Inspirational Woman Interview: Olatorera Oniru
Olatorera Oniru is the CEO of Dressmeoutlet.com, Nigeria’s foremost retailer for high-quality fashion products, health products, beauty products and home-goods. Previously, Olatorera has worked at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, General Electric and Lars Magnus Ericsson. Olatorera founded Nigeria’s foremost leadership program Top 100 Our Generation in 2007. For her work in entrepreneurship and poverty alleviation, she was recognized by Commonwealth Africa Awards For Entrepreneurship, Nigerian Innovation Awards, Forbes Most Promising Africans, Africa.com’s Top 5 Youngest Entrepreneurs and African Achievers Awards. Olatorera has a scholarship-based Master in Business Administration (MBA) degree from Emory University and Executive Management Certificates from the Stockholm School of Economics and International Institute for Management Development.
You are the Founder and CEO of Dressmeoutlet.com, Nigeria’s foremost retailer for high-quality fashion products, health products, beauty products and home-goods. What inspired you to establish Dressmeoutlet.com and can you share some of your experiences leading Dressmeoutlet.com?
Olatorera Oniru: Dressmeoutlet.com was established with the yearn to promote many more of the great fashion, beauty and home-goods that are produced in Africa. Over the course of establishing Dressmeoutlet.com, we have come across some of the most creative designers and manufacturers. We have surveyed the value chain and researched the supply chain. The industry has massive potentials and the sales and customers growth Dressmeoutlet.com achieved in 2016 is only a starting point. The industry will continue to witness significant growth nationwide and international.
What sets Dressmeoutlet.com apart from other fashion retail brands?
Olatorera Oniru: We are very customer-centric and quality-focused. Dressmeoutlet.com aims to continue retailing only the very best products great for our customers from skincare to haircare to fashion and accessories. We also dispatch rapidly. All orders leave our warehouse within 24 hours. Also notable is our strong focus on relationships and partnerships with other great companies.
Can you talk about some of Dressmeoutlet.com’s corporate social responsibility and international development related initiatives?
Olatorera Oniru: Dressmeoutlet.com is currently headquartered in Oniru, Victoria Island, Lagos and in 2016 as part of our CSR activities, we held a “Sweep Oniru Day” whereby participating employees went round the district to keep it clean and encourage others to keep Lagos Clean. In 2017, we are planning an “Entrepreneurship Education Tour” to rural villages. We also have our Creative Entrepreneurs Program that supports high-potential creatives in establishing market strategies for their products and services.
What are some key trends in the fashion industry in Nigeria?
Olatorera Oniru: African print continues to trend. Also bright colors and designs that are innovative are always a favorite. Off-shoulder and cold-shoulder tops and dresses were strong trends for 2016 and we see it progressing into 2017. Additionally, apparel with stones and beadworks are also very much in vogue.
In your opinion, what are some main challenges and opportunities unique to retail in Nigeria?
Olatorera Oniru: Some of the challenges locally will include lack of electrical power stability, poor infrastructure nationwide, the high rate of poverty limiting human capital and business development, the educational system lagging behind the rest of the world’s great nations and high competition from international counterparts; amongst many other challenges. Nonetheless, we don’t delve on challenges, we look dedicatedly towards the opportunities. The fashion industry can create jobs for tens of millions of citizens. Back in the 1980s, the Cotton, Textile and Garment industry contributed up to 25% of Nigeria’s GDP.
You previously served as a Senior Supervisor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. What were some of your most valuable takeaways from this position?
Olatorera Oniru: As a nation, we must automate, we must innovate, we must grow. Also, we must be ethically-driven in all our undertakings and push for the greatness of the nation as a whole. Everyone is a leader in something and everyone has unique capabilities to drive the nation into greatness.
Can you talk about one woman who has impacted your life?
Olatorera Oniru: My mother is an amazing woman and one of my go to sources for knowledge and the best advices.
On a personal level, why does women’s empowerment matter to you?
Olatorera Oniru: It matters a lot to me as I continue to meet and dine with amazing women doing amazing things and amazing women who have massive potentials. Women must be empowered to achieve the greatness that their hearts, minds and brains desire. We must alleviate issues of women feeling the need to be submerged, to be enslaved and to be de-voiced. Even as a housewife, a woman can be great. She can support her husband, give him the very best advices and help him become a superstar leader. As a mother, she can raise the best ethically-driven super kids. Women do a lot and must be empowered to know that everything we do matters and contributes to making the world a better place.
What advice do you have for those interested in pursuing a career in fashion, retail and e-commerce?
Olatorera Oniru: The industry has massive potentials, this is the time to carve a niche for yourself. With massive potentials, comes the need for many players. The industry needs the strongest of leaders driving it and we welcome the very best. Get in now before barriers to entry are naturally created. It will be a competitive industry and thus new entrants must be strong-willed, talented, entrepreneurial and customer-centric.
What are some of your favorite books, films, websites and resources related to international development, public policy, and social impact?
Olatorera Oniru: I’d tell you one website, agoa.info. I recently enjoyed reading about the history of the African Growth and Opportunity Act. Lately I haven’t had much time to pick up books or visit websites but I do a ton of research and I also spend time meeting with and chatting with industry veterans. Recently had a chat with Ms. Shade Bembetoun-Young who is super knowledgeable on the history of textiles in Nigeria and Africa.