Inspiring Entrepreneur

How Nike Ogunlesi Started Ruf ‘n’ Tumble and Three Business Lessons from Her

Nike Ogunlesi was born by a physician father and Librarian mother who wanted her to become a lawyer. She got admission to study law at Ahmadu Bello University but less than a month after gaining entry into the university, she packed her bags and went back home because, according to her, she wasn’t cut- out for it.


As expected, her parents were enraged by her action. Unsure of what exactly she would want to do, the 19-year-old Nike was advised by her mum to come to join her clothing line, Betty-O, while she takes one year to figure out what she would like to do.


She honoured the invitation, and that became her window to self-discovery. She said, “that the invitation was one of the best gifts my mother ever gave me.”


She continued with the Betty-O clothing line until she got married and decided to be a full-time housewife. As a housewife, she focused on raising her kids until one day; she ran out of pyjamas for her them. That became the event that triggered a chain of events that culminated in the renowned Ruf ‘n’ Tumble as we know it today.


She recounted the event that inspired her starting her fashion business: “My three children ran out of pyjamas, and I went out looking for substitutes to buy, but could not find anything I felt was good enough for my money. So, I went ahead and made pyjamas for my kids. I mentioned it to a few people that I made pyjamas for my kids, and they suddenly started asking me to make for them too.”


As she sewed for people, she transitioned from housewife to a businesswoman sewing pyjamas for her neighbours and friends. She started thinking of making it a full-time business to serve a broader market. However, she needed conviction on the viability of her idea. So she went in search of answers.

“I decided to find out how well the business could do. I got into my car and decided to go to every single market I could get to no matter how difficult the terrain. It was not an MBA informed decision at all. It was just the right thing to do.”


She continued making pyjamas alone and selling until her husband asked her why she can’t make other clothes in addition to the pyjamas.


That became the push to expand her product line as she ventured into other clothing lines. In the year 2000, Ruf ‘n’ Tumble was officially launched with the mission “to provide great clothes for kids: durable, comfortable, versatile clothing that will give our customers value for their money.”


Aside from having an online store where anyone can order clothes, Ruf ‘n’ Tumble has expanded to 15 brick and mortar stores across Nigeria.


Three Lessons You Can Learn From Nike Ogunlesi


Your Need can be a Pointer to Your Big Business Idea

Her eureka moment was when she realised that she has a need that was yet to be fully explored in her environment. She found the solution and started providing it to people like her with the same requirements.


So, when you are thinking of a business to venture into, think of the persistent problem you or your close family and friends have. Find the solution for yourself, test it and then extend the same answer to the question you have found to others.

Don’t Be Quick to Jump at Any Business Idea

It is not enough to find a gap in the market; you need to be sure if there are enough people that need the solution you want to provide.  This is called testing the viability of your idea. Nike had to ensure that the business was viable by doing an informal market survey to research demand and price before investing in the concept.


Don’t Allow Your Success Stop You.


She didn’t stop with making pyjamas for her neighbours; she also served a broader market and increased the products she was offering.


When you start making some money from your business, don’t be satisfied with the small success. Look at how you can grow your business and make it bigger.


You won’t lose by growing bigger than you are today, but remaining where you are will deny those waiting for your solution what they would have benefited from your growth.

However, grow wisely, brick by brick.


Growth can be in the form of increasing the services you provide or product line or starting a new branch to serve a bigger market. Always think of scaling and expansion, no matter how big you have grown.


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