Adenke Ogunlesi is the founder of the Nigerian children’s clothing line Ruff ‘n’ Tumble. From a small shop where she and her mother were key employees, Adenike, known as Nike, turned Ruff ‘n’ Tumble into an instantly recognizable brand and built a reputation as one of Nigeria’s leading children’s clothing manufacturers.
My kids are out of pajamas. And I sew clothes for women. So I decided to make pajamas for the kids.”
In her second year of law at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Adenike dropped out of school, not knowing what to do with her life. She then reluctantly accepts her mother’s invitation to work in her mother’s atelier. This experience helped her understand who she is and what she wants to do.
“I started selling in 1996 while working in the back seat of a car. Bazaars are everywhere, I am there, my table and suitcase, my children, and sometimes my husband. That’s how it all started then.”
Today, Ruff ‘N’ Tumble is a rapidly growing business with 150 employees, 13 offices across the country and a distribution network on the coast of West Africa.
“Now we don’t export. We export to the West African coast. Yes, we export to the entire West African coast. But I don’t care about the US or the UK. I wish there was a huge market potential here.”
Ms. Ogunlesi has received numerous awards, including City People Awards – Children’s Fashion Achievement Award in 2001, The Glam Awards 2014 – Special Award as a Game Changer in the Children’s Fashion Industry, and Nigerian Entrepreneur Award 2014 – Creativity and craftsmanship. She is also a mentor for the Mara Foundation and a finalist for the CNBC All Africa Business Leaders Awards (AABLA) in the Business Woman of the Year 2014 category. She was featured in the documentary “Africa Open for Business” and was recognized as an entrepreneur by the FATE Foundation. Model 2005
Mrs. Ogunlesi has been a non-executive director of Lafarge Africa Plc since March 11, 2015.