Bunmi Okonoda is not your everyday fashion entrepreneur. She believes that being in business is not just for profit-making but also for creating value. Her foray into entrepreneurship came because she saw a void in the women fashion space and decided to come in to fill that.
Her Bufoles Collection, a retail fashion outfit, caters to the clothing and styling needs of professional and business women.
She also focuses on assisting women fashionpreneurs improve their self-worth from within and outside, to enable them attract new level of success.
She says her perception about beauty and fashion stems from the words of Salma Hayek, who noted that beauty was in the eyes of the beholder.
Bufoles Collection started trading as a business name in 2008 but was later registered as a limited liability company in 2013. It started as a result of a difficulty in finding trendy and affordable outfits for women in Jos, Plateau State. Her journey has been embellished with success so far.
Speaking on how her brand has contributed to Nigeria’s economy, she explains that her business turnover has contributed to the gross domestic product, providing employment for a number of young women who have engaged with the brand over the years.
“Our customer base has greatly increased, and we are also present in the online space on Facebook and Instagram sharing useful tips to our followers and marketing our products and services,” she says.
The fashion stylist is the convener of a bi- annual event, ‘Recontre de Style,’ a fashion workshop which aims to inspire and enlighten women on confidence-building, self-esteem, personal styling, and dressing.
“The theme of our last styling class focused on plus-size styling, which was chosen based on the fact that there are stereotypes about plus-size women and many face difficulty styling their body type or even finding the right outfits,” she says.
“Our fashion styling classes started last year and we have equipped over 100 women, including professionals, with personal styling knowledge. This is to help boost their confidence, enhance their attractiveness and project more power with their style,” she further says.
The fashionpreneur explains that styling used to be the exclusive preserve of celebrities as well as the rich but her brand has helped to change the narrative by successfully democratising fashion styling.
On how she has been able to thrive in difficult times, she says the support from her husband, a few friends and loyal customers have kept her in business.
“During the Covid-19 lockdown, our business was closed physically but we still had to pay our staff and other bills. We could still survive without the sales during that period as we have learnt that a business must be able to stay afloat for six months to a year even without income. We, however, quickly went into sales and branding of face masks and shields which are fast becoming a fad due to Covid-19. This ensured we continually got some income into the business and paid bills during the lockdown.”
She encourages other entrepreneurs to stay prayerful and hopeful, while understanding their business environment and customers well.
“Find innovative and creative ways to solve their problems. Deliver those solutions excellently and speedily and be in their faces all the time,” she admonishes.
The stylist adds that fashion business is highly competitive and very easy for new entrants, saying that she has been able to surmount challenges by staying focused, creative, resilient and solution-oriented.