From Computer Science to leatherwork, Kunmi Otitoju, the Nigerian leather designer and founder of Minku Leather Goods, is willing to go as far as the limits of her creativity will take her. Being one of five children, Kunmi Otitoju was listed as one of the 30 most promising young African entrepreneurs by Forbes in 2014 (with all laureates aged 30 and under) and is set to take on the world. Her story begins here:
After her secondary education in Lagos, she traveled to the US to study for a computer science degree: Bachelors at Howard University in Washington DC (summa cum laude/first class) and masters at Virginia Tech in Human-Computer Interaction. She interned with investment bank, Goldman Sachs, and worked with a number of international companies before deciding to move to Europe in 2007. She left the fast-moving scene of computer technology to the more moderately-paced and creative world of leather-work.
This culture-centric lady that has a Yoruba appellation for almost all her bags, makes them at her atelier in Barcelona and sells them in Lagos stores and around the world. Her first marketing efforts have been self-done, marketing the works of her hands to her network of friends from over 20 countries.
Kunmi says she is inspired by the different textures and colours of the materials she works with. Minku bags are a transcontinental blend, comprising of Aso-oke lining and Spanish leathers for the exterior.
However, she is not going all in for fashion without significant help from her tech background. She personally designed and maintains Minku’s website while also being part of the earliest adopters of bitcoin in the African market. Nigerian technology website TechCabal, reports that Minku is the first Nigerian start-up to accept Bitcoins.
Minku is not without support for a social cause. According to Kunmi, Minku supports a charity called the United For Kids Foundation. The foundation raises money for school fees and school supplies for Lagos children with less.
Kunmi is excited about the growth being experienced within the Nigerian technology and fashion ecosystems, and expresses that good things are happening in both, and she is excited to see what the future holds. Her words to aspiring entrepreneurs and start-ups are lucid “Hone your aesthetic, and give your best! Believe in yourself, and remember that execution is everything!”
Kunmi is a lady of many parts, she has superb writing skills and is very meticulous. We exchanged mails over 20 times just to ensure that the ‘t’s are crossed and the ‘i’s are dotted. Obviously, she wouldn’t mind spending quality time to make her quality bags and accessories which she produces only limited editions of.
To find out more about Minku: