Every day, millions of designer crested T-shirts are moved, from Alaba International Market, to every nook and cranny of Nigeria and her neighboring countries.
You will find these T-shirts, displayed in technicolor boutiques and seeing them, in this environment, with written words/phrases and designs that resonate with your thoughts, you will be moved, to part with some amount of money, to acquire it.
Here is, however, the sad part. There is a high probability that, the T-shirt is, low in quality and after its first visit to the laundry, its value, visibly depreciates, as the design starts to peel off and colour, fading away.
In today’s world, almost everyone wants to express themselves and some have taken it further, by creating a brand around their thoughts and expressions.
The process of building an identity brand design is, twisted and difficult, as the market is saturated with unprofessional individuals.
This is a worrisome issue, as many, in Nigeria put on low-quality design crested T-shirts.
CFAmedia, recently, stumbled on an entrepreneur, (who recently graduated from Founder Institute, Lagos).
He owns his space in this field and after undergoing some difficult personal experiences, he understood the industry and how it works.
Meet Olalekan Akinyele, Founder, Colordtees, who assists people to express their creativity, thereby putting their ideas into creative designs, on any type of apparel, for them to print and sell their own print-on-demand label.
He, also, helps them, to elevate and promote their personal identity, using any type of apparel, as a canvas.
This innovative idea has helped people, to stand out and fit in.
The Very Beginning
Looking at him speak, we were able, to glean the passion in his eyes, as he rolled back the years, narrating to us, how it all began for him.
For Olalekan, the concept of the business started in 2015, on a part-time basis, but by September 2017, he went into entrepreneurship, full time, to run a design shop.
He explained, how he did a few amazing projects, designing brand identities, for small businesses, but he was not satisfied with that and wanted more.
“I wanted to do more than, just offering design services, as the market is saturated, with a lot of, unprofessional service providers, so, I decided to start designing products”, he explained.
Colordtees, for him, started, as an idea, as far back, as 2009, after going through the challenges stated earlier.
“I started experimenting, with the idea. I designed and prototyped a few T-shirts and by 2017, Colordtees was incubated, under Xaine Ingenius, as a product design project” Olalekan stressed.
Colordtees website was launched and over 1000 T-shirts were sold, but new challenges brewed beyond the horizon.
The Lonely Life Of An Entrepreneur
Olalekan shared with us, his experience, on how people took advantage of him, in the course of trying to build the business. “The environment was very hostile and there was no concrete support system” he opined.
“I became very uncomfortable, building a business, a home and a marriage, all at the same time and I thought the wisest thing to do was, to go back to paid employment, to fund the home and save the marriage, so that, I can, on my own, build the businesses I am so passionate about”, Olalekan reminisced.
With this resolve, he shut down most of his businesses and in June 2019 and got a job, but something significant happened. Amid the storm, he discovered Founder Institute, Lagos and took the online test.
“I did the test and I was selected. Before I paid the fees, I told myself, ‘this would be the last entrepreneurship training I would take, after all, I had gotten a job’”, he explained.
The FI Lagos Journey
By now, we can visibly see the smile, lightening up his face, as he narrates his FI journey.
“We started the course proper, a few weeks, after I started my job and fourteen weeks later, I must confess…’FI Lagos changed my life’”, stressed Olalekan.
“Founder Institute is, so different from every other entrepreneurship training I have ever had”, beamed Olalekan.
He narrated how he was exposed to people that changed his thinking process. “I had other Founders that stood as motivation, throughout the program and I had sessions, with start-up founders that have raised millions of dollars and given the best of advice, that I have received in my entire life”, he explained.
In his words, “I came to understand, why it is very important to be practical, with zero emotions and just face the realities of running a start-up”.
He explained that, he was glad that, he took the decision, to go through the program, even though, he almost dropped out, three times.
“Like a friend and also, a founder I met at the program would say; ‘Life is hard, but FI is harder and running a start-up is, the hardest’”, he explained.
Many want to express their thoughts and ideas, as art on T-shirts, but they do not know how to go about it.
This is the problem that, Olalekan has been solving, through his start-up, Colordtees.
A creative web-based platform, (using e-commerce technology), that, would empower millennials and digital natives, around the world to, mentally, determine how they see themselves, by creating opportunities that would improve their personal growth, making them stand out and belong anywhere.
Colordtees has been able to provide professional services, for Digital Natives and Millennials, between the ages of 15 and 34 years, through creativity and technology, thus, creating a self-aware individual that wants to, freely, express themselves.
Through what they wear, they have been able to promote their personality, make statements and as conversation starters.
The process is simple, as you just have to choose a T-shirt, pick a design, or, DIY design, or, upload a design, or, request a design, then, print.
You can, either, sell it online, or, request it, to be delivered to you.
The process is, as simple and seamless, as that.
Looking Into The Future
Olalekan says that, after conquering the Nigeria market, he will be spreading his tentacles to other parts of Africa and the world.
Featured Image: Olalekan Akinyele, Founder Institute Lagos Graduate and Founder, Colordtees
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