fashion

MEET I.T, THE FIRE OF HER CREATIVITY SHINES THROUGH!

While I spoke to this young lady, I realised what I missed…  An undergraduate at the University of Calabar, she combines work and education and still manages to strike a balance to be an Honour student. Get thinking and be inspired! Read on to find out what she’s about: 

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Tell me about your business.
I design and make clothes, female clothes.

For how long now?
About three years now.

Okay. Tell us about yourself.
My name is Itohowo Pius,a native of Akwa Ibom state.I’m the third in a family of four. A third-year student of English and Literary Studies in the University of Calabar. I grew up in Calabar and attended Saint Christopher Nursery and Primary School and later, Limelight Secondary school.

Where does fashion meet English?
Fashion meets English where there is love for creativity.

There are a lot of people in this business, why did you decide to join this lot?
It wasn’t a decision,I just flowed into it.

You must have gotten your creative streak from someone in the family…
I learnt my grandmother was a seamstress…she didn’t stay around long enough to tutor me though.

As with any enterprise, there are challenges, what challenges have you faced?
There’s the basic financial challenge, and of course the fierce competition out there.But where passion is involved,there’s no challenge at all.

How have you surmounted this challenge?
Where competition is concerned I try to stay unique and original. I make a statement with simple pieces. And as for finance, I am gradually overcoming it though it’s a tough one.

Fine, do you offer training or apprenticeship?
I do.

What training sessions have you fine tuned, how frequently do you train and what is the duration of  such trainings?
Okay. My trainings are for six months and a year. It depends on which the trainees can afford. I start with the basics: how to paddle a machine, thread it and all that. When that has been done to perfection the next step is to learn how to cut a fabric for a particular design. This is where sewing is hinged not in the paddling or threading. Once the mastery of cutting is attained there’s almost nothing left to learn.

With your studies, how do you manage a business?
I work before, between and after lectures and mostly at night. It’s really hectic but worth it.

Is there any satisfaction to be gained?
The ultimate satisfaction is the expression on my clients’ face when they put on the piece they had made.
I treasure every second of it.

What should we expect from you in the next few years, say 5 years from now?
By the next five years I’ll be a force to reckon with in the fashion industry. I intend to take the industry by storm with pieces that speak.

Given the opportunity, what would you do differently?
I would have taken up a course in designing four years back.

And now?
Right now I’m letting my passion inspire creativity until I get around to studying it.

Do you have any other business interests that you’d like to pursue?
Presently I make ankara bags, bangles, clutch purses, necklaces and earrings for commercial purposes. Other interests may yet set in.

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Ankara creations

Have you showcased any of your designs in any shows?
No, not yet.

As we approach the holiday season, ladies scramble for the nearest dress maker, how do you deal with disgruntled clients?
Humans generally are a tough bunch to deal with. So whether my client is right or wrong I make sure they are pacified. Besides where business is concerned the client is ALWAYS right.

Thank you for your time.
The pleasure’s mine.

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IT’S MORE THAN JUST FASHION!

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It was a windy evening when I met with this designer whose clientele remain anonymous for security reasons. I had heard him relate how he was being frisked by security to reach some of his clients. Some of his stories bother on being hilarious, he being a natural jester. I decided to ask about his foray into fashion and here’s the excerpt of our interview.

Tell me about yourself.
I was born in Lagos where I had my primary education. I had my secondary schooling in Port-harcourt, Rivers state. I had my first and second degree from University of Abuja. I am the fifth of nine children, the second boy. I am a native of Bayelsa state, Sagbama local government.

How did you get into fashion industry?
I went into fashion during the prolonged ASUU strike of 2002. I was tutored by a designer who was then sewing for the Obasanjo’s and since then, I’ve been on a roller coaster.

Okay so would you say that you’ve carved a niche for yourself in the fashion industry? There are so many dress makers…
Yes I have. My styles are unique and my clientele, wide. Most of my old designs are currently in vogue for men’s fashion. As old as eight years ago. So I can rightly say I am a pacesetter.

What makes your establishment different from others?
Originality. We have learnt to think outside the box. We have had twelve years to do that. We keep things fresh!

Wow! Twelve years…
Yes, PCL (Perali Clothing Line) has been around for twelve years.

Where do you see your establishment in the next few years? Say five years…
Like the dakova of those days, Perali will be a household name.

Along the way, it can’t have been smooth all along. What challenges did you face?
You’re right, there has been challenges. Getting capable hands to assist is the major one. I practically have to retrain my work force. Again, the issue of capital is another. Fashion is capital intensive and getting people to invest is like learning to walk on tight rope. (laughter)

Kudos, you braved the challenges. What personal philosophy do you live by?
For me the word IMPOSSIBLE doesn’t exist. All in all, I have God to thank. Besides I don’t see myself as being there yet, there’s still a lot more to achieve God giving me life.

How do you relax?
Watching movies, swimming and hanging out with friends.

Any encouragement for young entrepreneurs interested in fashion?
Love the job, rewards will come later! At Perali, it’s more than just fashion, it is our way of life!

Contact the designer: pereali@yahoo.com, 0806 521 5071

An undying african legacy

Many women want freedom and independence. In what ways do they desire this? In all spheres? Certainly not with gele.
Headgear, popularly known as “gele” in western Africa has become a norm in most settings today. Gele is a Yoruba term that means head covering. The gele comes in different colours , patterns and textures. Among the most popular are: damask, aso-oke, jubilee, zenith and netting.
Women tie gele for several reasons: to look unique, to exude a certain aura, and mostly, to look beautiful. Styles of gele differ and also resemble various things. For example, with the demise of the world trade centre, a style of gele that was steep and high with many folds was created in its wake.
Another style of gele was to resemble a bird called cuckoo. The bird had a long tail and so the gele was sculpted in the same manner.
When the rate of production of sweets and their colourful wrappers increased, the most recent production of gele at that time was called “pepa sweet” by Yoruba women. This was because the gele had flower designs all through and was colourful indeed.
At the turn of the century however, Nigerian women turned back to the aso-oke now woven with silk threads and no longer with woolen threads. With one end of the gele loose and the different but matching colours mixed together, it made a beautiful headgear for chiefly the Yoruba women at traditional occasions.
Then, it is without doubt that the different styles of gele express women’s innermost feelings and designs that cannot be expressed with merely the pen and ink.
In a discussion with women who loved to tie gele, many of them said they just tied it to look unique. Others said they did to look beautiful, while those that had an artistic turn said since they could not express their designs on paper, they expressed it in their manner of dressing and grooming.
The different styles of tying result from a broad and colourful mind and an imagery that has been fueled by the social decline of a once picturesque country. And also one that is determined to express herself without rivalry from the opposite sex. Speaking for myself, I have had few opportunities to tie one. Matter- of- factly, I don’t even own one. However, I cherish the freedom I have to move my head around without the weight of fashion to bolt it down.
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