose to express themselves through what they wear. They do not even have to open their mouth to say a word before you perceive their personality. It’s called ‘making a statement’ through fashion.

 

AW : How do you deal with those who steal styles and showcase as their own? Is there a patent right to your brand?

I simply call their attention to it and tell them to desist from such act. It has happened to me on several occasions. No, my brand doesn’t have a patent right yet.

 

AW: Do you think women are enabling one another in business?

Yes, I really think so

 

AW : What were you three things you did wrong when you started out in business?

I don’t think I did anything wrongly when I first started with jewellery and accessories but when I introduced wears, I felt my prices were too low. I realized that in 2018 but I didn’t let it bother me then. I later decided to up my game and sell at the prices my products truly worth; the creativity, time and efforts in creating a piece are all I consider in coming about a price for a product.

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AW: Share some of your success stories with us?

Some of my success stories include when I won in the Arts and Craft category of the Nigeria 25 Under 25 Awards (SME 100). Days when my customer gives positive feedbacks and referrals. My biggest success story is how being a business owner made me a source of inspiration to many (people affirm this a lot) and how owning a business made me independent, even when I was still a student.

 

AW : What’s your advice to women who might want to take the bold step of starting a business?

My advice to women who might want to start a business, in fact, to everyone, is that ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’. These days, most young people are too eager to see the results of a little hard work. Running a business has a lot to do with having a lot of patience. One may lose but should not let that mar you, just be focused and keep moving until everything seems perfect.

 

AW : Share your social media handles with us

My Instagram handle is beadornedbyyettie while my Facebook profile name is Yetunde Salimon-Akande.

 

AW : What keeps you going?

God’s grace, passion and creativity keep me going

 

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AW : Who are your role models {in and outside business}

My husband is my number one role model, he possesses some qualities that are indeed virtuous, characters that are worthy of emulation. Other people that I admire their style, creativity, craftsmanship in the fashion industry are people and brands like Femi Handbags, Gbenga Artsmith, Orange Culture, Ituen Basi, Quelly Rue and a host of others.

 

AW : What’s that one word that keeps you going?

PASSION! It’s deeply rooted in me.

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AW : How do you get inspiration to make the exclusive designs you make?

Mostly, my inspirations come from things I see or observe around me in my environment and beyond. When I see something, I get a useful idea from it, reflect thoroughly on it, create a design around it in my head, then I bring it to life. I get inspirations randomly too, even when I least expected. I’ve gotten inspiration from a dream before, sounds funny right? But that’s the truth. That was how the BeAdorned Hybrid dress; Gingham meets Ankara version came to life. In the dream, I saw a merge of Ankara print and gingham, I remembered the dream when I woke up and carefully stored the idea somewhere in my head. I also get inspiration from other designers via the internet, some designs from other people spur me into creating my own design(s) too.

 

 

Source: Above Whispers

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