by Ayo Alonge
Although a Nigerian, Taiwo Adeyeye is the founder of Tae Couture, a luxury fashion company based in Cotonou, Benin Republic.
The fashion entrepreneur who hails from Ekiti State, in this interview, speaks on his early moments in business, patronage and competition. He also discloses that, despite the attendant challenges, fashion startups can be very lucrative.
Well, I realised people used to always compliment my outfit and general style. I used to have people seek for sartorial advice from me, ladies inclusive. Some of them for themselves and some for their partners. All these experiences triggered the idea of starting my own brand. I have always loved fashion. It is my passion. So, I thought I could share my gift with the world. I see myself more of a fashion definer than a fashion designer. If you ask me what led me into the business of sales of clothes and shoes, of all businesses there are, like I mentioned before, passion is the catalyst. I love making people look good, because, to my mind, looking good improves your confidence. It makes you feel like you got wings. I have got this indescribable feelings when I see a well dressed person. Our slogan is “getting you styled in style”.
Well, the saying “when there is a will, there is a way” readily comes to mind. I gradually saved from the jobs I was doing for clients here and there before I could own my personal machines and before I started bringing in more hands. I tell you it is not as easy as it sounds but determination, persistence and perseverance are the catalysts needed to forge ahead.
Challenges in fashion business
There are different challenges. For example, building a client base and convincing clients to trust you with their money/fabrics, and believing in your abilities is one of the hugest challenges in the business. You tackle these challenges through applying the tactics of patience, consistency and diplomacy.
It is very profitable if you have your client base solidly built and make excellence your trademark.
The competition in the business is very high, but it is an advantage to better your brand. Everyone wants to do what you are doing, especially when you are extremely good at it. Some would even want to beat you at your own game. If that is not enough reason to up your game every now and then, I don’t know what else is.
Patronage amidst COVID-19 pandemic
Well, as we all know the whole world was affected by the pandemic, but patronage has not been that bad. I think it is a case of bitter sweet experience. It is a win for some while it is the other way round for some.
Loan acquisition for business expansion
Yes, I have considered acquiring a loan for business expansion but, unfortunately, it did not work out. Sometimes last year, around November, I spoke to my bank about a possible loan. The bank worker asked me how much I needed which I told her. She told me she would get back to me. Her response gave me some grin of hope. A few days went by. So, after sometime, I asked her if there was any news. She replied and I quote: “Our loan platform has been down, your request is still pending”. I just replied, “Chai!” That was the only thing I could say to her response. Well, firstly anyone willing to start up a business like this must have the passion for it. When hard times present itself, the only factor that keeps one going is the passion.
SMEs and government aid
The government can promote and encourage SMEs and budding entrepreneurs like me by creating a welcoming environment, where there are good roads, electricity, security and the rest. The system and the environment is not conducive enough for businesses to thrive, especially small scale businesses.