Gen Z in Business
Gen Z in Business: Startouch Concepts

Gen Z in Business: Startouch Concepts

Gen Z in Business: Startouch Concepts

In this episode of Gen Z in Business, we interview Iyinoluwa Dasaolu, a fashion entrepreneur, and Gen Z Creative behind Startouch Concepts. He shares insights on what his journey has been since starting Startouch Concepts in his university days and what it takes to manage it as a side hustle now.

Who is Deji? Tell us about yourself, your educational background, and your business.

Iyinoluwa is a young boy from a family of four. I grew up in the city of Abeokuta, where I schooled before obtaining my B.A. in English at Unilorin. I started my brand, Startouch Concept, at Unilorin after some convincing by a good friend of mine (Emmanuel), and the brand focuses on accessories that improve anyone’s look without having to do too much. We have a focus on men’s clothing accessories, including neckties, bowties, lapel pins, and bracelets. Each product is sourced locally and handmade to perfection for each person.

What prompted you to go into fashion design, styling, and fashion accessories? How did you learn it, and how long have you been in it?

I have always loved simple things and I try to live as simply as I can. I see fashion as the very opposite. It’s chaotic. Finding balance in fashion is a skill very few people know and apply (I’m not included, of course!) Something struck me after spending some time online (YouTube) and noticing that it’s often the simple accessories that provide that balance and elevated feel. Not just in fashion (interior design, architecture, art, and music), I simply chose fashion because it was the easiest for me and the first thing I was curious about.

The funny thing is that I started this journey with curiosity about how people made neckties without revealing any stitches or thread. I finally got the courage to take my necktie apart after watching a few videos, tried to put it back together, botched it, and left it for a while after messing up the whole room. I was in my second year of university then (2017).

Your specialisation in neckties, lapels, and hand-beaded accessories is unique. Could you share the story of how you discovered your passion for these particular fashion elements?

I feel like I already answered this. Nonetheless, it wasn’t just a moment for me. I have tried other ideas over time, and my current specialisation includes accessories that highlight my passion for simplicity.

Can you tell us about your journey into the world of fashion design, especially considering that it wasn’t your academic background? Tell us about your experience; is it full-time or do you run it as a side hustle?

Omo!! I have seen shege pro maximus! Especially because I started Startouch Concept as a complete newbie (no experience running any type of business whatsoever). I still run Startouch Concept as a side hustle, but I devote all the time I can outside of my 9-5 job to the brand.

Balancing a full-time job and running a side business can be demanding. How do you navigate the challenges of managing your full-time job and dedicating time to your fashion business, especially during the initial stages of growth?

How I manage is not something I totally understand. I just always try to be diligent in my work, pray, pay attention to detail, and learn along the way. The rest is just God, honestly. I can’t give a “10-step process to managing a side hustle,” but what I have always kept in mind is that whatever you do diligently and consistently, you will get better at it. I love this journey, and it’s been a wild ride.

Many entrepreneurs have unique academic backgrounds that shape their careers. How has your academic background influenced your choice of profession and the development of your business?

You’re right. My background was in English. I was able to learn that language is a window into the culture, tradition, and life of its people. It has influenced my brand in that I see fashion just as I see language�a window. Just like language, fashion has context, semantics, symbolism, structure, and evolution, and just like language, it communicates.

The fashion industry can be highly competitive. How do you distinguish your necktie, lapel, and hand-beaded accessory designs from others in the market?

Hmm.. it’s been all about elegance in simplicity. It’s the foundation upon which the brand is built. Fashion can be chaotic. It has been like that. Nonetheless, I find that it’s often the simple things like accessories, hairstyles, and body shape that define the overall look at the end of the day. These are simple things that boost overall appearance, and that’s what the Startouch Concept emphasises.

Collaborations with other brands or designers can be instrumental in expanding your reach. Could you share any memorable collaborations that have contributed to the success of Startouch Concepts?

Exactly. Regardless of whether your brand can achieve it on its own, it’s almost impossible without some sort of collaboration (official or not). Startouch Concept has had a few collaborations, including HoneyDrops Blog.

The most memorable will be with a fashion brand back in 2018. It was a rollercoaster ride of fun, learning, stress, frustration, and generally a great experience. We made lapel pins for beautiful native Yoruba outfits, and it just made sense. I’m interested in working with them again, as well as other fashion brands. It will be absolutely fun.

What advice will you give to up-and-coming Gen Z entrepreneurs?

Slowly is the fastest way to where you want to be. Business is tough. If you run too fast, everything will come for you at once. You don’t want that smoke. Don’t also be in such a hurry to get to your destination that you neglect the small wins along the way; the journey is more important than the destination.

Finally, make wise, informed decisions and live with the consequences of your choices.

Finally, as you continue to grow your business and seek investors, what are your long-term goals and vision for your brand in the fashion industry?

Hmm… I simply hope to continue doing this thing for as long as possible. It’s what all entrepreneurs want. Beyond the money, fame, and glamour, Startouch Concepts just wants to continue doing the things we do best for as long as possible.

We will grow, innovate, and be productive.

Thank you for having me. Thank you for this opportunity.

Startouch Concepts is one of the brands featured in the premier edition of HoneyDrops Magazine. Get a copy here. If you would like to be featured in the magazine or be interviewed, please fill out this form, and the team will reach out to you. You can contact Startouch Concepts on Instagram.

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