GBEMI OKUNLOLA is a jewel in the UK’s crown.
The 22-year-old founder of Alo’Nuko is hailed as one of the country’s youngest bridal brand designer.
Though she has been designing clothes since her teens, the entrepreneur launched her first collection in 2015, aged 20, and has recently announced the launch of her second.
Gbemi’s passion began at age 11 when she began taking apart clothes and reassembling them, an exercise that helped tremendously to hone her skills in her formative years.
However, even though she loved designing from an early age, her entrepreneurial journey began by accident when she was 14 when her best friend provided her with her first client – her cousin.
The summer before heading to college, Okunlola was urged by family and friends to apply for BBC’s Young Apprentice show.
The then 16-year-old took the leap and appeared alongside 11 young entrepreneurs to compete for an investment from Lord Alan Sugar.
Although she didn’t get the money, she says the experience was a big stepping stone in her entrepreneurial journey.
And Gbemi believed in her passion so much, she declined a place at the highly prestigious London College of Fashion to pursue her passion.
After designing her sister’s wedding dress, she was inspired to create a special bridal collection, which she describes as “bespoke handmade gowns for the bespoke bride”.
And the rest, they say, is history.
“With bridal, it’s a really special experience; sometimes I get brides who cry just telling me about how they met their husbands. To be a part of it all is very exciting.”