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Sunday, 5 October 2014

Finding Your Calling is The Number One Key to Success - Ayokunle Yoloye of Yox Studios

Meet Ayokunle Yoloye, the 29-year-old Creative Director of Yox Studios, a brand identity design and print outfit.  In a recent Punch interview, the young entrepreneur opens up about his journey to starting and running  his own business. He says that the number one key to success is finding your calling and passion. Read excerpts of his inspiring story below:

Were you always interested in image management?
As a child, the only passionate dream I remember having was becoming a medical doctor; probably because that was an era when doctors, engineers and lawyers were flaunted to be the most fantastic people on earth. However, after fainting twice at the sight of my own blood; that dream had to change fast and I chose to study estate management at Covenant University. 

I drew and coloured a lot while growing up and I was exposed to graphic designs as early as 14, due to experimenting with the computer at my dad’s printing press, but I never knew identity design was a profession; so wanting it as a career never came to mind. I was ecstatic about design and print, but my toying with it was solely for the pleasure I derived from it.

Years later, 2010 to be precise, the BlackBerry craze arrived and I bought myself one. A friend on my messenger kept using lovely sarcastic pictures on her profile and I pleaded with her to be told where she got them from, but she refused. Annoyed, I chose to design pictures for myself. I designed over 50 pictures with sarcastic messages which I presumed people would find amusing and stamped my PIN on them. I started using the pictures on my profile. I think I had 65 contacts then and they were all close friends. 

After a while, people started sending contact invites and I accepted every single one. One day, one of the new contacts asked if I designed logos. I almost said no, but my best friend, Opeyemi Davies, insisted I said yes. Five months later, I had almost 60 clients, 2,000 contacts and eventually, a malfunctioning BlackBerry. That’s how my sojourn into brand identity consultancy started – by chance.

What do you love most about having a business you can call your own?It is getting paid to have fun in my spare time. But considering that I had ventured out on numerous entrepreneurial escapades in my university days, it was only natural for me to strive to develop a sound business out of prior experiences. Thanks to the Internet, I was able to study a lot and try out loads of training courses within months. When I was certain I knew the rudiments of the business of brand identity development and I was clear about the direction I wanted my brand to follow, I decided to register the company with the Corporate Affairs Commission in April 2011. I chose the name Yox Studios. ‘Yox’ was a name I was popularly known by and had created out of my real name back in 2001 because I thought my real name, Ayokunle, to be too common.

Was there ever a time in the start-up process that you felt like quitting?
Success was so much running on my adrenaline, it was impossible to feel like quitting in the start-up process. But recently, I almost did in July 2014, to be precise. I got robbed and all my work tools and phones (especially my veteran BlackBerry) were stolen. Intellectual property and client contacts were all gone in one night. That was the second time in less than two years and I was devastated. I have since turned the disappointment into an opportunity to recoup and we are firing on all cylinders again with a rebranded identity.

What are the most important lessons you have learnt as an entrepreneur?
The number one key to success is not necessarily hard work and may not even be the current street anthem of smart work; it is finding your calling – that one thing you were destined to do. When you find it, even when challenges come along the way, rather than give up; you will always find a way around it. Too many businesses have failed simply because people have gone into them without so much as understanding the basics; instead, they were driven by their neighbour’s success at it. Find the business suited for you, execute it with a passion and be persistent, no matter the obstacle. You are bound to meet success in the end.

Where do you see your business in the next 20 years?
Forgive me if my answer is not stereotypical, but the truth is, in 20 years; I want to be able to sit on a beach in the Bahamas, sipping coconut juice all day long and not worrying so much that my absence will get the Yox Studios brand ruined. In clearer words, I want a professionally-set-up organisation that functions with or without any one person and, thus, can outlive people. Too many brands die when its founder ceases to exist and I need to be sure Yox Studios will not be one of them in the next 20 years.

What milestones have you recorded so far?
I don’t yet have any creatively shaped glass or nicely carved wood as physical honours on my shelf, but I am glad to have been invited to speak at a number of creative events and have my thoughts and works published in one or two digital magazines. I have also written a book titled ‘Brandiculous’ which has got a number of nice reviews. However, the greatest milestone for me is seeing a client’s brand whose identity I helped develop going on to become a success story.

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