by Andromeda Raheem
God bless the woman with ambition and the desire to improve the world around her. Lola Ogunleye is that woman. While many sit around complaining about the changes they want to see, Lola became the change she wanted to see when she saw that many talented African designers were being underrated and experiencing difficulty breaking into the fashion industry. After taking the time to interview Lola, I learned that this is one courageous woman who is fueled by her determination to uplift others and help them win through the Kairo Shoppers Network. Though she has experienced lack of support herself, she selflessly continues moving forward to fulfill her mission of helping African designers gain more visibility and earn more money. If you’re looking for some motivation and inspiration, take notes from this phenomenal woman.
Who is Lola Ogunleye?
Lola O is a lady after God’s own heart, a lady of style, class and fashion, a lady who strives to see people succeed and who empowers women. Lola O is a lady who is ambitious, focused, and passionately driven for fashion. I must admit, I am a foodie too!
What is one thing that few people know about you?
This area stems from my passion for success… basically I get discouraged and dismayed by many things, but I’m driven by my faith in God and my desire to succeed. Often I appear stronger than I really am because I have to stay focused. My faith in God, desire and passion to motivate keep me afloat.
When did you realize that you have a passion for fashion?
(Smiling) Basically fashion has also been my “thing”! I discovered my love for fashion at a very young age, during my pre-teens. I used to put on my mom’s clothes, shoes, and sun glasses and walk around the house. You know how kids are when they are excited about things to play with.
What was the driving force behind your decision to start Kairos Shoppers?
So many stores did not accept my designs and I noticed that they like to associate with well-established household names of celebrities and designs from people with whom they were familiar. I wanted to create a platform to help empower emerging designers; those who don’t have the access that celebrities have, those who need a platform to showcase their talents and gifts in the fashion industry to be viewed globally. Everyone deserves a chance and an opportunity.
What kind of women are you seeking to join the Kairos Shoppers?
KSN is designed for both designers to exhibit items and for customers to purchase them. My target audience is between the ages of 19 and 45. These are women who want to be classic, outgoing, and who like to dress down (or up)… those who love to look clean and presentable. She could be a mom or a career woman who wishes to remain stylish and vibrant.
What are the benefits of joining the network?
VISIBILITY; your business gets more visibility globally. I have designers from Africa and their products could be sold in the United State market and move to other countries like South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana.
What is your ultimate goal for Kairos Shoppers ( KSN)?
My ultimate goal for KSN is to become a household name, known worldwide for its quality service and meeting our esteemed customers’ needs. KSN is a platform destined to grow beyond the shores of the United States into Africa as a whole.
Why is supporting other women in fashion and in business important to you?
It is important to me because I am in the fashion industry and have worked in New York City. There are a lot of African designers who have talent and are able to create beauty. These people don’t have jobs, so we want to exhibit their designs. These people concern me and I will find a way to assist in creating visibility for their products and help them to become entrepreneurs so that they are able to support their families and be what they want to be. Africa has talent.
What kinds of obstacles have you faced as Founder of this organization and marketplace and what motivated you to keep going despite them?
SUPPORT; a lot of people are not very supportive nor do they help to develop and assist in achieving my desired goal. The environment doesn’t encourage the movement of Pan-African products into the United States. People tend to withdraw when you have a new business and gaining support from the community at times is a challenge. Most communities don’t celebrate each other’s talents, but I thank God I have been able to break through this by being consistent and persistent in what I believe in.
What is your unique message to the world?
Trust God, don’t give up, let your faith be strong, be persistent and consistent.
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