As a law graduate, coming back to Lagos to attend law school was the original plan but Omolade Ogundimu A.K.A. Mo, knew that creative direction in some capacity was the path she wanted to follow. After stumbling on interior design pages and eventually a page called Rugsoda, she came up with the brand Mo Rugs, a handmade rug brand.
If you’ve been seeing a lot of Rick and Morty or any out of the box rugs on your social feed, it’s most likely from Mo Rugs. In this interview, I sat down with Mo to talk about how she got into tufting and what it’s like navigating her business in the Nigerian space.
What Led You To Start Mo Rugs?
I wanted to be in the interior industry and I didn’t want to start by doing cliche designs. I had some concepts but I realized that for me to be profitable, I had to present a completely new product into the market. I also didn’t want to face too much competition, which is why I carved the niche because I didn’t want to be in a space that was over saturated. Mo Rugs is supposed to be a platform for the greater vision which is Mo studio, my interior brand where I make interesting furniture. But for me to get to that point, I needed to put out a product that was easy to make because I’m all about DIY. I didn’t want to have to go through the stress of dealing with artisans right away, the cost of it, and the wahala that they come with. I wanted it to be something that I myself could also do so that once I mastered the skill, I could go ahead and train whoever I wanted. This was the main driving force for me. I wanted to find something to keep myself busy, and also provide a product in the art and interior space that I could easily merge.
Have you always been into designs?
Yes, I’ve always been into designs. I’ve always liked the idea of aesthetically pleasing spaces so I started growing an interest in art. But I wanted to find a way to merge the two together; art and interior.
Did you have any plans of Becoming a lawyer?
So I studied law in University of Reading for about two years. I was supposed to stay back for law school, but COVID happened and I eventually ended up coming back to Nigeria. By the time I got back, there was this reluctance. I didn’t want to go back to the UK. I just wanted to rediscover myself. I felt like my path towards law was already done so I took the time off to rediscover myself.
How did you discover your love for art and interior?
I was on Tiktok one night when I bumped into a page that looked interesting; Rugsoda. I thought it was the coolest thing I had seen in my life. It was like a whole black hole – I just couldn’t stop scrolling. I became instantly interested. I eventually started taking baby steps and then I got all the equipment I needed. It took about 3 months before I could finally get my hands on the machine because of shipping and all that.
It says “Tuft Your Dreams To Reality” in Your Instagram Bio. What does that mean?
There are many processes of making rugs. Tufting is one of them. The machine is actually called a tufting gun and the process is called tufting. I sleep, I wake up, and I think about the random shape and boom, I can make it. This was the idea behind the name. I wanted a nice catchphrase that represented what exactly the process was like.
So how long did it take you to learn tufting?
Aside from the fact that I was obsessing over this thing for like four months, when I finally did get my hands on the machine, I was learning for about two months. I’m completely self taught. Everything I was learning was just trial and error until I could produce a quality product I could sell.
How long does it take to make rugs?
I would say it takes about two hours to make a rug but I could also make it in six hours, two days or a week. It just depends on many things like my level of motivation and the availability of the resources. For some, I have to wait for yarn colors to be available. And the way it works is, I have a big frame so I have to fill it in before I can actually take orders so if that frame isn’t full, I probably wouldn’t be able to work properly because I’ll be wasting my fabric, if that makes sense.
Who or what were some of the resources that helped you learn this craft?
Most of it was from Reddit. I joined this closed group – It was like a mini cult. We were all just talking about our progress. Beginners were sharing photos of what they were doing and how they could get better. So I will say most of what I learned was from the group. Whenever I made a mistake, I would just take a picture and send it to them to get advise on what could have been done better. People were quite helpful. It was basically like a support group.
What would you say is the most challenging part of your business?
Definitely sourcing for yarn. Most of my locally sourced yarn comes in specific colors and that’s my main issue. There’s only one brand in Nigeria that produces yarn that I’m aware of called Yeye Yarn Nigeria. And they are one of the major suppliers. Worst of all, their head office is in Kano which makes them hard to reach. I know eventually, tufting will become a thing in Nigeria. And that’s a fact. When you want to be able to step in as a yarn supplier that can actually give a variety of colors, you can bring many designs to life. A lot of times I have to persuade customers into picking other colors and they have to compromise. I’m hoping that a new brand arises and gives us something better.
Is there a way you get inspiration for your rugs or are they mostly custom orders?
For what I have going on right now, there are two phases. There’s the fiber art, which contains my own designs and artwork, but it hasn’t really taken off because navigating the art space in Lagos is a nightmare. Then there are the customers who send me pictures of what they want so I just work with what they give me. When it comes to my own independent designs, I think I’m mostly inspired by abstract work, natural phenomena, things of nature, music, and my personal experiences. The only thing that has limited me from producing more rug art is the feeling of not yet being accepted into the Lagos art space. Maybe I’m not seeing the exposure yet and how people will take this medium because it’s new.
What vision do you have for Mo Rugs?
My future vision is having a key supply of custom rugs. Also, being able to at least train people to work with the brand and have other creatives who are interested in tufting. The big picture is being able to launch Mo Studio. Mo Rugs will just be a product under Mo Studio. Mo Studio will be more interior furniture pieces going forward.
What advice do you have for people Who want to go into tufting?
My advice is be 110% sure that it is what you want to do. It is not a craft that allows for a lot of mistakes and it’s quite expensive too. My second advice is to have fun with it. Don’t think about how you’re going to make money. Once you do that, you’ve lost the plot. Just think about trying things out. You can even gift people free rugs just to see what they think. Be consistent. Consistency is what will really build your skill to be neat and clean. Don’t cheapen the craft. If you have to spend some hours on a rug to bring out those details, put in the work because people will pay good money for it.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.