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Some of the traits that have endeared me to Boluwatiwi Ayo-Opaleke are family values, excellence, respect, integrity, learning and empathy.  She wears many hats; each one attempting to give expression to a specific piece of her. A few friends refer to her as a relationship-centric but she likes to think of herself as a positive change enthusiast who has a passion for writing and music. She often employs them as communication tools to inspire and challenge positive behavioural change. 

I had the privilege of doing this feature with her where this mother of four and CEO of Doat & Claire, a fashion company that provides solutions in the area of clothing, footwear and accessories shared her entrepreneurial journey. 
 What made you take this path towards this line of entrepreneurship?
After working in the banking industry for ten years, I resigned to pursue other interests. Even though I have always had a knack for online journaling/blogging, music and presenting, I knew that I had to develop a tangible product-type enterprise that would finance these passions since I no longer wanted to pursue a career in banking. Although I have a degree in Microbiology, I have been opportune to work in an Industrial Research Institute, a veterinary firm, two media outfits, an NGO and two banks. All of these experiences have equipped me and come to bear in how I now run my own business. Currently, I work for a fashion company that I founded -a company called Doat & Claire. I function in the capacity of the CEO and Design Executive. 

I still attend to my core areas of gifts, expertise and other expressions of my interests but I confess that my love for shoes has kept me wanting to build a brand and a lasting enterprise in this space. Hence, the bulk of my resources is invested in this business. Doat & Claire’s primary focus, for now, is to provide fashion solutions in the area of clothing, footwear and accessories. Our products are wholly Nigerian made and handcrafted. The bulk of our products are made from 100% genuine leather and they convey quality, durability, style, comfort and affordability. More importantly, our footwear emotes feelings of happiness, excitement, confidence and a sense of pride when worn. We are a small and budding enterprise who seeks to add value to all stakeholders in our business. 

 What has been your biggest motivation?
My biggest motivation has been the need to be a channel of value and virtue to everyone I come in contact with. I want people that interact with me or any of my products to leave me feeling better about themselves i.e. fuller, more satisfied and motivated. 

What is your advice for a newbie in this vocation?
I’ll counsel that anyone wanting to start a fashion business should seek to understand and determine what aspects of the value chain that they want to operate in. As is the case with other ventures, due diligence should be done to ensure that the method of operation they choose is a sustainable and scalable one. I’ll also encourage them to focus on personal development and seek requisite business skills that would help separate them from the pack as technical know-how is often not enough. 

What has been some of your greatest challenges over time?
Besides the general challenges of power, cost of raw materials/machinery and funding, Doat & Claire has had challenges with finding the most suited crop of people to work with in achieving her goals as they appear to be a deficit of value-driven people. We have repeatedly struggled with artisans, traders and vendors who do not have the same value of excellence and integrity as we do. Although we often take such challenges as an opportunity to teach and improve the quality of the many people we do business with, it can be a daunting task. 

Doat & Claire has presence on Facebook as Doat and Claire Fashions
On Instagram, our handle is @doatandclaire  
We can also be reached on 08073515715 (via calls and SMS only) and on WhatsApp via 07084668503


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