….Billionaire’s daughter who is obsessed with the needle & thread
….Says: “Oil & gas might be a family business but it isn’t my passion”
BY JOSEPHINE AGBONKHESE
Mobola Akinruntan is the daughter of billionaire monarch, Oba Obateru Akinruntan, the Olugbo of Ugboland in Ondo State and Chairman of Obat Oil, one of Nigeria’s largest oil companies. While that might mean the world to many, to Mobola, it’s only her father’s own portfolio and not hers as a distinct individual.
The fair-skinned, soft spoken lady is therefore carving a niche for herself in the fashion industry where her label, Login House, is fast becoming a household name, having participated in various local and international fashion shows. In this interview with Weekend Woman, the Ogun State University graduate of Accountancy reveals more.
How long have you been with the needle and thread?
For eight years. Officially, the business is actually three this March. I had been designing on a personal level for friends and family right from when I was still living in the UK. I returned to Nigeria five years ago.
I just love designing. I think I took after my mum and dad. But my dad is my biggest role model; I love the way he dresses. From gaining inspiration from him, I gradually developed flair for cloth-making, bought my sewing machine and started making clothes for family members back in the UK. I remember buying clothes for my kids from Harold and trying to reproduce them. I was doing that before I finally decided to go learn formally in 2006.
There’s always the tendency to toe paths that are more lucrative. Why pursue this when your dad has got a business empire in which you could just pitch your tent?
Oil and gas might be a family business but it isn’t my passion. What people do not understand is, unless you have passion for something, you soon get tired of doing it. Yes, it has more money than fashion. But I still prefer fashion designing because it’s where my heart lies. Though I have a stake in my dad’s oil and gas business, I would rather do fashion than focus on the oil business. I actually enjoy using my hands.
In fact, I also have a food line, Login Meals, which I am re-launching when Login is celebrating its three-year anniversary. I enjoy designing and cooking so much that I can be in my office cutting till 2.am and can also be in the kitchen till 4.am, cooking.
Is this food line into outdoor catering or what?
It’s like outdoor catering but what we do is focus on servicing offices and homes with daily meals. We can provide you, for instance, with five litres of soup or stew, etc. We also service in-house parties with already packed ready-made meals.
…and are your parents happy with your decision?
It wasn’t accepted at the initial stage, but now, trust me, they are even ready to invest in it. They are now proud of me and nobody complains any more.
People of royal blood, like yourself, aren’t expected to be good with their hands like you’ve turned out to…
(Cuts in) People keep telling me that but I think that’s a nature I picked from my dad. My dad is a very, very industrious person. My mum too is very good in business. Even now, they’re still investing in businesses they find worthy. My siblings too are also like that; almost every one of them has their own thriving businesses.
You’re barely three-year-old in the industry but you’ve accomplished so much. What makes Login House stand out?
By the grace of God, I always get right the desired designs of my clients. It’s so much a factor that some people bring their fabrics made by other designers to me, just so I can put my Login touch to it. That has given me the edge and flair to work more.
…and what survival skills have you embraced as an entrepreneur in this recession?
I try to put more efforts into my creativity. The recession has indeed made the business more competitive but I will also say it is bringing out the best in people like myself; in the sense that, unlike before when I didn’t have young aspiring designers in my employment, now I have over 15 of them. They are people we are actually training at Login House, but, on the other hand, they are contributing to the business by helping out in different ways. This is increasing production output as well because it makes the work faster.
However, training these girls is my way of giving back to society at this difficult time, because they do not pay me. I pay them instead. I actually recruited them on the basis of their desire and love for fashion designing, as well as willingness to grow their skills.
I still rely on foreign tailors from Ivory Coast and Ghana, as well as beaders from Milan, though. In fact, they are also assisting in grooming these girls.
Where do you see Login House in five years?
Login would have been more like a ready-to-wear fashion house where people would just come and buy whatever dress they want. In two years actually, we would have started doing that. The plan now is to put together a bigger factory. Already, I have people who are ready to buy into the business plan; something more like what H&M does abroad, but ours will be all ethnic. We’ll have outlets in different locations too.