I Love My Job: This Philly Designer Quit Her Job to Launch This Popular Clothing Brand
D’IYANU founder and CEO Adesola Elabor didn’t want to waste any more time doing what she didn’t enjoy. Here’s what she built with that attitude.
The African inspired clothing line D’IYANU is known for its daring prints, trendy silhouettes, and vibrant aesthetic. In just five years, founder and CEO Adesola Elabor and her team have skillfully orchestrated much success for the brand. Elabor launched the Norristown company in 2014 after quitting her job to focus on her passion. Here’s why she has never regretted taking that risk.
I grew up… outside of Philly and was born in Nigeria.
I wanted to grow up to be… a teacher, a gymnast, and an ice skater. In high school, I decided that I wanted to be a business owner.
My favorite spot in Philly is… Penn’s Landing in the summer, and the Art Museum area.
When I started my business, I wish I knew that… hiring the right team and cultivating the right company culture was of utmost importance.
I left my full-time job to focus on D’IYANU because… I was unhappy with my job and didn’t want to waste any more time doing something I didn’t enjoy. Also, I realized that I needed to focus full-time on D’IYANU for it to succeed.
If I hadn’t founded D’IYANU, I would be… unhappy. [Laughs] To be honest, I’m not sure what I would be doing if I had not founded D’IYANU.
The name D’IYANU… combines French and the Nigerian language Yoruba, and it’s loosely translated to mean “Of something wonderful/miraculous.”
The best thing about working with my brother is… working with someone who I know has my back and shares the same vision and drive for D’IYANU as myself.
Something that distinguishes my brand from others in the market is… our innovative use of different types of fabric and our wide variety of styles and categories. We offer the widest selection of African inspired clothing for both men and women.
The piece of career advice I always give is … life is too short to be miserable doing what you don’t like. Take a risk and go after that opportunity. Even if you fail, at least you know you tried. Failure is just a learning lesson and a wakeup call to make an adjustment. Don’t live a life of regret.
I last song I listened to was… Drogba (Joanna) by Afro B. I love Afrobeats music.
I’d like to travel to… I would like to take an African tour and visit Rwanda, South Africa, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, and Morocco.
The hardest part about being an entrepreneur is… not being able to take a true break or vacation because your business is always on your time. Having the full weight of ensuring your business succeeds and is sustainable on your shoulders.
A mantra I live by is…“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style”- Maya Angelou
The ideal workplace has … a positive, encouraging, fulfilling and fun atmosphere.
I splurge on… experiences and traveling.
The most important thing I’ve learned about myself since starting D’IYANU is … that I don’t have all the answers and that it’s okay. Since I started off as a solo entrepreneur, I had to do everything myself, which made me think that I could figure everything out myself. As I started to create a team around me, I had to challenge myself to open up to other people’s ideas. I’ve learned that I still have a lot of room for growth and improvement.
Being a boss is… challenging since people management is a whole thing on its own.
My advice to other black women entrepreneurs on the rise is… firstly, focus on delivering excellent customer service and quality products. Lastly, you have to be willing to spend on marketing your product. You can have the best product or service, but if no on knows about it, it doesn’t go very far.
I wish I had more time to… focus on the bigger picture for D’IYANU. I still get pulled into the day-to-day operations, which takes up a lot of my time. I also wish I had more free time to detach from D’IYANU so I could spend more time with family and friends.
In five years I hope that… D’IYANU has served 1 million customers and is a household name.