Allure Cover: Meet The Fabrics Merchant – Abisola Adebanjo
By Yemisi Suleiman
Abisola Adebanjo – Exclusivity in Designs
Abisola Adebanjo, CEO and founder of Ona Fabrics, is a product of the University of Lagos, and University of Bradford School of Management, London, where she studied Business Administration and International Business and Management respectively.
She had previously worked in the banking, telecoms and oil and gas service sector before delving into the fabric business when she started growing a family.
The Ona Brand is renowned for providing for today’s woman, the most exclusive, exotic and timeless fabrics for their clients both in and outside Nigeria.
How would you describe the evolution of your brand from when you started till date?
It has been quite an interesting and challenging journey of the good, and the not so good, but with God and support from Family and Clients, we have been able to sail farther than we thought.
We are grateful to God for growth thus far, we are still in the growth process, and we are learning as each day evolves.
With the ban on importation of some fabrics, how have you managed to stay above board over the years?
Our imported products are within regulations, thoroughly cleared by the Nigerian customs. However, increased duty remains an unfavourable element as it influences the upward price of fabrics.
If you have to advise the government on ways to improve or develop a viable textile industry in Nigeria, what would you say?
There are quite a lot that can be done in providing an enabling environment for the textile industry to thrive; from the provision of critical infrastructure such as uninterrupted power supply, low tariffs, good transport system, as well as access to funding, financial spurs and flexible industrial and entrepreneurial loans.
This will go a long way in reducing the cost of materials and production: as such, running cost is thus reduced, and profit can be maximized. Globally, the textile industry remains a driver of growth and employment.
What stands your brand out from the rest?
Our bespoke approach, quality of our products, exclusivity of our designs and impeccable customer service stands us out. Every single customer is important to us.
What is the biggest lesson that you have learned since you started your company?
I am still learning every day.
When you are not busy, how do you relax?
I sleep or I watch television.
What is the best advice you have received as an entrepreneur?
Best advice I have received is to always pay attention to every detail through the value chain, not to compromise my vision for my business, as well as staying focused on set goals. Also, staying prayerful and always giving thanks for the little and big successes.
What are the challenges encountered as a fabric merchant in Nigeria?
There is the problem of high operating environment due to lack of steady power, unstable and high FX exchange rates and a highly saturated market.
How would you describe your style?
I’m a simple dresser. I love my tops, jeans, jeggings and kaftans. When it’s time to step out for functions, I clean up nicely.
How does being a fashion Entrepreneur influence your style?
Seeing most of our beautiful and exquisite pieces always inspire me. I love to play with fabrics, texture and colours to achieve different styles.
Where is your best holiday spot?
I would say Dubai, U.A.E.
What would you say is the best lesson life has taught you?
Staying Humble is very important.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs who look up to you?
I will advise them to never be scared of starting on a small scale. Whatever you are going to become, you are already becoming. As such, be persistent, focused, and prudent. Keep reinvesting in your business and self, and stay positive. Above all, put God first in your business.