On the Rise: Tola Lawal

2015headshot2-1When I think of the word Go Getter, there are a few individuals that comes to mind and Tola Lawal is one of them. Having been the driving force behind some of the best marketing brand , Tola’s work ethic and knack for marketing speaks for itself. These days, you can find Tola doing another type of branding – one that involves providing the youth with the tools needed to pursue a higher education. Read more about Tola below!

1.Where were you 6 months after college?

I always knew I wanted to be in PR/ Marketing but I didn’t know how to get there. After graduation, I applied to various roles in marketing however, after many failed attempts I came across a temp agency that helped me get to my destination and the rest was history. I highly recommend college graduates to reach out to a temp agency and build a relationship with a recruiter in the beginning of their job search.

2.Tell me about your career journey to counseling.

Throughout out my career, I have always been the point of contact for advice, especially when it came to college counseling. When I was laid off in 2014 from BET, I took that opportunity to fuel my curiosity. I first started with doing a tour discussing the transition from high school to college which was sponsored by Black Enterprise. I then launched my non- profit organization Gyrl Wonder. Now, as Assistant of Director of College Success I have never found myself more comfortable and passionate about my job and I enjoy every second of it.

tola_in_class3. What sparked Tola Speaks?

I am a Marketer by nature, I realized that if I wanted to do speaking engagements focused on the youth, I needed to create a successful brand around it.

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On the Rise: Roodelyne Jean-Baptiste

Industry: Business of fashion

Hats: CEO of RJBagency & Co-Founder of Rsocks

School:  BA in Marketing Berkeley College

imageWhen you finally discover your passion, no obstacles can impede your commitment to see it realized. The same can be said for this month’s entrepreneur-on-the-rise,   Roodelyne Jean-Baptiste. She is the CEO of RJBagency, a marketing agency based in New York City, and Co-Founder of RSocks.

Ms.Jean-Baptiste found her calling for the fashion industry at a very young age. Having had over 10 years of experience in the industry, her great eye for details has landed her opportunities as a fashion stylist, consultant, and buyer for high-end retail outlets. I caught up with Roodelyne Jean Baptiste on a surprisingly warm winter afternoon on a rooftop lounge on 5th avenue.  She sat down with me for an interview to share details of her journey and future plans.

Where were you 5 months after graduating from Berkeley? I was already making RJBagency a copyright. I thought about launching my own marketing company since my junior year of college, and I couldn’t wait to graduate and work towards achieving my dream. I came out of school during the economic downfall so I knew that I had to focus my energy on my passion.

For those of us who are unfamiliar with the business side of the fashion industry, walks us through the other side of the table.

Well let’s cut to the chase: it isn’t all glam, the business side of the industry is all about work! Behind all the glam, are business-minded trendsetters, shaping the creative sides from behind the scenes, analyzing sales figures, product placements, inventory turnover, and keeping the Marginal Revenue (MR) & Marginal Cost (MC) at an even scale. This is a multi-million dollar business and it should be recognized as such. A designer’s job is at least 10% creativity and 90% business.

Roodelyne with the Rsocks team at a recent photoshoot

Roodelyne with the Rsocks team at a recent photo shoot

Tell me about your latest project Rsocks. What inspired you?

I love fun SOCKS! I believe that great unexpected socks are impressive and captivating.The fashion market is always re-inventing itself, and so we thought that by having sock collection that appeals to sophisticated men and women who are not afraid to stand out in a crowd. Our  sock collection comes in an array of colors from playful patterns to the classic neutral tones.

Did you encounter some roadblocks while working on Rsocks? Always, what I’ve learned throughout my life is that “obstacles” are temporary. A great way to get over them is to learn to push through your obstacles and surround yourself with people who are willing to support you and encourage you.

What would you tell people who are looking to be in the fashion industry?

  • Be confident
  • Be marketable, let your work speak for itself.
  • Network! and if you do, do it well.
  • Have your elevator speech ready
  • Stay in contact.

What’s it like to be in your shoes?

A day in my shoes is like a roller coaster ride; I’m always on the run, always juggling whatever the day brings but overall it’s all work in progress. The best part of the roller coaster ride is taking the time to enjoy the view and that’s one of the reasons that I love what I do.

When you’re not wearing your CEO hat, what do you do on your spare time?

Whenever I am not working or planning on a project, I like to visit an exhibition or museum. I am member of MoMA and I go frequently, almost every chance I get. Museums connect us to the world and its history, and I find that fascinating; it’s a great way to be inspired.

Photography Credit:  Oye Diran of Arista Imagery. Oluwole Onafowora of Rookie Photography Videographer: Revay Canary

Photography Credit: Oye Diran of Arista Imagery.
Oluwole Onafowora of Rookie Photography
Videographer: Revay Canary

If you were to write a letter to your younger self about being an entrepreneur what would it say?

The letter would say:

Dear Roodelyne,

Say goodbye to everything that is comfortable, in your freshman year of life. The world doesn’t owe you anything; just prepare to take a great leap forward and never lose faith in God and let him work in your favor. Let every challenge you face molds you for more ahead.


To stay connected with  Roodelyne, be sure to follow her Instagram RJBagency

Check out Rsocks for more information.