Animashaun Aminat Aderayo is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of De’rayo vocational limited, where she manages the training on fashion skills to youths, particularly women. She launched a project in 2019 to train 10,000 secondary school students on 12 different vocational skills for free and has since then won numerous national and continental awards. She told ROTIMI IGE, in a recent chat about her passion for entrepreneurship, among other issues.
How did your journey into the fashion world begin?
I started in 2012, when I saw that the demand for afro-centric products became high and I needed to contribute my quota to the development of Nigeria by using our indigenous fabrics and materials.
What differentiates you from competitors in the industry?
By producing standard and well finished products locally and globally. I have also been able to establish the brand name by being kind, helping upcoming youths in the fashion industry with adequate information for their business growth, linking top brands in fashion industry with youths that need employment after acquiring the skills.
More graduates are taking up skills acquisition and winning at it. How important will you say acquiring any skill is in any economy in the world?
A skill acquired man is a self-employed man. As water is very essential to human life; so are skills needed in the life of every serious minded human being. Skill can be of immense benefit in the lives of every living soul. Skills help in reducing poverty, increase in standard of living, and providing diverse job opportunities, employment generation, crime reduction and developing our country’s Gross National Product (GNP).
How have you incorporated technology in your fashion business?
Technology has helped us tremendously over the years, with the advent of social media and e-commerce website which enables us to access customers globally. I have been able to create a platform where youths learn, earn and shop on my website, www.derayo.com.ng.
What challenges do you still face in the industry?
Human resources are on the list of our challenges; there is a huge gap between what the youths learnt in school and what they can do. Power supply and running on generators have been affecting our profit margin.
Critics say fashion designers are some of the worst entrepreneurs when it comes to service delivery. Your opinion?
Those are the bad eggs amongst the good ones, the narrative has changed and new fashion designers with great customer service are now correcting the impression.
Why do you focus on arts, fashion accessories and vocational trainings?
Unemployment is a huge challenge for us in fashion industry. Thankfully, I have been able to build a platform to connect industries and employees for self sustenance and for youths to get empowered to create more jobs by learning skills, providing mentorship and helping them to start their own businesses.
You have won many awards doing this. Tell us about them and what they mean to you…
UNESCO nominated my story as one of the ‘50 kindness stories’ in the world, representing Nigeria in kindness matters. I was nominated for excellence in fashion and style by the Federal Government of Nigeria at the Aso Rock Villa this year too.
I have also won the culture and community building award from BAOBAB Australia, Best Female Entrepreneur Award years 2018 and 2019 from POPA awards, one of the most influential personalities in Oyo State in 2018 and 2019 from Ibadan Media.
The Nigerian fashion industry has grown exponentially in recent times. What is the future in your opinion?
To my understanding, the Nigerian Fashion industry will be more saturated than it is already, but the difference will be the innovative ideas birthed by the creativity, resilience and dynamics of the current generation. Do not forget the fact that technology is constantly evolving and its input in fashion isn’t something to overlook. We now have virtual runways, full fashion brands of different kinds in the metaverse and different virtual reality and gaming platforms.
How are you positioned to tap into it?
The answer is simple, we keep learning, we keep revolving with the current wave. We think ahead and follow up with actions that’ll enable us to harness whatever opportunities that presents themselves.
What is your take on aspiring fashion designers?
I’ll simply tell them to identify their purpose, never stop learning, to start with whatever limited resources they have and position their businesses for global opportunities. It’s not going to be easy but it’ll be worthwhile.
There’ll be days where you’ll feel down and unmotivated, it’s normal because we’re humans. The most important thing is not to stay down. Keep your heads up and keep the ball rolling.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I have a Bachelors degree in Entrepreneurial and Business Management from National Open University (NOUN) and studied Diploma in Marketing from the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Ogun State. I also studied French and have DELF Certificate. I was privileged to be selected among the top 50 women in business in Nigeria (WOMEN X 11) sponsored by the World Bank to study Entrepreneurial Management at Enterprise Development Centre (EDC) at Lagos Business School to fulfill my creative, arts and entrepreneurial potentials.
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