Abdulahi Olatoyan at work. (Photo: Daniel Sync/Sync MEDIA HOUSE)
There’s an old saying about how you should “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” — and the sentiment has never been more true than for one young man in Nigeria.
According to NAIJ.com, Abdulahi Olatoyan was a student at Nigeria’s University of Ilorin but was forced to leave due to financial reasons after his father died. In order to support himself, the 30-something began washing car windows on the streets.
What made Olatoyan stand out from competing washers? His formal manner of dress. Rather than wearing the typical tee and jeans, he wore a dapper blazer and shirt with a bowtie and matching pocket square.
Struck by Olatoyan’s distinguished look, celebrity photographer Daniel Sync took his portrait and wrote about their meeting online: “So, I bumped into this well suited windscreen cleaner yesterday in Ogun State. We need more innovative citizens like Abdulahi in Nigeria. Well spoken Abdulahi Olatoyan who is in his early thirties is a University of Ilorin dropout, who turned to the street after the demise of his father to make a living and save enough money to start a business.”
“He hopes to return to school to finish his studies one day,” Sync added. “Photographing and speaking with Abdulahi today inspired me and I do hope that you are inspired by his story, too. If you’re trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I’ve had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”
That was only the beginning. In the days that followed, designer Uche Nnaji of the popular Nigerian clothing brand OUCH caught wind of Olatoyan’s story and posted on Instagram asking his 17,900 followers to help him track down the window washer, adding “We have a JOB waiting for him at OUCH.” The post was showered with comments of praise and eventually updated, with Nnaji writing that he “finally got to speak with [Abdulahi] …Blessings 🙏.”
Though it’s unclear whether Nnaji is interested in casting Olatoyan as a model for his brand or as a salesperson, his story is being compared to that of former Nigerian bread seller Jumoke Orisaguna, who became a model and motivational speaker after photobombing a shoot with rapper Tinie Tempah.
Whatever the outcome, stories like this prove that social media, and its ability to connect people, can actually result in something positive and sweet. More of the same, please!