Oye Atilade is the founder of Adunni Designs, an African accessories line she began two years ago. The name Adunni is from her oriki, which in Yoruba custom is one of the three names given to a child. An oriki is a child’s destiny name and her oriki, Adunni, means “it is good to have.”
Atilade started out her career as a software developer and has worked in the finance industry for companies like Morgan Stanley. She is currently a technology program manager, but says that she has always been very creative and appreciates originality. She “loves everything African” and came up with the idea of aso oke handbags. This idea has grown into her own accessories line and serves as an outlet for her creativity. She chose the aso oke fabric because of its richness and varied, yet understated, patterns amongst other African fabrics. Its vibrant colors and elegant patterns inspire her designs.
The response to her line has been positive both in the U.S. and Nigeria. She has an online boutique and is also carried by stores in Nigeria. An initial challenge was honing in on how to differentiate the marketing strategies for the American versus the Nigerian consumer. She remarks that the markets are quite different and so she had to tweak her approach to each consumer.
In building Adunni Designs from the ground up, Atilade has learned that “what you know is either wrong or not enough.” She says it is important to remember that you will make mistakes and have a lot of learning to do, but it is important to stand your ground and not let anyone stop you from achieving. She notes that being open to peoples’ input is important, but at the end of the day, “you need to do what you want.” Her advice is to be confident, patient, and always persevere, but most importantly to have fun. “Have a long-term vision and dream big because you are never happier than when you are doing what you want to do.”
As her line grows, Atilade would eventually like to expand to clothing and even have her own boutique. In keeping with her brand values, she plans to keep her aesthetic fresh, unique, and original. She believes that the success of her line is in being known for a small range of classic and unique quality pieces.
For more information on Adunni Designs, click here.