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Inspiration Africa: “Conquer your fear, follow your heart and break boundaries” – Aderonke Adefalujo, Style blogger and CEO, Rhonkefella Brand.

Aderonke Adefalujo is the vivacious and stylish brain behind the Rhonkefella brand. A professional make-up artist turned fashion blogger and now influencer, Aderonke has set a new pace in the world of styling and fashion blogging in Nigeria.

Understanding the tremendous use of social media and its impact, she has successfully created a business around her love and passion for fashion. With the support of a loyal following, she continues to share her love for affordable fashion while empowering women to look their best without breaking the bank.

We caught up with her for a quick chat about her work, her soon to be released collection and the journey so far with the Rhonkefella brand.

Can you share a little about Aderonke Adefalujo?

Aderonke Adefalayo is the first of two girls, and a graduate of Theatre Arts from the University of Abuja. I am a lover of the arts which includes makeup artistry, acting and fashion; I am a realist and partly an introvert despite the nature of my work. If I am not making beautiful art, I am indoors relaxing and watching the best of our local dramas.

 What inspires you/ your creative muse?

When people ask me this question, I really don’t know what they expect as most people usually wait to hear me say fashion, but the fact is, my biggest inspiration lies in my faith and trust in God. My work is a talent from God and I just work on it to the best of my ability; my style is original and unique. My creativity lets me recycle clothes in unique ways, I can wear one outfit in four unique ways and still achieve the looks I am aiming for.

Don’t get me wrong, without trying to sound overly modest or superior, I also get inspired by my colleagues in the fashion industry, but my aim from day one for my brand has been to be unique, stylish and to inspire a movement of women to be uniquely and effortless dressed without breaking the bank.

Why did you decide to venture into this line of business?

I decided to venture into fashion because I have passion for it, if I wasn’t into the fashion business I’d probably spend my whole income on fashion, so why not make it a business. Secondly, I went into fashion blogging because I realized bloggers weren’t doing my style of blogging in Nigeria, as at when I started, bloggers weren’t even willing to wear an outfit twice for the fear of critics calling them cheap which I felt was insane. My style of fashion blogging is focused on beautifully restyling, recycling and repeating outfits as should be – I focused on showing them ways to wear Nigerian fabrics to promote our own culture and affordably too. I did this with my segment called the Tripple R Thursday.

You found a niche market in the fashion industry as a fashion blogger, tell us about the experience and the business side of it?

The experience of being a fashion blogger has been fun, nothing is easy even though I make it look effortless. Someday soon, I plan to do a behind the scene videos of how I put the outfits together and the work that goes into the flawless and beautiful pictures that showcase my work. I also enjoy the inspirational aspect of what I do, I get to share inspirational everyday issues and victories because it would be a disservice to have such a following and end up making it all about fashion and beauty alone. Now, to the business aspect of it. People think we buy all those clothes we showcase, sometimes we do, sometimes we are paid to advertise and promote upcoming designers especially when you have an organic followership like mine and they see the response your work gets in terms of interactions which encourages more companies to partner and collaborate with us as style bloggers.

It isn’t always about money as well, sometimes you find that fashion designer whose potential and work you truly believe in, so you support them in every way you can – this helps you build networks and lifelong support systems in both ways. When their work gains traction through your platform you get to grow even more as well.

 You seem to have garnered a lot of traction in such a short while since you started your platform, tell us about the journey so far?

I started as a makeup artist for three years professionally before going into the fashion aspect of blogging. When I started the fashion journey, I was criticized and told to face what I knew how to do best. I refused to let cheap talk get to me, I focused squarely on my goals and passion, I did not spend a dime in buying followers of any kind. I make it a point to block negative comments and unruly behaviour from my platform as I plan to stay on the positivity lane with my work and everything that goes into doing what I do.

I am super thankful and inspired by the traction my work has garnered over time, I really appreciate the people who took their time to repost my work, encourage and make positive suggestions every now and then. In all, I owe it all to God.

You have a loyal following on Social Media, can you share some tips on how you have maximised the power of social media in promoting your brand?

These days there is more to being a fashion influencer, you need to connect with your audience and this is one aspect of my brand that I find joy in doing. I see my network and followers as the brand family, thanks to them I am getting more brands to partner with me in pushing my vision in the right direction.

Another key is originality and content; this has helped me a lot. Well, I have to try not to give too much away, If I shared all my tips that would be giving away my brand secrets (chuckles). I will leave the rest for future masterclasses.

  The Nigerian fashion industry has evolved over the years, but many still believe Nigerian designers are out of touch with the Nigerian market in terms of prices, what are your views on this? Especially from someone who deals with them directly?

It is absolutely true that “some” of our Nigeria designers/clothing brands are overpriced, but then another fact remains that some of these brands have their audience and target market. Some of these brands are luxury brands with a loyal following, and I refuse to blame them for focusing on the market that meets their demand and supply. We need to change the mentality of the made in Nigeria products being ridiculously cheap or under-priced; I am one person whose fashion taste isn’t proportional to cost. I will be launching my Rhonkefella collection very soon with affordability being one of my key focus, I want to dress up the everyday woman in my Rhonkefella pieces and still maintain the quality levels despite the cost.

I personally wouldn’t condemn any fashion designer whose clothes seems out of reach for the average man or woman price wise, we need to remember that a large portion of fabric in the Nigerian market is imported and with the rise of forex, it will be impossible to meet production cost and still remain cheap.

Our fashion is evolving and with time we will get there.

 You have been described as one of Nigeria’s influential fashion bloggers. With fame and recognition comes the downside of social media, how have you been able to handle the other side of using social media?

Like I mentioned earlier, I use my block buttons when trolls try to be all nasty. Life isn’t that hard, my page is like my home, you accept what you want in your home and you reject what you don’t want, so I really do not experience much negativity. Also I respect myself, I am careful of what I put out there considering the amount of followership, we all can’t reason the same way so I have that in mind not to spark unnecessary controversy

 Where do you see your journey in 5 years from now?

The RHONKEFELLA brand should have gone global 5 years from now by God’s grace, in a few weeks I will be releasing my own collection which will be available for purchase with the everyday women in mind.

Who are those you look up to in the business world

I respect every style blogger who has been there before me, and I am ALWAYS loyal. But it’s hard for me to mention any as my role model considering that my style is different. I had to just launch out and do my own thing without seeking anyone’s approval other than God.

What words of advice would you share with young people who look up to you on finding one’s passion and maximising it?

I emphasize this – the things that you love to do are not random, they are your calling, key into it and find a way of making money from it. Our biggest obstacle is “Us”, we fear a lot of what people will say or whether we can make it.  If you can conquer fear and follow your heart miracles will happen, if you can listen to your heart you will break boundaries, and finally be original everyone out there has been taken, so be yourself.


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