Nigeria-born and London-based, tech, creative, and social entrepreneur Ooooota Adepo is a woman on a mission. Motivated by her drive to tackle social issues and capture business opportunities in the global marketplace, she formed Cross Culture Creative (CCC) – a consultancy which provides strategic advisory for people and businesses looking to impact invest in Africa across healthcare, energy, education, and agriculture.
Donning many hats, Ooooota’s work is wide-ranging – from “researching ways in which clean technology can be adopted throughout sub-Saharan Africa to deconstructing a recipe” so she can recreate and photograph it for her website Dynein.co. Whether writing about geopolitics or collaborating creatively with fashion and lifestyle brands, creativity and a desire to solve problems tend to guide her pursuits.
Here, we explore this modern maverick’s working day – which, as you might expect, is anything but typical…
How do you start your days?
Honestly, it changes with the season. 90% of the time, I get out of bed, go to my kitchen and make myself an oat matcha latté (with cinnamon powder) as I watch snippets from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
What’s your go-to uniform?
I don’t have one. When I’m feeling inspired (usually during sunnier months) every day is a different look. I love colours, patterns, and playing with textures, but sometimes I just want to be in a cotton long-sleeve shirt and black trousers.
My wardrobe is quite unimaginative in the winter season, particularly during this strange period when most of my time is spent indoors. Like most people right now, I’m gravitating towards clothing of really comfortable material, like silk trousers and cosy sweats. Kimonos and wrap dresses are also lovely to be enveloped in.
Describe your workspace/ workplace…
At the moment, I work from home. I have a mezzanine in my flat where the ceiling has beautiful cornices and moulding. My iMac sits on a two-metre wide oak desk which I do my best to keep uncluttered. It helps me focus.
Define your aesthetic…
That’s difficult, but I’ll give it a shot. I like things with character and a story. I gravitate towards clean lines and minimalism. I love wood, particularly oak. I like neutral palettes, but I also love bold colours like an Yves-Klein blue or a vibrant red.
Identify something in your workspace that’s special to you (and why) …
A photograph of my mother and me. I’m about three-years old and we’re both walking down a staircase in Abuja, Nigeria. She’s wearing a white jumpsuit and a big smile. I’m in denim overalls, holding her hand. It’s special because it’s an image that was taken so long ago, yet not much has changed.
What are your workplace essentials?
My computer, my two notebooks and an incense. Right now, I love everything from Shoyeido Incense Co.
What time of day are you at your most creative?
It depends on the season, the nature of my work at the time (which often varies), and when I’m mentally on a roll. Sometimes it’s at 9AM. Sometimes at 1AM. I try to be patient with myself, and to allow myself to fall into a productive groove. These are particularly strange times so I’m always adjusting where necessary.
What’s your go to lunch order?
Lunch order? I love cooking. I started Dynein as a way to recognise my favourite restaurants around the world. Replicating dishes from them allows me to travel when I physically can’t. So, lunch is usually something I cook. Yesterday for instance, I made the Mykonian salad which I love from Scorpios in Mykonos. I’ll post about it soon on the Instagram account.
What is the most rewarding part of your job/s?
The fact that all of my jobs merge my creativity and my desire to solve problems. Work ranges from researching ways in which clean technology can be adopted throughout sub-Saharan Africa to deconstructing a recipe so I can recreate and photograph it. Sometimes I’m writing about geopolitics or I’m collaborating creatively with incredible fashion and lifestyle brands.
And the most challenging?
Pushing myself and making sure I’m delivering the best I possibly can.
If you were to write a two-line job spec for yourself, it would read as follows…
You are a curious individual who is committed to making the world a more just place. You can solve problems using rational thinking and creativity.
What did you study in school/ university?
My bachelor’s degree was in Economics, French and International Relations. My master’s degree was in Planning, Growth, and Regeneration.
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Where are you from originally?
Lagos, Nigeria. Originally and unoriginally. I’m 100% Nigerian.
What was your first job?
I interned at Fairchild Publications in Paris where I worked under the W Magazine and Women’s Wear Daily Team.
Tell us about some of your past experiences working in tech and social entrepreneurship….
Years ago, I started a company called TheTip, which guided people through global restaurants, cafés, wine bars and more through the insight of people who work in the hospitality industry. Dynein is an iteration of this idea of a global culinary guide, with more creative onus on me. Cross Culture Creative (CCC) is a consultancy I run which provides strategic advisory for people and businesses looking to impact invest in Africa across healthcare, energy, education, and agriculture.
I created Ooooota.com to be a meeting point of my creative and social pursuits. The website is my way of celebrating Africa’s creativity, developmental potential, and its people.
How do you know when you’re on to a good idea?
Ultimately, I trust my instincts. But I also try to validate the idea against a need in the marketplace and run it by people I trust.
Where do you get your best ideas?
I don’t know to be honest. I guess when you are present and tactile, are an active consumer, have a good sense of how services and products have evolved and where there’s room for improvement, you can creatively come up with a solution and then work towards realising it.
Do you have a mentor or inspirational figure that has guided or influenced you?
My mother and my father.
What were some hurdles you had to overcome when starting out?
Establishing credibility when you are new to an industry.
What’s the most important business lesson you’ve learned?
Never give up and ask for help where necessary.
The best advice you’ve ever received…
Never give up.
A cause that’s important to you is…
There are so many. They all fall under the umbrella of creating a more just world for all people.
What are you working on right now?
Ooooota.com where I’ll be uploading a lot more content relating to discovering Africa’s hidden gems whilst engaging with some of the continent’s brightest minds. Dynein.co where I’ll continue recognise incredible hospitality venues around the world which I know we’re all looking forward to having full access to once again. I’m also overseeing a few projects under CCC which will make healthcare more accessible and energy consumption greener across Africa.
I’m really trying to focus more on being present. So, I’ll let tomorrow take care of itself.