It is important to note that, failure is an integral part of success. One cannot fully say that he or she had succeeded if he had not looked failure in the eye and said “I am bigger than you“. The most successful people will tell you that at some point in their career or business, they thought they were going to fail. Not because they didn’t have enough confidence in themselves, but because they had risked everything. The only difference between these successful people and the ones that gave up, is that the former kept going even in the face of a crumbling career or business.
On today’s “Share Your Preneur Story” which happens to be our maiden edition, we bring to you the brain behind the Nigerian Brand, ZR Tales.
ZR Tales is a fashion and lifestyle enthusiastic brand. A growing business with lots of interesting ideas that will take the fashion industry to another level. ZR Tales has been in business since November 2013 and recently launched her flagship store, tagged “The Tale Center” which is located at No.14, Chris Efuyemi, off Providence Street, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos, Nigeria. Click here to see all the exciting details of the lifestyle themed store launch.
Nkem Offonabo, our Lead Editor had an inspiring interview with the Founder & CEO of ZR Tales, Oluwaseun Omotoso, at “The Tale Center” to find what inspired the “story telling” brand.
What early experience in life led you to what you are doing now?
Hmm, that is an interesting question. I remember growing up, I used to do a lot of drawing and every time I showed them to my dad, he was always very excited. He never stopped to celebrate me and he even kept most of them, I am sure if I ask him for them now, he will still find them. It was unusual for some parents at that time but I think that was as a result of his Western exposure. I would say my father helped me discover the creative side of me early in life. Funny, it was just there but I couldn’t relate it to anything until one day, my sister said something to me in passing “Seun, anytime you give your clothes to the tailors, you are never satisfied. why don’t you just make your own clothes”.
BOOM! and that was it. I realized that I could actually represent what I think about in paper because I could draw. I was proud of the fact that I have that in me and growing up, I had people who appreciated that side of me. So, that was the moment I started birthing the idea of fashion as a business.
So, at what point was ZR Tales conceptualized?
I can’t specifically say ZR Tales was conceptualized at a particular time but what I remember was that growing up, I wanted to be an actress. I enjoyed watching Nollywood movies and I always saw myself acting out roles. It’s not like I don’t desire being an actress anymore but I started having interests in other things. I ran off to explore my other interests which saw me working as an OAP (On Air Personality) with UNILAG FM, I also did casting and auditioning for TV roles which helped me work on my communication.
Fashion was not in the picture for a really long time. I realised the fashion part of me a bit late but I did something about it immediately – Oluwaseun Omotosho
The idea of ZR Tales came after I came back from NYSC (National Youth Service Corp) in Calabar, Rivers State in 2010, having learnt the basics of sewing from a roadside tailor. I actually went back to the radio, hoping to combine both but at some point, I had to make a choice and I decided to go for Fashion. I realised Fashion had the strongest and greatest fulfillment for me even within a short while. My exertion was that when I become successful with fashion, I could go back and pursue these other interests.
You strike me like an achiever. How did you manage to get a showroom in a choice location like Lekki?
There’s really no way I am going to talk about this without stressing the God-Father. If I am going to answer this question, it means I am talking about a particular breakthrough in my life because the past year (2016) was the hardest of my life; work-related and other aspect. It got to a point, I thought I had reached my breaking point. Early in the year 2016, I employed these two staff who physically attacked me. It is still a shock to me because those were guys who appeared very excited about their new job and within a space of two weeks, they planned to take my life. That experience affected me so much, emotionally and otherwise, I became very fearful of my environment, it was such a traumatic experience that at some point, I didn’t want to do fashion anymore. I was angry at God, like He let me down because prior to that incident, I went through a lot and this???
So as a Christian, I prayed one day and I told God,
OK! this happened, I don’t know why you allowed it but you know what? I am not going back to the former place (even though I had spent my last dime putting it up and taking care of my staff’s welfare), my customers are in Lekki and that is where I want to be. I can’t afford it but I think that You have to do this for me, this is the breakthrough I want from this incident”
and God heard me! Being here in Lekki is a testament to the God-factor and not my making.
What exactly are you doing for the community where your business is located?
It’s nice that you asked because I always tell people, in ZR Tales, we don’t sell fashion, we don’t sell clothes, we sell a lifestyle and we believe so much in “The giving lifestyle”. One of the projects we have planned is the Charity Event at the end of every year. The idea of the charity event is to connect with every of our customers and our community, whereby everything we sell, at some point, there is a percentage that goes into the charity event. We also urge our customers to bring their clothes that are still in good condition of which they plan to give out. We give these clothes to the less privileged during the charity event. We also planned that at this charity event, we will introduce run-way modelling. The fact that these young ones are less privileged, doesn’t mean they cannot explore their creative side or be exposed to the fashion world. This is how we plan to give back to our community.
ZR Tales is a story-telling brand. What book have you read and you think everyone on your team should read and why?
I like this question because I am a book junkie even though I don’t read as much as I want due to the nature of my job. I think there are about two (2) books. I talked about one on my Instagram page, “Rage of Angels” a very compelling novel by Sidney Sheldon. What strikes me about the book is the persona of the young attorney, Jennifer Parker. She truly represents a ZR Woman (Attractive, Intelligent, Smart, not the regular woman) and I named one of my pieces after her.
The second book should be “The Five Star Church” by Stan Toler and Alan Nelson. This book was written for church leaders and focuses on the importance of continual quality improvement in the church in order to reach more people with the gospel but I think every entrepreneur should read it whether or not you believe in religion. The book profiled some five-star churches/brands and outlined what made them exceptional. They are both amazing books and I try to pass on these qualities to my team.
What makes a brand is the uniqueness of it’s message. What is unique about your brand, ZR Tales?
We have been able to separate ourselves from the fashion market quite well. We know exactly why we are in the market and in as much as competition is tight, we feel that we are up to the task.
First of all, what separates our brand from the rest is our packaging. We have an amazing packaging called “The Tale Box“. It’s a box that we use to connect with each customer that buys from us. It has it’s own fragrance and a personalised thank you card. Our customers always feel very special when they have to leave with their box and it comes with no extra charge (F.O.C).
Apart from our branding and services, we are very particular about our customers. Every customer that walks into our store or buys from us, have a particular book (usually not known to the customer), that we call the “The Tale Book“. The Tale Book consists of every detail of each of our customer; not the regular name, phone number and email address but personalised details about that particular customer. Because it’s a Tale Center and we always have stories to tell about our customers, we encourage them to stay, talk and we get to know about them then, we go to the tale book and write something unique about the customer.
The reason we do this is because, at some point probably on your birthday, we remember how you said you really like the color black, so we send you something in black or we remember how you said your anniversary is coming so we send you a surprise gift. We want to have a connection with our customer’s lifestyle.
Again, I talked about the charity event. ZR Tales is committed to a give-back lifestyle.
A lot of people especially aspiring fashion designers are looking up to you. What advice do you have for those interested in the fashion industry?
I am sure you’ve heard it all; be patient, hardworking, courageous, etc but I am going to add just one more thing;
Do not ever underestimate the God-factor. It’s an expensive gift you cannot afford. Do not just put God before you, ACTUALLY PUT GOD BEFORE YOU and it will make all the difference.
Do you have an inspiring brand story you want to share with our community? Let us know here and you can be the next feature on our #ShareYourPreneurStory segment.
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