CEO Spotlight: Dara Ajayi, President and COO of D’IYANU
In an exclusive interview with the CEOWORLD magazine, Dara Ajayi, the President, Chief of Operations, and Head of Human Resources at D’IYANU tell how his business began, and what his challenges have been amid the pandemic, and how he is transforming the fashion industry.
Dara Ajayi is the President, Chief of Operations, and Head of Human Resources at D’IYANU. He partnered with his sister and CEO of the brand, Adesola (Addie) Elabor, in Jan 2016.
Dara was born in Nigeria and moved to the United States with his family at nine years old. After completing four years of study at Kutztown University, majoring in Political Science and Pre-Law, he launched a music production business. There he composed original music content and recorded music artists. All while working simultaneously as an insurance agent for Blue Cross Blue Shield and later as a financial insurance agent for MetLife.
Dara’s diverse background and interpersonal skills enabled him to take on a leadership role within D’IYANU to manage many moving parts effectively. At 38 years young, he is passionate about continuously enriching people’s lives, which is the focus at D’IYANU as they do through fashion.
What are your responsibilities/roles in the business?
My responsibility is to oversee and manage our Operations and Human Resources departments. I work to provide leadership, insight, and vision to the DIYANU brand more broadly.
What is your favorite part of day-to-day life as President of D’IYANU?
The best part of the day is meeting with different integral department personnel, ironing out solutions to any current challenges, and putting into motion that enables operations procedures and processes to be more predictable. I work to ensure total and complete synergy in communication across DIYANU’S back-end operations.
D’IYANU is a niche brand, what are some of the challenges that the company has faced due to this and how have you and your team overcome them?
Yes, we are a niche brand- however, we have broad aspirations. We have a solid customer base and are building a known name within the fashion industry. In today’s market- niche brands that position themselves correctly outperform brands that do not have a narrow focus. The more you hyper-segment your market, the better the chances of success as a brand nowadays. It takes a bit more time for niche brands to do that but it’s a beautiful thing that once you secure your place as a recognized brand within a niche category, the sky is the limit after that.
What are some of the values that you try to instill in your employees working behind the scenes within the D’IYANU brand?
Focus on the customer is paramount to us internally- and we communicate this to our staff daily. Whether- it’s design, logistics, warehousing, and shipping. In all that we do- we think of our customers first.
We also believe that encouraging staff’s education for different skills and developing their approaches to problem-solving will help us better serve our customers.
How did your brand’s operations shift during the pandemic?
We had a very challenging first couple of months at the onset of the pandemic. Our products are very much event driven- such as gown dresses, blazers, and the like. The lockdown forced us to find different ways to engage our customers. We began to create more athleisure attire that our customers would feel comfortable in while working or lounging at home. We also started designing masks for the protection of our customers. Both proved to yield tremendous success.
Where would you like to see the brand in 5 years?
In five years- we envision serving over 1 million customers. Since we are constantly improving our processes and procedures- we strive to be an enterprise that is well organized and adaptable to a changing world.
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