Ayo Fanimokun ; A CraftStar Extraordinaire!

Ayo Fanimokun; Founder and Creative Director of Circa 64 & Creative Safari 

Education: I have a Bachelor’s in Studio Arts from the University of Pittsburgh and Master’s in Communication Design from the Pratt Institute, New York :

Craft Brands: Circa 64 established in 2004 for Contemporary Handcrafted Jewelry and Creative Safari – established in 2016 for DIY Craft Kits, Handmade gifts and accessories, etc.

In one word, characterise your life as an entrepreneur. Colourful

What aspect of the crafting process makes you happy the most? Seeing an idea I had in my head come to life in my hands

What’s your vision: for self, the circle of your choice of craft business, and the country? How far are you willing to go to take your craft business? My goal is to build businesses that motivate and inspire creativity in others while doing what I love. 

What’s your greatest source of encouragement, inspiration/motivation? Do you have any family influence on your choice in the crafts industry? Greatest source of encouragement: My family. I get inspiration from any and everything I see, my creative imagination is often sparked by the most seemingly ‘random’ items

What kind of exposure (within or outside the country) shaped you/your creativity the most? Not quite ‘shaped,’ as I’ve always been creative, and always loved making things, since childhood. But the exposure that greatly impacted my creativity and my journey would have to be my university and graduate school experiences in the US, and the resources I was exposed to. 

Who are your key clients, for both services and products? For Circa 64; Women between the ages of 21 – 55, who want to stand out with contemporary, one-of-a-kind accessories. As for Creative Safari – Our main product offering – the ‘Made in Nigeria Craft Kits,’ were created for anyone “between the ages of 9 – 99,” because we believe that creative exploration has no age limit!

Is there any book that inspired (or inspires) you the most? No. But I am very inspired by podcasts focused on sharing stories of successful entrepreneurs. Two of my favourites are ‘How I Built That’ by Guy Raz and ‘Dreams in Drive.’

Next to yours, what craft company/business do you admire? And perhaps would love/need to collaborate with? Crafties Hobby Crafts Limited

How best do you think Nigerians can get involved to support the crafts industry for the nation’s economy and eventual benefit of all? By patronising crafters/creatives who do good work, and recommending them to others. 

How easy (in an ideal situation) or difficult (in the current state of our society) is it to secure investors for a crafts venture? Where or how did/do you raise capital for your own business(es)? Well, I have not tried to secure any investors yet, so I can’t answer that question. But I imagine it would be quite difficult to do so. So far, I’ve raised capital through family support. 

Which do you think are the least/most explored kind of crafts in Nigeria at the moment? I’d say the most explored include Jewelry Making, Fashion Design, Millinery, Leather Crafting/Bag Making and more recently Soap Making, to name a few. And for the least explored; book binding, Mosaic Making, Resin Art, a wide range of Paper Crafting, etc. There are a lot of opportunities/areas for creative exploration in Nigeria. 

How/when do you generate new craft product ideas? Anywhere, anyhow, anytime – I don’t think the creative mind ever shuts off.

What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful craftpreneur (especially within or around your own choice of crafts business)? Using paper, gem stones, etc A colourful imagination. A good editing eye. Attention to detail/finishing. 

What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage it? Hmm, not sure I want to share that 🙂 

What has been your most satisfying moment in your craft business? Still waiting for it!

FUN FACT:

My maternal great grandmothers, were both creatives. My grandfather’s Mum was into tie and dye (Iya Alaro), and my grandmother’s Mum used to carve calabashes (Iya Onigba). I also have 2 maternal uncles who were artists and graphic designers. I like to think my creativity stems from there 🙂

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