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Tomi Oladepo - Stylish Academic

 

Stylish Academic logo

www.stylishacademic.com

tee at stylishacademic dot com






My enterprise project

My enterprise skills & motivations

Stylish Academic (SA) is a fashion and lifestyle blog targeted at academic researchers – from PhD students to tenured professors. Its guiding ethos is that smarts and style are not mutually exclusive. The platform encourages readers to embrace their personal style and forsake the myth that looking good in academia is synonymous with “unserious”, “frivolous” and “unintellectual.” The content ranges from what to wear to interviews, viva, etc, to academic lifestyle stories, and inspiring profile features.

I got the idea in 2014 while chatting with a friend about business, fashion, and what I was going to wear to an academic event. The name “Stylish Academic” came to me, and being a domain-name evangelist, my friend immediately bought it for me! Then I enlisted the help of another friend, a UX consultant in London, and we conceptualised the look of the website. In the meantime, I started with a Wordpress.com blog. The stylishacademic.com website launched in 2015.

So far, the response has been utterly amazing. I am in the middle of an audience survey, and the feedback has been generous, even on social media. Some brands have come knocking, and the numbers on social media & our email subscriber-base are growing daily. I am more convinced than ever of the need for “Stylish Academic”, and she’s been born at the right time.

I am always willing to learn new skills. By taking “Stylish Academic” from a hobby to a full-fledged enterprise, I have had to catch-up on business management skills for running a start-up, and web analytics. My partner on SA has a PhD in Business & Management, while mine is in Digital Media and Communications. With my journalism background we make the perfect combo to take Stylish Academic to the next level.

Everyday is a learning experience for me on “Stylish Academic”. I am learning how to listen to my audience and tailor my content to meet their needs. Where I lack expertise to deliver on a content request, I use my networking skills to bring others on board. So far it’s an exciting experience – meeting people, hearing their stories, and sharing them.

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My enterprise support

My enterprise reflections & visions

The support available at the University of Warwick has been phenomenal. I attended many of the career skills and enterprise workshops during my PhD: long before I conceived “Stylish Academic”. They now serve me on this journey. Some of my favourite workshops were “The Confident Networker”, “Getting Started as a Consultant”, “How to be an Effective Researcher”, and “Making Presentations”.

Major parts of my role as Editor on SA have been to contact and connect with absolute strangers, and win their trust so we can share their stories. It takes a lot of confidence to do this well. “Getting Started as a Consultant” was a crash course on business management for me, a skill I am now honing.

Further support the University could provide for students includes more entrepreneurship-skill-based workshops. The world of work today has gone beyond the linear career path that goes straight up the ladder. Successful graduates today wear many hats. I am still very invested in my area of academic expertise as a digital media and public communications researcher, I still present at academic conferences, but I am also an entrepreneur – and that’s okay.


The main thing I have learnt from my enterprise experience so far is that when you have an idea, run with it immediately. Don’t waste any time. Don’t wait for it to be perfect. I was blessed to have friends who caught the fire with me. My friend bought the URL on my behalf that same evening we had the conversation, because I wanted to still sit back and mull over it. She runs a highly successful platform herself, loveweddingsng.com. She taught me this first lesson. Don’t waste time.

Also, it may not make sense to a lot of people in the beginning, but the few that get it, keep them close. My other friend in London believed in SA and got to work on the site immediately I shared it with her – a pound never exchanged hands.

My current partner on SA effectively pushed the business agenda for the platform, being an expert on start-ups himself.

Your support network is crucial to the success of your enterprise.

In the next 3-6 months, I intend the launch a marketplace (eCommerce) on the website. This is just one of many ideas in the works.

The impact I think SA will have in the future is that academic professionals will be at home with exploring and expressing their personal style; that academic hallways won’t be where fashion has come to die (as I read someone say on Twitter). Rather, it will be where smarts and style mix so effortlessly that the only “K” the next generation will want to Keep Up With would be K-nowledge.