At First, The Idea of Being a Cloth Weaver Wasn’t Welcomed by My Family – SME of The Month, February

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People don’t have to believe in your dreams before you step out from your comfort zone to get things Done! As a matter of fact, so many people, even your family members might discourage you and give you 1,000 and 1 reasons why your business idea will not work, but who them “epp” anyways.

Some years back Mark ZuckerbergFacebook founder invited couple of friends to share a business idea with, only 2 showed up and those 2 today are billionaires in dollars.

You really don’t need anyone’s approval to make your dream a reality, JUST BELIEVE IN YOU, that is all that matters and that can be seen in our dearest Adejoke Lasisi, our SME of the month of February 2017 right here on SME Digest! as she takes us through her business success story.

LET’s MEET ADEJOKE…

 


 

Can we meet you?

My name is Adejoke Lasisi, a native of Ibadan, Oyo state (ile- bada compound Oja-Oba, Ibadan Southwest). I was born at the Ijaye Dispensary 30 years ago.

Im an African Fabric Designer that specializes in weaving, warping and designing of African Fabrics to produce both traditional and modern wears including head gears, mufflers and several clothing variety. I transform yarns into beautiful clothing material that are inspired by the culture and heritage of Africa.

I am also the Founder and Creative Director of Jokelinks Weaving School and Asooke, a Company that specialises in training and hand-woven fabrics; produces clothing materials which promote African culture. However, Im an entrepreneur who brings concepts and ideas alive through the mastery of yarn, thread and loom. I utilize my creative skills and innovative ideas, and further enhance them not just only to contribute to my development as a person but for the development of my community as a whole.

Adejoke Lasisi – Founder Jokelinks

I also have a Bachelors degree in Economics from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria. Attending some leadership programs has helped me in acquiring some grants and expanding my knowledge in entrepreneurship. I am Africa’s Young Entrepreneurs Empowerment Nigeria (AYEEN) 2014 Business Grant Winner. I am also a 2016 Alumna of the Enterprise Development Center (EDC) Lagos/ Cherie Blair Foundation Road to Womens Business Growth in Nigeria, a pioneer Cohort member of the YALI Regional Leadership Center West Africa Accra, Ghana 2015, a recipient of the YALI SPIRIT AWARD at the YALI Regional Leadership Center West Africa Accra, Ghana in the Emerging Leaders Program Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), 2015, an alumna of the TOPAZ Management Simulation YALI West Africa RLC Strategy and Management Simulation Training 2015 and an alumna of the Methodist University College Ghana/ Handong Global University Korea Global Entrepreneurship Training (GET) 2014.

I am convinced that through the right attitude, fabric designers that specialize in the weaving, warping and knitting profession can help to disseminate new ideas and innovations into the society thereby reducing over-reliance on government and attaining independence.

I have also impacted the knowledge of Fabric Designs specifically teaching (weaving – asooke) in line with Oyo State government acquisition skills program for senior secondary schools.

I was also nominated as one of the JCI “ten outstanding young persons” 2016 in Nigeria on cultural category due to her great work in promoting cultural heritage.

Also recently just completed a certificate in entrepreneurial management sponsored by the WomenX World Bank scholarship program at Enterprise Development Centre, Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos.

I have spoken at various events such as Youthpreneur Business Summit, International Youth Week at American-Corner Ibadan, Secondary schools, Religious organizations and speaker at some other youth event in the community.

 

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Tell us about your Business, how you started and what inspired you to go in that line of business.

Asooke is a signature outfit in Africa!

Traditionally, African weaves are heavy and are not attractive in modern day fashion trend. Aside this, the designs are monotonous and cannot withstand the level of competition in todays world of varieties in fashion. Jokelinks after many years of studying trends and experimenting with patterns and designs came up with the innovation of finding a very rare type of thin, light and durable loom to weave thereby solving the problem of heaviness that was consistent with the traditional method. With this disruptive discovery, we have started a renaissance in the weaving division of the textile sector by our solution where the traditional blends with the conventional.

Joke on duty

This discovery, apart from revolutionizing the ways African attires like Etuu, Alaari, Sanyan etc are made. It also made possible the use of handlooms to make western apparels like suits, jackets, trousers, waistcoats, mufflers, shoes and bags.

Consequent upon our innovation, it became necessary to let other industry practitioners and weaving enthusiasts learn about it and so, the Jokelinks Weaving School was birthed. Contrary to opinions in some quarters that opening the school is tantamount to exposing our trade secrets and differentials, the textile industry is on where knowledge is not hoarded but shared.

 

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What were the Initial Challenges you faced when you started your Business?

At first, this idea of being a professional cloth weaver didnt receive a warm welcome by my family especially my mother despite the fact that its also her line of business. She had this perception of me impacting into society with white collar job. I convinced her with through the right attitude that this weaving profession can help to disseminate new ideas and innovations into the society thereby reducing over-reliance on government and be independent. Access to enough capital was also a challenge.

 

What is that thing you wish you did differently?

I wish i had started my weaving profession early. I wish Id have enough courage to take some risks in my early stage of life.

 

Who or What is your Main Inspiration: Business/Personal?

What inspires me the most is seeing the positive impact our work is bringing into the society and this inspires us to do more. Im also blessed with amazing people around me who motivates me to do more.

 

What makes you different from your Competitors?

We create unique fabric designs and customer-centric orders. We also provide weaving training for the next generation of weavers (career opportunity).

Would your Business still be around in 5years?? Why do you think so?

Yes, my business will still be around in the next 5 years because of the value we create at Jokelinks. Also everything is possible with God. Jokelinks has come to stay!

 

What does it take to start a Business like yours??

Well, starting weaving business is like starting any business; youve got to get the right skill because you cannot give what you do not have. 90% of our Equipment and raw materials used in weaving are locally sourced in Nigeria. They are also available.

 

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