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ELAN PERSONALITY: Alexander the Great
by Uchenna Ezenna
December 5, 2009 06:20PMT
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On April 22, 2009, the world's most expensive suit was revealed at Pall Mall in London, with a price tag of $100,000. It was a luxurious masterpiece of gold and diamond buttons, platinum threads, sewn onto the rarest quality and blend of Himalayan pashmina. With an estimated labour time of 80 hours, and 5,000 individual stitches, the ‘Alexander Amosu' suit, as well as its creator, Alexander Amosu, entered the Guinness Book of World records; another remarkable feat for this 34-year-old trailblazer who made his first million at 25.
Alexander Amosu, creator of Amosu Luxury Ltd, is a luxury designer for the rich and famous. With the fame associated with his lifestyle brand, it is hard to believe that this young entrepreneur was originally a loner. "I went to school at 12, didn't have any friends because I had a really thick African accent, my clothes were raggedy, and they called my shoes ‘pony'. No one could relate to me. I felt distant from everybody else." Constantly teased for having the wrong outfit and shoes, Alex decided that he wanted to fit in. "And the only way I could do that was to work, so I got a paper round job."
Within a month of saving his earnings, Alex was able to purchase a Nike Air pair of trainers that got him all the attention he wanted at school. "That was the catalyst that made me realise that if you want to be somebody in life, you have to work hard at it."
R ‘N' B Ringtones
Like most entrepreneurs always on the lookout for brilliant ideas, Alex stumbled upon his while fiddling away with his cellphone. "I was playing with a mobile phone I had and tried to see if I could create music with it. After two hours, I created a sample of Jay Z's "Big Pimping", which my brother loved and shared with his friends". Seeing the buzz his ringtone created, Alex decided to capitalize on it and sold the ringtones to his brother's friends for £1 each. After making £21 in one day, it was clear to him that he had indeed tapped into something valuable.
Although he was in school at the time, he felt very passionately about the profitability of his business idea and decided to take a year off from school, much to his dad's dismay. "When you have a great idea you can't come back to it because somebody else will be on it, so I saw that (ringtone) as my opportunity and took it."
Within a year of first working in a small room with a small computer and a mobile phone, the company turned over £1.6 million, and in 3 years £6.6 million. Finally, in 2004, he sold the company for just under £9 million.
So what does a young man of 25 splurge on with his first million? "My first luxurious item was a house I bought for myself."
Fendi, Gucci, Louis, Amosu
While others often dream about retiring early after amassing such great fortunes at a young age, Alex's mind worked tirelessly to come up with the next big thing. "I am one of those people that set a goal and after it is reached, get bored and want to do something else; I am always looking to push my ideas to the next level." What he had in mind, this time, was much bigger than what anyone could have imagined.
Realising the fortune and longevity that comes with luxury brands like Gucci, YSL, Versace and LV, Alex decided to get involved. Mr. Amosu subsequently launched a line of customised luxury phones that took the market by storm, selling out in stores all over London, Dubai and Monaco. His launch also ushered him into the luxury market, which was then followed with the launch of various luxury products: jewellery, bespoke suits, customised diamond-encrusted key-chains and iPods. In 10 years, Mr. Amosu hopes to be bigger than other renowned luxury lines.
Alexander Amosu's success story sounds like one for the books, but it came with its challenges and obstacles. Along the way, he has lost money countless times, had to overcome his dad's disapproval, as well as jealousy and betrayal from friends. But Alex, who deplores the notion of failure, never let such obstacles overwhelm him. "I have never considered failure as anything. It is all part of the learning experience. You are always going to fail at something, especially if you try something you've never done. However, true failure comes from not being prepared to give it a go after you first stumble."
With all the success and accolades in England, this young, married father of two is now ready to make a name for himself where it matters most - home.
Born in the UK to Nigerian parents, Mr. Amosu is bringing a part of his business to Nigeria, after being away from the country for more than 15 years. His first journey to Nigeria was to participate in the reality television program, Dragon's Den, as one of the business experts (dragons) on the show. Impressed by what he saw, he decided to return with something tangible. In a partnership with MTN, Mr. Amosu will launch his bespoke suits and luxury line in Nigeria, not only to mark his strong beliefs and commitment to the profitability of Nigeria, but to celebrate his success. "The launch is to show Nigerians at home what Nigerians are doing overseas and to celebrate their accomplishments. I don't just want to be known in Britain; I want to put Africa on the map."
But more importantly, Alex, whose role models include the likes of Richard Branson and Bill Gates, comes with a very important message. Often the only black person at important industry events, he is pushing to see fellow blacks and Nigerians at the top. "There are opportunities everywhere and lots of money to be made, and we need to be pushing ourselves to be the best."
So what message does Alexander Amosu have for those intending to follow in his great footsteps? "You have to take the bull by its horn. You have to do what you think is right because at the end of the day, there is only one person to blame for who you become, and that is you. If you want to do something, just do it. It doesn't matter if you mess up because you are doing this for yourself and nobody else."