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Daily Inspiration: Meet Olamiposi Somoye

Today we’d like to introduce you to Olamiposi Somoye.

Hi Olamiposi, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
It’s hard to answer the question “How did you get started” does the garments I designed in high school count? Or did my career start on the first day of college. From my point of view, my career started way before I was born. My maternal grandmother was a model and my paternal grandmother was a seamstress, I believe the collaboration of both lineages blessed me with my talents. As for the honing of my craft, that happened at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, Los Angeles, after graduating I moved back home to Nigeria and launched my clothing line Rayo. Rayo was not my only focus, I quickly learnt that the industry practices in the United States were much different than those in Nigeria mostly because of the lack of education, so I worked with other brands to create systems that would increase their production capacity with the talents they had. In 2016 I moved back to LA based on a gut feeling, fast forward to 2018 and I landed my dream job of teaching at my Alma Mata and  successfully launched my clothing line, Rayo, in LA.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
When I moved back to LA, I had no experience working in America so it was really hard to get a job. I drove for Uber for a year, then I finally got a job at the co-working space for designers where I taught classes. I eventually got fired because I was not great at selling enough classes, but it was there that I learnt that my passion was education.  Luckily I got an Administrative job at the Silverlake Conservatory of Music, a nonprofit music school. I loved working there because I loved the environment and the school’s ethos, but it was spirit numbing and I had a terrible fear that I would be stuck there forever, but I remained diligent. In hindsight, that job was preparing me for my own non-profit. I also never stopped working in fashion, I literally took any gig I could get my hands on from styling, pattern making, sewing, to teaching at a summer camp for kids. Eventually, my hard work paid off and I landed a job at Uniqlo as a pattern maker. Soon after that, I landed my dream job as an instructor at my alma mater FIDM.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I am an educator, pattern maker and creative director. To be honest, I consider myself an educator who is brilliant at pattern making and designing is simply a by-product of my skill set. Even though my first runway show landed me on Vogue Italia as one of the leading designers out of Africa to watch out for, I find more peace and joy when I am at my drafting table creating something from scratch. However, the second I step into a class and I am with a student aiding and encouraging them to bring their creation to life, I come alive. My passion for education isn’t limited to the states though, I recently launched a non-profit that makes furniture for schools in Africa, the first project was in Ogun state, Nigeria. The long term goal is to build schools with innovative forms of learning for children, this world is changing quickly and I think schools are not evolving fast enough.

With my clothing line Rayo, I am proud of the clothes we make because we are body inclusive, when people talk about inclusivity in fashion most times they are referring to the look the brand portarys, but something most don’t account for is the fit of their garments. As a curvy woman with lots of curvy relatives, it’s hard for us to find clothes made to fit properly, the chest, waist, hip or thigh is usually off. I am proud of creating a range of clothes that cater to women with bodies similar to mine. Goodbye! to pants with gaps at the waist.

Is there something surprising that you feel even people who know you might not know about?
I want to be a farmer when I grow up and I love directing films, I recently shot a film based on a Yoruba story about the light called Imole, which I will be releasing shortly. O! and I am dyslexic…  I think this is why I love teaching so much.

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

Photographers: Kimberly Gomez @Kimmgomezz Neyra @NeyraEdited

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