Hello Great Minds,
Today’s edition of Temmy Balogun Platform’s interview is centred on Fashion Designing and Entrepreneurship.
Many years back, Fashion Designing also known as tailoring was a profession embraced mostly by individuals who preferred vocational training to tertiary education.
But this experienced a change about a decade ago, as lots of higher institution graduates started showing their interest in the skilled profession.
Prominent Nigerian Fashion Designer, Yomi Casual who prefers to be called ‘a Tailor’ is one of those youths that embraced the profession after graduating from the higher institution.
Mr Yomi has proven his superlative knowledge and competence in the fashion industry over the years. And this has won him several awards within and outside Nigeria.
With this year making his 10th in the fashion industry, he delightfully revealed previously unknown truths, strategies,and ethics based on his experience as an entrepreneur which will help upcoming fashion brands and entrepreneurs across various fields build outstanding businesses
With the recognition of his brand as top notch,you should believe me when I say all the insight he shared in this Interview is exceptionally helpful.
Enough of preamble! It’s high time you learnt from our fashion genius. Now fasten your belt and let’s take you on a knowledge filled ride.
Welcome to Temmy Balogun’s Platform, it’s great having you here sir. Lets start on a lighter mood, many know you has Yomi Casual but not as much are aware that you’re a brother to AY Comedian, kindly share with us few personal things people still don’t know about you.
I will start with a brief introduction of myself, my names are Omoniyi Makun, though I hail from Ondo state but I was born and bred in Delta state, so i am a PURE WARRI BOY. Don’t be carried away with the Ajebutter looks you see on social media platforms, am a real Ajepako.
Though am known by many as a fashion designer, but am also an artist, I paint very well. I plan to reveal my new artistry designs during my 10th year anniversary in September 2017.
As a proud fashion designer, tell us what ‘Fashion’ means to you.
Fashion is life to me. Talking of Fashion in terms of clothing, it gives every individual confidence.
When you look good in your outfit, you will feel very confident and this directly affects your countenance in all you do.
Finally fashion is food to me because it makes me feel satisfied and fulfilled always.
The high rate of unemployment in Nigeria has led many youths into self employment, and fashion designing is one of the highly embraced profession. As a prominent fashion designer, share with us the key strategies that upcoming fashion brands need to build outstanding business images.
As a fashion designer, before starting a fashion business,the first thing you need is to attend a fashion school.Because you need to learn the basics of fashion.
With the increasing rate of fashion designers in Nigeria, especially in Lagos, many young folks tend to approach me about their flair for fashion designing. And my first words to them is usually centred on sending them back to school.
This isn’t a profession you just wake up one day and decide to start, because you have interest in it. No you can do that! You need to have grounded knowledge and also know the nitty gritty of fashion business before starting. That’s if you truly want to be successful in it.
Because even if you’re very good, your inability to blend your skills with your talent properly, will only make you appear to people as incompetent.
So the knowledge gaining stage is the first thing. Then also you need to be very creative, so you can come up with your own designs.
Don’t build your career on someone else’s styles. Have your own customised styles and let it define you, so anyone who comes across it can easily differentiate your works from others.
Because we now live in a world where new things are celebrated. So if you’re perceive as new and fresh, trust me people will come for you. And this is enough to help you stand out!
Though I know some people employ designers to sketch styles for their works but I don’t see that as encouraging enough. Being a total package makes you stand out easily.
Using myself as an example,if you come to me as a client, as you brief me about the occasion you need the wears for and also the styles you want, at that spot my sketching is already on, and it will be based on what I can fathom from your explanation.
By the time you’re done and I show you the sketch I came up with , which will most likely fit into your description, believe me you’re already convinced, that Yomi Casual will do a good job.So when I tell you my charge you won’t complain because you’re already sure i will give you what you want.
Many times have won my customers loyalty with this.
So in a nutshell to build a great fashion brand, get the basic fashion knowledge and be creative enough to come up with styles.
Apart from these strategies, enlighten us on the personal ethics you adopted when you started your entrepreneurship journey,which have been very helpful to you.
Excellent time management is key for me. I keep to time well. My customers know me for this and it has gotten me lots of referrals.
I always make sure my customers clothes’ are ready latest two days before the pick up or delivery date. If any unforeseen delay comes up i call my customers ahead of time, so they can be aware and not disappointed but this rarely comes up.
I believe this is enough for business owners to be successful.
From your profile, I gathered that this year, makes it the 10th you start your fashion brand, what are the top 3 challenges you faced in the journey? How did you overcome them?
When i started, it was difficult for people to accept my brand, this was my first challenge.
You can be very good as a fashion designer and still struggle to be accepted by people. I overcame this with celebrity endorsement strategy. I realised everyone likes famous people, so i started using them to showcase my designs.
So fans of any celebrity i use automatically become my fans. With this, i gradually gained acceptance of many.
Another challenge was design theft, each time i come up with a design for my clients, and upload on my facebook page, after a while i start seeing them everywhere, some tailors would even print it out for showcase in their shops . I get bittered very much then, i always wondered why people wouldn’t come up with their designs. I was close to being discourage, because I wanted to be identify with my designs but those people weren’t making that work.
With the help of God, I was strong enough to ignore that challenge, then I focused on creating more designs and making my customers happy. Because i realised i can’t curb it, that’s how Nigerians operate.
A designer abroad won’t face such, and if it at all it happens, the culprit will be sued but here who do i want to sue? Is it Baba Basirat thats just managing to grow his business or many others like him. Lol
What do you love most about being a Tailor? What are the common pitfalls growing fashion brands should watch out for?
I love how the name Tailor sounds, when people call me a Fashion Designer, i tell them i prefer being called a tailor, that’s the reason i have Tailor on my car plate number.
I love every activities involved in designing, and am proud of what i do, because it gives me joy. I didn’t just start this out of interest only, I studied Fashion Designing and Clothing Technology in the higher institution. So my passion for this profession is very strong.
For the mistakes upcoming fashion brands shouldn’t make, i would say, don’t getting overwhelmed with exaltation. While you’re growing up, you will get to a point where lots of people will start celebrating you if you’re very good at what you do. Never allow that get into your head because if you do within few months you will see yourself falling real good.
My mentor emphasises on this very well, he once told me ‘ Yomi yeah i hear about you every time and when i pick different newspapers, I see your name but don’t be deceived with that . Go back to your drawing board and keep sketching more designs, don’t get tired’.
You need consistency to maintain success,you need to keep doing those things that got where you are, don’t relent because if you do you will go down.
And also the zeal that made you go into fashion, keep it burning , don’t kill it, because it will take you places.
You need to do all these to keep people talking about your brand . And anytime they think about fashion, you come to mind. This also should be adopted by entrepreneurs across all fields, you need to be consistent in whatever you do, so that people don’t start referring to your good works as past. And you start hearing things like ‘Yomi of that year was excellent’ or ‘when Yomi was reignin’. No! I don’t want to ever hear such, and you shouldn’t be too. So you have to keep giving your best.
It’s a popular feeling that Nigerian tailors are very good at disappointing clients, what’s your advice as regards how Nigerian tailors can erase this stereotype?
Lol. Really when i became a tailor, i realised that tailors are always wicked for no reason, or i should say they are lazy.
Am a tailor and I get loads of orders but i manage my time well. So how am i doing it?
Many times when you go to most Nigerian tailors shops you find them sitting doing nothing like its already a custom. That’s a wrong act especially when you have loads of work to do.
Any time i have much orders, i don’t go home, i sleep in the office and get the work done.
I lead by example, so my staff just have to sleep in the office too. They know that when we have lots of orders we just have to work round the clock to get done with them. We are very dedicated to satisfying customers and not disappointing them.
Rare times when there are unexpected issues which may cause delay I inform my customers ahead,and this seldomly happens.
So i think Nigerian tailors should quit being lazy, put in more efforts, be more focused and count customer satisfaction as very important. If truly you love what you do, this is enough to drive you to work hard.
I enjoy seeing people wear my clothes, that alone is a drive for me. As a Tailor you have to be passionate about what you do. If you’re not, then quit, because you will only be driven by the fund you get from it, which would not aid your success.
To what extent is creativity, innovation, and excellent customer service important in a fashion brand success?
Creativity is very important, that’s where it all starts from. As a Fashion Designer, your creative skills should stand you out. Then if you’re a creative person you have to be innovative, think outside the box and come up with new designs. If you want to be well recognised and celebrated in the fashion industry, then you must embrace innovation.
After these two, the next thing you need is excellent customer service. Because the way you handle this can either grow or kill your business.
I usually advice business owners to take their customer service or front desk officers position very serious. Be very sensitive about who you employ to occupy that position because their attitude to customers have a lot to do in your business’ success.
I don’t play with my front desk, I monitor them closely and also train them on how best to relate with my customers.
I make it clear to my staff frequently that customers are always right, so no matter what they say to you, always be polite with them. Because customers are actually the reason you’re in existence, not because of your family. If they don’t patronise you, no income will be generated.
Thanks for that insight. Have seen many of your creative designs and I must say they are overwhelming, how do you derive them?
I will call it a gift. Sometimes when i see my sketches i wonder how i came up with them.
Most times I stay back after all my staff have left, and the environment is quiet, just to sketch, I do that till 11pm or 12am sometimes before heading home.
I also do research online, everything can’t come from my imagination. I check what designers across the globe with excellent skills have done, then I can give my findings a Nigerian touch, Lo and behold!My master piece out is crafted out of it.
I also look around me for things that can inspire my drawing.I just got inspired by your outfit. So don’t be surprised when you see any of my designs looking like this. Lol
Kindly recommend any training or professional course fashion designers can take to become better?
If you want to go into female wears, learn pattern drafting but if you’re into men wears. Take courses on sketching.
Do you take in students?
I use to, but I have too many now, so I am not taking students in presently.
Who are your role models in the fashion industry?
I only have one role model. Mudi Africa. HE INSPIRES ME ALOT.
Inspire youths and aspiring Fashion Designers one sentence….
Nigerian youths! Stop blaming the government, focus on your own life, stop waiting for the time Nigeria will be better and employers will start paying you huge money like you’re abroad. Please get something doing for yourself.
If you have an idea, start working on it, start with the little fund you have. I started with a sewing machine and pressing iron.
My bedroom was my office. In the morning i take up my bed, and arrange the office properly like it should be,that’s where my clients come to meet me.
At night I put my bed back and sleep peace fully. I did that for many years.So stop complaining …
Then as a tailor stop saying you need a shop before you start your business. Start from your house.
Thanks For Sharing With Us Sir. We truly Appreciate!
You can reach out to Yomi Casual via