Sunday, November 25, 2018

I Choose Name Flair Underwear Because It Is Flexible- Omotosho

Chief Executive Officer , Flair Underwear , Olawale Omotosho , 25 , tells ANNA OKON about his underwear business

What services do you render at Flair Underwear?
Flair Underwear is an enterprise that produces men’ s underwear . We are reputed for the comfort and affordability of our products . We produce in large quantities to supply to clothing stores , supermarkets , boutiques and shopping centres across the country .

We do this by consistently delivering products of excellent quality at affordable rates . Our aim is to become a global brand name and be the leading underwear brand in Nigeria while competing favourably with leading underwear companies in the world .

What inspired the name, Flair ?
The name came from my desire to create products that are flexible, comfortable and easily accessible . I had run several businesses before and all have held the prefix ‘ flair ’ because they were geared towards developing products or providing services that fit the goal of making life easier.

How did the business start?
Flair Underwear started immediately after my NYSC . Before and during my undergraduate days , I was more into technology, but as time went by , I discovered I was more of a strategic person and could manage projects and people far better than coding .

Pivoting into fashion came from rejection . I had decided to build a software - based tech business after NYSC , but since my tech idea was rejected everywhere I went for funding , I was forced to come up with something else.

Underwear production came into play while I was preparing for a meeting one fateful morning and I wasn’ t comfortable even in a new pair of boxers. I told myself that if I was experiencing this , then a whole lot of people would be experiencing it too. I confirmed this from friends, colleagues and neighbours . It’ s either it ’ s too tight or too loose on the waist or too tight in between the legs which makes them get torn easily and that was how I started .

How is the market for locally produced underwear ?
The market for locally made underwear is huge considering the size of our market and the large number of substandard products out there. There is certainly a huge potential for good underwear and that’ s what we are doing .

Nigeria has a population of about 180 million people . Our current market reach can be increased significantly if we have the required financial support to increase production capacity and do more strategic marketing . Imagine the number of jobs we would create if we have the capacity to serve five per cent of the population.

How do you cope with competition from Chinese underwear makers that are much cheaper than those made in Nigeria ?
What we offer is not just a product; it is accessibility and accountability to our consumers and that’ s what sets us apart . We are excited at the prospect of competition and we are growing. We make our products locally . That can be challenging but we’ ve learnt to navigate well and still deliver top quality

What are the challenges you face in the business ?
We have faced different challenges along the way which, I believe, are meant to make us stronger . The first major challenge we faced was that of market adoption – the fear of Nigerians trying new things because they aren ’ t sure if it will work or not.

I cannot forget how some colleagues and tailors , who I told about my idea , made fun of me . When I started despite their criticism, I practically became a laughing stock whenever I showed up at events and public places ; they just couldn ’ t wrap their heads around the idea of me making underwear but we’ ve been able to prove them wrong .

There are a lot of processes involved in production but technology has also been a major driving force. With my background in tech, we’ ve been able to automate a lot of the design , marketing and sales process which makes them easier and faster .

A good example is this . After a few weeks of validating the idea with friends, family and neighbours around me , reaching out to people outside my circle became an issue. Stores , supermarkets , boutiques and shopping centres couldn ’ t have our products on their shelves but with the help of social media , that problem became history in no time . We now get a larger percentage of our customers from social media.

What is your advice to young people who are still looking for jobs ?
Jobs are good and since we do not have lots of them available to us , we have to create them . Get a skill, solve a problem , build a system around it and make it sustainable. I can assure you that you are on the right track and you could provide jobs .

Flair Underwear runs a full production business . That means we source raw materials , design , sew , market and sell . At each stage of the business , we have employees , both full - time and part- time ; managers , financial planners, tailors , marketers and salespersons which include over 180 sales reps in nine universities across the country and we hope to do more as the business grows in the near future .

Source: Punch NG

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