For its May 2022 issue in the Talent Show feature, Allure magazine profiles Toronto-based teenage entrepreneur and Ashanti Avenue founder Boluwatife Ogunniyi.
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In this feature, Bolawatife talks about her upbringing in Nigeria, her hair accessories brand origin story and the goals she wishes to accomplish with her brand.
According to the publication:
When Toronto-based Boluwatife Ogunniyi, 19, couldn’t find hair accessories that worked with her coils, she got down to business.
Boluwatife had a vision to create a space where women of all races could find pieces to make them feel beautiful. And from that vision, @shopashantiavenue was born.
Read excerpts from the interview below:
On her upbringing:
I was born in a very densely populated area in Lagos, Nigeria, called Makoko. Growing up [there], I saw firsthand what it was like to struggle to make ends meet. When my dad got a working visa, we moved to Jamaica, and then to Canada. We lived in Parry Sound for a while, which is a tiny, [predominantly] white town. I remember kids wanting to touch my hair to see what it felt like.
On the birth of her brand:
I have thick hair that’s usually hard to deal with, and [I began] to notice the lack of representation in the hair accessories on the market. So [two years ago], around age 17, I started making things for myself that had more stretch to them. I had the vision to create a space where women of all races could find pieces to make them feel beautiful, [but] I didn’t have the means to do so.
Then I heard about the Ontario Summer Company program, sponsored by the Ontario government, that provides business mentorship. Through the program, I had a pop-up shop and that was the moment I knew that this could actually work. Seeing people in my pieces made me feel so proud to be part of their hair journey.
On the goals she wishes her brand will accomplish:
The goal of my brand is to create accessories that you can put on and walk out the door and know that your hair is beautiful just as it is. My headbands have a very flexible base: You can widen it if you have really big curls, and squeeze it closer if you have fine hair.
As my business grows, I want to keep my products handmade. There’s a certain quality that you can’t get from a machine.
Read the full Allure feature here.