In the realm of entrepreneurship, some ventures are born out of necessity, while others emerge from a deep-rooted passion to bridge gaps and create something unique. Dimeji Eyiowuawi’s journey into the world of entrepreneurship is a testament to the latter.
As a devout creative with deftness in writing, drawing, videography and photography, he has leveraged his multimedia skills to breathe life into his self-proclaimed idea of a plantain lifestyle.
In 2013, Eyiowuawi launched Dodo Gang, a global community of plantain lovers united by food, fashion art and events. Dodo Gang harnesses the power of cultural celebrations to create spaces where individuals can experience the beauty of art convergence firsthand.
Whether it’s a fashion showcase, art exhibition or a culinary activation, these gatherings serve as dynamic platforms for celebrating diversity, fostering cultural exchanges, and creating shared experiences that transcend geographical and cultural boundaries.
“Art is incorporated into everything we do with Dodo Gang,” says Eyiowuawi. “Even our apparel merch is artfully designed to add a touch of plantain-gangsterism to your wardrobe.”
Much like Dodo Gang’s apparel line, Eyiowuawi’s life is woven with vibrant threads from his early upbringing in Lagos, Nigeria. The very name “Dodo Gang” is a tribute to his Nigerian heritage and one of his favorite rappers, Wiz Khalifa.
Dodo means fried plantain in Yoruba, a native Nigerian language. After being inspired by Khalifa’s music and lifestyle brand, Taylor Gang, the budding visionary felt his plantain-focused brand also shared the themes of unity and creativity. One long-standing influence on the brand’s name is tied to a childhood memory that Eyiowuawi’s family won’t seem to let him forget.
“To this day, my auntie and uncle still tease me about when I was younger, and the only thing I would say is, ‘I want to eat dodo, I want to eat dodo,’ he jokes.
Building a Creative Enterprise
Eyiowuawi maintained his love for plantains throughout his formative years and his later move to Ghana, where he studied geography and economics at the University of Ghana. While attending college, he became even more involved with the arts after embracing his musical talents as a DJ. As he approached graduation, he knew a traditional 9-5 career would not fulfill him.
“I did not want to go job hunting after I was done with school,” he admits. “I knew I wanted to pursue my own creative dreams.”
Driven by the desire to make Dodo Gang a success, the cultural curator began building his brand full-time immediately after finishing college. For Eyiowuawi, Dodo Gang became a canvas for his creative visions. It was a platform to express his journey of cultural exploration and, by extension, an invitation for others to embark on a similar voyage.
His entrepreneurial journey hasn’t come without challenges. Eyiowuawi quickly discovered how brand awareness and perception are critical in setting a path toward long-term success and notoriety.
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“I’ve realized the word ‘gang’ doesn’t always have a positive perception in certain parts of the world, so that’s one thing I keep in mind as I look to partner with other brands,” he says.
Eyiowuawi also cites low attendance as a challenge he had to overcome in the earlier stages of solidifying his brand.
“I’ve had an event where only two people showed up,” he recalls. “At that point, I realized we have different audiences in our community, and we need to create different events for each demographic.”
By strategically focusing on the brand’s various audience segments, Dodo Gang’s events gradually gained momentum. The social community has amassed over 26,000 Instagram followers to date and now hosts large-scale events with more than 1,500 attendees.
One of those major events is World Plantain Day, which was first claimed and celebrated by Eyiowuawi on June 5, 2017. Six years later, Dodo Gang continues to host the annual event in Lagos.
Each year, the highly anticipated celebration takes on a different format. Previous formats range from a traditional festival featuring cooking competitions and musical performances to exclusive dining experiences and day parties —all centered on the beloved fruit.
Scaling Dodo Gang for Success
As Eyiowuawi searched for ways to maximize global expansion for Dodo Gang, he found a way to amplify his presence in the homes of plantain lovers far and wide through his cookbook, “10 Easy Ways to Love Plantain.”
The publication was released in 2021 and co-authored with chef Morenike Ayo-Vaughan. In the book, the versatility of plantains takes center stage as Eyiowuawi and Ayo-Vaughan present a recipe collection punctuated with humorous commentary that entices a global audience to partake in a shared culinary journey.
“The cookbook can be described as culinary entertainment for plantain lovers,” says the self-published author.
Dodo Gang has evolved as more than just a platform for global cultural exchange, it is also the catalyst for the development of Dodo Creative Services, Eyiowuawi’s full-service marketing agency that allows him to explore concepts beyond plantains by working with other food brands, technology companies and musical artists.
“Dodo Gang is the brand, but Dodo Creative Services is the business,” he says. “I’m now able to sell creative services and solutions to various food and tech companies and manage social media accounts.”
As Eyiowuawi reflects on his journey, he envisions a legacy where Dodo Gang continues to broaden its global footprint and establish its presence in more countries. Ultimately, he hopes future generations are inspired to celebrate their heritage while embracing the opportunities of a globalized world.
“Through my journey, I found my purpose,” says Eyiowuawi. “I know I’ve done my part in building a community when people attend a Dodo Gang experience and they leave happy, or even connect with someone they’ve met for the first time.”