Olatorera Oniru is an assiduous entrepreneur passionate about all things Africa. As CEO of Dressmeoutlet.com, she is currently leading initiatives to realize a pinnacle in Africa’s history whereby we would rely less on importation and innovate more with natural resources and citizenry capabilities. A member of The National Scholars Honor Society USA, Olatorera flourished her career working for two Fortune Top 5 companies namely Bank of America Merrill Lynch and General Electric. She also worked for one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies, Lars Magnus Ericsson, as a global consultant and later as Head of Sales Governance. During the course of her employed years, she traveled to over 50 cities in over 10 countries in 4 continents.
Olatorera loves to speak on change, entrepreneurship and development. She has been involved with many prestigious leadership events. Her passion includes Innovation, Poverty Alleviation, National Development, Good Governance, Happy People and her activities include spending time with her Husband and children.
From having an idea to starting your business, share your journey with us.
Dressmeoutlet.com is everything I’ve always wanted to do and a path I am thoroughly dedicated to. The ability to work behind the scenes and help people find and buy the products that help them look good and feel good means everything. Dressmeoutlet aggregates the best of designer products and negotiates the best possible prices to provide our customers the best selection of products to shop from. We are increasing the quantity of made-in-Africa products on our platform and currently have over 40% of products on Dressmeoutlet.com made-in-Africa.
Why do you love what you do? There are so many other businesses you could have explored, why this?
The mission and vision of Dressmeoutlet.com is bigger than what people see. Behind the scenes, we are working triple hard to grow the economy (grow the naira), to provide jobs, to create visibility for the hard work of the creative industry, to increase awareness for made-in-Africa quality products, to introduce healthier and organic beauty products into the market and above all, to help our customers find the products that suits their style and needs on Dressmeoutlet.com. Happy customers drive our business at Dressmeoutlet.com. Helping people look good and feel good makes life more enjoyable. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing. I’m loving the business, I’m loving the challenges, I’m loving Dressmeoutlet.com.
As a small business owner you can’t do everything, what has been your experience hiring staff and building your team.
Building the right team matters greatly. The wrong people can pull a company backwards just as the right team can pull a company forward significantly. At Dressmeoutlet.com, I have learnt to hire right, train hard and give very limited chances. As Dressmeoutlet.com is growing to be a foremost fashion retailer in Africa, our employees simply have to be the very best. Either from their educational background, their work experiences or they must be extremely sharp and fast-learners with the zealousness to work hard and strive to be greater. I tell my employees “I want you to be greater than me and yes you can.” We have a great team at Dressmeoutlet.com and are constantly looking to hire the smartest graduates with work experience of 3 years or less.
Your greatest skill/strengths that have been particularly been of help in starting and running your business?
I would say my years of work experience globally has been most helpful in helping me structure and startup Dressmeoutlet.com. From my days at General Electric, to Bank of America Merrill Lynch to Lars Magnus Ericsson, today, I am using the network acquired, knowledge gained, strategies learnt and wisdom accumulated, to grow Dressmeoutlet.com.
Did you have to get a formal training or qualification to be able to do this?
I have an MBA from Emory University USA and I can say definitely that the Negotiations, Entrepreneurship and Accounting courses I underwent are proving very instrumental in my leadership journey at Dressmeoutlet.com. It also helps that I have held several leadership positions over the past 10 years from being President of the Association of African Students at NC A&T State University to being Founder of the Network of African Professionals in New York to being a Board of Director member of CASA-NY and many others. Young experiences, especially voluntary, which we do out of passion, really truly help drive our strengths in future.
You have been running your business for some time now, what do you know now that you wished you had known before you started?
Well, we learn every day. And I’m growing every day. And I’m embracing the successes, challenges and lessons learnt of each and every day. I’m not sure I can single out anything I wish I had known before I started the business as learning for me is a massive part of the journey. I’m learning every second of every day and there never will be a day when I know it all. As knowledge comes, I embrace it and utilize it.
Any life experience that has particularly prepared you directly or indirectly for what you do now?
A number of my life experiences have prepared me for what I am doing now specifically my formal education and work experiences. I’d summarize one. During my undergraduate days, I was awake round the clock for an entire week until I realized I had to give something up. I took on 3 part-time jobs, was tutoring on campus in addition to attending classes full-time. In between doing homework, being president of clubs, tutoring and working 3 jobs inclusive of an 8-hours overnight job, my entire day round the clock was fully and 100% scheduled. I wasn’t able to sleep. I eventually had to give up my night job after a week just so I could catch some sleep. It was a tough decision as the night job as an overnight stock replenisher for Kohl’s corporation was well-paid, enjoyable and I was learning the backend of a retail giant. Though only one week, today I am using knowledge on inventory keeping, stocking, tagging and pricing I learnt at Kohl’s, to grow Dressmeoutlet.com. It was an experience I am happy I underwent as I am utilizing all knowledge gained and if I could, I will do it all over again.
Change can bring out a part of us we never knew existed, what new things have you discovered about yourself in the course of starting and running your business
In the course of starting and running Dressmeoutlet.com, I think I can fairly say I have changed a bit. I have had to embrace leadership a bit more strongly. I have become a bit firmer. I still am the people person I’ve always been but I’ve learnt to lead assertively to get good results. I’ve also realized that I can be a workaholic but family comes first. My family is everything to me and so lately I have had to literarily structure out my work-life balance. My life is currently very scheduled. I do most of my independent work between the hours of 10am and 5am when most people are sleeping and I love it. I get so much done and I can structure my day hours meetings and family care. Who needs sleep in a country with 65% poverty rate? That question alone motivates me. There’s a lot to be done and a long road ahead.
What do you think are the most essential skills for women entrepreneurs especially in Nigeria?
The drive to succeed, the passion for change, the desire for excellence. Women entrepreneurs must tie their passion into economic prosperity. They must be passionate about people and the problem they are helping people solve. It must be about people, about life, about your customers. All else will follow. In terms of technical skills, you can learn on the internet, you can hire people to assist, you can havementors. It is dire to ensure that your company’s financials, operations and marketing are well planned out.