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List of 10 top Nigerian entrepreneurs into fashion

List of 10 top Nigerian entrepreneurs into fashion

Nike Ogunlesi Nike is the founder of Ruff ‘n’ Tumble which was established in 1996, when Adenike Ogunlesi needed pyjamas for her kids. Already making clothes for women, she decided to make the clothes with assistance from her mother, a dressmaker. She initially used local materials including ankara and adire. Production started and services were

Nike Ogunlesi
Ruff 'n' Tumble founder Adenike Ogunlesi

Ruff ‘n’ Tumble founder Adenike Ogunlesi

Nike is the founder of Ruff ‘n’ Tumble which was established in 1996, when Adenike Ogunlesi needed pyjamas for her kids. Already making clothes for women, she decided to make the clothes with assistance from her mother, a dressmaker. She initially used local materials including ankara and adire. Production started and services were later expanded to other Nigerian families with kids. The clothing production (for children from the ages of 0 to 16), gradually advanced from her house (selling from the boot of her car) to a location in Victoria Island, Lagos. Ruff ‘n’ Tumble operates a ware house, factory, distribution and has more than 50 employees. It has also extended branches to Surulere and Ikeja in Lagos, as well as, other Nigerian cities, including Ibadan, Kano and Port Harcourt. The Company has about 15 branch locations across the country. Ruff ‘n’ Tumble also owns the brands “Trendsetters” and “NaijaBoysz” (a clothing range for young boys aged 8–16). Ruff ‘n’ Tumble partnered with Nigerian Employers Consultative Association (NECA) and Industrial Training Fund (ITF) to help reduce unemployment in the country.

Uche Nnaji
OUCH CEO Uche Nnaji styling President Buhari

OUCH CEO Uche Nnaji styling President Buhari Photo Credit: Uche Nnaji

Uche Nnaji also known as the ‘Style Doctor’ is the visionary founder and creative director of OUCH; one of Africa’s most respected premium style brands. This sartorial is also a notable public speaker and founder of the OUCH Style Academy. With some training at the prestigious F.I.T [Fashion Institute of Technology] in New York, Nnaji adds an unmistakable blend of practical luxury and world class methods to his pieces.

Launching with a first store in Maryland, Lagos, Nnaji’s OUCH brand has expanded to five outlets across Lagos with branches in Lekki, Lagos and the Murtala Mohammed International Airport. Nnaji has taken his work to some of the fashion capitals of the world; showcasing at the New York Fashion week 2011 and the African Fashion Week London in September 2012. He also presented his collection at the ECOWAS Fashion week in 2014.

Lisa Folawiyo
Lisa Folawiyo, owner of Jewel by Lisa

Lisa Folawiyo, owner of Jewel by Lisa

A Nigerian lawyer turned fashion designer, Lisa Folawiyo is celebrated for her colourful collections that fuse traditional West African fabrics with modern tailoring and beaded embellishments. Since starting her label “Jewel by Lisa” in 2005, Folawiyo has spearheaded the movement of Nigerian designers achieving international recognition for their work. She has a knack for elevating traditional African prints above the status quo, making them relevant for a global audience. She has showrooms in both Nigeria and New York and her collections are stocked in the UK, the US, South Africa and Nigeria. In 2012, Folawiyo won the African Fashion Awards, nominated alongside Maki Oh and Kofi Ansah, two more prolific designers from the Nigerian fashion scene. Championed by Vogue Italia. Folawiyo has also partnered with L’Oreal and done a trunk show on Moda Operandi. Her line is currently stocked in Self ridges.

Yemi Osunkoya
Yemi Osunkoya Photo Credit: Genevieve

Yemi Osunkoya
Photo Credit: Genevieve

Yemi Osunkoya is the award winning designer behind the Kosibah label. Kosibah specializes in contemporary and elegant couture bridal, evening and formal day wear using luxurious fabrics and sumptuous embellishments. Yemi established the Kosibah brand in London in 1991 and named the company in honour of his mother. His signature use of corsetry and boned bodices cleverly recreates the classical and elegant hourglass figure, producing gowns that curve, shape and flatter the wearer. All gowns are made to measure and made to order. With meticulous attention to detail, the designs are made from individual body measurements and use luxurious fabrics, sumptuous embellishments and couture techniques.

Folake Folarin-Coker

Folake Folarin-Coker

Folake Folarin-Coker

Her fashion brand, “Tiffany Amber” was launched in Lagos in 1998 and has become an iconic label in the Nigerian fashion industry. The Brand has four stand alone stores and boutiques in Lagos and Abuja. She has staged several fashion shows in Africa, Europe and the United States. In 2008, she made history as the first African-based fashion designer to stage a show twice at the New York Fashion Week. She was the first recipient of the “Designer of the Year” award at the African fashion week in Johannesburg in 2009 and was also awarded “Fashion Brand of the Year” at the ARISE Magazine Fashion week in 2011. In 2013, she received an Enterprise Award at the 2013 Women, Inspiration and Enterprise (WIE) Symposium and made the Forbes Power women list. She unveiled her ‘Nirvana’ spring/summer collections at DOII Designs launch.

Deola Sagoe
Deola Sagoe on Al Jazeera's series My Nigeria

Deola Sagoe on Al Jazeera’s series My Nigeria

Deola Sagoe is a fashion visionary with a unique approach to her craft that has endeared her to fans and followers all over the world. Deola Sagoe became well-known by designing her mum’s label, which was called “Odua” for 10 years. Her brand, ‘House of Deola Sagoe’, which designs fabulous dresses for women, also creates menswear, jeans and polo for men. Sagoe frequently exhibits her couture collection at Cape Town Fashion Week and has been an invited guest of New York Fashion Week in the past. Sagoe has won the “Africa Designs” and the MNET/ Anglo Gold African designs 2000 awards for which she was nominated by Andre Leon Tally, US Vogue editor.

Dimeji Alara
Photo Credit: Ono Bello

Photo Credit: Ono Bello

Dimeji Alara was the Editor-in-Chief of Mania while Godson Ukaebu was the Deputy Editor at Mania magazine. Parisian-born Nigerian Dimeji Alara has an impressive resume in fashion and has worked internationally with magazines such as Elle, GQ and Glamour. Before horning his skills at Mania he briefly styled for Genevieve, Elan and MADE magazines in Nigeria. He has also worked with international designers in the likes of David Tlale and Craig Jacobs as fashion director.

Banke Kuku
Textile designer Banke Kuku

Textile designer Banke Kuku

Banke Kuku, the chief executive and creative director of Banke Kuku Textile which she founded in 2011. In 2012, Kuku produced a range of interior design accessories that was carried by Selfridges, the world famous UK-based store. According to her, her designs fuse traditional African and Western culture to create unique and luxurious fabrics for the interior and fashion industries. She recently won the Women in Making 2014 competition which is organised by Triumph International, a global lingerie brand with sales of over a billion dollars.

Banke has extensive experience in the textiles industry. She graduated from Central St Martins College and then Chelsea College of Art and Design, having studies textiles, subsequently authoring a book on the Nigerian textiles industry. After interning at a number of international fashion houses, she subsequently launched her brand.

Kunmi Otitoju


Kunmi Otitoju, 30, holds two Computer Science degrees – a Bachelor of Science degree with first-class honors from Howard University and a Master of Science degree from Virginia Tech. Having moved to the U.S. when she was 17, and then to Europe at the age of 25, Otitoju found herself deeply enmeshed in western culture. Keen on preserving her Nigerian identity and eager to propagate facets of Nigerian culture, she conceived the idea of lining high-quality leather bags with Aso-oke fabric, a hand-loomed cloth woven by Nigeria’s Yoruba people. In 2011, after stints at Goldman Sachs and a few other international corporations, Otitoju established Minku, a fast-growing high-end Afro-centric brand that produces luxury bags, wallets and other fashion accessories for men and women by subtly blending Aso-oke into contemporary Spanish leathers to present a transcontinental finish. All Minku’s products are hand-made at a workshop in Barcelona, Spain, but they are sold at high-end stores in Nigeria and on the company’s website.

Toyin Lawani


Toyin Lawani runs Tiannah’s Place Empire as the Creative Director and CEO. This Fashion stylist cum designer is an experienced as taken her TiannahStyling outfit to another level as she has styled a number of celebrities within Nigeria including Wizkid, Banky W, Niyola, Tiwa Savage, Don Jazzy, Dr Sid, Wande Coal, D’Prince, Davido, Terry G, Mercy Johnson, Eldee, Emma Nyra, Juliet Ibrahim, TY Bello, Toni Tones, Waje, Stephanie Okereke Linus, G-Lory, Sean Tizzle, May D, Funke Akindele, Lami Philips, Samklef, Tee Blaq, Dammy Krane, Pasuma, Oreka Goddis, Toke Makinwa, Layole Oyatogun, Susan Peters, Jimmie of Beat FM, Yvonne Vixen Ekwere, Tipsy, Morrel, Tonto Dikeh, Seyi Shay, Mo’chedda, Vector, Sharon Ojong, LAX, Yinka Davies, Jackie Appiah, Nse Ikpe, Yvonne Nelson, Ini Edo and many others.

Internationally, Ms Lawani has designed outfits for Hollywood celebrities including Singer Kelly Roland from Destiny’s Child, Bria Myles, Jennifer Richardson, and Natalie Nunn. She has also worked on a vast number of top Magazine Editorials.


Adegoke Oyeniyi

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