Olatorera Oniru is the CEO of Dressmeoutlet.com, a Lagos-based e-commerce start-up that retails fashion products sourced from across the globe. In this exclusive interview with PREMIUM TIMES, she speaks about the challenges in entrepreneurship, her business and the Cocktails & Dresses, which will hold in December.
PT: Tell us about your personal, educational and professional background?
Olatorera Oniru: I grew up in Nigeria and attended Queen’s College, Yaba, Lagos for the earlier part of my Secondary School Education. I later completed the final years of my Secondary and University education in the United States. During my time in the USA, I worked for some top companies inclusive of General Electric and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. I have a Masters in Business Administration from Emory University and Executive Management Certificates from Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden and International Institute for Management Development, Switzerland.
PT: Many may wonder why you decided to float an e-commerce fashion business having garnered years of experience from top companies including Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Ericsson, Central Bank of Nigeria and General Electric?
Olatorera Oniru: My years of work experiences gave me perfect opportunities to excel and learn from companies who have succeeded notably in the business world. I decided it was time for me to implement knowledge gained and a decade long of experiences into growing entrepreneurially and I decided to take on the fashion industry Africa-wide with Dressmeoutlet.com. We are growing and there’s so much more we are working on achieving.
PT: And your journey into fashion entrepreneurship?
Olatorera Oniru: Dressmeoutlet.com went live in January 2016 and officially launched in May of the same year. I’ve always had a strong passion for fashion and beauty. At Dressmeoutlet.com, our foremost goal is to help our customers find the best quality products to look good and feel good at all occasions.
PT: You are arguably one of Nigeria’s youngest fashion entrepreneurs. What drives and inspires you on a daily basis?
Olatorera Oniru: Results drive me. I like to see great results from the hard work I put into undertakings and this makes me work as hard as necessary to achieve great results. I’m happy working harder to achieve greater results. Everyone we work with inspires me from employees to suppliers to partners. We are all working together to drive great results – to give our customers the very best products and services.
PT: What is the inspiration behind the name of your brand, dressmeoutlet.com?
Olatorera Oniru: We want to dress people up in the best quality fashion products at the most affordable prices. Outlets are usually discounted products. See it? Buy it! It won’t last long on Dressmeoutlet.com. At Dressmeoutlet.com, we are dressing our customers from their hair down to their toes with just a click of a button. From hair care supplies to makeup to dresses to shoes to nail polish, we retail excellent quality products to help our customers look good and feel amazing.
PT: Yours is no doubt a novel idea; an e-commerce start-up that retails fashion products sourced from across the globe. What challenges do you constantly grapple within this regard?
Olatorera Oniru: Every company faces challenges regardless of the industry, geographic location, years of operation, and other factors. At Dressmeoutlet.com, we focus more on results than on challenges. It takes more energy to talk about challenges than to face and eliminate the challenges. We’d rather be spending time working and deriving results. There’s a lot to be done and we are in it day-in, day-out, driving growth for the fashion industry across Africa.
PT: Funding remains a major issue for most start-ups in Nigeria. Was yours any different?
Olatorera Oniru: We have utilized certain financial analytics and financial planning methods to establish and scale up Dressmeoutlet.com. Funding can, but does not always have to be an issue for entrepreneurs. Many entrepreneurs save up and bootstrap the start-up phase of their businesses. I think in Africa; we also need to strongly consider maximizing on the resources and opportunities we have on-ground rather than mimicking successful businesses in developed nations.
PT: What are you most passionate about?
Olatorera Oniru: I’m most passionate about people. I love meeting new people. I love my family and everyone around me. I’m passionate about Dressmeoutlet.com’s employees excelling in their jobs and even beyond Dressmeoutlet.com. I’m passionate about our customers giving excellent testimonials and feedback. I’m passionate about Africa and seeing the continent grow. I’m very passionate about alleviating poverty. Poverty is unfair and as we continue to create opportunities and growth potentials with Dressmeoutlet.com, our social responsibility arm will focus very strongly on poverty alleviation.
PT: Do you find that your family name sort of opens doors for you and do you have to work harder to make a name for yourself?
Olatorera Oniru: It may go both ways. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. I want to focus on working hard to create my own name and that’s what we all should focus on. Leveraging less on others’ success stories and creating our very own success stories as employees, employers, entrepreneurs and (or) students.
PT: What dreams do you have for dressmeoutlet.com and what’s the next phase?
Olatorera Oniru: We will continue giving our customers the best products at the best prices with the best customer experience and service. We aim to dispatch millions of products daily to homes worldwide. We are ready for the growth and the challenges and we welcome many possible partnerships with great and greater companies.
PT: Any highpoints or achievements yet?
Olatorera Oniru: One of the highs would be the Forbes recognition as a top 30 under 30 most promising Entrepreneurs in Africa. I should also mention africa.com’s Top 5 young Entrepreneurs in Africa 2016 and being nominated for African Award for Entrepreneurship 2015 amongst others. Most recent was one of the Most Innovative Companies in Nigeria Award by the Nigerian Innovation Summit.
PT: Your industry is fast becoming an all-comers affair what sets you apart from the pack?
Olatorera Oniru: The industry is young and thus there is room for new entrants. It is also a high-potential industry thus expect even more entrants. Dressmeoutlet.com remains a foremost leader in the industry by providing the best products and the best prices with rapid fast delivery.
PT: Please shed more light on the Cocktails & Dresses, which holds next month?
Olatorera Oniru: Cocktails and Dresses is an innovative retail experience bringing together the very best of Made in Africa manufacturers/retailers and buyers who love to look great. There will be lots of contests, shopping, drinks, food, networking opportunities and much more. It will be a grand full-day December Black-Carpet Shopping Rave. An amazing event no one wants to meet. We have worked so hard to plan Cocktails & Dresses- The Largest Gathering of Made in Africa’s Best and look forward to meeting everyone there.
PT: Any words of wisdom for young Nigerian entrepreneurs who aspire to be like you in nearest future?
Olatorera Oniru: The best advice I can really give is to say, “Push your dreams. Don’t let anything stop you from doing anything great for the world.” You can be your very best; you can be greater than me and everyone else you ever looked up to. Tell the world your dreams and push it – one day at a time, leveraging on available resources while being your very best in all your undertakings.