I am not sure if you are keeping tabs but this is interview No. 5! Another powerful and impactful interview with Temitayo Adebowale. I've always admired Temi from a distance because of her demure personality and her kind spirit. We have a mutual friend and therefore our paths crossed once in a while way back in the day.
Fast forward a few years and Temi is slaying with her T-shirts that are not ordinary tees, but tees with a message! I love what they represent and her designs are exquisite! I knew I had to get in on it. I got my R1Sixteen tees BUT I'm holding out on wearing them just yet because I look forward to rocking them while twinning with my sister and "his & hers-ing" with my hubs!
Read, be inspired and then take action!
Can you please tell us about yourself, what your business is about and the products or services that you provide to your target market?
My name is Temitayo Adebowale and I own R1Sixteen, a company with a passion for creating cool, quality graphic tees with messages that Speak Life to people everywhere. We donate part of our profits to orphanages and this is what really drives our passion, it gives us the opportunity to share the message of the gospel to the children in a love language they understand. Our target market is youthful with a knack for encouraging others, so our tees are the perfect tool! R1Sixteen is derived from the bible verse Romans 1:16, for I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ and our slogans are #WEARTHEWORD #SPEAKLIFE.
Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur and what was your defining moment?
R1Sixteen was created out of my interest for art and design from childhood, the life I feel after reading scripture, the satisfaction of sharing it with others and observing how it impacts them positively and the need for a more flexible work schedule. The defining moment was when I made some design mock ups and sent it out to some family and friends for feedback. People I didn’t even know asked when they could purchase the tees and they even started sharing their favorite scripture and design ideas with me and so I thought, I have to make this happen!
What’s one unique thing about your business and what makes you stand out from others in your niche?
I think our creativity and engagement sets us apart, inspiration is everywhere – Bible verses, art, humanity but combining all of these into a product that our customers love is nothing short of a God given talent.
We also take the time to listen to and connect on a personal level with our customers, it just makes it easier to meet their needs. If you were to read some of the messages between our customers and us, you would think we were friends, just catching up casually, it’s amazing! We talk about faith, business, fashion, family…it’s all very real and fun! We just love it when our fans post pictures wearing our brand on social media, we encourage it.
How did you get started as an entrepreneur? When did you launch your business?
I knew that I did not want to invest in a brick and mortar shop right away, so my strategy was to reach customers through an ecommerce store on a Shopify platform shipping out of a factory in the states, stocking our brand at retail stores and pop up shops at events. The factory was able to handle the production and fulfilment which allowed me the time to focus on inspiration, design, customer service and engagement which is at the core of our brand. R1Sixteen was officially launched in summer 2015 and most of our customers have been from the States, U.K, Canada and more recently Nigeria.
What productivity tools or apps to help with productivity on a daily basis?
I’m totally in love with Word Swag right now, it has a wide variety of cool fonts, typography and layout and it’s such an easy to use editor. It has really cut down the time spent on developing eye catching content for our social media.
How do you balance being an entrepreneur, being a wife, a mum and everything else in between?
The plain truth is that I still struggle on some days, but I strive to be a wife/mom first. I do have a good idea about what quality time means to my husband and children so, I make sure I schedule that time just like any other important task. It’s all about choices and the sacrifices you can live with. I’m quite particular about keeping my calendar updated with reminders especially school activities and each day I write down what I would like to achieve – It’s a simple method and I get happy buzz when I check off an accomplishment!
Can you share your greatest accomplishment in your business so far and why you are proud of it?
My greatest accomplishment is and will always be our return customers! When someone decides to spend their hard earned money on something I created a first, second, third time and referring R1Sixteen to friends and family, it feels amazing! Our fans turn the vision into a reality. I recently got a thank you note from www.ricebowls.org , a charity that we support, thanking us for joining them in the fight against hunger, it’s one of my cherished possessions.
Can you share a challenge you faced during your journey, starting out as an entrepreneur and how you were able to overcome it?
Our biggest challenge is production, especially right now with keeping the costs down for our customers in Nigeria. Producing in the states is no longer cost effective, so we are actively sourcing from other countries. We have gotten requests for different styles, colors so we are stretching out of our comfort zone to keep our customers happy.
Tell us about a mistake you made starting out as an entrepreneur and the lesson you learned from it?
It was in 2014, it was painful and it was a lesson learned. I trusted a factory to produce our launch designs without getting a physical sample or visiting them. I had seen them electronically and it was good enough for me then. Well, I never received the products, I was out of a lot of money and the r1Sixteen launch was delayed for a year.
Mistakes get a bad rep, but they are the best teachers, someone once said to me – It’s ok to make mistakes as long as they are new ones, don’t make old mistakes!
How have you been able to network and connect with other entrepreneurs, both new and established ones in the online space?
Instagram has been an instrumental lever we have pulled to winning in this area. I have connected with some really amazing people who have been so generous in sharing ideas and contacts that have really moved us in the right direction. I have observed that all you have to do is to genuinely show interest in other people and what they do, don’t get consumed by your own following, likes, comments – Give back!
What’s the next step for your business?
While our focus is on graphic tees for now, our long term vision is to create a wide range of products that Speak Life. In the short term, we will focus on streamlining our business processes in Nigeria which is a new market for us. We reach customers directly through Instagram, Konga ecommerce and will soon be available in retail stores. Right now, we get a lot of positive feedback about our friendly customer service, quick delivery and engaging social media content. As the business grows, we want to ensure that we don’t lose sight of these.
Please share parting words for emerging entrepreneurs out there or those that are still trying to decide whether to launch into entrepreneurship.
I love the quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt - “A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor”, it reminds me of the Bible story about Jesus calming the storm. The storm was what created an atmosphere for something amazing to happen.
You may encounter situations you might not have envisioned with your Plans A, B and C but it’s in these situations that you create a plan D that you never thought about, it enriches you. Don’t be afraid, make mistakes and learn from them.
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