A discussion of the fashion landscape in Nigeria is incomplete without touching on Karen Ubani and her collection of exquisitely sewn work dresses.
The fashion designer, who works out of Lagos, has carved a niche for herself, producing fashionable work clothes for the fashion-conscious careerwoman.
Karen Ubani was born in Kano. Her parents were entrepreneurs too with her mom delving into bag selling, a desire that brushed off on her brother who is also an entrepreneur.
This is inclusive of having received a good education as she is a holder of a degree in Electrical Engineering from Covenant University.
She attributes the choice of the women workwear niche to the gap that existed at the time she entered the industry. According to her, unlike now, there was just one other person who used locally-sourced materials to make ready-to-wear work clothes for careerwomen. This, at first, was difficult as most of her target clientele stated their preference for foreign-made wears though they acknowledged the beauty of her products.
For her, tiime fixed this. Time and perseverance as her social media pages, Instagram especially, have boosted business.This was of course aided by her consulting experience which she gained while working in PriceWaterCoopers.
However, things really kicked off when she applied for and won the federal grant YouWin.
“I did exactly what I specified in my application I will do, I travelled out to London to a fashion school for 6-7 weeks. Where I learned advanced design and pattern makinG,” she told NaijaXFactor
She returned to the country but getting clients was difficult still. In the beginning, the courage to go on came from her now late aunt who believed in her and also patronised her. This was in addition to a client who resides in Abuja.
“This lady will order like N60,000 each month. Until I made my first collection via photoshoot in a studio, made only one of each design in the size of the model and someone bought it all,” she said.
For her, entrepreneurs should keep learning, look for feedback and above all start. There really is no perfect time; none more perfect than now.