Mrs Omobowale Biobaku is the CEO of Mobos Fashion, a thriving fashion retail business that caters to make ladies looks stylish and chic. This entrepreneur and her brand exemplify the saying that ‘little drops of water make an ocean’. Omobowale went into business with virtually no capital. She got clothes and other fashionable articles from her sister and others and sold to her friends while in school.
Today, Omobowale’s business has spiralled into a huge success story. She first started by selling to family and friends and now has four outlets in choice areas of Lagos and Ibadan, and a vibrant online platform. Omobowale has not only risen to become a captain in the Nigerian fashion space, she also continued to build a fashion empire. This amiable business woman hosted HENRY OKONKWO recently. She spoke more on how she started up her venture, and gave tips on how to excel in entrepreneurship.
What is the story of Mobos Fashion?
Mobos Fashion actually started 11 years ago when we opened our first outlet on Awolowo road, one of the major high streets of Lagos. I started small. I was selling to my brother-in-law, his friends and taking stuff to people I was referred to. Then I converted my study at home into a boutique. And I was there doing business for almost two years. When I went on my first business trip, I was nursing my eight-month-old baby. Initially, I said I was only going to sell fashionable bags. But later, when I took a trip to Italy, I decided to add shoes to my collection. And then went ahead to add clothes and accessories to my list. That is how Mobos Fashion came to be a place where we make sure every need of a woman is met, I mean making a lady look fabulous from head to toe.
You have a degree in Economics, how did you make the transition from being a scholar into entrepreneurship?
I started business right from when I was still a student at the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. I was running a small business back then. I sold shoes and other fashion items on a small scale to friends and course mates. While in school I made up my mind to continue the business, and I never planned to go and hunt for jobs when I graduate. Even during my NYSC, I was serving in Abuja, but I was shuttling between Abuja and Lagos foung this fashion business. So, after rounding off my NYSC, I simply keyed into my passion to continue the fashion business. And it never crossed my mind to go out and really search for a job. I worked briefly at a company for about three months.
Did you ever see yourself growing as big as you’ve become?
Looking back, I never thought my brand could grow this big. Of course, when I started up, I was focused on giving value and succeeding as an entrepreneur. I was just doing what I love to do and working hard so that Mobos Fashion becomes a success story. But I never foresaw it would grow as huge as it is today.
What’s the biggest business lesson you’ve learnt as an entrepreneur?
As an entrepreneur, I would not say I’ve learnt all lessons. I would rather say that I’m still learning. My business in still unfolding and I’m getting more and more knowledgeable about the fashion industry and running a brand in Nigeria. And I have learnt that as I go along in my journey, I get better, as I learn on the job.
What does it take to excel as an entrepreneur in Nigeria’s tough business terrain?
Never giving up, and remaining resilient in the face of the harsh business environment is the key. I refuse to be bothered by the things I cannot control. I refuse to be distracted. I refuse to be shaken.
The best way is never to be discouraged; no matter what challenges come your way, you must make sure that you go out of your way to solve them. Whatever you are doing, have an open mind to keep learning from others, by reading and going on short courses.
How did you handle some of the start-up challenges you experienced?
I didn’t experience too many challenges when starting up. I have been into business right from my youth, so when I wanted to start, I had already gained valuable business experience. Raising enough capital was a major issue but I always say to people, ‘start small and finish big’ and that is what I did. I raised a little capital and started. I’m doing very well in my business, and I have carved a niche for myself in the fashion industry.
Fashion business circle seems saturated with different brands and outlets. How do you fare with the legion other competing fashion brands?
True, the fashion industry may seem saturated, because there are countless fashion brands and boutiques at every nook and cranny. But I don’t see other fashion brands as my competitors. I don’t look at what they do or even bother about the move they make. I only compete against myself. I have carved a niche for myself, and I strive to outdo what I did yesterday.
Again, the fashion industry is big enough to accommodate everyone. Like a Yoruba proverb says that the sky is big enough to for every bird to fly without clashing on each other. So, to excel in fashion industry, you must stand out in what you offer in the market.
Where do you aspire to see Mobos Fashion in the long term?
I see Mobos Fashion owning her own brand and supporting young entrepreneurs/ women who are willing to make an impact in their generations and also to be number one fashion retail business in Nigeria, Africa and beyond.
What’s your to advice youths that aspire to be like you but complain to be hampered by lack of start-up capital?
It is not the lack of capital that hampers anyone from going into business; it is the lack of ideas. Ideas come first before money. It is your idea that makes the money for you. When you have a good business idea, God would provide the means for you to get funds to start up. Many times I come across youths that complain about money to start up but when you talk to them, you’ll find out that they don’t have any clear-cut idea of what to they really want to do or how to invest the money in any business. When you have all the start-up capital you need and you don’t have a good business idea, then you’re bound to fail. I virtually started Mobos Fashion with zero capital, all I had was an idea to start running a fashion business. Just like I said I started small and have continued to grow. Since then I have not looked back. So, I tell anyone that it is your idea that determines whether you’ll make it. And one way to get that good business idea is to key into your passion.
Source : SunOnline