Meet this lovely, vibrant, young and down to earth lady. Her name is Esther Adegunle (nee Toluwase), the founder of Belle and Grace (B & G). An economist turned entrepreneur with a great passion for promoting the beauty of Africa through the uniqueness of her products. Let’s meet her…
Q & A
- Please introduce yourself and your background.
I am Toluwase Esther, a passionate African, an Entrepreneur, Management consultant and God’s favourite! I have degrees in Economics and Business Analytics & Consulting. I love Africa; I see so much beauty in it and want to promote it!
- Please tell us about your work. How did Belle and Grace start?
B&G started about 3 years ago precisely April 2012, I yearned for an apron in my kitchen and couldn’t get one to buy (surprisingly)! I asked few friends all to no avail so I decided to design one! Since then we have madeover 10 designs and sold in hundreds. Over the years,we have increased our product portfolio to include tops, pocket squares and neckpieces.
- Where did the idea for Belle and Grace come from? Where do you find the inspiration for your designs?
Our inspiration is certainly fuelled by our passion to promote Africa’s beauty.
- Can you remember one of the first things you crafted? What makes it memorable?
The first product we made was a red and yellow apron, I remember being very excited about it and taking pictures of it in my kitchen.
- What are the challenges you face in business?
Every business has its challenges for us as a start up it’s juggling between the operational and strategic needs specifically when we have many orders and at the same time we are planning to launch a new product. Also the current infrastructural gap; electricity in the country. There are challenges in every business but we are learning to live above them.
- What is your most popular item?
Our clients have their favourite B&G product which varies from the aprons to the neck pieces for the ladies and its our best-in-class pocket squares for the gentlemen.
- To what extent do you draw upon your Nigerian heritage for your work?
We draw upon our African heritage and so not limited to Nigeria. There is so much beauty in Africa so we definitely have a lot to draw from! Most of our materials are sourced locally and we get high quality ones.
- What are your goals for the future, both work wise and life?
To continuously promote Africa’s beauty while building a truly African brand.
- What would people be surprised to learn about you?
Hmmm, people may be surprised to know everyone in my nuclear family studied Economics in UNILAG and I have a first class degree in it.
- For someone who wishes to take up this kind of career, what kind of advice would you give them? Also, if you could give one piece of advice to youths who want to start their own company, what would it be?
Think BIG, start small and GROW. So many other advice; research (use the internet and go to your market!), network with existing entrepreneurs and develop yourself!
- And finally, I would like to give you this opportunity to share two to four images of your work and tell us a little about each.
Our ColourMyAfrica neckpieces, they are very colourful and reminds us of how beautifully coloured Africa is! Each colour represents a unique part of Africa; green our natural resources, blue our loyalty and faithfulness, purple innovation and royalty! We love to colour Africa beautifully!
Our best-in-class pocket squares: This is our new product which was launched some days ago, it’s our first accessory for gentlemen. It can be worn to the office and black tie events.
Aprons: Our beautiful aprons are suitable as souvenirs for occasions and can be customised for the event.
Well done Esther, it is obvious you have grown over the years and growing fast. I had the opportunity to meet with Esther and can tell you that not only is she creative but she’s also very friendly and easy going.
Check out all Belle & Grace beautiful products on Bellafricana Marketplace.
Click to her shop: www.bellafricana.com/shop/belle-grace/
Thanks Esther for participating in Bellafricana’s Exclusive Interviews!
We wish you the very best in your business and look forward to future partnership with you.