Every fashion entrepreneur has a unique journey that pushes them into the limelight. Taking that leap from being a brand no one knows to one that slowly begins to grow and catch attention is tasking but highly rewarding as the journey of Opeyemi’s Diary shows. It is also a journey of skill, as you will see with Leathered.
Previously, we had an interesting chat with Rofiyat Wuraola, where she described to us how she attracts customers to her brand with top-quality goods and premium packaging. This week, our spotlight is on Opeyemi Tanimowo, the founder and creative director of Opeyemi’s Diary. She shared with us how she grew her brand to be able to fend for itself. Here’s how it went.
Who is the person behind Opeyemi’s Diary?
My name is Opeyemi Tanimowo and I love fashion. I have a 9-5 job in the development sector and I work with an NGO as a chartered accountant. The most important thing to me is to make a positive impact on people’s lives. I do that with my work. Though as a finance person I don’t go to the field much, I am part of a team that directly impacts people’s lives.
I am about making an impact, touching lives, and leaving the world a better place than I met it.
How would you describe Opeyemi’s Diary?
I started fashion content creation because I like to shop. And then, I saw people creating content and I thought to myself, “I like to shop a lot and I have all these things they use, I can do something like that too”. That was how I started. I started for fun and I used to take pictures in front of the mirror. I added more quality to my pictures and started posting them.
Opeyemi’s Diary is mainly centred around fashion. As Africans, we love vibrant prints, so I decided to buy into that narrative. Even though my everyday life is not like that, I love it because it is dressy and nice. All the colours bring me joy and have a way of changing moods. I do a lot of Ankara, prints, and I work with small fashion brands to help them scale, be more visible, and create good content.
I want brands to be able to see the type of content I create and be inspired to create something like it, or better. I’d like them to be able to appeal to their audience and make a living for themselves. I’m here to make an impact and a difference with my content. My brand is characterised by modesty. I am very big on Made in Nigeria brands.
What made you want to work with smaller brands?
I feel like bigger brands already have leverage in the market and the resources to pay for high-end content. But upcoming brands don’t have that advantage. So, working with them would help them make an inroad into the market. Big brands are already known so whatever work you do for them is like a drop in the ocean, but when I work with small brands, I’m making a bigger difference than if I had chosen bigger brands.
Who is the ideal audience of Opeyemi’s Diary? Who would you like to inspire with your content?
A young urban professional between the ages of 20 and 50. I fall into that category and they are the category of people that I can connect easily with.
How would you describe your style and what inspires it?
My style is versatile. It mainly depends on my mood and the pattern and design of the outfit. Before I take on any job, I ask to see the outfit first to know if it appeals to my brand. Firstly, I’m a modest fashion blogger so there are some outfits I can’t wear.
I am inspired by anything and everything. It could even be by just sitting down and looking at a painting or anything. And, also, on the streets of Instagram, I move around and get inspiration from what people have done. I get inspiration from Pinterest as well and other people. Then, I have an innate style that also guides me. The most important thing for me is to put my touch in everything I’m doing.
In building Opeyemi’s Diary, what have your greatest challenges been? How have you been able to overcome them?
Number one is the brand. It costs a lot of money to create a brand because I have to pay photographers and makeup artists to be able to make very good content that can stand out. There are some items I already own like shoes and bags but there are some others I have to pay for.
Next is the fashion entrepreneurs. Some of them are not ready to pay and don’t want to factor content creation into their budget. This is one big challenge we have. Some of them even offer to pay with clothes. Even if they want me to do it free of charge, I still need to pay the photographers and transport fare. For this, sometimes, I create the content by myself or I pay for it with my money. I don’t know when another brand that can pay will see my work. I also sometimes mix up those that can pay with those that can’t and use the money I make for both brands.
We also had challenges with finding locations for our shoots. For us to be able to create good content, we need to take shots at locations that are suitable for the outfits. But, in Nigeria, once they see a camera, they think it’s a gun we are bringing out and they begin to form resistance.
There’s also the challenge of finding time to juggle fashion blogging with work. Since brands are not ready to pay, it is not feasible for me to quit my job and focus full-time on it. For now, most content creators cannot make it our full-time job. Now, I slate content creation into my weekends so I can do both.
Another challenge is that sometimes people look at my following on social media to decide whether or not to patronise my brand. They don’t look at the quality of my work. Now, though, as I approach 10k followers on Instagram, more brands are coming.
Generally, though, many brands are now seeing the need for good quality content. Things are getting better. They now see that people want to see your content online.
What is the fashion blogging process for Opeyemi’s Diary like?
A lot of work goes into it. From sitting down to plan to posting the content, a lot goes on in between. People see that small post on Instagram and don’t realise the amount of work that goes into it. I have to sit, plan my choice of shoes, bag, hair, and other accessories too.
Sometimes, I’m shooting 5 looks in one day so I have to plan all that before the day of the shoot. Sometimes, I have to leave my house at 5 am to go for makeup before going for the shoot. This way, we can use the morning light for the shoot and wrap everything up by 11 am.
Sometimes, I’m making videos the whole day. My weekends are now dedicated to content creation – planning and putting things together. I have to come up with the video concept, music, and sound because it can make or mar the content. It is a whole lot of work.
Even though the process is not fun, the end result makes it worth it. When the brand comes back to say it sold out or I get compliments for my content it makes me happy. It is fulfilling especially when the brand comes back or people say they bought a product because of me.
What has your biggest milestone been? How did it make you feel?
My biggest milestone is that recently I was able to use my content creation money to pay for photography classes. For the past 3 years, this has never happened for me with Opeyemi’s Diary. Most of the time, I have to use my money to pay for things. I was able to invest in content creation with content creation money.
I felt very good and happy. Of course, I’m still investing it back into content creation but at least it is not from my pocket. I even bought myself a handbag to celebrate. It is evidence that brands are embracing content creation and are willing to spend a bit more.
That’s awesome! What did you do differently this year that helped you get enough money to pay for photography classes?
I infused more quality into my content. Before, I used to shoot with my camera. I’d have a photographer move around with me and shoot me but this year I decided I cannot be doing the same thing and expect different results. So, I took classes and got a high-end iPhone to do my videos. So, now I have better videos and better quality pictures.
Along the way, what have you learnt as a fashion blogger in the Nigerian fashion industry?
First, I wish I had started investing in more quality much earlier. It’s important to put out quality content and let your content be content that can stand the test of time. I want to be able to put out the same content in the next 10 years and it will still appeal to people. It would be sharp, clear and still pass across the message.
I also wish I did more videos earlier instead of posting just pictures. People love videos and so I should have invested in them much earlier. Networking too is important. You need to network with people in your industry.
What do you like most about the Nigerian fashion industry? What do you like least about it?
I like how innovative people are. I look at some things and am wowed by their creativity. People are thinking fast on their feet and the fashion space is becoming highly competitive which is making people go back to the drawing board and think. I’m happy that is happening because it is opening Nigeria to the world. People are now patronizing Nigerian brands from the US and other Western countries.
Sometimes, I have issues with the quality of fabrics and accessories used to make clothes. In Nigeria, we consume, we don’t produce, so whatever comes in from China is what we use. Some brands can do better with quality. If we produce things, it would create great job prospects for the people and boost our economy.
If you enjoyed this interview with Opeyemi of Opeyemi’s Diary, please share with people on Whatsapp, Twitter and Facebook.