I can sew a suit in a day – De­signer

Daily Trust - - BUSINESS - By Emma Elekwa

Ifeoma Okafor is a fash­ion de­signer in Awka, Anam­bra State cap­i­tal, where she runs a uni­sex tailor­ing shop, with spe­cialty in men’s at­tire. She says she de­rives sat­is­fac­tion from the job es­pe­cially when she sees her prod­ucts ad­ver­tised by men.

Hin it? ow did you find your­self in this pro­fes­sion and how long have you been

My fa­ther talked me into it be­cause he didn’t want me to while away my youth­ful age. I spent about 13 years with my master trainer be­fore I fi­nally started mine. That was in 2012. I first started with the fe­male wears be­fore I learnt sewing for men and later con­cen­trated on them.

What did it take you to start?

Just a sewing ma­chine which I bought at the rate of N20,000 then. Then a ta­ble and a press­ing iron.

You en­joy some level of pa­tron­age. What re­ally at­tracts peo­ple to your shop and how long does it take to fin­ish a cor­po­rate suit?

Sin­cer­ity and com­mit­ment to work; I try my best not to dis­ap­point my cus­tomers. When I have too many jobs, I give some to my col­leagues who are less busy to as­sist me so I can meet up dead­line. Be­sides, I take time to de­sign any work I am do­ing so as to give my clients the best. It takes me a day to fin­ish a suit.

What are the chal­lenges you face in your business?

Just like any other busi­nessper­son in Nigeria, elec­tric­ity re­mains my ma­jor chal­lenge. That I don’t meet cus­tomers’ dead­line some­times is sim­ply due to er­ratic power sup­ply in my area. An­other prob­lem we have in this business is cost of ma­te­ri­als. The price of sewing a suit could have been less than what we charge presently but for the cost of ma­te­ri­als needed for the work.

How do you nor­mally feel when you see peo­ple wear­ing your prod­ucts?

I feel great and ful­filled see­ing my hand­i­work on peo­ple, es­pe­cially the men. That’s why I try to be thor­ough in any work I am do­ing be­cause I strongly be­lieve that my work ad­ver­tises me. My main tar­get is al­ways to sat­isfy my cus­tomers. Any time they com­plain I feel sad and would make sure I cor­rect the mis­take be­fore al­low­ing them go with the ma­te­rial.

What ben­e­fits have you de­rived from the business and how many peo­ple have you trained since you started?

I have been able to train some of my sib­lings in school through the pro­ceeds from the job. Be­sides, my up­keep and ac­com­mo­da­tion are also be­ing funded through the business. I have trained about five per­sons, though some did not re­ally fin­ish their in­tern­ship. The fact re­mains that the youths of to­day don’t want to sub­ject them­selves to any hard work. They just want to get money on a plat­ter of gold.

What mes­sage do you have for both the youths like you as well as the gov­ern­ment?

Ed­u­ca­tion is very im­por­tant, but learn­ing a trade or ac­quir­ing a skill is an added ad­van­tage. Let them try and ac­quire some skills so they won’t be a bur­den to their par­ents and oth­ers.

On the part of gov­ern­ment, it just has to take the issue of power se­ri­ously. This work could have been more en­joy­able if there is con­stant power sup­ply. Gov­ern­ment should also try to bring down the cost of tailor­ing ma­te­ri­als.

Ifeoma Okafor

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