They say some people dream of success, while others wake up and work hard at it. Well, working hard at it has been the case of Miss Oyewole Titilope who owns a fashion house in Lagos state at the age of 23. Although she is a university graduate and also undergoing her masters program, she still found time to stay true to her passion which is fashion. Here’s a little about her and her business.
Can you please tell us a little about you?
My name is Oyewole Titilope, I’m 23. I’m a graduate of Osun state university, Osogbo. I’m currently running my masters in Unilag, Parasitology and Bioinformatics. I’m the creative director of Efab creations and general merchants. We are a startup fashion house in Lagos, we are mostly into the creation of ready to wear outfit, we do bespoke too to an extent, but most of what we do is ready to wear. I also have a perfume line I just launched, that was about two weeks ago, I’m working on other projects but all still in the fashion line.
Why did you go into the fashion industry? Is it the drive to make money or as a result of passion?
Well we all want to make money, but I think its was the passion, because I didn’t start my entrepreneurial journey as a fashion designer, I started by selling fashion products, clothing items, shoes bags, I import them. That was when I was in school. So when I finished my final exams, I was waiting for youth service, then I just thought that I could just make these things I’m selling, so I went to learn it. It was really the passion and the drive to make people look good.
When did you discover your love for fashion?
I discovered that from my mother. She was into buying and selling of fashion items, so I took that from her. I won’t say I developed it at a certain age, I think along the line, I started liking what she was doing, from there, when I was of age and could start up something on my own, I started doing that.
What were the challenges you faced from when you started selling to when you started making your own wears?
The biggest challenge was getting customers and building my clientele. Everybody has where they get what they use, everybody has tailors whom they get their things from, so building a clientele was a very big challenge for me, but we were able to scale through that and we are still scaling through, but we’ve been able to curb that.
How were you able to get clients?
Well your work speaks for you. The most way I’ve gotten clients is through referrals, one person gets something from me, they like it and tell their friends, they come and tell others. Its like a chain, they keep referring people.
Does that mean your quality is very important?
Yes, quality and integrity.
Do you still face those challenges?
Yes, we are only one year in, there are still a lot of people who don’t know Efab yet and we are trying to reach them through marketing and words of mouth and all that.
Despite all these challenges, you did not give up, what motivates you to keep going?
Seeing people gush about what I make for them alone is motivation, so you know that even when you are facing challenges now, it won’t last forever. You also think of all the people that have made it their duty to refer other people to you, you can’t just tell them you’re closing business, its not done that way.
What can you say about the Nigerian fashion industry?
It is highly competitive, because there is no where you’ll go to and not see a fashion designer, and I like that because it makes us know the industry is growing and there’s something in the industry that people are coming to look for. So I think its growing and its very competitive.
Do you think age matters when coming into the fashion industry?
I don’t think age matters, so far you have the determination.
What can you say about women empowerment?
I say this everywhere I go and anytime I’m asked this question, women empowerment cannot just start overnight, you have to start grooming them from when they are young. Society grooms women to be wives and not business owners or bosses, they are just groomed for their husbands. I’m not saying that is wrong, but its not entirely right. They have to be groomed to be women of their own and women of value. I think it starts from the home, from when the child is growing as a girl child, let her know there are lots of opportunities out there that she also can be a part of. I think that’s where the empowerment starts from, because if a woman all her life has been trained to be a wife, you can’t just come and tell her she can be a business owner. But if she knows from the onset that she can be a boss anywhere, it would not be difficult to empower her. More information and awareness should be made for women empowerment. Basically it starts with the parents.
What tips or advice can you give to upcoming fashion designers?
Its not easy, nobody will go there and say its easy. If they think fashion designing is the way for them, they should never give up, there are lots of obstacles on the way, there are lots of customers that will give you hard times. Don’t just give up and be consistent.
What advice can you give to upcoming business owners in general?
That’s it too, be consistent and let your work speak for you.