Yeye Aderonke Mohammed is one of the outstanding jewellery merchant who has been able to carve a niche for herself within and outside Nigeria. Her brand Bonydothan luxury Jewelery is one of the leading jewellery brand in Canada where socialites rush to.
Her contribution towards impacting lives in her community and beyond has earned her a double chieftaincy title of Yeye Aje/Yeye Bobagunwa from Oyan Kingdom. Despite her huge success in the business, Yeye Aderonke’s passion for education is second to none. She belongs to the school of thought that Education is the key to freedom.
This is why, despite the business challenge, went ahead to study at the University of Toronto, Canada, alongside her two sons. Her first son, Tobi Sogbesan made it to the list of graduate to watch list in University of Toronto class 2020.
He is an exceptionally brilliant young man and Yeye Aderonke is immensely proud of him and his brothers. After his third year, Tobi spent 16 months working at the Molson Coors Brewing Company through the PEY Co-op Program, where he recommended process improvements that led to energy savings of around $100,000 annually.
As part of his fourth-year capstone project, he took a trip to Corn Island, Nicaragua to help protect a local freshwater spring from saltwater incursions.
Sogbesan was active in the U of T Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers throughout his undergraduate degree. Most recently, he served as the sponsorship lead for NSBEHacks, securing funding from partners such as Google, Shopify, IBM and Bloomberg.
After graduation, Sogbesan plans to continue working in the energy sector and dreams of one day starting his own company. He believes his education has been as much about ethics as it was about technical knowledge.
Yeye Aderonke spoke to City People Magazine, SHOLA BAMIDELE on the journey so far and the secret of her staying powers in the jewelry business
Shed more light into your growing up as a young Aderonke then; where are you from, your parents and etc?
I was born in Lagos Nigeria. My dad and mum are from Ogun state, specifically Ijebu Ode and Ago Iwoye respectively. In my high school days, l grew up in Ijebu-Ode with my grandmother who was a major clothing Merchant at that time. After finishing my secondary school education in Ijebu-Ode, I returned to Lagos to continue my education at Yaba College of Technology and University of Lagos. After graduation, I worked briefly at NNPC Falomo in the cash office department. Then l moved straight into business, after about a decade and half, I relocated to Toronto to obtained additional diploma from George Brown College and University of Toronto.
You are one of the top Jewelry merchants in Canada. How did your journey start and what keeps you going?
That’s a great question. I believed my experience growing up with my grandmother who was a business merchant has motivated me to love business. I started in 1996, traveling to Dubai and Italy to buy Jewelry and other clothing materials, but in between when telecoms arrived in Nigeria, I quickly digressed into Telecommunication and became trade partners with most of the Telecommunication companies such as MTN, Vmobile, Globacom, Starcom and others.As a CEO of Bayso Global Nig Ltd, we became a major player in our region. Later when I relocated to Canada, my passion for business never dies. I registered Borrydollar group of computers and I started showcasing my products and making meaningful connections.…what keeps me going?
Apart from my passion, I think honesty, timeliness and perseverance are crucial. Customers appreciate when you are transparent and makes delivery promptly to meet their specific needs.
Also when things are not going the way you expect them in terms of sales, your ability to come up with business strategies to increase sales and persevere is really important. Some of the strategies that have worked so well for me is to keep the profit margin extremely low to beat competitors. This is one of the strategies I learnt as a trade partner with Telecommunication companies while in Nigeria. We learnt that you also work as a social worker in Peel Region specifically Mississauga in Canada.
How are you able to cope as a team leader, business woman, student, wife and a mother?
My role as a team leader in a Violence Against women sector in Mississauga, has been challenging and demanding but because of the passion for humanity and social justice! I am able to cope well. Whenever I look back to the many lives that have impacted positively especially in a racially diverse community in greater Toronto areas, I feel fulfilled and happy. In terms of managing work, business and home, it has been going on smoothly. I just make sure I find a balance in everything, and surely having a supportive and prayerful husband is absolutely a plus. I am grateful for that.
God has also blessed me and my husband with absolutely brilliant children as well and I’m very grateful. God has been good to me.
You are also very fashionable and stylish. What determines your mode of dressing? Generally I just love looking good and making others look good. Regardless of how am feeling, just like to look good not necessarily putting on expensive accessories. It can be simple and nice.
You are very beautiful and gifted with a fantastic figure, how do you cope with male admirers?
Thanks for the compliment, I understand that in our society women are always being subjected to male gaze and been complimented with word such as Angel, queen beauty and the list goes on but I am not particularly moved by those language or comments that comes with the gaze.
Not only has Borrydollar Luxury Jewelry dominated Canada social scene, you are also known globally.
How easy was it to be successful as a female entrepreneur?
I love this question..Being a women’s advocate, I am always looking at the intersection of gender with many other factors including business. Living in a Patriarchy world, domestic work done by all women are not paid for hence it becomes normalized. I value women that are in business, the combination of being a woman and in business is always demanding as women are always being limited to certain level of achievement. An example is the glass ceiling for women in work force.
What is your advise for young female entrepreneurs?
Having a role model is important to successful business owners but it is not a must. While working hard, just remain focused despite challenges ahead. I will not tell you it is a free ticket to success but your ability to sustain challenging moments will help you. Finally let your “yes” be “yes”. You will need to build trust with your customers in order to expand your network. My watch words are integrity and endurance. Slowly and steadily you will get there.
How do you feel getting double chieftaincy titles Yeye Aje/Yeye Bobagunwa from Oyan Kingdom?
I feel validated, supported and loved by my husband’s family and his town in general. I recognize this as a great privilege and I thank the kabiyesi his Royal Majesty, Oba Kelani Adekeke Oyedare, the Oluyeye I of Oyan Kingdom and his beautiful wife Olori Abosede Oyedare, My father in-law Sheikh Abdulahmeed Mohammed popularly known as Shehu Shehu Omilonlo (general overseer of Al Mizan Muslim Mission nationwide) and my handsome and God fearing husband Alhaji Abdulakeem Mohammed – the Aare Bobagunwa of Oyan Kingdom..My biggest thank you goes to all my friends, family members and customers who made it down to Oyan to celebrate me and my husband.
Yeye Aje was given as a recognition to my immeasurable experience, continuous success as an entrepreneur and positive contribution to the economic and social conditions of Oyan Kingdom.