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Why Would an Auditor Quit Her Job to Start an Art Gallery? Adenrele Sonariwo of Rele Gallery tells Wana Udobang all in “Culture Diaries”



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Adenrele Sonariwo studied Accounting at Howard University, and then went on to work at audit firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers. She was on an upwardly mobile career trajectory, but she wanted more.

In an interview with Wana Udobang, she talks about her life before Rele Gallery, and her passion for the arts.

Watch this inspiring feature on Culture Diaries below:


  1. Me

    February 25, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    BN the correct way to write it is PricewaterhouseCoopers (one word) or PwC for short ☺

    • Tare

      February 26, 2016 at 12:46 am

      Its so easy to tag that she quit PWC but d reality is in 2011 a lot of redundancies were happening so loads of Nigeria students had to move back blc H1b visa not so easy …… ….. following your passion due to changes in circumstances sounds more true than quitting

    • Dkayfab

      February 26, 2016 at 1:06 am

      She is a U.S. citizen do you guys read and watch the videos or do you guys just come on here to hate I mean damn

    • Tosin

      February 28, 2016 at 5:42 am

      I’ve finally watched. <3 <3

    • The man

      April 17, 2017 at 11:44 pm

      She is actually an American citizen and wasn’t subject to H1B visa…. it’s sad when folks don’t see the positive in a story but must always try to relate it to negative things… let’s learn to celebrate our own (either directly or indirectly)

  2. Not9Not

    February 25, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    I have been to Rele, and I quite like the concept. Adenrele is pretty girl, but quite snobbish. I saw at the gallery last year and she was just packing face and had this very haughty aura around her. She couldn’t even say hi to the only two customers (me and bff) in her establishment. I am a business owner too, and I know what the power of a smile and conversation has done for my business. However, the girl at the reception (Taiwo or is it Kehinde) was very pleasant and engaging. My dear, this is a constructive criticism. All the best with your gallery.

    • Lara Brown

      February 26, 2016 at 5:38 am

      Lol, the classic compliment sandwich. How sweet are you? If only she’d dropped a smile, you’d have walked out with three-four pieces of art, of course. I don’t think you understand the damage you do when you share reckless judgment on people. Why don’t you do it, sharing your real name and that of your business, and not hide behind the convenient anonymous cloak a blog post provides? Maybe then, your constructive criticism can be taken with more than a grain of salt.

    • Tinuke

      February 26, 2016 at 6:59 am

      Aunty Lara brown.
      The complainers point exactly. So only people buying deserve good customer service? Smh. And no she doesnt need to put her real name. NOBODY does.. its her choice not too. A name or face doesnt change the fact that she felt like she was treated poorly. This is my problem with priviledged kids. Yall dont deserve it.
      Im walking away from this post. Its staring to bother me more than it should.

    • Chicanita

      February 26, 2016 at 8:10 am

      Why didn’t you say hello too.

  3. Weezy

    February 25, 2016 at 11:31 pm

    How did she get the starting capital? Does the video explain?

    • tinuke

      February 26, 2016 at 12:07 am

      Weezy i was just about to comment that i know why she could leave her Job. BECAUSE SHE CAN AFFORD TO. awon omo olowo. there are a million of us here that would love to quit our day jobs to follow our dreams and passions but sadly we cannot afford it.

      Just a message to anyone out there hustling hard wondering why shes getting ahead further than you are. she has access to tools she needs to suceeed. i see soo many of my rich friends quitting their day jobs to open event centres, bakeries, galleries etc. Simply put they can afford to. not only afford to start the business, they can also afford the luxury of faliure alothugh they dont typically fail. if you look into it. is ReLe a profit making busiess, doubt it.
      i dobut she can pay the rent and staff and live off her earnings from this point. but she has a financial support system that can push her through till she gets on her own feet.

      i openly admit ill always hate on stories like this.

      Shout out to all my hustlers hustling from their own small pockets with limited access to resources also a big shout out to people wokring dead end jobs that cannont afford to quit to follow thier dreams. Yours sucess is in your drive and passion and dedication.. Dont feel bad when you see stories like this. ….

    • Habib

      February 26, 2016 at 12:40 am

      Hater LOL

    • Dkayfab

      February 26, 2016 at 12:45 am

      Winners find solutions losers find excuses
      Let me list them for u
      Wiz kid
      Jenifa ( funke akindele)
      Abykke domina
      Jumoke former breadseller
      And our worlds famous Linda ikeji
      I rest my case ?

      Now to answer weezy there is another video on YouTube that she said she didn’t take no for an answer her family have money yes but how many rich fathers in Nigeria help ooo my dad has money one naira can’t fall from his pocket they sent us to school to be independent and stop finding excuses u have a brain go figure it out

    • Lara Brown

      February 26, 2016 at 5:28 am

      Folks, do NOT, I repeat, do NOT listen to ridiculous opinions like this! I saw Rele grow this amazing art gallery from day one through pure passion and hustle….out of the living room of her house, before anyone, family inclusive, dropped a dime to invest. For you to try to minimize her outstanding growth and efforts, and try to chalk it down to her coming from a rich family background says more about you..:the typical Nigerian crab in a barrel. You only see the fruits at the end of the day, and none of the sweat, tears, frustrations behind the scenes, and you think you get to drop this dusty opinion? Who cares what background ‘hustle’ comes from, rich or poor, anyway? Since when do folks’ stories matter less simply they were fortunate enough to born into privilege? Hope you get out of the barrel one day and have people to celebrate it with you, all the best with that!

      E, keep doing what you do best…chasing your passion! Proud of you and every other woman I know doing just this inspite of the odds stacked against us. If you haven’t been to ReLe yet, what are you waiting for? Go get inspired!

    • Nwa Rivers

      February 26, 2016 at 7:19 am

      Hello I know a Certain Jane Micheal a celebrity stylist who is of a humble background, infact she used to hawk the clothes back then and she started her business with just N10,000, so sweetie you don’t have to be wealthy to actually start your own business start from where you are. I make salads for a living in Port Harcourt and yes my parents are blessed but Darling I started from somewhere, I left my NHS job to start my business. Just showing you the other side of the coin dear. I just believed God. Thank you.

    • Fashionista

      February 26, 2016 at 12:00 pm

      Ti nuke na wa oh, you are really upset. Well, I’ll suggest a little positivity? Might do you some good.

    • Ibikunle

      February 29, 2016 at 8:50 pm

      Maybe if she had told you about how she almost gave up. Maybe if she had told you about how she had to take loans from friends to do her first exhibition that wasn’t successful. Maybe if she had told you about the number of personal items she had to sell to turn her passion into a business. Maybe if you truly knew her story, you won’t be quick to hate on her story . Never ever judge anyone without knowing their true story.

      Adenrele is one of the people I am very proud to say I know. She deserves all the success God can bless her with. If you know her, you will know that she is not about being from a privileged background. She is a PRINCESS and you will not know except you dig deep into her. She will tell you about her dreams and how she wants to make a difference, rather than my father is this or that.

      From her countenance in the video, she doesn’t appear stuck up and that’s her in real life but she is very shy and would rather be in the background.

  4. Amelia

    February 25, 2016 at 11:43 pm

    It’s an art gallery
    not chuck e cheese i personally as a collector don’t want the curator speaking to me unless she wants to use her curative influence to persuade me to buy a piece I’m standing in front off
    That said I’m impressed , she was working with a prestigious company here in the U.S. And quit? she must be really passionate about art . I follow them/ her on Instagram and it’s somewhere I’ll visit if I ever decide to visit Lagos I love the Rele logo outside anytime I see it on the gram I know that’s Lagos like how u see the Empire State Building and know where that is and thank God I know she’s professional coz I’m not going to a gallery to make friends some might say art lovers/ collectors r snobbish but oh well we don’t care 🙂

    • Corolla

      February 26, 2016 at 12:59 am

      Hi Rele.

  5. Tinuke

    February 26, 2016 at 4:56 am

    For the aunty or uncle up there that listed wizkid and the rest in response to my comment..

    For every one of those names there are a hundred .and one rich kids making it ‘undesreved’

    Dont deceive yourself .

    • Magui

      February 26, 2016 at 5:47 pm

      Haba undeserved???? This is so mean….. It just remind me of when i did not make it to the next level in school and one of my mum relatived asked me “so rich kid can fail too?”…. There is enough space in this worl for all of us…, so because she is from a rich background her hustle is not worth it??? It is like saying you did not make it in life because of someone else hustle….. We should please try and stop patronizing mediocrity because the poor people tha wanted to make it, really made it…it took time, but they made it…. Please do not blame your laziness on someone else making the most of the opportunities she has… She could have just stayed in the confort of her parents status…but she decided that she wanted more, for herself….

    • Amelia

      February 26, 2016 at 8:57 pm

      So why can’t u be that one ? Damn u really are born to serve not lead no insult it’s just your mind set sorry thank God I hustled myway to success I have an Indian friend from the slums of India u know the dark skinned ones that they kill at birth coz they are females ? Well she hustled her way to America and is nw a millionaire anyways we leaders will always need people like you to work for us so no problem there with ur mentality we love it

  6. Tosin

    February 26, 2016 at 7:34 am

    Why would…why not? Would you die there? lol.
    PS I’m proud of the Re-Le concept. There should totally be more.

  7. Feyi

    February 26, 2016 at 9:06 am

    Great! Awesome! Guys please try to support people’s effort provided its a legal business. Regardless if the person has rich parents or not..Its a million steps forward.

    By the way.. i like the fact that her accent is just plain and clear for someone that lived that long in Yankee. Lessons to other yo yo yo ya ya ya kinda people.

  8. HaroldWrites

    February 26, 2016 at 9:53 am

    Wait. This is supposed to be a post about art, yet some people decided to descend as low as taking jibes at the person just because she is successful (or so she appears)? Wow! Why can’t this post inspire y’all to discuss about best art galleries in Lagos, your favourite artists, why you love art, your favourite art genre, what art means to you… I mean, like share well-informed and mature opinions on the subject. Wow!

  9. Hmmm

    February 26, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    It’s great to see people pursuing their passion, but Tinuke does have a point. It is a tad depressing to see this new crop of “Elitist” young people who were fortunate enough to have wealthy parents style themselves as “examples” of success. Most of these people do not know what it is to start a business from NOTHING and make it into something. And by NOTHING I mean having no father or mother or proceeds from a fancy job your wealth (or pseudo-wealth) helped you get, to make something that actually inspires people. To all you rich, elitist kids out there, please know that there are A LOT of Nigerian youths who are better than most of you by far (Idea wise, rugged) who watch their dreams and aspirations die a slow death because they do not have the advantages you have. And to that person who listed all those artistes (plus Olajumoke), all that is left to chance. Plus, do you know what lengths some of these “successful” artistes have gone (legit and not legit, moral and immoral) to “make it”? Some things that can not even be typed out on a public forum like that, that only a few who are “hustling” can actually do.

    Good luck to Ms. Sonariwo on her exploits, but don’t you blame people for ‘hating’ occasionally on people who have it all and can afford to chase some dream (albeit non-profitable) when they sound all “inspirational” and all because their realities do not permit such false hopes to bloom.

    • Magui

      February 26, 2016 at 5:53 pm

      See hem…the fact that her parents are well established does not imply that they automatically supported her….. In my example i can count on my mom for everything but when it comes to starting my business, the woman told me point blan that she wont because the is not the kind of dream she had for me…. So when i eventually make it someday, i will really piss me to hear people belittle my success and say i made it thanks to mama dearest… She could have just been a ” socialite” like we like to call them now, but instead used her opportunities to do something relevent…….

  10. Nadia

    February 26, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    It started as a customer service note but I guess too much is bubbling under on all sides. This rubbish sense of entitlement FROM ALL SIDES. Is why we have zero customer service in Nigeria. Pls can we all just lose the _”….who are you to bla bla a…” attitude? Its runs thru from owner to sales peeps to customers to owners friends to sales peeps friends to customers friends. There is an art to selling. Be too noble to take offence and too cultured give it.

  11. NorthSouth

    February 26, 2016 at 1:42 pm

    Why are people giving her flak for starting her business with her family money? If I had rich parents, I would definitely be asking for help if need be. Yes we may not all have access to that kind of capital, but her sharing a story of setting up an unconventional business in Nigeria can be inspirational to many.

    Ehen, so about the customer service comment…Nigerians need to learn how to sift through criticism, and not take everything as a jab. The commenter mentioned negative and positive things she noticed on her/his visit, and there is absolutely nothing wrong in saying the owner could be a bit friendlier. As a business owner, she is a walking billboard for her company, especially when she is within the premises of the said business. Every opportunity should be leveraged to positively impact bottom line…even a smile and friendly conversation. Do you know how many business deals are signed in such processes? Business 101 fail!

  12. NaijaPikin

    February 26, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    Why should she apologize for being priviledged? Please some of you sound stupid as hell. There are priviledged kids squandering their parents wealth, refusing to go to school, generally constituting a nuisance. This young lady is not one of those. Anyone who’s worked at a public accounting firm knows they work mad crazy hours.

    She’s gone to school, worked slavery hours at PWC and now opened an art gallery that allows many talented artists to show their work. Shes allowing “buy Nigerian” to thrive and you want to minimize her efforts. Shame on all of you.

    Everyone cannot be poor, everyone cannot be rich. As long as your are working hard, working honest, you get my vote. Thumbs up Esther,may you continue to be wise beyond your years, may you ventures allow you to surpass your family’s wealth, may you inspire young girls to achieve greatness.

  13. NaijaPikin

    February 26, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    Yes I had to comment cos some of these comments are so silly.

    The goal in life is to hustle hard so our children can have a better life. If all our hustles pay off today, should our children be ashamed of us?should they be picked on? Should they be minimized?

    Let’s face it whether na rich, poor, beggar, thief, naija parents are the same when it comes to their children’s profession. If you are not talking engineer, doctor, lawyer, accountant and co, parents are most likely giving you grief. You don’t know the struggles she probably had to go through to finally get family’s respect. Look at Davido we all know to be omo baba olowo, his dad cut him off when he started doing music. Now he has proved himself, he is a son again.

    Some of you won’t progress because of unecessary beef. Noone should ever be shamed or have to apologize for being born into priviledge.

  14. Fleur

    February 26, 2016 at 11:46 pm

    Seems you all missed each other’s points. Privilege is not always about daddy and mommy doling our slush funds to support your dreams. It’s the intangible, yet so tangible knowledge that thou shalt not starve nor want that is key. That comes with privilege. Privilege eliminates fear of the unknown because ones background as an ajebo ensures these worries are noexistent. The difference between those who followed their passion and those who did not is fear of the unknown if things don’t work out. That said, she also had to match privilege with hard work and passion or she won’t succeed no matter what. Finally, She needs to smile at customers if she is not doing it. Simple.

    • Tosin

      February 27, 2016 at 5:20 pm

      I still need to watch this video.
      came here to add that she’s gorge…
      oh and when I visited, she probably said hello warmly and I probably said it was a great place and slid away.
      It’s sort of a Naija thing to be demanding of individual attention even from the busiest people; I’m usually more like you’re busy I don’t want to take your time. My people be like I’m going to phone the minister, I’m going to visit my governor, why, to say hello / congratulations, courtesy visit. It blows my mind like how can a president of a large nation be in the know about every silly family conflict and every business venture, like, what a way to design a process. Are we ok?
      Same in companies; the workers are there for decoration, you must go to a party and sit next to and personally talk to the oga at the top to get routine things done – employment, contract, refund, anything. It’s the way here. It’s not a good way to grow sha o.

      And I don’t know how people manage. Yeah I do all the greeting stuff but I confine it to a few hours a week; more than that is just painful and exhausting and not very productive. The fact that she’s female does not make her a greeter anyhow.

      Oya sister Rele, up your greeting game o! 🙂 🙂 This is Africa.

    • Weezy

      February 28, 2016 at 2:34 pm

      Excellent point about fear of the unknown!! Of course starting a business takes hard work, and I commend her for that. Yet it’s good as we’re congratulating to know that most people cannot do this unless they have either starter capital from family\friends, or someone else is paying their rent either at home or in the business.

      Also, privilege means not having to worry about profitability in the very beginning. Its unlikely that she will break even for a while. With this increasing glorification of entrepreneurship and glamorous business, I think people need to start admitting that it takes more than a good idea and hard work to build a posh business. Same thing for some nonprofits that have been started. Its not about judging wealthy people but simply admitting they have a leg up if that is the case.

  15. amara

    February 27, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    nwa rivers whats your email i would to feature you and your friend joan micheal on my blog. we love inspiring stories of women that started from the scratch. lets talk thank you

  16. orry temi

    December 5, 2016 at 7:53 pm

    Hi Denrele, Keep it up! I was opportuned to work with her. She has come a long way and sacrifice a lot to get here. Thank God for the progress with Rele Gallery, Wishing you greater heights.

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