This week, Tell! Interviews Temitayo Johnson, a 300level student of Sociology, President of the Unibadan Entrepreneur’s Network and Winner of the 2019 25 under 25 SME Award in the Manufacturing and Logistics Category.
Who is Temitayo Johnson?
Temitayo Johnson-Laleye is a third year Student of Sociology at the University of Ibadan. The Founder of TJL Signature, a brand that meets your everyday fashion accessories needs.
What 5words describe you perfectly?
Err… I’d say Tenacious, Creative, Direct, Happy and Analytical.
Oya. Tenacious babe!. What was growing up like for you?
Growing was pretty much fun. I’m an only child so I got all the attention. I spent most of my childhood visiting family and friends. It was quite easy for me to make friends. And my childhood was generally adventurous. I would usually follow my mom on trips when she goes to train. She’s an Arts and Crafts Educator so I picked a lot from her. From as young as 8, I would follow her for classes and even assist in training her students who were much older than I was. I was like a rat in their midst, lol. Scurrying from table to table making sure they got their projects right.
Congratulations on your recently received Entrepreneurship award. What did that feel like?
Thank you so much! Hmmm! I must say it was overwhelming. My family and friends were so supportive in helping me bring this home. I should also mention that it reassured me that I could do better. Sometimes, I feel like “who sent me?” but then, I look at the sidelines and everyone is cheering and the award as well helps me keep pushing.
Tell us, what was that Aha Moment that inspired you to create TJL signature?
TJL Signature started as a quick cash scheme. I started making bags during a 7-week strike action in my 100 level. I’d been bored at home and I wasn’t even getting an allowance. I really wanted some quick cash to buy a pair of sandals or something. So I took the N3000 I had left, got some fabric and made these bags I had noticed were trending in school. I made them, shared pictures and BOOM!!! the orders didn’t stop bombarding me. I got back the money I had put in and ofcourse extra for what I needed to buy but my friends weren’t having it. They kept sharing to other friends and it seemed like I had “entered this one”. There was no turning back. So I went ahead and spoke with a friend, Tito, the Lead Creative at Oren Kraft, then Imperial Graphix designed an amazing logo and flyer which essentially branded this enterprise. That was really how it all started.
I knew I had to brand the enterprise when after I had made my quick cash, orders didn’t stop flooding in. It meant to me that my products were filling a gap, meeting a need and solving people’s problems.
What or who do you attribute your Entrepreneurial spirit to?
My Grandma 🧡. I lived with her for sometime as a little child and she has a shop I always followed her to after school. I found selling such a pleasant experience. I would always look forward to going to the shop and coining new marketing methods. Looking back now, it’s so funny because, I wasn’t even tall enough to reach the counter but I would always climb everything and anything in sight just to call passers-by to buy from me.
Your Top 7 favourite Entrepreneurs. GO!
Mrs Femi Olayebi (Femi Handbags)
Mrs Tara Durotoye (House of Tara)
Mrs Ife Durosinmi-Etti (Philos and Zoe)
Miss Tricia Ikponmwoba (Triciabiz)
Oloye Akin Alabi (Nairabet)
Miss Stephanie Obi (Author, Knowledge is the new gold)
Iyanu Ajayi (Maple Street)
How have you been able to balance Entrepreneurship with academic activities? Gist us abeg
God’s grace has been the most important. Next, I have learnt to delegate. I have people I work with to ensure everything in TJL Signature goes excellently. When I’m not available, work still goes on.
It hasn’t been easy because I work at home most of the time. It’s stressful to have to go to the market, go to the workshop, meetup with classes and assignments. I remember earlier this semester, I had an emergency order, the customer was leaving Nigeria in a few days. It was test week and I was overwhelmed already. The day I had to get the materials I needed, I got held in the rain, got to class late and was cranky for the rest of the day. Obviously, I still had to get the job done and prepare for the two tests I had the following day.
It gets really difficult sometimes but stopping isn’t an option at this point.
Aside school, and TJL ofcourse, what other activities are you involved in at the moment?
Oh well, I’m the President of Unibadan Entrepreneurs Network. I volunteer with Fame Foundation. I’m also a Minister at the Vessels of Honour Foundation, University of Ibadan.
What are your future projections for TJL signatures? What do you see it growing into in the next 5years?
In the next 5years, I envisage that TJL Signature would have taken over Nigeria Universities in 5 years. We’ll then be working on global expansion plans.
Ok, where do you also see yourself in the next 5years, ma
In the next 5 years, I see myself running the largest enterprise in Africa owned by someone under 25. I see a happy and fulfilled Temitayo.
Any final remarks to inspire us biko?
Don’t always wait for support. Support and push yourself till you leave people with no choice. Don’t be entitled, no one owes you anything. Work hard and start as early as you can.
Also, be strong-headed, enjoy your failures, cry, lament and keep going. You’ll get to a point where it’s more rosy and you’ll be glad you went through all of those moments.
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