Lara Aduwo, is one of the popular fabric merchant on Instagram. Before the advent of Instagram or social media marketing, she has been into fabric business. She’s been into the business for over 16years. Lara runs a luxury fabric brand La-Viva. She is also one of the happening babes on Lagos social scene.
A few days back, she was at the wedding of her niece and there she talked about how she started her fabric business, and how Instagram has influenced business. In an interview with City People’s society reporter, TITILOPE OGUNLEYE, she spoke on her background and what led her to fabric business among many other thing.
La-Viva is a popular brand, how did you coin the name?
My name is Lara, but I did not want to call it Lara fabrics. So, I took the first two letters of my name and added Viva to it to make it stylish and that was how I got La-Viva fabrics.
Where and how did you start your clothing business?
I started 16 years ago. When I was 25 I started with cooperate wears. Most of the times when I travel out of Nigeria, I get cooperate wears from Turkey, USA to mention a few but I noticed that cooperate wears don’t sell as much as fabric and also cooperate wears are not as luxurious as fabrics. So, I decided to venture into fabrics. The amazing thing is that, I started La-Viva like about 6 years ago but God has been marvelous unto me; he has shown me. His favour which I can not deny.
I actually started La-Viva with my friends. Anytime they need Aso-Ebi they call on me, I would take them to the market, I would combine colours and picked quality fabrics for them and they kept coming because whenever I do that for them, it comes out beautiful, so they could trust my judgment on designs, colours and fabrics. So, I gave it a thought that since this business is what I love to do and I am doing well in it, why don’t I start up my own fabric store so that my friends can patronize me, and that was how I started LA-Viva. I must confess, God has been faithful.
Let’s talk about your background. How was growing up for you and who are your parents?
Growing up was fun, I grow up in Agege, Lagos and I lived there for about 30 years before I moved to Oniru for 8 years before I got married. All my life, I have been in Agege, Oko Oba to be précised, so I can say I am a product of Agege. My father is Alhaji Abdul Azeez Olorunju and my mother is Alhaja Remilekun Kausarat. My Dad is from Ijebu Ode and my mum is from Lagos.
I went to Methodist Primary School in Agege, then Sunny Mba Memorial School in Ijebu Ode for my secondary, and I went to the University of Ibadan but I did not graduate from there because of cultism issues. So, I had to go to the University of Lagos where I graduated and from there I started clothing business.
What are those things people don’t know about you?
Nothing … (smiles) people know I am a very strong woman who does not take nonsense. I don’t disrespected. Anyone close to me would know I appreciate my friends a lot and I don’t joke with them.
Fabrics business is a female dominated business, how have you been able to thrive in the business and what are the challenges?
God has been my sustainer in the business. Yes, there are challenges; some people will place an order today and tomorrow they say No, or they say they want another fabric. But I have a policy now, we don’t do refund or exchange. In some cases about 2 persons complained that the fabrics are not complete but we found out that it was not properly measured by the customers and that is the reason but all that can be managed.
What led you to fabrics business of all businesses?
Passion. I love to look good and I love to wear quality things, so what I can wear is what I sell. I don’t sell what I can not wear. My fabrics at La-Viva are Luxury wears.
We have pocket friendly wears too, Aso-Ebi series and lots more.
You started fabrics business with how much?
(laughs) Ah I started my business with 3,000 Dollars. My first trip to China was just 3,000 Dollars.
What stands La-Viva out from most fabrics stores?
Most of our fabrics at La-Viva are luxurious. I make sure I sell exclusive fabrics; I don’t just sell what you can see around. Our fabrics stand out. What you will buy from La-Viva, you can’t see it anywhere.
Who are your friends?
I have a lot of friends, but my intimate are Rukayat Aboderin, Bimbola Jola-Ade, although Bimbola is my sister but we are very close.
You don’t look 41, how have you been able to remain this beautiful and young?
I don’t think or worry too much. I leave issues to God and I make sure I use good cream and I eat healthy as well.
Most fabric merchants are on Instagram. Do you think that social platform is helping the business?
Yes, a whole lot. We make a lot of sells via Instagram. Please Instagram don’t stop… because a lot of people will go down if Instagram is stopped. I don’t run online store alone, I have a big store which is physical but I have to join Instagram because the social platform advertises more and reaches out to more people.
Do you think Instagram has helped a lot of people and business owners to live fake lives?
Yes that’s true. Instagram has helped a lot of people to live fake lives. I would not say because I want to go to party I will now go and borrow jewelries or give fabrics to expensive designers. If you can afford Jaybee, Moya, Laurex, yes but I don’t do that every time. I learnt how to make up from make-up room. I can not use all my business money on expensive designers and make ups. So a lot of people are fake on Instagram but it has also helped genuine business owners to market their products, goods and services very well.
Who are you mentors in the fabrics business?
Aunty Kuburat of Kubbis fabrics and her daughters, Tosin, Debisi of Desol fabrics and so many others.