Little Lady Seamstress
My mum had a fashion house back in the 90s and as a young girl, I was fascinated by the fabrics – the different colors and textures and the embellishments – the feathers and sparkly stones that she worked with so I invited myself into her workshop as a mini-apprentice, piecing together everything I could lay my tiny hands-on. By age 12, I had learned to match fabrics, sew and embellish them to make outfits: I was a little lady seamstress and stylist. I, however, wanted to be a doctor!
Now I laugh at that but show me an 80s kid who didn’t want to be a doctor, an engineer or a lawyer!
Fast forward to my teens, it was time to go to university, but I wasn’t even going to study to be a doctor like I had dreamt, I was going to the Federal University of Technology, Owerri to study Project management. After a few years, armed with my degree and my Project Management Professional certification, I went on to work in Project Management, Strategy & Planning, Contract Management and Real Estate Development across several sectors and countries for a few years.
How I became a Fashionpreneur
During the period that I worked as a project manager; I didn’t stop designing and making outfits. When I could find the time; I would make my own work outfits and some for my colleagues too. One evening in 2016, I was driving home from work when for the first time in my adult life I felt a strong urge to start a proper fashion business. Not only did I enjoy making clothes but judging by the beautiful pieces I made, I was also pretty good at it. My friends had asked me to make outfits for them so there was also a demand for my pieces. The universe had aligned, I just had to take a bold step.
I quit my job and started designing and making outfits full time. The little lady seamstress was back!
Then Came TEF
I have a few friends who were TEF Entrepreneurs and I was privy to how the foundation had helped their businesses, so I applied. It took 3 unsuccessful attempts before I was selected for the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme on my 4th attempt. I kept applying because I believed in the value that my business could deliver if given a chance.
The knowledge gained, relationships forged, and seed capital received from TEF have been helpful in many ways.
The training helped me structure my business better for more profit, value and impact, helping me free up time to focus on building strategies for the business. I utilized the seed capital to purchase sewing machines, hire talented hands to help with production and develop our e-commerce website.
I have also made incredible connections through the TEF platform, I collaborated with a 2015 TEF entrepreneur for a United Nations Environment showcase event.
It has been an exciting Journey
My business has taken me to places I only ever dreamt of.
- In trying to create a niche in my industry – being a Green Champion, I had to find a way to infuse sustainability into my brand. I had to attend training and get guidance from sustainability experts on how best to do this.
- In Dec 2018, I was selected by SPICETv Africa to open the fashion showcase at the maiden edition of SPICE Lifestyle Honors and there I launched my first sustainable fashion collection featuring pieces made from water hyacinths and coconut shells.
- In Feb 2019, I was featured at the 4th United Nations Environment Assembly, in Nairobi at the Sustainability and Innovation Expo, as an environmentally conscious fashion brand.
- In March 2019, I emerged National Winner, Creative Business Cup (CBC) Nigeria out of over 2,000 entrepreneurs and in July 2019, I represented Nigeria at the global finals in Copenhagen, where I emerged the Africa Prize Winner, Global Creative Business Cup, a global business competition with over 60 countries across the world represented. This was even more remarkable because I became the first-ever African to be awarded at the global CBC.
- I founded a new company ‘The Pitch Centre’ in August 2019. This full-service pitch consultancy to help entrepreneurs with pitching, proposal and grant writing, was a part of the Vision Alive Foundation Youth Centre commissioned by Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, former Vice President of World Bank (Africa Division). It was created to close a gap that I identified during my Global Creative Business Cup journey. During that process, I was groomed by some of the best pitch coaches in the world. Following this incredible experience, I realised that African small business owners are not well positioned and skilled to take on opportunities.
- My fashion business currently employs 10 people who work with me, while there are 50 more who have been trained by the Pitch Centre.
I plan to launch a ready-to-wear line by Q1 2020 so that I can outsource the production of 1000 or more outfits at once and be able to service more people. Interestingly, I have made contacts from the events I took part in, who have reached out to be our distributors in America and Europe. With this, I can drive traffic to our e-commerce website (redbuttonng.com) increase market share, make a lot more profit and further expand our operations.
Please contact us for your bespoke outfits. You can also recommend us to a friend.
Phone: +234 8036237887
Redbutton, 2018 TEF Entrepreneur
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