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:
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 nochallenge 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?
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.
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.
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.