By Oluwatoyin Adeleye
You know how they say a trial will convince you? Well, sometimes, multiple trials will point you in the right direction in life.
Such is the story of two students, Michael Basola and Toni Abiru, who finally made a hit with their business and are cashing in.
20-year-old Michael and his friend, 21-year-old Toni had dabbled in different crafts before they eventually settled for their currently thriving business, Waves of Afro.
Michael is a graphics designer studying Computer Science in Covenant University, Nigeria, while Toni is a music producer studying Business, Organisations and Society (Major) and French Language (Minor) at Franklin and Marshall College, USA.
These undergraduates co-founded a business enterprise that makes music and fashion content available to their customers and how did they come up with the idea?
Simple actually – Michael says he had tried his hand in music and lost interest, while Toni says it was “trial and error and failures and successes.”
Yep! Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Their co-founded enterprise, Waves of AFRO Creative Group is a multi-media creative hub, which aims to showcase content inspired by Nigerian culture and history. These include graphic designs, fashion, merchandise, clothing and video content.
So these two “have worked together to establish a clothing line, create designs and produce music that was inspired by our upbringing and experiences in Nigeria.”
Another lesson: Business idea stemmed from personal experiences.
Luckily for Michael and Toni, their families have been supportive of their 3-year-old business, on the condition that they finish school and take their studies seriously.
Toni says: “Our parents are very supportive of the business. They’ve helped us in so many ways from finances to moral support to networking and we honestly can’t thank them enough. Our siblings too are also very supportive. For me personally it was my sister that introduced me to Accelerate TV. That’s just an example of the way they keep our business in their heads and try to find opportunities to help us.”
Michael adds that: “My parents were not totally fine with Afro at first because they felt that the way we were going we would start thinking of dropping out and all but I gave them the assurance that I was going to finish my first degree with or without Afro and once I told them they started to support the business. They love the fact that I was able to find my gift early and that I was able to use it to do something very creative.”
Naturally, these two have encountered challenges.
From combining business with school, to owning a business at such a young age, to even gaining people’s trust.
But this did not deter them.
“It wasn’t very easy for me when it came to our first production of shirts, I was younger and I didn’t know much about business in terms of cost price, selling price, profit, loss etc. I lost a lot of money on my first set but with time we were able to network and improve and now things are going steady,” says Michael.
Toni adds that: “For a good amount of time, all the production and publicity of the content was handled mostly by the two of us and at that stage it was quite difficult to be consistent because we had to balance our regular life with the business.
“Another challenge we had was with the production of clothing line and finding producers for it. We had to do extensive research, visit markets and meet multiple people who offered us different options. However, we have been able to find a more than suitable producer for our merchandise and we plan to collaborate with the company for a very long time.”
These undergraduates advice their peers to go for their dreams, regardless of how many times they fail at first.
Michael says: “My advice to all young people is no dream is impossible to accomplish as long as you believe in it and you are ready to work towards making that dream a reality. It all started as a dream for us and so far, God has made it a reality. Always remember one thing though, your skills or talent or gift will take you far in life as long as you put God first. One more thing though, education is very important.”
Hear Toni: “The advice I received before Waves of AFRO was created was that it is important to find something that you can be passionate about. Most of the time, this requires trial and error but the key is to accept the fact that trial and error and failures and successes are inevitable. When you do your best, sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. When you’re learning a skill, there will be confusing days and there will be days you feel like an expert. It is all part of the grind and the grind should be embraced. This will make things easier, and keep you going. You can’t give up.”
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