JANUARY 2017 – ISSUE 13 – BEAUTY!
Segun Olaleye, known as Segun Gele, was born on the 2nd of May 1974 to a proud family of six from the western part of Nigeria; precisely Ile-Ogbo Township; Ayedire Local Govt in Osun State. The name Oluwasegun (meaning God is victorious) was given to him as the first son born on a beautiful Tuesday morning, which in Yoruba is referred to as “ojo isegun” – a victorious day!
He grew up in Lagos, Nigeria and later moved on to St Gregory’s College Obalende in Lagos; where he completed his WAEC (Certificate Exam) in 1998. He then moved on to Lagos State University to study for a Diploma in Law. In 2001 he graduated with a BA in English Language.
Many people ask often ask him how he got into the headtie business and jokingly he’ll request the presence of CNN before he can grant the HISTORIC interview to avoid repeating himself. His passion for headtie started as a young inquisitive man who always wanted to help his mum look good by any means or way.
Like every other woman, she would always struggle and fight with her headties for hours before they went to church on a Sunday. The outcome? Not so good… So, he’d always try his best to help tie it on his on head and then fit it to his mama’s head, which always looked better than whatever she made earlier. She would proudly wear it to church. Eventually, it got to a point where others could tell if he was home for the weekend from school because her headtie was exceptionally different.
As time went by, Segun improved on all he had learned when helping his mum and graduated to helping some brides do their gele for traditional weddings. Gele tying as a means of his livelihood started April of 2003 in Atlanta GA at a friend’s wedding, Tai Akinola.
According to Gele:
“While standing at the car park waiting to get in the car, I sighted this gorgeously dressed lady (The Iya-Alaje of Atlanta) with a hat on her head and her head tie in her hands. I approached her asking to help her with it and she politely refused. I then told her to allow me tie it and if it did not come out good I’d pay her $5! She said, “NO” and then bet me $7 that I couldn’t do it at all! I got the $7, with lots of applause from onlookers at the parking lot. She was happy and got lots of complements for looking extraordinarily good. I also made my first $265 from tying gele at parties.”
In September 2003, Segun moved to Houston where he met a very good friend, Mariam Mogaji, a Fashion Icon and trend setter when it comes to African dressing. They became friends and she invited Segun to her Auntie’s birthday party, where he dazzled them with his gele tying skills. He was immediately booked for the rest of the year and the subsequent year’s events, which led to his success and to the name SEGUNGELE.