Nigeria’s fashion industry would perhaps be one of the top contenders absorbing aspiring entrepreneurs when it comes to measuring the amount of young people starting up businesses in the country, but there is still a lot to do as far as replicating multi-billion dollar fashion industries in developed countries is concerned.
Speaking recently on the Mara Mentor Talk Show, three leading Nigerian fashion entrepreneurs, Mr Adebayo Jones, Mrs Data Okorodudu and Uche Nnaji, shared insights and experience, and also advised young Nigerians who want to venture into the competitive and innovation-driven fashion industry.
According to Mr Adebayo Jones, Creative Director/CEO Adebayo Jones Luxury, although some young fashion entrepreneurs are on the right track, “to start off in the fashion industry, there has to be a clear picture of why you are going into the industry in the first place.”
Mr Jones said that young Nigerian entrepreneurs looking to start a fashion business should understand the resources and investments fashion demands and be innovative and practical in operations.
The Maestro, as he is fondly called, said entrepreneurs need to have enough knowledge and information about the industry, stressing that “the world has become focused on idea economy, so you need to know how you want to be positioned and understand the trends and consumers of the market.”
On her part, Data Okorodudu, Creative Director/CEO of JD7 Couture, implored fashion entrepreneurs to use their networks to increase their customer base.According to her, “the people you know and move with are key to your growth.”
Mrs Okorodudu also hinted on the role of personal branding, stating that fashion entrepreneurs need to “look the part.”
“People need to see you and have the confidence to be associated with you,” she said, adding that surviving the fashion industry requires a mix of creativity, continuous learning and determination.
Commenting on the impact of fashion on Nigeria’s economy, leading fashion entrepreneur and a mentor on Africa’s largest entrepreneurship network, Mara Mentor said the industry is critical to the continuous growth of Africa’s largest economy.
Mr Nnaji, the creative director/CEO of Ouch, advised young fashion entrepreneurs to understand that they are managing relationships and make customer satisfaction a priority. According to him, “You have to constantly innovate and reinvent yourself. Bring something new out to wow your customers.”
He also implored young fashion designers to focus on quality and creating products that can compete effectively.
Generally, the sentiments of all three fashion entrepreneurs, who arguably represent Nigeria’s finest, give evidence to the fact that young Nigerian fashion entrepreneurs are on the right track. But they also stressed the need for excellence, quality, and innovation in the industry.
With the recent success of young Nigerian designers like Maki Oh abroad, and support from online retailers, perhaps the country’s fashion industry would become more competitive in the global markets sooner than later.