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I Used NYSC Allowance To Start My Business – Adeola Jegede

Adeola Jegede, 25, a graduate of English and Literary Studies, is the Founder of Del’ade Fashionista, a Lagos-based fashion design outfit. She tells Punch’s ‘Femi Asu about the journey so far and her future plans for the business

When did you start out as a fashion entrepreneur?
I started sewing at a tender age, but I started sewing as an entrepreneur during the National Youth Service Corps programme in 2013 in the north. When I went for service, I had enough time because I was posted to a school to teach and it was just between 8am and 2pm.

I stayed in an army barracks and there were some tailors opposite it. I never knew they could sew very well until I gave them a particular cloth to sew for me. I was very impressed with what they did. So, I decided to be going there every evening to learn one thing or the other.

What informed your decision to go into fashion design business?
My passion for sewing motivated me to go into fashion designing. I started sewing at the age of 10. My mum had a sewing machine at home although she was not a tailor. She just liked buying things like that and learning by herself.

Then, I would gather my mum’s pieces of cloths, and join them together to come up with dresses for my teddy bear. I remember my mum spanked me several times for spoiling her sewing machine but I didn’t stop.

Gradually, my mum saw that I had a passion for sewing and she stopped spanking me. Then, whenever my sisters came back home from school on holiday, she would give me their clothes to do one thing or the other on. So, I started knowing how to put dart on clothes. When I got to my final year in secondary school, she just had to leave the machine for me to use.

Sewing is about the thing I love doing the most. No matter my state of mind, I will be happy to sew.

While you were in the university, did you do anything about this passion?
I studied English and Literary Studies. When I got into the university, I tried as much as possible to combine my passion with my studies. I remember that I went to a lady who was into fashion designing to ask if I could do a part-time training with her. However, the schedule was too tight for me; so I had to leave it and face my studies squarely. I didn’t have time for it, but it was really still on my mind. There was a time I was planning to bring my mum’s machine to the school. But I just told myself that it would be better to focus on my studies and after school; I would go into it fully.

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Considering that you studied English and Literary Studies in the university, did you face any opposition from your parents when you inaugurated your fashion business?
Since they had seen the flair for sewing and fashion in me right from when I was very young, they did not oppose it when I decided to go into it fully. In fact, they have been very supportive.

What difference do you want to make in the Nigerian fashion industry?
The main difference I am out to make is to let everyone see beauty in decency, and I really want Nigerian fashion designing to meet up with the world’s standards by bringing out the very best in my work. I always strive to satisfy my customers and put smiles on their faces.

How did you get the capital to start the business?
During my NYSC, I saved part of my monthly allowance and I also got some support from my family. That was how I got the capital to start the business.

What were the major challenges you encountered when you started?
The major challenge I encountered was dealing with different kinds of people and temperaments, but I am getting to handle people better according to their dispositions. My love and passion for fashion design has kept me going despite the challenges.

How has the patronage of your service been so far?
The patronage is quite impressive. I have been very busy working and most times, I get a lot of people who want to sew. The patronage has been very okay. But the price of sewing materials has gone up now and most customers do not want to understand this. They want to pay the same thing they were charged last year. I try to make the increment in the sewing price minimal, and to make them understand that the economic situation is what is really affecting everything.

What are your future plans for the business?
Majorly, I really want to have my own fashion school where aspiring and budding fashion designers, who are not really financially buoyant, can learn and improve their skills. It is not about bringing down the standard; it is about making it affordable for people.

Today, we have fashion schools where you will have to pay up to N250, 000 to N450, 000, and most people don’t have the capacity to afford that. So, one of my future plans is to be able to have a school whose fees will be affordable for students to pay. In the next five years, I see Del’ade Fashionista as one of the best fashion designing houses in Lagos.

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