By Sha’nece Austin “The PRoFASHIONal”
I had the honor of catching up with one of Howard University’s thriving fashion entrepreneurs,
Olayinka Oni-Orisan or “Ola” as her friends call her. She has been in Howard University’s Hilltop, fashion blogs, and is making her way up! She did what everyone whats to do, make money while doing something you love. Her handmade accessories are unique, college affordable and the quickest may to add character to any outfit! She is a truely a go-getter and her hustle will always be respected and supported! (www.AKEYNO.com)
Who is the person behind this business? How long have you been in business? How did you get into your business?
My name is Olayinka Oni-Orisan and I am the founder and designer of Akeyno Handmade Accessories ( www.AKEYNO.com) . I have been designing clothing and accessories for my dolls since my childhood years. Influenced by my parents motivating entrepreneurial background, I hope everyone enjoys my Akeyno (aH-kAy-KnoW) collection. AKEYNO is an accessory line offering unique, hand-made, Afro-centric jewelry and accessories!
During the summer of 2004, when I attempted to get a job to help my parents defray expenses for the upcoming junior prom,my father brought up the idea of starting my own business. While in high school I always enjoyed art, basically anything that was hands on and kept my creativity going. Since he knew of my interest in making clothes for my dolls as a child, he introduced me to a friend who knitted and signed me up for a class. I got the basics of knitting and sewing, but I noticed she had a lot of jewelry and beads everywhere and immediately took interest in that. Having mastered the technique of making a simple necklace, I persuaded my parents to buy some beads and relatives to send me beads from Nigeria. Being aware of the advantages of being able to turn a hobby into a business venture, in September 2004 Akeyno was born.
My collection blossomed upon entering Howard University. As I pursued my interests in business and entrepreneurship, I became known by my peers for my distinct hand-made jewelry designs.
What unique skills or interests prepared you for your current career?
My full time career is a student, but I feel my love for fashion and accessories prepared me for my part-time career as an accessory designer.
What products do you offer?
I offer handmade jewelry and accessories using a unique combination of African wax fabric, fair trade beads, precious metals and beads, for men and women.
What ONE product or service do you provide that your competitors do not?
I would have to say my signature Ruffle Bib Necklace. They are definitely statement pieces that are unique!!
What inspired you at the beginning? And what keeps you going?
I would definitely say that I am inspired by my Nigerian culture, which is reflected in my accessory pieces. As a little girl I always used to make clothes for my dolls and enjoyed playing dress up with my mom’s clothes and jewelry. It was actually my father that encouraged me to start my own business. The fact that I can bring my ideas and creative design to life and people actually appreciate it, is what keeps me motivated.
by Sha’nece Austin “The PRoFASHIONal”