Eniola Iwalaiye is one of the top celebrity designer in Ogun State who is also into Fabric embellishments, she started with a unisex boutique on Oke Ilewo Bank road in Abeokuta many years ago and her outfit is popularly known as Dresswyse Boutique, but she took a break few years ago to come back with a fabric embellishments and styling brand. Today her brand designs for top politicians and celebrities in and outside Ogun State. In this interview with Bunmi Mustapha, Eniola opens up on her journey into the fashion business and the challenges that comes with it.
Q – For the benefit of our readers who will be reading about you for the first time, can you tell us about yourself?
A – I am Eniola Iwalaiye, I was born over four decades ago in Ilesha Osun state to the family of Chief and late Mrs Darby Olajuyigbe, my dad was an auto tyre and commercial poultry merchant with customer networks through various part of Nigeria. I am
from a polygamous home with a well cultured parent who brought us up in the way of the Lord. I have three brothers and three sisters from my mum of blessed memory. We are closely knitted. I had my elementary and secondary education in Ilesha proceeded to Ibadan Oyo state and Ilorin Kwara state for my tertiary education I graduated in the year 2002 with the zeal and accruement for business acquired for my father as a teenager I started trading business over two decades ago and created Dresswyse, a company involved in production and sales of unisex outfit with customers in Nigeria, united states, Canada and UK. I am happily married to Olufemi Iwalaiye a telecommunication professional and blessed with a son.
Q – How did fashion business started for you?
A – Like I said early on , it runs in the family right from my teenage years, i have watched my dad rocked good clothes and my mom was super fashionable with that, I am a woman breed of fashion. My style confidence I drive to my life. My journey to the fashion industry is an act of God and I bless the almighty God who gave me the vision and enablement to project into the industry.
Q – So you started by owing a boutique?
A – I started with a boutique. it was a boutique with both English and traditional wears. Then i ran a boutique in Abeokuta for like 10years and closed it for a while for personal reasons but now we mostly into fabric embellishing, the boutique is coming back to town in a big way soon though.
Q – But now you are not running the boutique but styling and designing?
A – Yes
Q – Can you tell us about your fashion and embellishing brand?
A – As a fashion designer, creativity is our watchword, adjusting to emerging trends is always our top priority in our quest to satisfy our esteemed customer. We are into designing, selling of unisex fabrics and then I will say when we talk about fabrics, it involves Aso Oke as well so I do traditional and English. For traditional we deal more with bridals and for all other occasions and we are the best when it comes to embellishment. And our customers are people with good taste and class.
Q – What was the competition like when you were in the boutique business?
A – It was not that bad but then i am not the outdoor type but still my designs are the best and when I came into Abeokuta i started business many years before my relocation to Abeokuta but I thank God and appreciate the entire people of Abeokuta and Ogun state in general for their support and immeasurable patronage which has gone a long way in nurturing the business to the point where it is today.
Q – How is the Aso Oke business doing, how are the people of Abeokuta embracing the Aso Oke and stoning of fabrics and embellishment in general?
A – They are not doing badly but I have my client all over and I mean all over Nigeria and abroad. Abeokuta people are not doing badly that I appreciate.
Q – Before you went into fashion business what were you doing?
A – I started actually with fashion. It has been fashion all the way. It started like a hobby. When you grow with something you stick to it. . But later graduated into a career you know fashion is a makeover. Color sense and what you adore yourself with. Fashion is a source of looking better and attractive. Now it is giving me money. I bless God for that.
Q – So where do you see dresswyse in 5years
A- I believe God for expansion.
Q – What will you say is your challenge in the fashion business?
A – Actually it’s not an easy thing we started small but now everything is becoming competition here and there. But still we are standing. But the challenges here we try to satisfy our customer, I won’t call some difficult but I will say God has been wonderful. Every challenge that comes with the business we overcome with the help of God. The journey is not that rough but God is our pillar.
I believe the fashion industry is big enough to accommodate everybody. When you have passion for something other people does as well so in a nutshell I will say fashion industry is big enough to accommodate all the people that have passion for it. There is no need for anyone to be undermined all because you are in the same line of business. Competition is good for the industry because all stakeholders will be on their toes and attempt to showcase what they have in store. Before us there are people in the industry who are doing fantastic and we later joined. We joined the industry to contribute our own quota and we are not doing badly and many are still coming behind us with great ideas so I think competition is good for the industry.
Q – With your busy schedule and everything how do you combine your business with marriage?
A – Marriages come with ups and down but I bless God because He has been so faithful for the journey so far. It’s been 19 years already but I thank God for my husband for his understanding and support over the years. He is not a kind of husband that will see me working and be demanding at the same time. He will not and i will want to chip in this, it’s good to depend on a man and at the same time you should be independent as a woman. So he does not hassle me when I’m working but at the same time I still give my own quota to the relationship so it will be balanced. So I’ve ensured that home front is not neglected while doing my daily business.
Q – How do you relax?
A – I don’t work alone. With the workload I still find time to unwind and I listen to good music. I party once in a while, I go on vacation, I read, I watch movies, I go to the spa for massage and sometimes I run my mouth with my good friend and that’s the mood of relaxation for me. I have Dr Stella Ogunmuyiwa, my big sister Mrs Adelusi, and other ones I have younger ones I have Mrs Funke Olumiluwa, I have the likes and I have my cousin Bukky Hassan.
Q – What is it like designing clothes for celebrities and politicians in Ogun State?
A – I design for all categories of customers not only celebrities and politicians both home and abroad. It has always been a pleasant experience with my customers.
Q – What is fashion to you?
A – Fashion enhances human life because it helps to maintain positive self esteem and serve as a form of entertainment. Fashion reflects every culture in the world. Fashion is self expression, self empowerment and confidence.
Q – How long did you stay in USA before relocating?
A – This is a big one because I’ve been in America since my twenties. I won’t say I’ve moved final because I still go and come back and still we are doing business here and abroad.
Q – Who are those that really make impact in your life?
A – God is number one, then my husband, He has also used my Elder brother Dr Olukayode Olagunju to channel a good course of life for me. Consequently I want to also acknowledge the motherly role of Chief Mrs Aduke Oyewunmi while growing up. She impacted to so much discipline and also cared for me so much which I would forever be grateful.