21 QUESTIONS: ADENIKE of DEMURE BY DENIKE
I am a HUGE fan of Adenike’s Demure by Denike rtw line. I’ve had my eye on her since the beginning of her journey being in Milan as a fashion design student. Her pieces are stunning!(!!!) and so chic! I admire her persistence and dedication and can’t wait to see her go places. She studied International Relations in University and was unafraid afterward to go forward with her desire to be a fashion designer. One of my favorite things about her story is her family’s support for her work. Enjoy her interview!
1. Tell us what you do for a living and how long you’ve been working at your own business.
I’m a fashion designer and I’ve been working independently for over 7 months now.
2. How did you start sewing and why did you decide to go into that line of work?
I started sewing when I was 11 because after my JSS3 WAEC exams, my mum wanted me to learn something during the holidays. I bought my first sewing machine the december that same year. Although, I studied International Relations in Uni, my heart has always been with Fashion, taking summer lessons and what not. That’s why I eventually took a course after Uni.Although, I studied International Relations in Uni, my heart has always been with Fashion - @theadenike Click To Tweet
3. At what point did you make the decision to start your business; what convinced you? How did you generate initial capital?
Well, I technically have been in this business since Uni days as I used to make clothes for my friends so it wasn’t a decision per se, just an obvious continuation. The little capital I gathered were from both my savings and my parents.
4. How was the response from your SO/parents/family/friends? Especially if you decided to leave a paid job/not do what you studied in school.
Because I’ve been at this for almost 14 years, no one really questioned my intentions to make a living out of this. Everyone is super supportive. My brother is my business manager and my mum is part time production manager.My brother is my business manager and my mum is part time production manager. Click To Tweet
5. How did you build a customer base and market yourself effectively?
Social media has been insanely helpful in marketing my work. The places I get feedback from still astounds me, like how did you even see my work? 😂 Also, word of mouth especially for bespoke tailoring.Social media has been insanely helpful in marketing my work. - @theadenike Click To Tweet
6. What challenges did you face at the beginning? And how did you cope? What challenges do you still face currently?
Capital was a huge issue for me because my dad couldn’t give me much and I didn’t want to start out so dependent on investors so I would basically turn around every profit monthly to keep the business running. Finding good staff was also an issue. Especially in this line of work, most people will still need to be tutored and skills honed before you can be assured of quality work. The economic situation of the country didn’t help as well because fabrics at some point had up to 150% increase leading to an increase in the price point of the garments.
Capital was a huge issue for me. Click To Tweet
7. What do you love most about being your job? How have things changed since you released your debut collection? (workload, customers, employees (do you still do alll the work?)
I love the fact that I can put a smile on someone’s face as they wear their dress, it’s really all about the client satisfaction. The workload has increased because I’m working on stocking on several sites so production is being run currently. No, I don’t do all the work but I’m still very hands on because I like to be sure I’m getting the best quality out there. Income is still very shitty lol. I still haven’t gotten to the point where I can be paid my worth, and that’s okay. As long as there’s growth.I love the fact that I can put a smile on someone's face as they wear their dress, it's really all about the client satisfaction. Click To Tweet
8. Creative businesses are becoming quite popular in recent times. It feels like a lot of people want to become entrepreneurs. How do you deal with competition in your field? Is that something you struggle with?
I don’t worry myself about competition because I believe there’s enough sky for all birds to fly and I feel I have my own market because I’m mostly afro-centric.
9. What’s the biggest lesson starting a business taught you?
Separate business from your personal life; people will want to rip you off, don’t let that affect the business.
10. There’s always a bit of a money vs passion debate; What do you think should be the motivation for starting a creative business? What was/is your motivation?
DON’T GO INTO A CREATIVE BUSINESS FOR THE MONEY. You will fail a LOT, you have to have something keeping you going. Money will come sometimes and sometimes you will not see any.DON'T GO INTO A CREATIVE BUSINESS FOR THE MONEY. You will fail a LOT Click To Tweet
11. What would you say has been the worst time/experience so far in your journey as an entrepreneur?
I made a reception dress for a bride and she told me I sent her an old dress so she wouldn’t pay the full balance which brings me back to number 9. I kind of got carried away because we had a good relationship and overlooked the proper procedure.
12. If you had to choose three qualities anyone starting a business needs to develop/have what would they be?
Patience. Proper book keeping. Ability to sell yourself at any point in time.
13. How do you work through times when things are at a low? How do you get back up? How do you deal with criticism and bad feedback?
I tell myself that everyone has had to go through this stage. No one had it perfect, you’ll struggle, you’ll fail, only if you keep on will you make it. I try not to take criticism and bad feedback personally or as an attack.I try not to take criticism and bad feedback personally or as an attack.- @theadenike Click To Tweet
14. What sacrifices have you had to make to grow your business, if any?
Ah! My personal life is hanging by a thread. I work weekends either by meeting clients for consultations or fittings. I’m not social anymore, I hardly go out because I really can’t afford the time.
15. What has been your proudest business achievement so far & what future goals do you have for your business?
The response after I put out my debut collection was insane, so far, it has been my peak. I plan to put out a bridal collection soon.
I plan to put out a bridal collection soon. - @theadenike Click To Tweet
16. What do you wish you knew about starting and running a business in Nigeria before you started; what would you do differently? Do you think there’s enough support for small business owners in Nigeria? What is one thing you think would be helpful?
I think having proper capital would have helped a great deal. Not a lot of support to be honest.
17. How did you figure out how best to price your services? That’s something a lot of business owners struggle with.
I’d say it depends on your brand positioning as you have to figure that out first. Are you trying to be luxury, premium or affordable? When you figure that out, it’ll be pretty easy to figure out your profit margin and price accordingly
18. What is the biggest misconception people have about entrepreneurship?
That it is easier than white collar jobs. No please. Trust me, it isn’t .Biggest misconception about entrepreneurship? That it is easier than white collar jobs. Click To Tweet
19. What are three things that are part of your morning ritual?
Oh, I’m definitely not a morning person. Although because of my body clock, I’m up by 7 and I’m in bed till 8:30, then I have my bath then resume at work. No special rituals. I sometimes don’t eat till like noon or 1pm.
20. What three people in your field or not inspire you the most?
21. What trait do you love most about yourself as a business owner i.e any personal qualities you feel have helped you excel?
Optimism. It helps me see beyond the down times and that there will be light at the end of the tunnel.Optimism helps me see beyond the down times and that there will be light at the end of the tunnel. Click To Tweet
Adenike Adegboye is a Fashion Designer and Stylist. She is the Founder and Creative Director of Demure by ‘Denike, a ready to wear fashion brand. Demure by ‘Denike is currently stocked by Femme By Yele and Zuvaa Marketplace.
Connect with Adenike
Demure by Denike on Instagram: DemurebyDenike.rtw