Nike Ogunlesi the lawyer who left Law for Fashion now the Founder Ruff N Tumble...she offers made in Nigeria fashion especially for kids

By Kemi Mobuse - Thursday, April 19, 2018

In an interview with Festus Akanbi in ThisDay Newspaper on Sunday May 24th 2014, Founder of Ruff n Tumble, an indigenous lifestyle brand, Mrs. Nike Ogunlesi, shared her perspective on steps to growing a business, stressing the need to have a clear understanding of whatever market an entrepreneur wants to operate.
Read the interesting interview below:

Is it true that you left law and went into fashion?

Yes, it is. I was a law student at the Ahmadu Bello University but I had a creative flair which was much stronger than any interest I had in law. So I left to focus on developing my creative talents full time.

Why did you start Ruff n Tumble – the money or the glory?

For me, neither of two! Ruff ‘n’ Tumble was born out of a genuine need that I and other Nigerian parents had at that time. As a young mother, I struggled to find good quality pyjamas for my children. I couldn’t find many satisfying options. So I decided to start to making them myself and they were well accepted by family and friends.

My husband, Adegbola Ogunlesi, advised me not to limit myself to pyjamas but to also try other things. This gave birth to Ruff n Tumble. Today, we have stores in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Ibadan and Kwara. These stores retail only kid’s clothing and accessories.

What are the secrets to growing a business like yours?

The size and clarity of a person’s vision are very important. It is very important to dream big and be single-minded about the dream. Also, you must love this dream and be passionate about it. Another thing which is often taken for granted is getting organized and putting structures in place. You need to have a good business plan and you need to set realistic goals for yourself, sound business advice is absolutely invaluable; get strong mentors and learn from them. Most importantly, you need to get started!

Looking at Ruff n Tumble, what kind of age demography do you appeal to?

We cater to children’s clothing needs from zero to 16 years, our stores have evolved into boutiques that retail our own locally produced clothes, as well as international brands from Europe.

What are the three things you’ve put in place to support the growth and structure of your business?

Firstly, it is important to refresh your value proposition from time to time.Refreshing simply means talking to your customers and finding out what their needs are. It comes back to the same thing. You must always be in a position where you are offering value. Value means that somebody needs or believes they need what you have to offer and it must mean something to them. This is how we have stayed relevant to our target audience.

Secondly, you must have structure and clearly defined business roles, processes and tasks that must be accomplished in a defined period of time. This avoids procrastination, brings order to your company and generates progress to get things done.

Thirdly, transparency is important. It promotes healthy competition, inspiration and motivation to the entire staff and company. If people see and know what others should accomplish and their roles in the company, it makes them protect their positions and want to help the company grow successfully. When people know nothing else in the entire company but their own tasks, it is hard to be passionate about their workplace and the purpose of the company they work for.

Looking back what would you have done differently?

Planning with advisors earlier than I did. Jumping right into it without a focused plan ended up costing me so much money and time and failures. But in the end, it is better to fail as early as possible in order to correct the mistakes later on.

I would have hired a good brand and marketing team from the get go. It is easy to begin a company and brand, but to make people passionate about it and lead to sales consistently over many years.... leave this to professionals.

Any specific advice for much smaller businesses trying to get to your level of success?

When you are a small business, you are the visionary, you can easily test creatively and adjust much quicker than larger companies. Take this advantage and do all you can to stand out and serve your customers consistently. People will notice and stay with you as customers, which will lead to faster long-term growth.

Is it easier for married or single women to start businesses?

Business people in general will face the same challenges. It doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman, single or married. There are women in the world that become billionaires just like men. I believe that everyone should dream big and do what they love to feel successful in the long run.

If you are married and you have children, then you have to look after them. Be careful and do not let your career aspirations take you away from your core responsibilities as a mother or parent. It is important that you do that.

What is the major challenge experienced when trying to create a company in Nigeria?

People always think that the biggest challenge is capital. The challenge is transforming the capital into a profitable ongoing business for many years. The biggest challenge that most businesses in Nigeria face today is human capital development, management and leadership training.

It is the lack of people who are willing to commit to their jobs, who are skilled enough in their jobs and the general attitude to work in Nigeria is something that should be looked into again. There were times it was that bad but you just have to be persistent. You need to be clear in your mind on where it is you want to go and what you want to achieve. You must have a vision and goals that you have set.

What is your message to Africa’s young aspiring business people and entrepreneurs?

Find your authentic self – everybody else is taken. Find out who you are, what your purpose is, what you like doing, what you are passionate about – and then go after it with everything in your total being. Things will then fall in place. As they say, the Earth conspires when you are clear on the universe that you want – it will give you that universe, it will.

Some made in Nigeria products featured on her website below.....

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