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How I Combine My Fashion & Beauty Business – DAMILOLAR, CEO MILOLAR Fashion

Pretty and hardworking entrepreneur, Damilola, is the CEO of Milolar Fashion, one of the leading brands in the fashion and skincare business in Nigeria. She is the complete definition of beauty and brains combined. She single-handedly built her business empire from the scratch through hard work and dedication and today she is a force to reckon with in the industry. 

In this exclusive interview with City People's Publisher, Dr SEYE KEHINDE, she talked about her success story, the many challenges she went through, her views on the pandemic and what everyone needs to know and do when starting a business.

How were you able to cope with the lockdown?
Lockdown was very good for me. It began as a significant turning point in my life in the sense that I discovered a higher and deeper truth about myself that helped me cope well with that particular event in my life.

It helped me discover the higher part of me that, I was not even aware of. It helped me develop myself more so it was good for me, though I gained more weight, which I am working to shed now.

It was a transformation period in my life. If I had not experienced it in spirituality I would have been lamenting like lots of others. I was able to unlock more truths about my individuality. I am now careful about what I give so much energy to.

Fear is how people perceive events, so we need to be careful of what we feed our minds with.

What are the lessons you learnt from the pandemic?
We need to understand that in life, there are some things we can’t change. We should pray for wisdom, for the things we can not change and wisdom for the things we can change and also pray to have knowledge to know the difference.
Covid-19 was beyond the knowledge of any human being, so your response to it determines the outcome of the event in your life, so be careful with how you respond to it. If only we are open minded, there are contents that are not beyond our comprehension, avoid words that are not empowering. Lots of people said things about Covid-19 such as the world is coming to an end, some even said it was owing to our sins, but truly, there’s nothing like that. Everything in life follows a law and principle. When there is a disturbance, the law is put in place to restore a balance.

I just see Corona as a way the nature and the law are restoring balance. Take for example, whether we like it or not, regardless of our feelings, the day will break and the sun will set in, so the issue of Corona is not the question of if we are righteous or not. We need to know there are some things beyond our comprehension. We should learn to be at peace with everything. The energy we have about what is going on will significantly be our personal experience. If you talk about post Covid, I am not where I used to be, but I'm not in a bad space business wise but spiritually, I'm even stronger. I experience peace, growth and increase. It may not have happened financially, but spiritually, I have taken the best out of it. We need to protect ourselves, keep our environment clean, take the necessary precautions and don’t invite what we don’t want into our lives through negative confession. That is my advice at this time. We need to work as a team and expect the best out of the situation. A lot of people tend to rub off one negative vibe into another these days, so we need to be careful because whatever we are doing right now is already creating the future. I think in all, it is safer to be intelligently ignorant than confessing negative things and making it worse than what it was before.

How do you balance all your roles in fashion, skincare and all that?
I just do it. I am very self conscious and very particular about my looks and my skin. I love to take care of myself and empower people around me. I am very good with what I do with my hands.

I was not born with a silver spoon and I'm blessed with a very fashionable mother and she is very beautiful. I love how she puts everything together and that rubbed off on me, so as I grew older, I wanted to do fashion. Even when  I became a beauty queen, I was just playing round it. It was not like I had a premeditated plan to emerge a Queen because I was really not skinny like most of the conventional beauty queens, but I just wanted to try it and that was how I got into the fashion industry so it became a personal thing for me to look good. So, I said if I can cater for myself, there are lots of other women whom I can cater for as well and that was how it all started.

When it comes to the skincare business, I never planned to do skincare but as time unfolded and in other to pursue my dreams and fulfil my desires, I kept discovering more about myself. So, while I was doing the fashion stuff, I discovered there is more I can offer women. The vision was bigger than fashion and skincare. I wanted to cater for every need of a woman in every aspect and again it’s not all about making money, I want to be able to create more value for women. Business is a service and once you see it that way, you will put in your best and once you do that, it will grow more than you can ever imagine. So, it’s something I have strong passion for and I'm managing it so well.

How do you respond to competition from other people in the same line of business?
I don’t see any competition. The fact that someone can do it is an indication that you can do it too. You need to sometimes believe in someone else’s belief to activate your own. When you see other people succeeding, that is a proof that you can succeed too. If you are able to look at life like that then you will understand that, there is no competition really. It’s just an opportunity to grow as an individual. So, I don’t compete with anybody, I don’t have any negative vibe with others doing the same business with me. I will always encourage people to do whatever business you want even if it’s fashion or skincare. I am always willing to teach people because that is how I see service. I believe if am able to empower you to do things you see me doing then that is an extension of my life. If there is anything I would love to be in life,  is to be immortal and by being that doesn’t mean I would live forever but being able to live in so many people long after I am gone. Such vision is not a vision regular people have. They hide their talents and vision and don’t even want to share it with anybody and I think it’s because we are ignorant, that is why we approach life that way. So, by making an impact on people ‘s life you will see it like you are collaborating with other women, not a competition. I don’t feel threatened and intimidated, am too  stuck to be intimidated.

What do you have to say to the fact that many say you are a combination of beauty and brains?
I am, indeed, humbled to hear that, honestly am just myself.

How did you discover yourself?
I work on myself. I try to always improve on myself through self study and through spirituality. Everything I bring to the public is embraced by people. For me, there’s this self force , internal drive that propels and tells me if I can do this, then I can do far more.

Humans don’t explore all their potential, we go far, then we stop. I do a lot of self study. I read a lot. According to one of my motivational speakers, he said the problem with man is not that we set goals and make it, but we set it too small. Sometimes, in our lives, we set a goal and we achieve it, then we set a bigger goal then we are afraid, forgetting that we set a goal and we are able to achieve it, it is an indication that we were do better than that, but we keep doubting ourselves through fears and doubts.

Many people don’t know they are largely responsible for the outcome of their lives, so when we set responsibility for those things in our lives that is when we are liberated. I am proud of my dreams and hustles.

What are those common mistakes you think ladies make in fashion and beauty?
Mistakes are good for us, they are indications that we need to do something differently. In life, some people just feel whatever they are set out to achieve should be guaranteed, no that is not true.

You have to be willing to make mistakes. From day one you should be willing to fall and willing to rise again, so your mistakes are yours to make. As a human being, one mistake you should avoid in life is to avoid making mistakes, you will never get ahead of by being conscious. Throw yourself in a pool and you don't know how to swim, you will find out that you will never sink, but rather you will swim because survival instinct is the strongest in man. Some would say if I perish I perish, you won’t perish.

Everybody’s life is peculiar to her/him. Your mistakes and failures are all peculiar to you but there are guidelines to follow. Take for example if you want to go into fashion business you need to ask yourself why you want to do it. And is your Why strong enough?

When  I started I had issues with lots of things but I never shied away from the fact that I had it all figured out. I was still willing to try and test myself. When I started the fashion thing I didn’t go to any fashion school. I bought machine and fabrics and also got a lady who just finished from a fashion school, but didn’t know much too because she was fresh. We went to YouTube, I did  a lot of self training with google. That was how I started. I made lots of mistakes, but never stopped and I kept telling myself the only person who can stop me is me. So, by the time I conquered one or two fears, I became fearless, bold and strong and that is all we need in life.

After identifying your WHY, are you willing to pay the PRIZE, are you willing to ask for help when the going gets tough? It doesn’t make you look weak, but makes you stronger. I am not talking about begging for money. When I had problem with my to do list, I met with Mr. Charles Otudor, he is a very important person in my life. He said Damilola, I can help you with that. He said every morning send me your to do list. He was my brand mentor at a time. Every morning I will draft it and send to him, I used him as my accountability partner, to be able to hold myself accountable for things I am set to do. I leveraged his help to do the things I have desire to do. If you try to do everything by yourself, you will fail so learn to leverage on other people ‘s time and resources, not in a beggy beggy way. Its very important to know why you are doing what you are doing and why you are asking for help because life will test you. I once worked with the Lagos State Government before I started my fashion business. At a point, I felt my life was stagnant, no challenges. As at the time, I got into the country after my masters I had ideas and was ready to change the Lagos State Government by myself (laughs)!!! I wrote proposals sent it to the governor. I had loads of ideas but the government kept cutting me off that I was just a level 9 Officer not a director. With time, I had to slow down everything. 

After some time, I started feeling  burnt out and I wanted to leave. Something kept telling me, oh! You can still be in service and do other things but I don’t believe in such life. If I am in service then it has to be 100 percent. I don’t show up in a place and be quiet, my presence needs to be felt. So, I was like if I can not give what I have here, then I need to get out. Then something in me was like oh! Remain in service, with time you will be a Permanent Secretary. I was like no, how can I just sit and watch till I get to that position? I would just get old, then, how would I impact people’s lives? So, I decided to check out and never looked back since then and it has remained one of the best decisions of my life. I have stretched myself and achieved so much I never imagined I could achieve.

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