Crownlek Afrik CEO, Balogun Olamilekan, Tells the Story of His Life and Career

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From a humble beginning to a huge success, Olamilekan Balogun has put in tremendous hard work and dedication to reach where he is right now. Growing up as a lone hustler in the streets of Lagos, although his father asked him out of home at age 14, he didn’t realize his fate lied somewhere else. Soon, he developed interest in tailoring after a stint at importing fabrics into Nigeria from Asian countries. He said in this interview that he remembered the family trade, fabrics making, when everything was lost and he needed to survive. Today, he stitches for the rich and affluent. One of his clients is former Nigeria’s president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. He told the Editor, FOLORUNSHO HAMSAT, his story. Excerpts…

 

At the peak of your rise to prominence, you presented your first collections at the Calabar Carnival, what year was that and how did you get that opportunity?

We were invited for fashion show in 2006, the organisers were M-Idol. It was a successful show which was attended by some top government officials and they later mentioned us to the governor’s wife. I was at the International fashion show organised by Gov. Imoke’s wife to raise money for the less privileged.

 

 

Were you set out for tailoring or becoming a tailor just happened by chance?

My love for creativity tailored my path towards tailoring. I didn’t choose to be a tailor.

 

 

When did you start your own label, Crownlek and why did you choose Crownlek for a name?

I started my label ‘Crownlek’ in 2004. I named my brand Crownlek because my designs represent royalty. Also, I am from a royal family.

 

One of your VIP patrons is the former Nigerian president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, how did you get that opportunity and how do you feel about it?

President Obasanjo is like a father to me, we are from the same home town and he loves creative African work which we always replicate in our designs. When Baba Obasanjo was the president, his policy of banning imported fabrics almost ruined my life, I was one of the victims of the policy, My container of imported fabrics was banned, after three months of producing locally, my first major contract was from Bible Society of Nigeria where Baba Obasanjo was the special guest and I designed for all the ushers and some special guests, that was the beginning of the journey.

 

 

You must have been enjoying more opportunities from knowing and becoming Chief Obasanjo’s tailor, tell us about your experience.

His name has opened doors for us. In fact, I am well known as his tailor and some people now call me ‘Omo Baba’.

 

 

Do you design all of Chief Obasanjo’s attires or there is a specific style that you do for him?

We don’t design all his attires. There are other interests too.

 

 

Most of the designs you do are African, is Crownlek all about African designs?

To an extent, yes. We are all-African and we have not exhausted African designs. I don’t see a reason why we should go foreign.

 

 

Would you say you are fulfilled as a celebrity tailor having top VIP figures as clients?

I give God the glory. I am fulfilled but I will be more fulfilled when we have more celebrities on our list of clientele.

 

 

How would you rate the fashion industry having been around for a while?

The industry is not doing badly. In my honest opinion, the growth has been stupendous.

 

You are happily married, how supportive is your wife in your profession and how do you cope having a lot of ladies around your business?

I want to thank my beautiful wife for being supportive by giving me peace of mind. And for the ladies around me, I want to thank my wife for that too (general laughter).

 

Moving forward, what is the next target for your brand, Crownlek?

Our target has always been to dominate the African market with creative indigenous designs and we crave to see our designs being worn to the offices from Monday to Friday.

 

You are veering into entertainment with the introduction of ‘Amala Hangout’, what do you hope to achieve with that idea and are you going to make it a permanent programme?

Yes, it was borne out of the zeal to promote our culture and identity. What I’m already doing with my clothing line, I want to do with our foods and do the same in tourism.

 

Tell us who you are and where you started from.

I had nobody to call mine when I started life. I was disowned by my father at the age of 14. I grew up on the streets of Lagos and I did a whole lot of jobs to survive but without the ambition of having a good education.

 

So, when was your turning point in life?

At that young age, I became an importer of textile materials. I was importing from India and Thailand. But when Chief Obasanjo became president, my goods were impounded and I lost everything. I had to go back to my family trade, fabric making, Batik and tie & dye. That was where the idea of fashion designing came up.

Read interview in webpages below;

 

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You design eye-catching costumes, what are your plans to penetrate the Nollywood too just as you’re having the attention of celebrity entrepreneurs?

We have our eyes in every sector of the economy, Nollywood inclusive. Definitely, the Crownlek brand is getting bigger and better.