A female entrepreneur is turning discarded rubber tires into thoughtful home decor.
Olabanke Banjo, founder and CEO of Cyrus45 Factory, recycles and transforms used tires into interior design — setting a new example for many women in her community in Nigeria, reports the BBC.
"When women see what I do they are inspired to do something similar,” Banjo told the BBC in an interview — “go into carpentry … or something that’s seen as a male-dominated field.”
To those who might have the desire but lack the courage, Banjo implores them to search for inner strength.
“Do not let fear of striking out keep you from exploring your talents and creativity,” she said, according to an earlier report in the Guardian. “I once read a woman should be two things: who and what she wants to be.”
A former writer and digital strategist, Banjo graduated from the Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife Osun State.
But having expressed an interest in literature and fine arts from an early age, it wasn’t entirely surprising when Banjo quit her job in May to pursue a new entrepreneurial venture that combined her sense of creativity with an affinity for the environment.
“I have always been art inclined,” Banjo told The African Woman (TAW). I recall starting a jewelry and greeting cards-making business in my 200 level at the university. I also learnt how to make handbags during my NYSC. Art has always been an innate part of me, and it’s one of my first true loves.”
The idea for Cyrus45 emerged organically while spending time with family, according to the report.
“It all started last year while I was living with my elder sister in Lagos,” Banjo told TAW. “She had about a pile of 20 used tires in her compound, which her neighbours wanted to dispose. But being a lover of revamping old items, I asked them to give the tires to me instead and the rest is what you see today.”
Banjo now upcycles tires sourced from refuse centers, incinerators, and individuals looking to replace the ones on their vehicle, as well as those found on the side of the road.
From there, the entrepreneur creates “artsy and ultra-modern” pieces of furniture, including chairs, rockers, and ottomans that happen to be sustainable and earth-friendly.
“If I don’t do something for my environment, who will?” said Banjo in the interview with the BBC. “With recycling and upcycling, the possibilities are endless.”