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Fashion Phoenix - Here's How Omotola Bakare, Of The Tola Bakare Brand Balanced School Life With Running a Fashion Business

July 01, 2020 | by bolu | 10 Comments

Many times, fashion designers go into the fashion industry not as a main job, but instead as a side hustle. Because many factors, such as the business aspect of running a fashion designing business, strategic plans, as well as financial goals, are not considered at first, they could lead to the failure of the business.

This is not surprising however because statistics show that 80% of new businesses fail within the initial 3 years of starting. It is also harder when business owners have to run a 9-5 job or attend classes regularly and run a business too. Omotola Bakare, a recent graduate, shared the challenges and struggles that came with running a fashion brand in the university.

Omotola Bakare is the founder and creative director of a brand that puts out designs and styles for strong, classy, and confident individuals, Tola Bakare. The fashion brand designs stunning wears for females, ranging from dresses to skirts, tops, and jumpsuits. 

How Was The Tola Bakare Brand Born? 

As a physiotherapy student at the University of Ibadan, Omotola Bakare started her brand from the intense need to have an extra source of income. Most people these days venture into side hustles, as a means to pass time and also to pursue what they are most interested in while making money from it, the same goes for Omotola.

But asides from the income-driven need to start a fashion business, she had also found fashion designing intriguing and fascinating. And like she shared,

"The fact that fashion designing is not a one-way thing and you can choose to do it in your own way was a motivation."

It's great to have a side hustle that churns out extra income for the business owner, as well as developing skills, but it comes with certain challenges.

Here are some of the challenges Omotola Bakare has faced in her journey of building a world-class brand, and how she has been able to work past them.

Challenges Faced In The Tola Bakare Journey 

As a student fashion designer that Omotola was, she had to attend to customer's needs at whatever time was convenient for them, sometimes at the expense of school activities.

"One of my market strategies was attending to customers at their convenience, even though it may not be convenient for me, as it tended to clash with impromptu school activities." - Omotola Bakare

This affected sales as she lost several customers because of limited time, which affected delivery time and customer service generally.  

Funds were another challenge Omotola faced because she didn't have the adequate financial resources to put up a structure that would have helped her as a fashion designer, and the overall outlook of her brand.

Another thing that affected the brand was a lack of specialization. According to Omotola, as a young fashion designer, she wished she has focused more on the needs of her target market and created a niche, instead of trying to take up everything. This is one of the challenges many fashion designers face today, as it also affected Atinuke Awobode in building the DressMyCloset brand.

However, facing challenges in a business should not mean the end of that business. As business owners, it is necessary to have the proper skills that would equip you to know how to work around these challenges and make your brand thrive.

Just like Temitayo Balogun of May Coutures shared on how low capital affected her brand in the beginning, she was able to correct this by learning the basics of business management, staying consistent, and so much more. 

In that light also, here are some things that have kept the Tola Bakare brand moving forward.

Resilience and Determination:

With so many challenges and pressure from school, Omotola could have easily given in to the pressure and shut down her brand, but she did not do that. She did not let the pressure get to her, instead, she found a work-school balance, and she was able to make It work without her grades suffering.

Inspiration From Like-Minded Individuals:

Surrounding yourself, as a business owner, with like-minded individuals, professionals, and people that inspire you and support you goes a long way in building a world-class brand. Omotola Bakare, with the clear cut vision she had for her brand, had a good support system and inspiration from other designers.


Attending competitions just like the Fashion Finest Africa, FFA competition in which she registered for has been able to create awareness for her brand, especially for her target market even though it was not easy. Competitions like this, offer winners an opportunity to be mentored by professionals in the industry as well as supporting the brand in monetary terms.

"For my brand, I knew I had to go out of my way to take up challenges like participating in the FFA competition and take risky decisions. Overall though, those risky decisions have helped with the overall outlook of the brand, especially my online presence." - Omotola Bakare

Words Of Wisdom 

Considering the years of experience Omotola Bakare has had in the fashion industry, she emplores fashion designers to be open to learning because it never stops, and to be humble enough to take up challenges and collaborations.

"Before you start a fashion business, be sure fashion designing is really what you want to do because there are challenges that will come and only your passion will keep you going."

For more gems on how to effectively manage your brand, click here.


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