Founder of OYATO Design + Artistry, ODUNAYO ADE, shares her experience as an entrepreneur in the fashion industry
I have known Odun for over 7 years. I first met her at a cultural festival in Baltimore, MD while I was in high school. We were booth vendors at this event. I was selling my jewelry and she had a booth displaying her clothing designs and her pieces were featured on the outdoor runway in the middle of park. She even purchased a pair of beaded earrings from me that day. Since then, I’ve always looked up to her as a role model in the fashion industry. Odun is woman who takes her craft seriously and passionate about her work. Yes, not only is she an AMAZING fashion designer, but she also does breathtaking make-up along with her team at OYATO Artisty (a woman of many talents I must say). I hope you enjoy my brief, but inspiring interview with her.
What is your backstory ?
Well, I’m a New York native born of Nigerian parents with a huge family! I studied fine arts till I graduated high school and went on to major in Apparel Design at a local community college then International Trade & Marketing (a business major offered) at Fashion Institute of Technology. With little or no knowledge in business I started one. Initially, I started making clothes for just friends and family, soon enough, I became known as the girl that sews. OYATO had no name at the time but it was something I loved to do and it brought in money for me so I was content. Then the calls to do fashion showcases rolled in and that’s when I realized I needed to hone in on what I was doing. At 13, I knew I wanted to be a womenswear designer and after graduating with a degree in apparel design I realized that no one had to put a stamp on my forehead that read ‘designer’ for me to be identified as one. With that in mind, I starting branding and went back to school but to study marketing and business.
What is the inspiration behind OYATO and when did it happen?
Women. I remember discovering my mother’s photo album full of photos of her as a young woman and I absolutely fell in love with how confident she looked and at the same time demure in everything she wore. The femininity of a woman is thrilling to me because it’s not only about being coy and cute but all about being a plethora of things all at the same time with so much grace! In every collection I’ll forever celebrate that idea.
Why did you chose the name OYATO and what does it mean?
OYATO was a nickname and it simply means to stand out. I chose it because it described me and what I wanted to convey in my clothing. A different kind of fashion for that different kind of woman!
When starting a company, what is one thing you would tell those hoping to start a business to make sure they do?
Do your research and ask as many questions as possible! I had an issue with asking questions for fear that it may not be phrased right or rejected but I later realized that-this was the only way I was going to learn and be more knowledgeable on things.
What is a valuable lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
Discipline. As an entrepreneur, you are your own boss so you only answer to yourself, no one else. There is no external person giving your directions, that is you. I had to learn to treat this business as if it were a 9-5 job and discipline myself, manage my time better, set up meetings and meet deadlines and prep the week for whatever work needed to be done. It’s been rough but I’ve gotten so much better!
As an entrepreneur something you should never be afraid of?
Never be afraid to fail because not everything will work out the way you plan but still have the strength and willpower to push through anything that comes your way.
You can find more of about Oyato Designs and Artistry here!