Meet Oluwatosin Ogunbanjo, the Founder/ Creative Director of Avenue7 Leather Goods Company. The Ladyshoemaker who transitioned from the banking sector into producing Handmade leather footwears and accessories using vegetable-tanned leather, promoting a sustainable environment.
Exquisite Magazine had the opportunity to have an interview with her, so read up!
Tell us about yourself
My name is Oluwatosin Ogunbanjo. I have a First degree in banking and finance among other certifications in entrepreneurship and business.
I worked in the banking Sector and Brand communications company. I also had a few months of skilled training on leather works and research at a training institute before starting avenue7.
I founded avenue7 in the Year 2016 after I discovered that shoes can be produced locally but we still relied heavily on imported shoes and imitations of Luxury brands plus I am also a lover of shoes.
I am passionate about building a global brand that gives access, employment and an opportunity to young Women and Men to live decent lives with decent earnings who are trained to become skilled artisans changing the art and leather craftmanship in Africa. while creating fashionable and genuine leather goods in the world today.
I enjoy volunteering for projects and events that impact my community in the area of youth and women empowerment, social growth and advancement.
What Does Your Business Do and How It Started?
Avenue7 is a premium brand of hand-made leather goods for Youthful, Matured and Sophisticated Men and Women.
Using digitalization to create Custom Made and Bespoke footwear and leather goods by changing the narrative of Made In Nigeria Leather goods and industry.
Our goal is to build an ecosystem of Genuine leather artisans/ manufacturers across Africa, using vegetable-tanned leather materials that promote a sustainable environment, reducing the effect of plastic pollution by eradicating the high influx of synthetic and plastic leather products in the Nigerian market.
We want to reduce the staggering number of shipments of $500 million worth of leather products every year most of which are plastic and synthetic leather materials including 80 million pairs of shoes declared by FG. Given the reality that Nigeria has the manufacturing and production capacity to meet more local demands particularly when it comes to footwear and bag making.
We started by outsourcing our production to 3rd party artisans in November 2016, who have been in the industry for quite a while since we didn’t have the funds and capacity to startup our factory or employ these artisans.
We started with marketing to former colleagues, and friends and send such orders to these artisans to produce for us.
How Do You Solve Your Customers Challenge?
I can’t say we have been able to solve all our client problems but we have been on a journey making sure that our client gets Durable, Quality, Breathable and Fashionable Leather Goods and accessories that is affordable and convenient irrespective of their unique or individual taste, sizes or preference. This is our primary goal.
Who Are Your Ideal Customers?
Our customers are Youthful, Mature and Sophisticated Men and Women people with high esteem, who love varieties and have a high taste for fineness and style, looking for durability, quality, functionality and value in products.
Can You Describe Your Typical Day?
My Day starts most times with personal time with God, catching up on messages both work and personal.
On other days it’s me starting into work either sourcing materials, following up the production process or sorting out client’s delivery and usually ends with something relaxing sometimes.
How Has Being An Entrepreneur Affected Your Family Life?
It’s been good and doesn’t have any negative impact on my family. Well Being a single lady growing a company so far has given me the much-needed time to learn, grow and build the company and its people.
What Motivates You?
The feedback and referrals from our clients. That has been my greatest motivation. Some clients even go the extra mile of speaking about our brands in most imagined places and share opportunities with me to be part of them.
This reminds me that we are doing something that has value to the end users and solving a problem for our clients. The more problem we can solve the more value we can give to the world and the better our industry grows.
Secondly is my team these are hardworking young men and women, some with spouses and children people who look up to you, where we are not just building a business just to feed but growing wealth for them and their families by using their skills to capture value. Such that they have transgenerational Wealth to pass down to their children all because of this company.
Such that when they are much older they can look back and say their children attended the best school at home and abroad, had dream vacations, and dream homes, supported their families, were able to pay someone’s school fees, get a roof over their head and that’s what makes life fulfilling.
What Is Your Greatest Fear?
Living a purposeless life, a life that’s outside the will of God. That would be my greatest fear. Knowing I came to this world and I left it empty not achieving all God has assigned me to achieve and not living my full potential as a multidimensional being.
How Do You Define Success?
The impact you can leave with others and the value you give to others has been a channel that opens doors for others to walk through and win.
Success for me is taking the lessons from the mistakes, failure and pain and turning them to gold and your willingness to learn, unlearn, and relearn for growth whilst having the right mindset for success because everything starts from the Mind.
What Is Your Favourite Aspect Of Being An Entrepreneur?
That I have control over my time and I can do multiple things over a period of time not be under pressure of some sort and That I can start all over again.
If You Had The Chance To Start Your Career Over Again, What Would You Do Differently?
Be more exposed, get more knowledge established more solid networks
What Would You Say Are The Top Three Skills Needed To Be a Successful Entrepreneur?
• Financial Literacy
• A good Knowledge and understanding of the industry or sector.
• People: you need people at every level
And I would add a 4th one
• Faith in God.
Who Has Been Your Greatest Inspiration?
I would say people around me. People who believed in what I am building from the beginning till now. Who are there to encourage me, open doors for and to me. I have a long list of names but I would simply just say People. Friends, mentors, spiritual leaders and teachers, coaches, and Clients who have become mothers, sisters, and brothers to me.
And our clients and team members also. The value we are giving to every client and the impact of this service on our team has been a great inspiration.
What Advice Would You Give To People Who Want To Become Entrepreneurs?
• Gain knowledge
• Have a support system
• Have faith in God
• Invest in people – Build relationships and network
If You Were To Write A Book About Yourself, What Would You Name It?
Hmmm! This is quite interesting. The Wonder Girl – A story of pain, fear, mistakes and faith
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