Welcome to EntrepreneurshipMonday on BeInspired Show. Fashion is one trend we will always have and people will always buy into. Chinesa Obasi, a distinguished fashion designer talks about fashion in Nigeria and her experience in the industry. Meet our talented and excellent Fashionistas!!
My name is Obasi Chinyere Felista, I’m a fashion designer at Chilista Services. What we do basically, is that we work with local fabrics and we combine them into modern designs for men and women, particularly persons with very busy lifestyle. Go ahead with your work while we give you that look that you want.
What Inspired you to Start up?
I’ve always loved fashion. But then, what really inspired me to go into fashion was because I wanted to look unique, I wanted people to look like a star, everywhere they go, whatever it is you are wearing, you are comfortable in it, and before you find someone that is wearing what you are wearing exactly, it will almost not be there. I wanted that uniqueness, originality and professionalism. Something different from the ordinary. Something mind blowing that makes you stand out. And people will say, “you have an amazing clothes, what’s the brand?” Your look speaks creativity, making you look five times younger than your age. That was what really inspired me.
Wow, Have you been able to achieve that?
Yes, yes, yes. Though we are not there completely, but from the feedback I get from my client, they are very cool with what I’m giving them. Though we are not so please with were we are because I know where we want to be is something really mind blowing. Whatever it is, I like critics. Even when you say you are very comfortable, I’m not ok, I want to hear more, tell me something more. I like being very creative. It pushes me to do something different from the ordinary.
How has been your income flow so far?
Well, God has being faithful so to speak. You know we are in Nigeria, when there is inflation, sometimes what you plan don’t go well. But we don’t take chances, we go the extra miles to see that our income is what we want it to be. For now I run my business without an accountant. Though I solicit assistance from an accountants to help me put one or two things together which I’m not clear about. But basically, the income flow has been fine but not fantastic. **laughs.
And that’s because today you go to the market to get fabrics to make cloths for your client, and they tell you what you used to buy for a particular amount has tripled. You can’t increase price because you’re not the only one doing this job for crying out loud. You have a lot of competition. But I don’t see any of these as my competitors. I only see those people that cut, “ready to wear” clothes as my competitors, those people that sell fairly used cloths. Not a fellow Fashion Designer like me. That’s my own idea about competition.
So who is a fellow Fashion Designer to you?
We are partners. Just that in Nigeria, they seem not to see things that way because everybody wants to get the credit, I want my name to be mentioned, I want people to wear my design. But you see, if all of us take our personal interest away, and come together to form a formidable fashion force, I think we’ll do more. Like they say; a stick of broom cannot sweep but when you put them together they achieve a lot in taking dirt out. And that is why most of our fashion designer are failing. They are seeing each other as competitors which ought not to be.
Tell us more about the challenges so far?
Some of the challenges first of all were with clients. Trying to make them understand the value of what you are giving them. Some of them will not want to pay you for that value. But it’s ok, it’s understandable.
I had an encounter with a client and I told her this is my bill and she said: “wetin you wan give me? no be you start am” and all that. I said don’t worry, when I’m done, you will confirm. Eventually she brought some of her friends and further said; “I will retrieve my clothes with my previous tailors and bring it for you”. And I was the one now saying “right now I don’t even have that time..” *laughs… Most of them are skeptical and I don’t blame them. You work really hard for your money, and you expect to get the same value for it. That has been a challenge.
And then the normal Nigeria syndrome, light issues. Another thing is, getting good fabrics. Quality fabrics. Though, we have in a long way fixed that by getting partnership deals, which we are still trying to seal with some of these textile companies. Hopefully by the Grace of God we hope to seal the deals so we can get quality fabrics from them directly so that we can also meet up with customers demand to their satisfaction.
What will you want your brand to be known for in the nearest future?
I would want to be known for Professionalism, Uniqueness and Creativity.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
In next five years, I should be one leading fashion brand in Nigeria. I know it’s going to take a lot of work, but I see myself there. When you get the right connection and you are praying, of course God will connect you. It’s not by magic, you will have to do your home work. Be good at what you do and keep customers loyalty. These are keys. Listen to your customers, when they tell you anything about your business.
Whatever complain they give you, listen to them. And with that you can win their loyalty. And that is why I can travel all the way from Abuja to Edo State to make my clothes. From time to time, ask questions, what is it that you want us to give to you? What is it you think that we can do that would be different from what others are doing? Are we serving you better? That is why you see thousands of persons in brand A and you see lesser persons in brand B. The difference is customers loyalty. There are some brands you walk in, and they treat you as king. Of course, you will want to always do business there. And what I think will take us there is when we sit down and do our home work very well.
Who are your greatest mentors?
In business, one person really inspired me and that’s my Aunt. Yes. She inspires me a lot. Achinulor Blessing, I call her my second mum. Once she tells you, ‘I’m getting this thing done’ forget it. Even if it’s a ten million naira deal, and you want it seal. She gets it done. I don’t know how, I keep asking her how do you do it? And she says, “with God all things are possible”. She works in a distributor’s company, Unilever. When she tendered her resignation letter, the woman was crying. It occurred to me that, what legacy are you leaving behind, where you are working? She can go all out to get things done. It’s not her company, but she takes things like it’s hers. And when she wants this thing accomplished, she must make sure that it’s done.
Also I worked in some company before I started mine. I will not forget to mention a mentor that actually gave me that push. And told me I can start something of my own. Mr Osawaru Stephen. And also Mr Osayi Tres Omokaro. Mr Stephen brought me up from where I was and told me, “you can actually do something for yourself you know..” He really inspired me.
I’m inspired by your aunt already. So what are your top three rules for success?
Resilience, consistency and believe in yourself. You may get some things falling apart, looking like you can’t make it. But when you are resilience and consistent and you believe that you can actually achieve it, you will. It’s only going to take time.
How do you advice young aspiring Startups?
I like to say to every young/aspiring entrepreneur, no matter where you come from, no matter your background, be confident in what you are doing. Be consistent and keep hope alive. Don’t waste your time in things that will not bring you success. You have all it takes to make progress. Move with the right people.
Thank you for staying with us on the Show. We hope you got value. We’ll love to hear your feedback. Tell us what you think about our EntrepreneurshipMonday series? How can we serve you better? Your comment below on the comment session means a lot to us. You can also subscribe to our news letters.
Content Creator and Developer, Script Writer