It is indeed exciting times for the Nigerian Fashion Industry with fashion week barely a month away. This week’s Friday column is on Omoyemi Akerele, the founder of Style House Files and the Lagos Fashion and Design Week. Omoyemi has worked in various capacities in the Fashion industry. She gained a broad knowledge across all parameters through her roles as Image Consultant, Stylist, Fashion Editor and right through to starting out Style House files, which initially started off as a go to resource for the industry. Hers is an admirable tale of dogged determination and a burning passion for developing and promoting African Fashion.
A proper analysis of the Fashion industry would be impossible without seeking out Omoyemi’s expert knowledge and wealth of experience, a fact further confirmed via her informed answers to our interview questions. Humble, extremely smart, diligent multi-taker and grounded woman are some of the words that immediately come to mind as we read through her insightful answers.Please read and be inspired!
Ezinne Chinkata: Hello Yemi, what is the first thing you do each morning?
Omoyemi Akerele: Inhale… exhale… I don’t take that for granted. It’s a daily gift from God.
Ezinne Chinkata:How would you describe your personal style?
Omoyemi Akerele: Easy…
Ezinne Chinkata: Congratulations once again on making the Bof 500. (Business of Fashion Top 500).How does it feel to be a part of this a fifth Time round and what do you feel this implies for African fashion?
Omoyemi Akerele: There’s definitely a feel good factor that comes from being recognized by such a prestigious platform and I’m chuffed to see my name side by side with some of fashion’s greats. 😬 I guess it puts us on our toes because it means people are watching.. It’s also quite encouraging that there’s an increase in recognition from the African continent.
E.C: How do you stay grounded and consistent?
O.A: My faith, family and friends.I never take myself too seriously. It helps that I’m married to a wonderful man with the greatest sense of humour that’s also been inherited by our daughters 😂😂😂 My home is filled with love and laughter.
E.C: You have played a great role in promoting African designers globally as well as grooming new designers. What in your opinion is the one quality needed for a successful career in Fashion.
O.A: Consistency is key.
E.C: Style house files recently launched a collaboration with Selfridges, Orange culture and Davido. What was the underlying idea spurring this project?
O.A: It’s been an interesting year for us at Style House. As always, our core focus has been on education, providing access to market, showcase opportunities and discovering New Talents.From organising a pop up in Lagos for independent young brands like Vathiswa by Keji, Zurizola woman, all produced from the Human Capacity Development Centre, with support from Style House Files and Nigeria Export Promotion Council to ensuring that Nigerian and African brands are well represented in trade shows that also provide opportunities for international buyers and press interaction – WWD Vegas, Tranoi Paris and Pitti Super Milan. We also collaborate with trade fairs in Nigeria such as Simply Nigerian and hope to expand to other African countries.
This season, we have delved deeper into providing access to market through our music x fashion collaboration with Davido and Orange Culture as a way of further fusing culture and creativity into the mind of consumers. The collaboration explores tribes that collaboration between music and fashion can create, creates a connection with consumers of music and fashion through a unifying language and provides a relatively untapped opportunity for generating commerce for African fashion brands beyond the obvious. The collaboration between Davido and Orange culture which currently retails at Selfridges will be coming home soon to a destination near you
E.C: The Heineken Lagos fashion and Design week is here again! What do you feel would be different in this years shows from a founder’s point of view.
O.A: There’s always something new… New season’s collections, new face on the runway, new break out star… etc The most exciting thing about this year for me though is the change of venue. We’re moving to Eko Atlantic. Yay!!! It’s a lot of work but I pray it all turns out beautifully.
E.C:Comparing the first and last Lagos Fashion and Design weeks should give us a deep insight on the growth of African Fashion.In your opinion, what are the most notable changes.
O.A: I always refer to the retail scene. There was only one multi brand store stocking African brands in 2011 – Temple Muse. Fast forward seven years there’s so much more.
E.C: What is the best way to be a part of the shows for the new designer looking to get a chance?
O.A: For new designers, I always recommend applying for Fashion Focus. It’s a good way to get in because it comes with a push, nurturing and mentorship.
E.C: If you were to advise a new designer/creative with big dreams on starting their business, would you suggest starting small or seeking for funding immediately?
O.A: I am an advocate for starting small. I believe in organic growth and will still recommend that.
E.C: If you had to describe three of your favorite Nigerian designers in one word, what would it be?
O.A: Consistently evolving without losing their DNA. Make that six! 😜
E.C: If you had to fix one thing in the industry, amidst our current growth, what would it be?
O.A: Access to Production
E.C:Do you have any new projects to share with us?
E.C:Any parting words for the aspiring creative?
O.A: We all have something special that’s been placed on our insides from birth but it must be cultivated. My parting words comes from a combination of words from two authors. Angela Duckworth and Rick Warren.
“Talent x Effort = Skill
Skill x Effort = Achievement
Effort counts twice! Consistency of effort over the long run is everything. Our potential is something but what we do with it is quite another.” Angela Duckworth
“Practice… Improve… Sharpen… Develop” – Rick Warren “If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success.”
Ecclesiastes 10:10 NIV
Thank you Omoyemi!!
For more on the upcoming Lagos Fashion and Design week, Visit: Website:LFDW WEBSITE Instagram: lfdw_ng and to follow Omoyemi’s progress and keep abreast on events as they happen, follow her on : @omoyemiakerele and http://Style House Files
Image Credit: Omoyemi’s Instagram, Orange Culture’s Instagram handle,