“Even if bead bags are not putting money in my pocket, I’ll still love making them” - Ralia Olanrewaju of Ralia Beads

“Even if bead bags are not putting money in my pocket, I’ll still love making them” - Ralia Olanrewaju  of Ralia Beads


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For Ralia, passion is everything, especially when it involves beads and plastic threads. While being a business owner is challenging enough, this young entrepreneur is also a student in a fast-paced university and a social media manager of a reputable brand. 

Oozing vibrant aesthetics and quality designs are not the only distinguishable qualities that set Ralia apart from other bead makers, it is her commitment and determination to build Ralia Beads into a global brand that many people find most admirable. 

In this interview, Ralia gives us an exclusive insight into her daily struggles and major wins as a business owner in Nigeria.


There’s a story behind every brand, we’d like to hear Ralia Bead’s story

Since I was little, I’ve always been interested in knowing about bead bags. I just thought they were cooler than the regular leather bags. Sometime in 2020, I just decided to try my hands at making one just to see if I’d get it. So I went to the market, got the materials I needed and I started experimenting. And I just kept practising and trying my hands on different designs. When I felt like I was finally good enough to make these bags for other people, I decided to start selling to people on IG. 

So you’re basically self-taught?

Yes, I am. 

Ralia Doings! 


Just by taking a simple look at your bags, anybody can tell that there’s a lot of work that goes into each design. Can you walk us through your creative process? 

Most times, I get inspiration from random things around me. It could be something as little as an object in a TV show. I might even just be casually sitting and ideas will pop into my head. I don’t know who puts them there, maybe God. From a raw idea inside my head, I would sketch it out and try to bring it to life. Sometimes, I draw inspiration from my IG feed. And sometimes, I draw inspiration from actual leather bags. I can see a pretty leather bag and go “If this design can be made with leather, what is it going to look like if it was beaded?” So I’ll sketch my vision, create a sample and show it to the people around me. I’m very open to constructive criticism. Whenever people have things that are not so great about my work, I take it as an opportunity to grow, learn and just be better. 

Do you ever have days where you feel like giving up, if you do, please tell us how you get through it. 

Not many people know this but sometime last year, I told my sister that I wanted to take a very long break from my business because I felt overwhelmed. I was literally stuck between being a student, running a business and having an actual job. When I noticed how all these things were affecting me, I decided that it was best to take some time off to restrategize and find a way to manage my time properly to avoid getting burnt out.  

So when I’m feeling unmotivated, I just give myself time to figure out exactly what is wrong with me. If I feel like I need a break, I’ll take one. It doesn’t even matter if I get orders when I’m on a break. I just explain to my customers and let them understand that I run this business solely. Everything is handmade and handled by me.  I can’t come and kill myself. 


 What’s one random fact about Ralia Beads that most people don’t know? 


I don’t think people know that Ralia Beads is a one-man business. If somebody orders a bag today, I’ll be the one going to the market, I’ll make the bag myself and deliver it myself. In the future, I’ll definitely love to hire people but for now, it’s just me. 


Can you tell us your proudest moment as a business owner?

When my first collection got sold out on the day I released it. 


What does a typical day in the life of Ralia look like? 


So, I’m a student and that influences a large part of my life. So, I wake up, and do my morning routine, if I have classes, I get ready to go to school and if I don’t, I stay in my hostel. I’m also a social media manager so if I don’t have to go to school, I focus on my job. And if I have orders, which I often do, I sort them out as well. The other half of my day is strictly for Ralia Beads. My day really isn’t that spontaneous, I do the same thing every day. 


You sound like you have quite a busy life. How do you find the balance between all these with your education? 


One thing about me, I like to sort out my tasks without delay. I hate when I have a lot to do and I kinda just leave it to pile up. For example, in December 2021, I had exams and I was still taking orders and I don’t even know why I did that but I wish I did not because it became too much.  At a point, I even started wondering if I would be able to meet up with all the delivery dates of those orders. I was under so much pressure because I had to read for exams and still try to sort out deliveries because I don’t want anybody coming to call me out on Instagram (laughs). So I’d say the only way I’ve managed to maintain that balance is knowing what to do at the right time. If i want to make bags today, I’ll dedicate a particular time and work towards achieving that goal. If i have an assignment that needs to be submitted tomorrow, I’ll make sure I get that done today. 

When you think of the next 5 years, does Ralia Beads still fit into the picture? 


Yes, it does. If you had asked me this question last year, I’ll probably have said no. But now, my vision is getting clearer and I know what I really want to do. I know what I want to do with Ralia Beads. I want my brand to become international and when I say ‘international’, the first brand that comes to mind is Kai Collective by Fisayo Longe. Her brand really inspires me to want to do more with Ralia Bead. I want everybody in the world to own a  Ralia Bead bag. 

What does self-care mean to you as a business owner?


Self-care to me as a business owner pretty much means finding joy and love in things outside my business. It’s funny that I say that because even when I’m not making bead bags based on demand, I’m probably just making them for the fun of it. Even when people ask me what I do for fun, I’d tell them that I make bead bags. Even if bead bags are not putting money in my pocket, I’ll still love to make them. Asides from bead-making, I love taking time off to enjoy quality time with family and friends. 

On a scale of 1-10, how would you say this business has impacted your financial life? 


I’ll say a good 7. It has made me financially independent. I don’t necessarily need to bother my parents for money because I run a business. So yeah, I’ll say a very good 7. 


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