Paris Ado Sanusi who holds a B.Sc. in Business Administration from Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) and also a Masters Degree in Public and International Affairs from the University of Lagos is the Chief Executive Officer, Olalee World. In this interview with SEGUN KASALI, the Fashionpreneur speaks about her business and how she has been combining her career with the home front.
Are you doing what you studied in school now? If no, why?
I am putting to practice what I studied in school. Yes, I am in the fashion industry, I read Business Administration and Public and International Affairs and I am applying the principles of all I learnt in school to grow my business, Olalee World. I actually do not believe that people study a particular discipline and end up not using it, on the contrary. Whatever one studies comes in handy one way or another no matter their field of endeavour. So, no education is useless. Even if one studies Medicine and Surgery and ends up in the music industry, the medical background will always reflect in that individual’s music. Such a musician’s works will have a more therapeutic effect on the listeners because the musician is trained to treat the sick. But this time, the therapy is for the souls and minds of discerning listeners. In time, they get healed and become hale and happy.
You are so prominent in the fashion world. Why fashion, ma?
I don’t know about prominent, because I can tell you I am still far from my vision for the business, but surely we will get there in no time by the grace of God. So you can compare me to a long distance runner. You don’t expect the runner to start celebrating midway through the race; instead the athlete will save the celebration until victory is attained. And to your second question, I started a fashion house because I just love to be pleasantly different, unique if you prefer the word. I am endowed with an extremely creative mind; hence I like to create my own things: I do my gardening and landscaping myself. I don’t mind getting my hands dirty in the process just so I can make it a bit different from the regular. The same thing with my hair, my food, etc. So, this innate creative instinct led me to start making my own clothes and shoes. But, as the saying goes a goldfish has no hiding place. Family and friends flocked to me always asking for ideas on what to wear or how to make their clothes, which perfume to wear, how to combine two or three perfumes to get a unique and pleasant scent or even how to do their interior décor. The smiles of satisfaction on the faces of family and friends warmed my heart. But, after doing it for free for a long time, I decided it was time to get more than smiles of satisfaction from my creativity; it was time to make money out of it and boom we started. We design clothes, shoes, handbags and perfumes. And by the way I have not selfishly monetised all my skills. I still do interior decoration and gardening for free.
How do you handle home front and business?
I am feminine and as a feminist who believes in equality. So, the home front does well when both parents join hands together to make it work. I can gladly tell you that I am blessed with a loving husband. Not only is he loving and caring, but most importantly, he has a very strong feminist view. He believes in justice and equality more than I do. You will agree that I am one of the very few women who are so blessed. You can compare me to a footballer who plays alongside extremely talented teammates in every position. You understand how easy that will be, don’t you? So my husband and I help each other at the home front and in our businesses, as a result, everything runs smoothly.
Your greatest feat in this industry as a woman?
I really do not see any difference arising from gender when it comes to fashion. We are all gifted in different beautiful ways; it doesn’t matter if the creativity is coming from a woman or a man, as long as it is beautiful which in most cases it is. For example if I make a mess of your job, will you accept an excuse as flimsy as: ‘you know I’m a woman? Of course not! So I dream to be a great perfumer and for now my feat is creating an Olalee perfume line, with satisfied customers within and outside the country. My team and I are designing new fragrances, about five more lines, and I’m excited and looking forward to launching it.
What is your advice to fellow women on combining both home front and their job duties?
No wonder they say old habits die hard. So, my advice is for everyone in the industry: men and women; remember that it is okay to be skeptical at times. But most times, be optimistic and daring because when it comes to creativity, there are no limits or boundaries. There are no mistakes in fashion, once you make a mistake turn it into a new style and develop it well. On the home front, make sure you engage your family as a whole, give your kids the chance to do some chores and learn. Allow your spouse to help you and always appreciate the help received. Be nice to yourself and everyone around you. Work as a team with your family and always be thankful.
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