Lesley started beading flowers in 2008, while in school, and 2 years later, Ododo Originals has blossomed into a full-time enterprise. Pretty, customisable, as dramatic or as demure as suits your personality, her flowers are lovingly handmade and creating a buzz across the interweb and beyond. The self-taught Lesley shared with Afri-love her passion, inspiration and her journey.
What's your passion?
I'm passionate about creating, whether I'm writing or cooking or making my flowers. I take great pleasure in organizing seemingly random things (words, ingredients, a pile of beads) into a completely different entity that finds meaning as something more than just the sum of it's parts.
What inspired Ododo Originals?
Long story short: I was uninspired by the accessories I saw in stores and wanted to create something a little different. I stumbled across the art of flower beading and thought that it was a process I could modernize to create accessories that most women would like wearing. I've always enjoyed fashion, even from a young age, so it made sense to me that making people fashionable would be a big part of what I do.
What has been your greatest obstacle/challenge?
My biggest challenge has been learning the ins and outs of running a business. This started as a hobby for me, so I didn't start off thinking about things like profit margins and shipping costs, I just wanted to make pretty flowers and have people buy those pretty flowers. I slowly began to realize that it wasn't always that simple.
How have you dealt with/overcome it?
I familiarized myself with how a small business should work. Some of it was intuitive, things that anyone would pick up on after time, but other things – laws, taxes, etc. – required research. I knew that I wanted to be successful and part of that involved doing the boring stuff that wasn't just playing with sparkly beads.
What has your greatest achievement been?
My first sale. Nothing can beat that heady rush of realization that I'd created an object that another person wanted and was willing to pay for. I've had some really awesome things happen to me this year (getting featured on Pioneer Woman and doing the One of a Kind Show, but I still can't top that moment when initial uncertainty became certainty.
Where will you be in 10 years?
Hopefully, still making flowers and pursuing other creative endeavours. I'd love to have a brick and mortar store of my very own.
How does Africa inspire you?
Africa doesn't "inspire" me as though it was some entity apart from myself. It's part of who I am, my upbringing, my past, my future. It's like trying to figure out how my leg inspires me. It doesn't, it's just wholly a part of my being. I do think the influences of my Nigerian upbringing are evident in my (hopefully) good taste and dramatic flair, at least when it comes to fashion.
Anything else you'd like to share?
Do what you love and do it well. It's the best advice I've ever been given.
Anything we should look out for in the coming weeks/months/year?
Yes, I'm working on a new line of flowers for special occasion wear (or for those who think of everyday as a special occasion). It will feature softer lines and softer colours than the current set with a lot more sparkle. I hope to roll those out in the coming months.
Images courtesy of Lesley and Ododo Originals.