Princess Folashade Ogunwusi-Fadairo is the chief executive officer of Wuraolaby4lar Couture. An amazon, she is a big-time fashion designer and business tycoon, who delved into fashion as a hobby, which later turned into a cash cow.
During her university days, Ogunwusi-Fadairo, who is the senior sister of Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, was one of the best-dressed ladies on campus and to date, dresses impeccably well. As the CEO of Wuraolaby4lar couture, Ogunwusi-Fadairo has an eye for complete fashion and styles; what to wear and how to rock it. She can look at anyone and suggest the right combination of colours, styles, and befitting fabrics, designs, styles, patterns, embellishments, and accessories.
Wuraolaby4lar Couture serves as wardrobe managers to the crème-de-la- crème of the society; showing the world how to rock African styles with appealing touches of ancient and international standards.
In this Interview with Oyinlola Sale, Ogunwusi-Fadairo tells a story of how her hobby turned into a money-making venture and gives further insights into her business and fashion industry generally
Your journey into the fashion industry started as a hobby, which gave birth to Wuraolaby4lar Couture. Now tell us what we don’t know about your breakthrough in the fashion industry?
My journey into the fashion world started from growing up as the first girl of the family. I was always trying all my mum’s stuff, for example putting on her big sunglasses, her wigs, etc. Well, fashion to me is an inborn thing, and it’s all about creativity and creativity is the mother of invention, that is, creating a new style. So to me in the fashion industry what I see as my breakthrough is when I started designing my fabric.
In addition to my breakthrough in the fashion world is the establishment of my brand name which is Wuraolaby4lar Couture. This brand was named after my late mum, who was my great mentor.
I have looked at some of your designs and they are very distinct, what inspires your creativity?
I will say colours inspire my creativity; I am a lover of beautiful things and I am attracted to nature like beautiful flowers that are colorful and this boosts my creativity anytime because I love to play around colours. More so with great help from my darling husband Prince Babajide Fadairo, who grew up in Los Angeles, the world’s home of fashion, also helped me immensely with putting stuff together to achieve my unique designs.
The fashion industry has become a global phenomenon, where foreigners adore our local attires, how did this industry achieve that height?
Foreigners adore our local attires because they are beautiful and unique in their way, black naturally is beautiful. And we can achieve the height by believing in the works of our hands and by appreciating our locally made attires. The Adire and Ankara fabrics are so loved by African Americans that want to identify with their backgrounds. I remember there was a music video of Beyoncé and Janet Jackson featuring people wearing and displaying the beauty of Ankara. This is a great achievement so far.
As an expert in the field of fashion, what are the important factors one must consider before venturing into the fashion business?
Let me start by saying Rome was not built in a day, you have to do your homework. Create your niche, your design, determine your market level, and have a business plan.
What are the challenges you have faced so far in running Wuraolaby4lar Couture?
There is competition everywhere, you cannot avoid it. Nigerians not believing in locally made products is also a challenge. Everyone wants to wear designers like Prada, Gucci, Tom Ford, etc. Wuraolaby4lar couture is working hard to get to greater heights.
The fashion industry is churning out a lot of creative designers, what is your view about this growth?
I feel that creative designers should be encouraged. Nobody should discourage them no matter what.
The Nigerian creative economy is so vast now, which has led to a major driver of socio-economic and cultural sustainable change all over the world. And Nigerians are not left out too, once you have a vision, you will create and then implement, which will lead to churning out increment.
Would you say being a princess of a prominent kingdom in Yorubaland has heightened your clientele and opportunities in the fashion industry? Can you tell us more about your background?
I was born into the family of Prince Oluropo Ogunwusi and late Madam Wuraola Ogunwusi, we are seven children and I am the first girl in the family.
I started my primary education with Subuola Memorial Nursery and Primary School in Ibadan and ended it at Seventh Day Adventist Primary School Agodi Ibadan and proceeded to Isabatudeen Girls Grammar School, Orita Basorun Ibadan, then to College of Education, Ilesa and finished it up at Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile Ife with BA.Ed.
Then, I did my National Youth Corp Service with 21st Century Communication at Ikosi Ketu Lagos, and started my career in teaching before I proceeded to the Nigerian Port Authority to start a career as a PIDA staff later to a shipping company, Prime Marketing Shipping Company in Apapa, Lagos. I later did a course on landscaping and horticulture before I started my fashion career, which am doing to date.
Now, talking about how being a princess from a kingdom in Yorubaland has heightened my clientele and opportunities in the fashion industry, I think I will give it a percentage of 30 percent because I believe in my work and I don’t attach the throne to my work; they are two different entities.
How did you manage to finance this business in the early days?
I was able to do this during my early days because I learnt to save and support myself with other little businesses I love doing.
So what makes Wuraolaby4lar Couture stand out amid a competitive market?
Our constant dedication, and designs, and ability to deliver on time.
What were some of your biggest fears when you ventured into the fashion business?
My biggest fear was the fear of the unknown. I always wondered if I will succeed but God surprised me.
Fashion designers have complained about the textile industry in Nigeria. What can the government do to revive the textile industry in Nigeria?
To revive the textile industry the government has to encourage the importation of industrial machines to make textiles. Just look at China; they have gone so far, there is nothing they cannot make or design when it comes to textiles. I remember so many years ago when China town came to Nigeria with their cheap laces and kinds of stuff, they were located in Ikoyi, before they moved to Ojota, nobody wanted to buy their products then because people see them as cheap, but I was buying from them then and reselling to people. But today, they are so big now. Our locally made Adire print should be encouraged too by the government to create employment opportunities.
Tell us about your greatest achievement in this journey, are there any awards-worthy to be celebrated?
My greatest achievement is seeing my designs out there in America, UK, and Canada. So far, I have received more than five awards and I’m still receiving more.