“The creative work I’m most proud of was the first table I made. Even though it wasn’t perfect, it made me push harder to create better pieces. It was also the work that went viral on the internet, and I got a lot of orders from that single piece.”Favour Oluma
Everyone loves a success story, especially the ‘I just blow’ kind that involves a previously unknown underdog going viral for an extraordinary feat.
Such is the story of Favour Oluma, who became an internet sensation in 2020 during the lockdown following the Covid-19 outbreak. Favour Oluma, who posted her very first centre table manufactured from a worn-out tyre, new steel, and glass, was made even more famous by celebrities such as the American rapper Meek Mill and AY the Comedian.
The fourth-year Soil Science and Land Management student of the Federal University of Technology, Minna, has been featured by leading media platforms, blogs, foundations and businesses, including Global China Television Network Africa, Arise News, Daily Trust, the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Access Bank, and Legit.ng. Favour Oluma is also the founder of Trendychic.ng, an onsite and online store that sells female accessories and hair.
Today on The Big Showcase, we spotlight the young creative entrepreneur and the mind behind Retyredglam, who is setting the pace for youths in the somewhat novel Nigerian recycling and upcycling industry.
Inspired by Waste, Sustained by a Bigger Vision
A pre-feasibility report by Foraminifera stated that over 259 million tyres are thrashed yearly. Although useless for vehicles, these discarded tyres are highly valuable for recycling. Favour Oluma tapped into the vision out of boredom. However, she has gained so much understanding of this billion-dollar industry in the past two years of entering the scene.
“Growing up, I admired people who did creative things. I wanted people to see me as a creative person, but I needed help to pick a career to pursue. The 2020 lockdown allowed me to think about the career path I wanted to take. I was also bored, and since I’d always been fascinated with recycled items, I started thinking of what to recycle. One day, I spotted piles of tyres in my area, and the idea of upcycling tyres popped into my mind. I kept seeing the pile increasing and finally decided that I could turn them into something useful; that was how I started practising. I went through many trials and errors and posted a particular one I made and got so much engagement on social media. And that was how I started Retyredglam, my recycling business.”
Favour Oluma has attended several entrepreneurial events, and business workshops, including the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs programme, to improve her business acumen and broaden her networks within the Nigerian entrepreneurial sector.
“I was so glad to attend the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs and grateful to everyone who made my attendance a success. It was a life-changing programme for me.”
Creating an Impression in a Male-Dominated Industry
In one of her viral interviews , Favour Oluma mentioned that many people discredited her work, saying she couldn’t have been the creative mind or producer of recycled products that require strenuous processes.
This stereotype is just one of many attitudes doubting Thomases have displayed towards the talented furniture maker. In another interview, she relayed a heartbreaking incident with a potential client who claimed that Favour lied about being the creative director and manufacturer of the products she posts online. And even after showing the woman video evidence, she maintained that Favour was lying.
However, despite the discouraging remarks from men and even women, Favour has forged on to carve bigger dreams for Retyredglam.
“I plan on expanding Retyredglam immediately after school. I will start by opening a showroom in Abuja to display everything I make.”
Like any great visionary who’s conscious of the well-being of humanity, Favour Oluma intends to make bigger impacts with her eco-friendly recycling business.
“Retyredglam will contribute to reducing the unemployment rate in Nigeria to the barest minimum and promoting environmental sustainability through responsible consumption and recycling activities that will help to control the effects of climate change.”
As a young female entrepreneur, the stakes of succeeding beyond the first three years are high. Favour Oluma shares how she’s kept Retyredglam afloat and thriving.
“I applied for as many grants as possible and got most of them. One such grant was from Ifedayo Agoro of Dairy of a Naija Girl, and another was from the Office of the Vice President on MSME matters.”
Seeing as Favour Oluma has manufactured and sold over 250 units of recycled and upcycled home decorative pieces and furniture since the inception of Retyredglam, it’s clear that she is made for creativity and entrepreneurship. She also confidently declares that,
“I didn’t learn the furniture-making trade; I’m naturally creative.”
We couldn’t agree more with Favour Oluma as the recycle/upcycle queen has been nominated for awards, such as the 2022 MSME (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) Awards, where she was among the final 22 shortlisted candidates. In addition, she was also named one of the two most outstanding MSME participants. Nature News also named her the Hero of Environment Actions for Development in 2021.
Favour Oluma might not be at the peak of her career, as she still has a lot of creativity to express and so much good to do in her generation. Still, this Idoma woman has earned the accolades she’s received so far for her work within two years only. And she admits that,
“Getting those awards and recognitions feel really great, to be honest. I can’t really express how I feel, but one thing I know for sure is that I’m thrilled and proud of what I’ve been doing.”
Keeping the Vision Alive
“My source of strength has always been my passion for recycling. It’s something I have long dreamt of doing, and that’s what keeps me going even through the ups and downs.”
Motivation may fizzle out, and the noise of the cheering crowd will fade, but what keeps the vision of every innovative entrepreneur or creative person alive is the passion that kindled their fire in the first place.
Fortune favours the brave, and Favour Oluma, an orphan who lost her mother in 2009 and her dad in 2020, the year she gained prominence, is the definition of bravery. Through manufacturing aesthetic yet functional tyre tables, ottomans, mirrors, wall pieces, and other furniture designs, she directs her passion towards creative solutions for environmental sustainability, unemployment, and promoting creative expressions among young Africans.
What creative visions are you keeping alive? Let us know in the comment section.