Business Biography: Adenike Ogunlesi

Business Biography

Adenike Ogunlesi is the founder and Chief Executive of Ruff n Tumble clothing company, an indigenous clothing line specialized in children clothing. Presently, Ruff n Tumble is one of the largest children clothing company in West Africa. Officially, the clothing line began in 1996, although Adenike in an interview, confessed it was difficult to pick a particular date or year of establishment; “Do you know it is so difficult to calculate how many years we have been in this business? How do you do that? Is it the informal years or formal years?”

Ruff n Tumble was birthed by necessity. According to Adenike, she wanted to get new clothes for her ‘three little rascals or angels’ but she could seem to find what she really wanted. The clothes she liked were either not the quality she wanted or were too expensive. In the end she decided to sew the kind of clothes that she wanted for her children. This decision was aided by the fact that Adenike had learnt sewing and fashion designing from her mother, who was a very successful fashion designer in Ibadan. Her mother specialized in Adire and Ankara, and made clothes under the label Betty O.

Her father had wanted her to be a lawyer, but she lacked the passion for it. She graduated from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, but she never practiced her profession for one day. Unsure of what to make of her life, her mother had invited her to learn sewing and fashion designing at her shop. She agreed, not because she planned to make a career out of it, but just to do something in the main time. Surprisingly she discovered that not only did she love the trade, but she could also make clothes that people loved and bought.

After making clothes for her children, her sister –in-law had commended the outfits and asked that she made some for her children, too. That was how the seed for Ruff n Tumble was planted.

As regards the idea for the name, ‘Ruff n Tumble’, Adenike explained that she and a neighbor were standing outside the neighbor’s apartment and watching as their children played, and the idea came to her that children loved to play rough, ‘ruff’. The other part of the name came from the neighbor who suggested they could draw a drum with children tumbling out of it. And so the name was formed; Ruff n Tumble.

Ruff n Tumble may be one of the biggest local brands in market today, but it once had its humble beginnings; days when it was yet unknown. According to Adenike, she started selling her clothes from the back of her car and at any bazaar that she could find. Once there was a bazaar and she knew about it, she was sure to be there, with her table and her suitcase and sometimes with her children and husband.

Ruff n Tumble clothing are exported only to West Africa countries.

Adenike has been featured on several documentaries, recognized by several notable bodies and won several entrepreneurial awards.

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