Exquisite magazine got the opportunity to interview Annie Oti, the founder of The Africa Fashion Law, a platform which provides legal and business solutions for creatives in the fashion industry. Let’s read up on her story!
Tell us about Yourself
My name is Annie Oti, I am a Barrister and Solicitor of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In my capacity as a lawyer, I am the foremost fashion lawyer in Nigeria, and I am the founder of the platform The Africa Fashion Law.
I am Nigerian and Igbo by tribe, from Imo state. I schooled in the western part of Nigeria and graduated from the faculty of law at Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, Osun State. I primarily reside in Lagos, Nigeria.
What does your business do and how it started?
The Africa Fashion Law is a platform which provides legal and business solutions for creatives in the fashion industry in Nigeria and Africa at large.
We provide the solutions by educating and supporting creatives to enable them to develop a business structure, access the global market and access investment opportunities. In 2013, when I got admission to study law at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.
I was really worried as I was not really certain what the future had in store for me. I spoke to my elder brother and he encouraged me, he told me how awesome lawyers were and how amazing I would be as a lawyer.
This gave me confidence and strength then I went on a long research and I found “Fashion Law”. I launched into deep research and I found all I needed to know about this area of law as my interest in fashion was closely aligned with this area of law.
Anyways, I just felt that after school I was going to do my master’s and then commence my career. However, in my third year, I attended a school program where someone I look up to came to speak I told her about my interest in Fashion Law and she asked me “ What are you doing about your interest? You know your interest. Start working on it”.
These words encouraged me and in my third year in school, I started a blog writing about fashion law as it relates to the fashion industry. Ever since then Africa Fashion Law has been growing and I am so proud of the growth I am looking forward to playing my part in ensuring fashion creatives in Nigeria win.
How do you solve your customer’s challenge?
A UNESCO study of the global cultural landscape estimated that 2.4 million people were employed in the creative industries in Africa in this creative industry.
In the Creative Industry, we have The Fashion Industry which is a billion-dollar industry that has the potential to power economies and transforms millions of livelihoods.
Yet there seems to be a major hindrance in the growth of the African Fashion Industry and we have channelled it down to the fact that fashion creatives in Nigeria and Africa at large are solely focused on the creative part of their businesses and not focusing on the business or legal aspect thus most of the businesses in the Africa Fashion Industry lack structure which affects the long term potential of businesses in the fashion industry scaling.
There are major developmental issues affecting the growth of fashion brands in Nigeria and Africa at large. At least 70% of fashion brands in Nigeria lack proper business and organisational structure. This limits their growth, their opportunity to access investment and to expand to the global market.
Fashion creatives are not getting their due rewards for their creativity and they are not maximizing the global market access made available through leveraging e-commerce sites due to the limitations. There is an absence of a proper system to guide fashion brands on the due steps to take in structuring their brands.
The Africa Fashion Law is here to change the narrative. The Africa Fashion Law(AFL) is a platform that provides legal and business solutions for creatives in the fashion industry in Nigeria and Africa at large. We are changing the narrative by the following:
1. By providing education on the key business and legal areas creatives need to understand.
2. By providing affordable solutions which will be beneficial for their brands. These solutions include:
a. Key developmental consultations on business structuring, business planning, brand protection, business financing, and investment from our experts in fashion law in Nigeria and our Partners across Africa.
b. Business/Company Registration
c. Trademark Registration
d. Need Base Contracts
Who are your ideal customers?
My ideal customers are serious-minded creatives and not creatives creating solely as a hobby in the fashion and lifestyle sector. This includes creatives in the apparel, leather, luxury, beauty, interior, and jewellery sectors.
Creatives that are intentional about building their businesses and making an impact.
Can you describe/outline your typical day?
Thanks to the evolution of technology, I primarily work from home, however in working from home, I normally wake up by 6 am, some days I go for morning mass and some days I stay in to pray.
After praying I get ready for the day, and review my to-do list if I worked on it the night before and if I didn’t, I then have to create my to-do list.
On my typical day, I have consultations, client meetings, task development for my team, and document to draft and review, I am constantly working on developing The Africa Fashion Law internally, so I equally work on internal structure, I network, and look for opportunities. In the evening, I go to the gym, I am trying to be consistent with this but it is something that is in my routine. When I get back, I might see a short program or listen to law-related podcasts.
How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
I have a very supportive family, I am the last child of six, and ever since my days in school up until now, I have had the sense of trust and belief from every member of my family believing that I have all it takes to achieve my goals.
Entrepreneurship comes with so many emotions and it requires so much work. However I am really big on everything family, I believe that I can build as an entrepreneur and be present with my family. Family is very important as well as creating memories with family.
What motivates you?
My drive in building the Africa Fashion Law is geared towards impact. I am solution-oriented, an avid reader and researcher and I know the fashion industry in Nigeria and Africa at large has the creative power to bring about economic growth, decent work and poverty reduction.
The fashion creatives which primarily comprise creatives and not business experts need the right support system, the right information and knowledge.
The Africa Fashion Law stands as a support system providing legal and business solutions and we also provide the right information and knowledge through our learning platform.
What is your greatest fear?
I dont think I have any fear, however when it crosses my mind, it primarily would be, the fear of not making an impact, of not being progressive.
Anyways, I am always working towards growth and being progressive. I guess that is why “I dont think I have any fear.
How do you define success?
I would define success as consistently showing up for myself, my platform, my family and my friends every single day.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
My favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur would be growing and the little eureka moments. Every day I am learning new things and becoming so knowledgeable not just in law but in business and in building an organisation, I am developing solutions, and I am getting trained on leadership. I love it.
It can be challenging and it requires a lot of work but what I have learnt is that everything requires a lot of work and everything, whether a job at an office or being an entrepreneur, work is required and it all comes with its challenges.
If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
I think everything is as it is meant to be. Looking back, I believe every past action has led me to this moment and prepared me for this season. However, if I had the chance to start my career over again, I simply would have mastered consistency earlier.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Consistency, Tenacity and Being disciplined are the three key skills needed as an entrepreneur. Every winning story starts with the mastery of consistency, tenacity and being disciplined.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
This is a hard question because I am honestly surrounded by the most amazing inspiring people.
My father, My mom, my sisters, my brother, my extended family, my friends then I am constantly meeting new people that are invested in my growth and constantly inspire me to do more by how they are breaking barriers in their own space and sectors.
There are different sides to life and I have been blessed with the right set of inspiring people.
What advice would you give to people who want to become entrepreneurs?
Have a detailed business plan and work with it as your business grows. Be clear on the goal of your business, dream big, have a solid team and work with the right support system, stay consistent and be open to innovation. Your dreams are valid, the idea you have is valid.
What business-related book has inspired you the most? (or, What is your favourite book?)
My favourite book is Shoe Dog by Phil Knight… The book taught me about consistency and tenacity. Also, it taught me about the importance of believing in myself and not limiting myself.
If you were to write a book about yourself, what would you name it?
If I were to write a book about myself, I would name it “Consistently– Her”.
Please share the contact details you wish to be made public.
Linkedin- Annie Oti