Everything about Arinola Adeleke speaks of passion, innovation and high energy. She became an entrepreneur by circumstance. Yet, her watchword is to give the best to any client who comes her way. She is on her way to holding two degrees in Political Science. She had her first degree from the Osun State University. She is on her second degree at the University of Ilorin. She would like to carve a career for herself in the diplomatic world. In the third of our My Business and I series, the AC team spoke to this delectable lady entrepreneur. Here are the excerpts
AC: Can we meet you please?
AA: My name is Arinola Adeleke, the Team lead of Think&Ink Incorporation.
AC: What is the passion behind your business idea?
AA: Creativity and Innovation. I am an entrepreneur by circumstance (laughs). I used to believe business is not my thing. This orientation has led to the collapse of my previous businesses because I gave them up easily. So, creativity and innovation led me to create RubybyRukky, a perfumery company, where we mix different natural notes to make scents. We produced different oil perfume, Eau De cologne, and a host of others. But, low patronage led to the shutdown. I switched to fashion, and the birth of Ariny_Couture was a good start. I’d thought It would fly because we sow creatively. I would travel to Lagos to source for fabrics even when there are shirt materials here (in Osogbo). After sowing, I would take the shirts to the Laundromat for laundry and good packaging. This process cost me a lot. Innovation pushed me to give my clients TM Lewin, Dolce Gabbana standard in exchange with cut/sow price. It was a moving business but the profit margin was low. We would recall that profit is essential in a business. it is like a driving force but when it is low, as a business person, your morale and productivity will reduce. Once the profit was low, I was spread thin with stress and I had to halt our production. It is this same creativity and Innovation that pushed me to start a new Printing and Branding business, and to the glory of God, we are doing exceedingly well in this business, compared to the previous ones.
AC: How did you start it?
AA: I was planning to reinvest in the fashion business, but I wanted it in a unique form that will include customizing the outfit we produce. On a blue day, I was having a conversation with my friend Prince Ayomide Adeshina and he suggested that I should give the general printing business a shot since it is also affiliated with clothing. It was he who introduced me to his brother Aliminco who was already in the business for almost two decades. He would later teach and mentor me, the rest, as they say, is history
AC: Is it true that Osun does not have a conducive environment for business?
AA: Far from the truth. I wrote on Facebook this week that despite the poverty index attributed to the state, maybe due to the economy of the country or the lack of industries that would solve the prevalent unemployment issue, the truth is that Osun state still offers opportunities to people who choose to see the glass half full instead of half empty. I am a testament to the greatest from the Osun business scene. In less than a year, my business has grown beyond my expectation and I have recounted success stories.
AC: What are the challenges for you as an entrepreneur?
AA: For me as an entrepreneur and in my industry, I want to reach a wider audience. I want to gather more target client, because myself and my team have so much to offer them. I still have financial hindrances because the printing business is a capital intensive one. I have exhausted about six figures to get four tools yet they are not heavy-duty machines. One of my mentors in the industry, KAO Concept, would say “every beautiful design with poor printing makes a great effort looks bad” and he’s right. How do we achieve excellent outcomes if we don’t have access to great technology? How do we innovate (which is my focus) if we don’t invest in recent printing softwares so we can compete with the giants in the field across the globe? It may seem like a tall dream though, but these are my hindrances.
AC: What opportunities are there for entrepreneurs in the state and Nigeria?
AA: Once you’re able to think out of the box, you will find opportunities staring at you. I mean thousands of opportunities. For instance, despite the immense migration of people from Nigeria that occurs this year, Nigeria still has that large population. My resolve is that, anywhere there’s large population, there’s already a big marketplace. How to play your role is to know what to sell and to provide solutions through what you sell. When the opportunity to sell presents itself, the next thing is to maximize the opportunity by delivering excellently as a job well done can bring tens of referrals. It is working for me, In a short while, we have shipped our products to the United Kingdom twice, and we’ve sent branded items to Canada and to the USA. Social media also has served as a mechanism of connection. We’ve worked with the private industries. We branded a bank’s official outfit. We’ve worked with SMEs, campaign groups and individuals. Currently, we are working on a school sport wears in a large quantity. So, yes, there are large opportunities begging to be explored.
AC: Where do you see the business in the next five years?
AA: (Laughs) May God make it an easy affair. I see us owning one of the biggest printing press companies in the state. We are planning to infuse some innovations that would distinguish us and place us where we want to belong.
AC: Your advice for upcoming entrepreneurs?
AA:Well, take for instance, today is like another day in the life of an entrepreneur. I woke up worried, I have clients to please even though it is difficult to please human beings. Although, this is weekend, I am meant to be resting, I still have some jobs to fix. Entrepreneurship is not an easy task, you need resilience, accountability, integrity and patience. If you do it well, it is rewarding. Your work will sponsor your comfort but you must be disciplined with your finances. Pls, handle your business like it is a legacy to live for.
AC: Thank you for your time
AA: Thank you for having me