Leeds sisters find viral success on TikTok with West African-inspired jewellery business

Two sisters have found viral success on TikTok with their West African-inspired jewellery business Omolola - based in Leeds.

Sunday, 18th April 2021, 4:45 pm
The pieces are inspired by West African art, architecture and culture

When the pandemic hit, Taiwo Adegbulu and her sister Ope decided to drive engagement with their customers using the social media app.

They didn't expect to make any profit during the pandemic, but sales have rocketed - growing by 1,035 per cent in 2020 compared to the previous year.

The sisters have gone from selling their necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings at a stall at Leeds University Union, to making six figures last year.

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Taiwo Adegbulu, left, and her sister Ope

Taiwo, 26, told the Yorkshire Evening Post: "We’ve always been interested in fashion and we’re super close, we’re best friends.

"After I graduated from university I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. My sister had some family jewellery which was broken and I realised I could easily fix it.

"From there, we had the idea to open a website to see if anyone was interested in our pieces."

The business has been featured in Vogue and Cosmopolitan, but it was the support of customers in Leeds that helped Omolola find its feet.

Ope, 32, said: “When we started up, Leeds University Union and the Sustainability Team at the University of Leeds were so supportive of us.

“They would give us a table at their fairs for free, or take a small donation for charity and give us a space with a canopy.

“Leeds has been great in giving us that support to showcase our business.”

Since joining TikTok in September and hosting Instagram live events, Omolola has gone from having 50 orders a week to hundreds of orders in one day.

The pieces are inspired by West African art, architecture and culture and sharing their heritage is the ethos of the business.

Ope said: "We decided to double down and engage with our customers - we didn’t think we’d made any profit or sales because of the global pandemic.

"We started getting so many sales. It was overwhelming at first because we grew very suddenly.

"Having a strong brand story has really helped us, we focus on representation. People want to know who they are buying from and what they care about.

Taiwo added: "The pieces have heritage to them and the history and culture resonates with people."

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