The first time I was opportuned to meet Mr Bayo Ademiluyi (founder of Ty-tys) was at the Chevron (Afro-centric) bazaar. It was so random as one of the Bellafricana team had just posted an article about Ty-tys which caught my attention. Mr Ademiluyi is very jovial, down to earth and talented of course. I couldn’t help but interview him to hear the story of how Ty-tys came about.
Q & A
- Please introduce yourself and your background.
My name is Bayo Ademiluyi. I am from Ile-Ife, Osun state, Nigeria and I am a lawyer by profession and Head of Design at Ty-Tys.
- Please tell us about your work. How did Ty-tys start?
We produce hand-made distinctive neckwear – ties, bowties and scarves – using traditional African fabrics, predominantly aso-oke. Aso oke (pronounced ah-SHAW-okay) is a hand loomed cloth woven by the Yoruba people of south west Nigeria. Aso oke means top cloth in the English language. We have recently expanded our range to include pocket squares, laptop bags and ladies’ tote bags, and wall hangings.
- Where did the idea for Ty-tys come from? Where do you find the inspiration for your designs?
The idea of Ty-Tys was conceived about 4 years ago. I was getting ready to attend a wedding and had been toying with the idea of incorporating the aso-ebi strip (usually sewn as a fila [cap]) into an outfit that wasn’t traditional – I thought “What if I want to wear a suit?” It was actually sort of a “Eureka” moment. I find inspiration from things I see around me every day – outfits, colours, magazines, etc and also from my very weird imagination!
- Can you remember one of the first things you crafted? What makes it memorable?
It was a tie made from purple silk aso-oke; I still have it somewhere. It represents the genesis of where we are today.
- How long does it take to design and make a particular work? Can you give a short summary of the processes that go into each one?
It varies, and depends on the item in question. On average, most neckwear will take between 3-5 hours and our wall hangings often require more than 4 days to complete.
- What are the challenges you face in business?
The same as virtually all business owners in this country namely:
– Erratic power supply and the associated costs
– Shortage of skilled labour
– Access to affordable SME financing
- What is your most popular item (include image)? Possibly because this item incorporates the 3 fundamental types of aso-oke: Etu (the blue/black), Sanyan (beige) and Alaari (wine red), it is often purchased as a gift item (picture below).
- To what extent do you draw upon your Nigerian heritage for your work?
Quite extensively, being that our main raw material is sourced from my part of the country and the ethos of the business is based our local culture and heritage.
- What are your goals for the future, both work wise and life?
Success (not necessarily just financial) and the vision of building a world-class business that will outlive me.
- What would people be surprised to learn about you?
That I am still (quite actively and happily) engaged in the practice of law.
- 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?
Do what you enjoy – what you get out of your business in the form of personal satisfaction, enjoyment and financial stability will be a result of what you put into it. So if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, chances are you won’t make a real success out of it. Don’t just jump into a business because “people are doing it, and making lots of money there” – everybody’s path (and destiny) is different.
- 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.
These aso-oke items are luxurious so if you love to look good and love luxury, trust me you need one of these in your collection.
To Reach Mr Bayo Ademiluyi:
Email him on: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit his website on: www.ty-tys.com