Adenike Ogunlesi is a Nigerian fashion entrepreneur, a leading designer, manufacturer, and retailer of designer children’s clothing. She is a force to reckon with in the children’s fashion industry in west Africa. Adenike Ogunlesi is the proud founder and creative director of Ruff ‘n’ Tumble, one of the best manufacturers of children’s clothing in Nigeria. Nike is one of those entrepreneurs whose success story brings hope and encouragement to young Nigerians and Africa as a whole.
Adenike Ogunlesi Biography
Adenike Ogunlesi was born by a Scottish mother on July 14th, 1959. She grew up in a polygamous home in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State. Her father was a medical doctor while her mother, Elizabeth Okuboyejo was a fashion entrepreneur.
Nike had her secondary school education in Ibadan, Oyo State before proceeding to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria to study law. While in her second year, she opted-out of school because she realised Law was not for her and later joined her mum in her small tailoring business. Of course Adenike had undergone some executive training courses at Lagos Business School.
She is married to Adegbola Ogunlesi, an industrialist in the beauty industry and co-founder of men’s fashion label, Sofisticat. They are blessed with three children. One of her children, Adey Ogunlesi is a Nigerian music producer and singer.
Entrepreneurial Journey of Adenike Ogunlesi
Nike was confused on what to do with her life after she opted out of school in her second year but was convinced by her mother to work with her. At the time, her mother owned a growing fashion label, Betti O. Betti O is famous for designing clothes with local fabric, Adire for both men and women.
While at Betti O, they introduced colorful dyeing patterns which can be used for different designs by fashion-conscious people and early adopters. Some months into it, Nike discovered that she enjoyed what she was doing and worked with her mother until she got married. After getting married with kids, she decided to be a stay-at-home mom to spend time with her children.
Though, Nike was an experienced dressmaker thought by her mother, her inspiration for making children’s clothing came as a result of necessity for her kids. The idea was conceived when she sought new pajamas for her kids and found none. She then made pajamas for her children which was loved by family and friends. Family and friends patronised her and she was encouraged to manufacture more for other children by her husband. That was the beginning of what is now an instantly recognisable brand.
Adenike Ogunlesi studied the Nigerian local market for children’s ready made clothes and discovered that children’s clothing was either poorly made or imported and extremely expensive. She saw an opportunity and founded Ruff ‘n’ Tumble, a clothing brand that specialises in children’s apparel, in 1996.
The Expansion of Ruff ‘n’ Tumble
True entrepreneurs always have humble beginnings. When Adenike Ogunlesi started, she used to sell the clothes from the boot of her car, at bazaars, local markets and was always quick to show her designs to people. Sales increased consistently and as a result, she expanded by hiring more tailors to meet the increasing demand.
Afterward, she opened her flagship store at Ikeja GRA in 2000 and enrolled in Lagos Business School to enhance her business knowledge.
Today, Nike has grown her clothing line into a national brand that is highly respected and recognised on the instant. Her company is one of the most successful and innovative children’s clothing company in Nigeria.
Ruff ‘n’ Tumble presently operates a warehouse, a factory and has many retail outlets in major cities in Nigeria as well as several distributors around the West African Coast. The retail outlets cities in Nigeria are Lagos, Ibadan, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Ilorin and Kano.
Adenike Ogunlesi widened her revenue model with the introduction of newer brands, Trendsetters, and NaijaBoysz. These brands were introduced to cater to the unique fashion sense of today’s young adults.
Boards where Adenike Ogunlesi Serves
Adenike Ogunlesi was appointed as a non-executive Director at Lafarge Africa PLC on 11th of March, 2015. She is also an advisory board member of Enterprise Development Centre (EDC) at Lagos Business School and Women in Successful Career (WISCAR).
Adenike Ogunlesi is a founding member and first president of the Network of Entrepreneurial Women (NNEW) at the Nigeria Employer’s Consultative Association (NECA).
Nike mentors aspiring entrepreneurs at FATE Foundation, Women in Successful Career (WISCAR) and MARA Foundation. She is the coordinator of the Marriage and Family Life unit at the Catholic church of presentation.
Adenike Ogunlesi founded Betti- O foundation; Betti- O School Fashion in memory of her late mother, Betti Okuboyebo. The foundation is a non-profit organisation aimed to train young individuals in the art of fashion design, soft skills and entrepreneurial skills. Betti-O foundation is an affiliate of Ruff ‘n’ Tumble.
Betti-O foundation has empowered many Nigerian women to make something out of nothing and start their entrepreneurial journey with as little funds as they can afford.
Early this year, they partnered with Lagos State Ministry for Wealth Creation and Employment to train 50 youths in fashion designing and garment making for 6 months.
She also founded ‘I Share Cuz I Care’ foundation in 2014. The non-governmental organisation educates and empowers children. They also promote empathy and improves access to quality education especially for children living on the street and orphans. One of their projects is donating white boards to public schools.
I Share Cuz I Care has carried out various events to nurture Nigerian children with themes such as Dress a Child, Love Lives Here and Feed a Child.
Recognition and Awards
- Female Achiever in Children’s Fashion at City People Awards 2001
- Fate Model Entrepreneur Award at the FATE Foundation 2005
- Female Game Changer in Children’s Fashion at the Glam Awards 2014
- Creativity and Excellence at Nigeria Entrepreneur Awards 2014
- Diamond Woman at Diamond Band Awards 2014
- Business Woman of the Year at CNBC Africa 2014
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