December, especially Christmas day means a lot to different people all over the globe but for Biodun Odukoya, the CEO of upscale fashion house with branches in Lagos and Europe, AB Rollings it’s a moment of sober reflections. Thanking God for another well spent 365 days and the opportunity to spend more. This year Christmas day for Biodun, a fashionista par excellence is not an exception as he celebrated the big 50 of living on planet earth. In this interview with SUNDAY ADEBAYO, he reflected on his life at 50, and also took us through his business life and challenges over the years.
- HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE 50
50 is something I have always looked forward to, since I could make my own shoelace. Now being 50, I am full of appreciation to GOD Almighty, for affording me the opportunity, and also, for all, HE has done for me. I am most grateful to my parents, not only for coming into this world through their vehicle but most importantly, for the discipline, love, care, and confidence, that they instilled in me. I have also been blessed by good family life and wonderful kids. Praise be to GOD. Lest I forget to mention that the joy of my 50 years of existence wouldn’t be complete without noting some wonderful people that our paths have crossed. We have grown from acquaintances to friendship and become a family.
2. WHAT DO YOU FEEL YOU CAN NO LONGER DO NOW THAT YOU USED TO DO LIKE 10 YEARS AGO
One thing I can honestly tell you is that I don’t feel 50- mentally and spiritually, but the truth is, nobody dances forever. Ten years ago, I would wake up and nock a minimum of 500 push-ups, at least 4 days of a week. Now I manage to nock a maximum of 50, 3 days of a week.
3. HAS AGE AFFECTED YOU OR YOUR BUSINESS IN ANY WAY
definitely, living is socialization, you learn every day. Someone once said something like “only a fool, sees the world the same way a decade ago” I have always strived to be a better person. As much as age has taught me a lot about my personal life, so it has tutored me about business. More so, don’t they say, the longer the better. I started business as an undergraduate. Almost three decades now.
4. AS A FASHIONPRENEUR WHAT WILL YOU SAY FASHION MEANS TO YOU
Fashion to me is a passion, as much as this might sound like a cliche, it is the gospel truth. It is a patrimony, a therapy, hobby and source of income.
5. TAKE US INTO THE WORLD OF AB ROLLINGS
A. B. Rollings is a fashion company that was conceived in Lagos, delivered in Istanbul, groomed in Berlin and settled in London. We are a citizen of the world. Our concept of fashion, is unique, in the sense that our mission is to address all the fashion need of
6. YOU RECENTLY OPENED LONDON BRANCH OF THE BUSINESS HOW WOULD YOU SAY IT’S DOING
We are grateful and optimistic.
7. CAN YOU COMPARE THE BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT WITH NIGERIA WHERE YOU STARTED FROM
Lean purchasing power is of great disadvantage to all businesses in Nigeria, compared to the potent purchasing power of a country like Britain. Ordinarily, businesses, especially fashion, in a country like Nigeria that does not only have the market power but also the exquisite taste and hunger for good things.
8. HOW DO YOU EVEN LEARN FASHIONPRENEURSHIP
My Mum is a fabric merchant, I believe I learned a lot from her growing up, which I now mix with my sense of business and the opportunity to have sojourned a little.
9. HOW MUCH WAS YOUR INITIAL CAPITAL AND HOW DID YOU RAISE IT
$50000. From savings.
10. WHAT ARE YOUR MAJOR CHALLENGES WHEN IT ALL STARTED
Introducing a new brand is always not really easy. Most people want to wear well-known names.
11. AND HOW WOULD YOU SAY YOU HAVE OVERCOME ALL THESE CHALLENGES
By our determination to present to our customers, the best fabric, details to finishing tailoring and exquisite style, all-at not only the best rate but generally affordable.
12. IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY IN BUSINESS
I would have been more frugal, invest more outside Nigeria and maybe concentrate more on Fashionpreneuship
13. HAS THERE BEEN any time YOU THINK OF QUITTING AND SEEK PAID EMPLOYMENT
Many times, especially towards the end of the month, when the thoughts of the avalanche of salaries, subconsciously slip to thoughts. But when am enjoying the freedom, in all ramifications, the reward of the labor and the self-satisfaction of achievements, I am happy that I took the entrepreneurship route.
14. HOW PROFITABLE WOULD YOU SAY THE BUSINESS HAS BEEN OVER THE YEARS
Lest not forget that I have other business, like Butikdekor Ltd, a company that specializes in the sales of high-end doors and KPDY International Ltd, a construction and hospitality company. These two businesses have really contributed to the profitability of A. B. Rollings, by investing in its expansion and growth. But praise be to GOD, we have been able to be consistent and at the same time expand beyond our locality. We have exported a brand outside Nigeria.
15. ASIDE FASHION BUSINESS WHAT OTHER SKILLS DO YOU POSSESS
With all modesty, I don’t know much about any particular skill that I possess, but I can humbly tell you that GOD always permit me to be on top of any situation or circumstances that I found myself.
16. WHERE DO YOU SEE YOUR SELF AND AB ROLLINGS IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS
As for me, my continuous joy and happiness are of more importance to me than my status. But I see A.B. Rollings, making a serious impact in the fashion world with stores in all continents.
17. WHAT DO YOU THINK THE FUTURE HOLDS FOR ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN NIGERIA
Nigeria is a goldmine, but with access to the mining sites being blocked by cobwebs. What I am trying to say in essence is that Nigeria has so many potentials that if well directed, can within a short period of time, skyrocketed the nation into one of the wealthiest. Nigeria has the population, which is the markets and the taste, which is the drive.
Let’s drift a little and discuss politics. I have heard severally that corruption is the greatest bane of Nigerian development, but the pragmatic truth is that corruption and politics are inseparable. Corruption is everywhere, it is the style and volume that differs.
To me, some of the greatest hindrances to Nigeria nearing her potentials are, Our banking institutions that make an excessive profit without satisfactorily fulfilling their primary responsibility to their customers. Our leaders avarice to power, selfish interest and parochial tendencies, nepotism, and more.
18. IF YOU HAVE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE FOR SOMEONE COMING INTO THE BUSINESS WHAT WOULD IT BE.
Be ready for a rough drive through will eventually lead to job satisfactory and financial independence.