Oluwunmi Funbi-Olufeko simply known as Wunmi Olufeko is the founder and creative director at Design for Love (DFL) – one of Nigeria’s fastest growing fashion brands, started fifteen years ago out of sheer grit and passion. Wunmi is spurred by the desire to drastically reduce poverty and unemployment by expanding her value chain to include more women who produce local fabrics as well as increase factory production. Her desire to continue to challenge the status quo has expanded her vision to infuse African prints into daily work wear by scaling up DFL’s current business through collaborations and investor opportunities on the African continent. Wunmi Olufeko is as vivacious as the colours on her prints and is happily married with three kids- and because that clearly isn’t enough chaos, she also enjoys traveling and still manages to read one book a month. We chat with the creative mind on all things fashion, business and more.
Glazia: What or who inspired the creation of Design for Love (DFL) and why the name?
Wunmi Olufeko: My inspiration was simply wanting to express myself differently in the workplace by creating African inspired fabric pieces that could serve as everyday work wear. The name was a play of words, being for the love of design. Because I have always loved anything that has to do with designing or creating.
What’s your startup story?
I started in 2004 in Abuja. initially I was selling Ankara fabrics and part of my selling strategy was showing my potential customers what they could make with my Fabrics, so I always had a sketch pad with me. This eventually evolved into me creating Ankara work shirts for both men and women. I was doing this and working a 9-5 and after a year and half of juggling both, I quit my day job to learn pattern drafting at a tailoring school in Lagos. After my training, I just kept going one day at a time.
“We are all beautiful in whatever season, age or place we find ourselves” – Wunmi Olufeko
Asides financial value, what else was your mission from the outset?
I wanted to build a business for women, run by women. I was raised largely by my mom who was a single mom for the most part and I saw how financially stressful it was for her to raise 4 kids alone; and she gave up a lot to ensure we were all okay. So, when I started employing staff, I wanted more women because I realized that women needed to be more financially stable as the task of raising their children fell largely on their shoulders. I particularly want more young women to develop themselves and be independent. And this is what I have been able to do in the last 16 years, encouraging the young women that work with me and ensuring that I can be a motivation for them to achieve all they aspire to.
What would you say is unique about your brand?
simple. We have a keen eye for colours and patterns and we are able to mix prints and patterns effortlessly.
What inspired the collection worn for the Glazia March cover shoot featuring Anita Okoye, Adesuwa Onyenokwe, Latasha Ngwube and Adenike Oyetunde?
There is this quote by American actor Emma Stone, it says: “I can’t think of any better representation of beauty than someone who is unafraid to be herself.”
The quote summarises what this collection is about. We are all beautiful in whatever season, age or place we find ourselves. The collection is a blend of subtle colours for when we just want to enjoy our own space and bold batik prints for when we want the world to see the awesomeness that we as women are.
Who is DFL for? – DFL is for every woman who understands that she can be herself and create her own identity even with the simplest of styles.
So DFL would be celebrating its 16th anniversary this year, what would you say is your greatest achievement so far?
I have got a couple, but I’ll mention just two; firstly, being able to execute a contract for producing 1200 laptop bags at my factory in Lagos within one month. The second is setting up and managing two retails spaces in Lagos, both of which stock our Ankara outfits and anyone can walk in to make a purchase.
Can you share some success habits or tips that have helped you?
I constantly read and research. It doesn’t mean I always take myself seriously or feel the need to share the things I know but the truth is I dislike being Ignorant so I am constantly learning.
If you could offer a piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Three nuggets: 1. Lean startup. 2. test the waters and 3. scale up.
Download our latest magazine issue featuring Design For Love looks HERE.
Interview – Ethel Neboh
Outfits – Design for Love (DFL)
Styling – Tobi Amokeodo, 37 Clues Styling
Photography – Remi Apari, PRESTAZ
Makeup – Anti Ayo