Olatorera Oniru: passion driven by values
Olatorera Oniru is the CEO of Dressmeoutlet.com, an e-commerce platform with an eye for the global market. Before starting out as an entrepreneur, Olatorera had worked with Fortune 500 companies such as Ericsson as the head of sales Governance, MTN Account in the Sub-Sahara African region; Bank of America Merrill Lynch as a senior analyst and with General Electric as financial management intern. Though she confesses that she was well paid by her former employers, her dream of reducing the rate of youth unemployment and poverty made her quit her job to start her own business, which already has 20 persons employed. She talks to Guardian Woman on her journey as a woman and as an entrepreneur.
Who is Olatorera Oniru?
I am a young and vibrant entrepreneur, born and raised in Nigeria. I attended Maryhill Primary School, Secondary school at Queens College, Yaba, Lagos, and then relocated to the USA where I completed high school and university education.
I have a Cum Laude Honors Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Management from North Carolina A&T State University and a Master’s in Business Administration (an MBA) Degree in Finance, Leadership and Management from the prestigious Emory University, Atlanta. I have global work experiences with top global companies including Ericsson, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and General Electric. I also have executive leadership certificates from International Institute of Management Development (IMD), Switzerland and Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden.
I am currently married to Adedapo Oniru and together we have 2 lovely children. I am currently the Chief Executive Officer and Head of Sales at Dressmeoutlet.com, Nigeria’s leading Fashion-focused online retailer growing into the Fashion Amazon of Africa and One of Africa’s best retail companies.
What motivated you to quit your paid job to start your own business?
I am motivated by the massive amount of opportunities in Africa. For the past two years, I have referred to Nigeria as “The New Land of Opportunity” as I have always regarded America as “The Land of Opportunity”. Africa has even more of those opportunities but it will not come easy. We all have to work to make those opportunities surpass our dreams. We cannot get comfortable. How can anyone get comfortable in a nation with over 60% poverty rate? We must all work hard, we must all push opportunities, we must all create jobs, we must all innovate and we must all and can all be great. Let’s hold hands, let’s work together, let’s push each other’s dreams and then watch Africa blossom into a great continent one day at a time, one dream at a time.
Who are your competitors?
I don’t focus too much on competition as I said above, we must all work together. Industries in Nigeria in my opinion are still very young, we are not in a state to compete just yet. We are more in a period to support, partner, grow and patronize. Nonetheless, yes I do have competitors but those competitors only help me to be #1 and nothing less, they don’t take away my customers or affect my business in anyway. There is room for success for many players in the industry. We need more people in the industry to establish the industry as one of Nigeria’s top 10 industries. I will be very happy to see 1,000 fashion e-commerce businesses spring up this year and I’m very welling to guide and support anyone that needs advice from me. Just be sure to have shopped on Dressmeoutlet.com first.
Where did you get this view from?
From working with some of the world’s biggest and most successful conglomerates. Work experience can be very vital to entrepreneurial growth. In my case, it has definitely been vital. In my daily working at Dressmeoutlet.com managing over 20 employees, I am constantly utilizing knowledge and strategies I gain from working with companies worldwide.
How does being married affect your business and vice versa?
I am very happily married. My husband is an amazing man. We support each other’s ambitions and individually work on being the very best we can be personally and professionally. Our children come first at all times and we simply ensure we manage our work life balance adequately. Of course we have assistants who also help us maintain a strong balance at home and at work as no one can do it all, we all need each other – we definitely need other good people to assist us in the life path we are on. My husband is my biggest critic and supporter. He helps me be my very best and he sees my dream whole-heartedly sometimes even better than I see it.
How is it being an entrepreneurial woman?
I would be honest, from nursing an infant, to assisting a toddler with homework to daily school runs, to ensuring nightly meals are served for the entire family, being an entrepreneurial woman requires strength, vigor and versatility but it is also very rewarding. I enjoy my family, my husband, my kids, my business, my life and everything I work hard for. I am happy and I have reached a point in my life whereby I won’t do anything that does not make me happy. Being happy is very important, it helps me be my very best at all times.
Many entrepreneurs have stories of woes to tell in the early stages of starting out, how has it been for you?
Dressmeoutlet.com is a daily bulldoze and most definitely a continuous one. I yearn to see Nigeria transformed into one of the world’s greatest countries – creating, innovating and exporting finished goods on a large scale. More immediately, I yearn to see the fashion industry across Africa boom with insurmountable success. The opportunities are massive, the raw materials are available, we can work hard, we can supply the world. I barely sleep and I am constantly working, ensuring that my customers, vendors and the larger citizens of Nigeria are content and proud of the deliverables of Dressmeoutlet.com which the team and I work hard daily on. Dressmeoutlet.com aims to promote made in Africa brands and provide greater global visibility to the creativity, hard-work and perseverance of Africans.
What Differentiates Dressmeoutlet.com from similar businesses in the market?
I will pinpoint three reasons why our customers are loyal and pick us over any other fashion retailer in the world. 1. We are strongly quality-focused. Dressmeoutlet.com retails only the very best brands and products in the market. Our products are unique and many at times, rare one-off, handmade pieces that required many hours to produce. We hunt for the most unique of treasures worldwide from Northern Africa to Kenya. Within the next few months, I’ll be travelling to at least 5 countries to find more of the amazing unique products our customers love. 2. Dressmeoutlet.com’s customer service is excellent if we may say so ourselves. Take a look at some of our testimonials. We are 200% dedicated to our customers and have built systems on our website whereby our customers can chat with us instantly if they have any questions, they can call us and they can e-mail us. We reply emails within 2 hours and we dispatch all orders within 24 hours. Our policies are very user-friendly and the user interface and user experience of our website at www.dressmeoutlet.com is easy, quick and effective.We have partnered with some of the best banks in Nigeria to provide swift online payment services to our customers. 3. Buy Nigerian, Buy African, Buy your very own. Dressmeoutlet.com’s products are now 60% manufactured within Africa and within the next two years we can see that being transformed to 90% manufactured in Africa as Africa has a ton of great products made by the most intelligent and creative people.
How are you funding Dressmeoutlet.com?
I am funding Dressmeoutlet.com from personal savings. In future, we may consider outside investment.
If someone wants to invest today, you mean you would reject it?
For now, probably yes, but it will depend on the investor, the current valuation of Dressmeoutlet.com and the offer being presented by the investor. Anyone coming onboard Dressmeoutlet.com must buy into the dream 100% and be a strong proponent of the brand. It is not about money but about doing something so well it speaks well for Africa. It is about creating more jobs, about supporting other entrepreneurs and about making African products more accessible to the world.
How do you plan to grow Dressmeoutlet.com into a global brand?
Partnerships, partnerships and more partnerships. I can’t say much here but even my employees are considered partners to the brands, our vendors are considered partners and our customers are considered partners. We are all in this together. The more people support Dressmeoutlet.com, the more we can find or make products that are more affordable and the more we can innovate, grow and lead. We will continue to do everything we can do provide affordable luxury fashion from Africa to the world.