I can sew a suit in a day – Designer
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.