24 February 2013

Nigeria: My Creativity Informs My Choice of Fashion


After obtaining a degree in the College of Human Ecology, with a major in Product Development and Evaluation in Clothing and Science from Ohio State University, Lamide Ajayi came back to Nigeria and established Iconola Couture. Since then, things have been working fine for her. She talks to Kehinde Ajobiewe about her fashion outfit.

Can we know more about you and your educational background?

I grew up in Ibadan and attended secondary school in the FGGC, Akure, and schooled abroad for my university. I studied at both the Western Connecticut State University in Danbury Connecticut and the Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. I obtained a B.Sc in the College of Human Ecology with a major in Product Development and Evaluation in Clothing and Textile Science from OSU Ohio.

Tell us about your design, what kind of wears do you make?

Iconola is a manufacturing and distribution company that designs, manufactures, markets and sells RTW (ready to wear) garments, primarily for women. We make very versatile, affordable and durable garments that are used daily by our customers.

What inspires your designs?

My creativity informs my choice of fashion. I've had an interest in artistic creativity since I was a child, and I believe that being a woman who was raised by a very fashionable woman made my choice of fashion very easy.

My education is also very vital to the "niche" I have carved for my company. Being able to study the specific science of Ready To Wear analysis in terms of its production, distribution and merchandising helps to build upon a model that I studied.

What challenges have you had to overcome?

There are many challenges we face in Nigeria today, and the obvious are lack of infrastructure, such as electricity, sales outlets and skilled workers. Being a business woman is tough in a world ruled by men, and the idea that a woman can't do well has been something of a challenge.

There is also the idea that fashion is not serious business. People view it solely as artistic expression, and even though we know it's a lucrative business, we do not consider how big it can be, or how far we can drive. As Iconola, I am here to prove those two points wrong!

Who are your style icons?

That would mean those I admire and love their style. Many of my friends are style icons, and my sister and my mother. I love Rachael Roy's looks and style, and my design inspiration comes from both Monique Llulhier and Vera Wang.

As a designer, what's your definition of fashion?

My definition of fashion is "it must be wearable". Fashion is an expression of who you are. You must channel simplicity, confidence and sophistication and classis beauty to what you are wearing, and then it becomes you. Being appropriate is key for me. I can wear anything, but not to everywhere.

What stands you out from the crowd?

I am told I stand out by the qualities of peace and strength that I bear within me. Inner spiritual qualities transcend physical qualities in my opinion, and it enables everyone to reach into intuitive conclusions about the next person. The drive that I have (my ambition, persistence and tenacity) are qualities that I personally think make me standout.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

I see Iconola worn on almost every back, spoken on every lip. With our business direction, we aim to change the way people dress, think about fashion and beauty, and we aim to blow minds.

What is your business direction?

Our business direction is mass production of RTW garments. We, our whole team at Iconola, work consistently to make it work; driving each engine to make sure production, marketing, merchandising and sales go hand-in-hand successfully.

We aim to build a new "niche" in this already established industry in Nigeria, where there will be multiple outlets in major states in Nigeria. We have a factory running and we are coming up with more products on a daily basis.

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