Adeola Rachael Agbana is the CEO of Allured By Ruby Online Crafts Academy, born to fill a skills gap among fashion designers. Agbana is a graduate of Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, an alumnus of Leading Ladies Business Institute (LLBI) and also a Psychology graduate from Lagos State University, Ojo. With a strong desire to transmit knowledge, her creative skills have enabled her to train and mentor more than 13,000 women through this platform. She is a fashionpreneur whose mission is to provide women in Africa and beyond with millinery products and headwear training, help them master the skills and transition them into sustainable income generation based on their products, their expertise and their experience. In this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, she shares her passion for impacting women.

What inspired your passion for craftsmanship?
CRAFT has always been innate to me. Although I did not have the opportunity to express it very early, there came a time after the wedding when I was bored and the only thing I could think of was to decorate the whole house with murals and DIY home decorating arrangements.

Afterwards, I started making fabric flowers, bow ties, pins and ruffles for the hair. At some point, I wanted more and decided to try headwear making by watching videos on YouTube and taking online courses abroad.

When did you decide to create the academy?
In fact, I started with a Facebook group in 2019, where I usually post pictorial illustrations on how to make different types of headgear. As time passed and the number of group members grew to over 30,000 creatives, I started getting requests for tutorial videos. That’s how I started the Allured by Ruby Headwear Academy online via WhatsApp.

Due to increasing demands from certain categories of people who preferred the physical learning option, the establishment of a physical academy became inevitable and it was achieved in June 2020, soon after the government lifted the lockdown of COVID-19.

Were there any experiences during your growing up years that influenced your decision to embrace craftsmanship?
Growing up, I remember seeing women around me struggling to juggle their time in paid jobs and family life. I didn’t like it and I knew from that moment that it wasn’t going to be a thing for me. Also, I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, work with my hands and control my income and my life in general.

What has been the impact of the academy so far?
He has been good so far by the grace of God. In just one year, despite the difficult economic conditions, we managed to train four promotions and more than 20 students. The online academy has had more impact due to its ease of access from anywhere in the world.

In an economy where white collar jobs don’t come easily, how do you motivate women to take up this profession?
I have been a strong advocate for female empowerment and wealth creation, so through the academy we have been at the forefront of encouraging and inspiring women aged 18-55 to s interested in manufacturing headgear, as it allows them to generate income directly from the comfort of their homes with very little start-up capital.

All you need to get started is the acquisition of skills, which we provide on many fronts through our free and paid courses physically and online at a very affordable price. I also try as much as possible to reassure enthusiasts who want to take an interest in the profession of headgear that there is a significant margin if you are ready to put in the work and master the profession by perfecting your skills. constantly.

How did you manage to balance work and family, and how supportive were they?
The role a strong support system plays in achieving your dreams, especially female relatives, cannot be overemphasized. This has been one of the critical success factors that has brought me this far. My ability to combine business, managing my family and studying full time is only due to the fact that I have a very supportive spouse who is patient, understanding and also believes in my dreams and vision.

Many women find it difficult to reconcile family life and career, what would you advise them?
I strongly advise you to seek the support of your spouse as they play a vital role in solidifying your support system, otherwise the trip will be very stressful. At first, I faced several challenges, but over time, I was able to learn effective strategies for time management and work-life balance, which led to building a very supportive team of tutors. dedicated, employing a personal assistant and a social media manager, so I am able to delegate some critical tasks. So my advice to women is to ask for help early, learn to delegate because you alone can’t do everything.

Financial independence is something a lot of women still struggle with, how would you encourage them to live above that?
Achieving financial independence for most Nigerians is an almost impossible task given the high rate of poverty in the country. However, it is a feat worth attempting. Even if you start small, the important thing is to start.

One of the avenues I typically suggest for women to achieve this is through multiple sources of legitimate income and that’s where headwear making comes in. It’s both a lucrative and scalable craft ; you can generate money from several aspects of the business.

What is your philosophy of life?
Go hard or go home! It is one thing to want something; it’s also another thing to be willing to do what it takes to get there. One of the reasons I came to this is that by not giving excuses even though sometimes they may be legitimate, I still choose to find a way around it because where there is a will , there is a way.

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