Josenta Ogbhemhe is the CEO of Jojo Bernard's Couture, a budding fashion outfit in Benin-City, Edo State, that specialises in creating customised clothing. A graduate of Computer Science who says designing has always been her first love, Josenta is fervently working towards becoming one of Nigeria's biggest designers. In this interview with FEYI BANKOLE, she recalls her childhood love for designing and lets us into her life as a young designer.
Why delve into fashion when you've got a B.Sc in Computer Science?
Fashion has always been my first love. As a child, I loved to sew and mend clothes, and Home Economics was one of my best subjects. I could remember I even once told my dad in the presence of his friends that I wanted to be a designer. He wasn't quite happy, anyway. For me, I will say I was born a designer.
I've always been very handy and could make baby clothes, draw and even fix up things in the house at a very young age. So, after my service year, to perfect my skills, I went for a year training in designing, and then started my own fashion line. To God's glory, Josenta Bernard's Couture is actually improving and growing more than anticipated.
What inspires your designs?
I'm inspired by beautiful fabrics. When I see a fabric, from the texture and look, I could draw up ideas in my head, sketch them out on paper, make amendments if necessary, and a new design arrives! I have passion for fashion, and I make customized clothing for both men and women. I work with all kinds of fabrics.
You look very much like a model; have you ever been into modeling?
Yes, I am a facial model. I have graced the front pages of two magazines and also contested for several facial pageants; only made it to the semi-finals but never won, anyway. I'm however still hoping that one day I'll be one of those faces on Delta soap's billboard (laughs).
What's your opinion on the Nigerian fashion industry?
The industry has really improved. Some ten years back, nobody had anticipated it would grow this big. I'm sure many others would have gone into the industry if they could see into its future. You know, there was always this fear of not disappointing one's parents by going to a fashion school, or even dropping a first degree and venturing into fashion. Today everything has changed, and parents now encourage their children to go into the industry.
Is the industry providing a level playground for budding designers like you?
It is helping, but still needs to do more by conducting fashion seminars, inviting young designers for fashion shows and events, and enlightening young designers more about the industry. This could be an inspiration for some of us who might be on the verge of giving up on the industry due to some kind of challenge. It could help us stay focus and aim higher!
What are your aspirations for ?
My designs are known for their beauty, perfection and elegance, so, I hope to see Josenta Bernard's Couture become a household name in Nigeria and across the world someday.
So, what's your definition of style?
For me, style is looking good but not over-doing everything. Simplicity is the best; it stands you out always, and that's what my designs stand for- simplicity and comfortability.
What fashion item would you invest so much in?
My dresses and my shoes definitely! I'm crazy about these two. I can actually spend my last kobo to own a nice pair of shoes and a gorgeous dress!
Who are your role models?
All Nigerian are wonderful and gifted, but my best designers are Lanre Da-Silva Ajayi and Lisa Folawiyo. I like them because their designs are exquisite and beautiful. They are my role models.