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Tomi Rotimi: Fashion, Fitness Creative

Tomi Rotimi is the Creative Director and founder of Xclamations by Tomi Rotimi, a fashion label she established 19 years ago and has grown to become a household name in the Nigerian fashion industry. Rotimi is an award-winning fashion entrepreneur and recipient of the MTN/British Council Fashion Entrepreneur award in 2011. With almost two decades in the fashion industry, she is an industry mentor, supporting institutions such as Enterprise Development Centre of the Pan Atlantic University with developing customised courses for the fashion industry. In this interview with The Guardian Life, she talks about her book on fat transfer: lessons and entrepreneurship.

You are passionate about inspiring creative entrepreneurs; how did you find yourself doing this? 
Since I was ten years old, I have been an entrepreneur, and my business, Xclamations by Tomi Rotimi, will be 20 next year. I have learnt a lot of lessons through my wins and many mistakes. As my business became more visible, I felt obligated to help other Creative Entrepreneurs better navigate the challenging economic terrain. This led me to start a Podcast, ‘Tips from my Fashion Business,’ which has had almost 30,000 downloads and the creation of my signature online course ‘How to start a Ready-to-Wear Label in Nigeria’.

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What inspired your book, Fat Transfer? 
Fat Transfer started as an Instagram series. Five years ago, at age 39, I felt a need to take care of my health and began to document my fitness journey. My business was also faced with some challenges as a result of the economic recession at the time. In documenting my fitness journey and business insights, I drew parallels between the two – in other words, “transfer fat from my waistline to my Business’ bottom line!” The Instagram series became very popular, and I gained a considerable following, which inspired me to write and publish the book.

You said growing a business and fitness share similar principles, tell us about it? 
From my experience, the Entrepreneurial mindset revolves around tenacity, perseverance, and dynamism. These are the same attributes that are required to achieve your fitness goals. The success principles that I highlight in my book have helped me build a sustainable business and achieve my fitness goals.

Losing weight seems to be a thing for most people hence so many people come up with various techniques, from food to drinks and herbal supplements, even exercises, what is your take? 
There are many shortcuts to achieving weight loss, and I would readily admit that I have explored some of them. In our desperation, we subscribe to crash diets, and while we do lose some weight on these programmes, we ultimately gain them all back. So even though most people understand that to lose weight, we need to eat less and exercise more, a lot of us ignore the real game-changer when it comes to sustaining our weight loss, which is where most people struggle. The way we think, a fitness mindset and a commitment to a healthy lifestyle is the only way to stay trim and sustain our weight loss. This is what I share in this book and is what has helped me in my fitness journey.

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Running a business comes with its challenges, what were yours? 
Being an entrepreneur is very demanding and would challenge you in many ways. For me, being a wife, a mother, and a business owner means that I need to balance my roles while trying to achieve my goals constantly. Over the years, I have learned that my time management skills and ability to prioritise and create a strong support system are critical. The problems in this business environment demand that my brand is nimble and ready to adapt to new and often unanticipated challenges that present themselves without notice. Managing the issues around infrastructure deficits, the fierce competition caused by an unstructured industry with no entry barriers and unfriendly government policies takes strength, determination, and tenacity.

As an industry mentor, blogger, teacher, author, fashion designer, and Entrepreneur, how do you manage all these roles and still be at your best? 
I consider my roles a privilege to serve, and an opportunity to share my many talents and gifts. However, as you rightly pointed out, the demands could be overwhelming at times. My strategy is to create structures around my key functions and projects. It’s important to have a strong support system to help me achieve my goals and prevent me from the ever-present threat of burnout. I prioritise my wellness and my joy over everything else. I believe this is the secret to my longevity in the industry and my ability to juggle my many roles.

What is your personal style? 
Simple, classic, and fun.

What is your life Mantra?
Love yourself, and everything else will align.

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