Todun Akinyelure, fashion designer and creative director @ 16
Can we meet you?
Yeah! My name is Todun Akinyelure. I was born on August 9, and I am 16 years old.
What business are you into?
I am a fashion designer and a creative director. I also sell clothes.
How did you start the business?
My two friends and I came up with the idea to start a clothing brand. One of us later went abroad, leaving the other person and I. The second friend went solo and established his own brand, instead of having a co-brand with me. However, I started my own brand with the name Black Rose, which I later changed to TAC Todun Akin Clothing.
How was your training like; was it by a professional?
I am self-trained. I must say having a brand is not just a hobby, but has become part of my life. I cannot imagine doing anything else. The business gives me joy. I love working and I love what I am doing.
How do you manage schooling and work?
At the first it was quite difficult to manage both. At some point I was more focused on business than school, but had to retrieve my steps by resting my business for about a month or two. There were periods I put business on hold for a few weeks to write school test or for revision.
How do you see yourself, as a company or an innocent boy with passion for business?
I see myself as a company with passion for business. This company is my life; it is my future. I sell my products and I make money.
What inspired you to make a cloth for the President of France, Emmanuel Macron?
It was my mom; she is my biggest inspiration. I called her as soon as I was informed that the French President was coming. She gave me the idea to make a tee shirt for him. So, I designed and printed it.
What was it like making a cloth for the President; were you nervous?
I was confident. Making the President’s t-shirt was not different from making other t-shirts; so, why should I be nervous?
While making the cloth did entertain any doubt if it would rejected?
No, I was not because I knew it would definitely be accepted.
How did you feel when you were called to present your cloth to France president?
I was happy and excited; and above all, I was grateful to have met him. It was an opportunity.
How has that act of kindness impacted on your life; and who else have you met after that?
The meeting was an amazing experience. It was an amazing exposure for my brand, but I would not necessarily say it added any value to my life.
Who are your mentors, people you look up to?
I look up to Virgil Abloh, Nzube Annunobi, Soulg, Jimmy Ayeni (Modus Vivendii)
Of course, there are many kid clothiers just like you; what stands your brand out from others?
I do not feel any other brand has the drive and passion like I do. The passion and drive make me unique and stand out.
How do you feel each time you come across other talented kids?
I feel inspired to keep working hard, and I feel that is what matters most.
Were you at any point discouraged by your parents, siblings or even pressure from studies?
I would not say I have, but there was a time I had to rest the business for awhile because of my studies. So, it was not really a discouragement, but a necessity.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
To be the biggest clothing brand in the world.
What other things are you skilled at apart from business?
Sports, painting, graphic designing and music.
Have you any advice for kids with potentials out there?
Be original; remember to pray, it’s very important. Also organise yourself and never walk alone.
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