Entrepreneurship is not for everyone, but Ayo Ololara could not imagine being anything but an entrepreneur.
The outspoken, independent and adventurous mother of three describes herself as a “serial entrepreneur”. She is the creative/managing director of cosmetic brand, Crown Beauti Cosmetics; partner in the construction company, Innovation Designs and Quality Homes; director of Desiree Properties Inc.; and also the owner of a hair and nail salon.
She also has the titles of wife, children’s book author, political consultant, deputy campaign manager for the Barbados Labour Party St George South Member of Parliament, Dwight Sutherland, and chairs the Access to Education Committee on the United Nations’ International Council for the Decade of People of African Descent.
Working a traditional nine to five was never an option for this energetic and vivacious woman. She enjoyed learning and occupying her time with new initiatives and projects.
“I think I get bored easily, so I would never survive on doing one thing day to day. I have tried it before and it never worked for me. I always got frustrated,” she revealed.
“Working on a project really inspires me. I don’t care what project it is—it could be something that makes money, and it could be something that is non-profit. I just like working on a project and seeing it through to the end.”
Ayo’s zest for life is due to the several harrowing or near-death experiences she has had over the past four years. Four years ago, she was involved in a major vehicle accident but she walked away unscathed. While pursuing a degree in Political Science and International Relations at the University of the West Indies,
Cave Hill Campus, she was attacked and robbed while sitting in her car. She has also had to undergo surgery for fibroids and endometriosis.
“I am acutely aware of how easily I could have lost my life in each of these situations had one thing not gone the way it had – for instance, if the robbers were armed with a gun – and I think that I have developed a different outlook on life. I have little patience with time wasting or time wasters, and I have a new zest for living and simply doing more interesting things and just living and enjoying people and spaces that bring me pleasure, knowledge or just new experiences.”
Although she agreed that not everyone had the personality or the skills necessary to become a successful entrepreneur, Ayo said that since she became self-employed she has made some extraordinary achievements.
“There are certain things that I have been able to do just before I reach 40 – which is extremely young and still in my prime – that I would not have been able to do if I remained in one job with one salary. So [having several] revenue streams is absolutely important if you want to be a financially secure woman, and it also gives you your power as a woman,” she said.
Ayo has always imagined herself leading an interesting and productive lifestyle. And even with all her accolades and titles, the former Barbados Defence Force soldier is still not satisfied.
“I just want to do very interesting things with my life. I never really found myself following any one thing so I just get involved in a lot of different things and it keeps my life interesting and it keeps me driven.”
Coming from humble beginnings, Ayo still stands in awe at her achievements thus far in life.
Although she had a disadvantageous starting point, she made strides to get herself out of poverty and to better herself, leaving home at the age of 17 to live on her own.
“When we were growing up we weren’t living in the best neighbourhoods and I decided that if I really wanted to progress I had to get out of the neighbourhood I was living in. I had to get from among people who don’t necessarily identify with my dreams, who don’t necessarily identify with the idea that you want to do something with your life,” she said.
Ayo has encouraged women from physical or mentally abusive households to take the initial step to walk away from the destructiveness and seek better alternatives for themselves.
“You have to get out of the bad situation first and then partake in the steps towards bettering yourself and towards becoming the person you want to become and being in the position that you want to be in,” she added.