Hello, friends! I am back with another instalment in the ‘Virtuous Enterprise Series’. This month I interviewed Tosin Oladimeji (nee Obalade). Tosin is the CEO of zerefashionhouse, the online home for all things African fashion. Tosin is a qualified pharmacist, who currently runs Zere alongside her husband. She is the first married woman we have interviewed in the series, and it is great to hear how she speaks about managing her home, relationships, career and business. PS: She is giving all damiloves readers a 10% discount off items from her international fashion store, but you can’t get the code till you get to the end, I hope you enjoy her interview.
On who the Proverbs 31 woman represents
“I think she’s a boss! Not only does she understand her role in her home, market/workplace and community, she also succeeds in every single one of these sectors. She is a wife, mother, entrepreneur, employer; clothed in so much wisdom and grace and yet so hard working, kind and strong.
Honestly, who can find this woman?
She is everything I believe every Godly woman wants to be by His grace! I definitely want to be her.”
On balancing career, business and homemaking
“I definitely believe it is possible! This is one thing I’ve been learning in my 1st year of marriage. I currently run Zere, work full time and manage a home.
It takes wisdom, knowing your priorities and managing them appropriately which I must admit is hard work.
Even when I’ve had a hard day at work, I know I can’t just come home and sink into bed because I have to be a wife and I’ve got a business to run. I thank God that I have a husband who is very understanding but I still make sure our marriage comes first . I’ve learnt to accept that some days Zere will take a lot more of my attention and I know now that that doesn’t make me a ‘bad wife’. It’s all about attaining that balance and maintaining it.
I’ve also learnt to ask for help. Since getting married, I’ve employed 2 interns who help with the day-to-day running of Zere so I can focus on my new home. Planning is also so important. I know children are in the near future for me so I will need to take a less hands-on approach to Zere; so I’m already making both career and business plans to make sure this happens.
As women, I believe God has given us this great ability to multitask, juggle and achieve balance! It’s an amazing gift and it’s in all of us. Truly with Him, nothing is impossible.”
On being an entrepreneur
“I do not think that everyone is meant to be an entrepreneur. Even though as a child, I thought this was what I always wanted to be, actually becoming and staying one took God’s grace, perseverance and ultimately loving what I do!! Honestly, I wouldn’t be here if I still didn’t love it.
When Zere started, I was spending my lunch breaks at work in the post office sending items to customers and the evenings updating the website, speaking to designers, replying customer emails and alongside this, I was completing my professional exams. Many designers initially had no confidence in us, seeing as we were only a start up business so it took a lot of faith and guts to keep going sometimes. I just refused to take no for an answer or be defeated . We only began with only two designers and now we have over 20. Not everyone can handle that but that is what entrepreneurship is about.
We should encourage people to follow their passions. You can be just as successful in a 9-5 career, you don’t have to be an entrepreneur to find success. I believe however that we all need an entrepreneurial mindset.”
On making God inspired decisions
“Zere is built on the foundation of God’s Word and His intervention. I pray before every decision I make, and I seek Gods face and His peace before we proceed. I see this venture as me being a channel of blessing for designers based in Africa and I don’t take that for granted. As a business woman, I have a conviction from the Holy Spirit; love motivates me, and thus there are many things I will never do. Success in business is based on building good relationships with customers, and my relationship with God guides that always.“
On running a business with her husband
“When I started Zere, I did not realise Peter would become such a huge part of this dream. While we were courting, Peter not only encouraged me but he took Zere as his own! I remember when I moved to Nigeria for about 2 months, He took over Zere completely and posted items to customers out of his home. He created our very first website and everyone since then; I cannot imagine doing life or business without him. Though I believe working with a significant other is great and it’s worked in my case, it won’t always be like this for every couple. I believe that your significant other doesn’t have to have the same passion about the business venture like you do but he should support you and be there and available for you when you need him. It is important that you do not force him into it as this would put a strain on the relationship.”
On what the Damiloves tagline “learn to love the life you’re living” means to her
“Though we wish we could control everything, not everything will go the way we plan. Like the saying “life happens”. The best way to enjoy this life is to learn to love it by accepting all it throws our way- yes the good, the bad and ugly; enjoy the good, learn from the bad and don’t let the ugly define you! Remember you only get to do this once!”
I hope you enjoyed Tosin’s interview! Remember, commit all your plans to the hands of God, be patient and work hard, results will come! Do not let the ugly things from your past define you. Do not forget that relationships are important; they can make or break you so build good ones in your home and your business.