“Your craft alone does not guarantee success”- Mai Atafo shares lessons with entrepreneurs

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Ohimai Atafo is the CEO of popular bespoke clothing label, Mai Atafo Inspired. A brand he started about 10 years ago while he was still Brand Manager at Guinness Nigeria. With no prior experience in tailoring/fashion before starting out, Mai Atafo has grown his label to cater for the high and classy of the Nigerian entertainment industry.

Speaking as a panelist on the importance of technology in the growth of business at the Connect Nigeria E-Business Fair 2017, Mai Atafo revealed how technology has helped in his business. The fashion entrepreneur revealed his postgraduate education in Information Technology has really helped him to understand the significance of technology in business growth. Below is a transcription of his address at the address (the address has been modified to ensure coherence and flow of thoughts)

I have a post-graduate degree in Information technology, so I know the value technology in business. Without technology, your business is useless.

To my business, and the way it runs, I run an automated process in attending to clients. When you come into my office and you say you need a suit for instance, there tons of preferences to make and recording these preferences manually can be a big problem. This is where most fashion entrepreneurs make mistakes. Automating my business also makes calculation of cost seamless and it also simplifies monitoring process. I know who oversees what dress and what time he/she is required to spend on it. All the parameters are already preset in the system by me. It makes my life easier. If that is not technology, I don’t know what the hell that is.

Using Social Media to Drive Growth

Stressing the need for businesses to jump on social media platforms as quickly as possible to build a brand for themselves, Mai Atafo narrated a personal experience saying he had to use @MaiAtafOfficial as his handle on Twitter because someone had already opened a @MaiAtafo account before him.

“One thing I always tell people now is, if something comes out and looks there is a new thing that comes out that looks like Social Media, I’ll register on it immediately even if I don’ t need it immediately. As I always tell myself, If CNN has it as an address, I’m getting it.

Now this is just the tip of the iceberg, there’s so much more you can do with technology. For us in the fashion business, you know we like to slay and put everything on fleek but the most important thing here is that the content you drive on the platform is as important as the platform, if not even more important. I find out that when I put a picture on social media, people just like. But when I put a dialogue there, people feel a need to respond to what I am saying. Dialogue content gets your consumers to engage with you. You must know the kind of content your consumers like and put this up on the channel that works best.

Don’t just say I’m on Instagram, Snapchat etc. What are you doing there? what kind of marketing plans are you executing? You should constantly ask, how do I /am I using technology to my benefit?

That’s what I try to drive every day with the Mai Atafo brand. That people recognize my brand as a force to reckon with. And If you ask me, I’m still about 40%, I’m not even there yet.

Don’t just focus on your craft, there many other things in the fashion business, for me fashion is 30% and business is 70%.

Advice and tips for entrepreneurs:

As a Fashion entrepreneur, you must understand your business, your consumers, and work hard.

As internet penetration continue to grow across Africa, small and medium businesses must realize the opportunities inherent in this medium and jump on it fast. Facebook alone boasts of about 2 billion users. Imagine the boost a business get if it is accessible to about 2 billion users. Enormous right? You bet.


I'm interested in stories, news and opportunities for African entrepreneurs. Be it tech, fashion, SMEs; breaking entrepreneurship stories is the next best thing that can happen to me, after Jollof