Let’s meet the hardworking female creative entrepreneur who is in the business of creating Afrocentric Pre-eminent ready to wear outfits for women of all class.
Please introduce yourself and your background:
My name is Abiru Islamiyat Adewunmi, I am the Fashion Creative Director behind AIM AFROCENTRIC CLOTHINGS otherwise known as AŞO ÌBÍLĘ MÌ. I studied Computer Science at the Polytechnic of Ife while at the same time did a diploma course in Fashion Designing, as well as a few months solid course in Textile Art design & Shirt Customization with Harpeez’art Clothings in Ile Ife, Osun State. I have been in the business of Adire textile design since 2013 but properly started making a living out of it in the year 2021.
Tell us about your work. How did your company start?
I worked for several years as a Data Analyst with a Leading Telecommunication Company in Nigeria. While working as a white collar jobber and also working from home due to the Covid19 Pandemic, I started running my business of Creating Afrocentric Pre-eminent Ready to Wear Outfits for women of all Class, modern heritage clothing locally made out of Indigenous Handmade Fabrics such as Adire & Aso Oke.
This is a business I had attempted to build a few times earlier but failed due to lack of consistency, Cash flow and lack of total commitment to the business. I resigned from my 8 to 5 Job after 9 months in my business so as to input more effort to grow, learn, preserve and promote the African Cultural Heritage across the globe, which is the main goal of this brand.
How did you come about the brand name and what does it mean?
My brand name AŞO ÌBÍLĘ MÌ meaning “My heritage clothing” in English was the first thing that came to mind as soon as I started drawing a business plan. The term was drawn from the Vision of the brand, which is to preserve and promote the African Cultural Heritage. The Heritage we are trying to promote by making sure we create more awareness of out Locally-made clothing home and abroad. The aim which is to put our Heritage on the Global Mark.
What is your niche and how did you know it was a market to get into
Unique innovation and outstanding creativity of using basically Handmade Fabrics to create extraordinary pieces is a core model that set this business apart. African Traditionally made Fabrics are very underrated, it has become a necessity to awaken it and push it forward for the whole wide world to see its beauty. A lot of people now appreciate these African clothing that they could pay a million just to get these clothing readily made for them.
Where do you get the inspiration for your products?
The inspirations for my products are gotten from Arts and ages stories about heroines and Olden days clothing. Day to day inspirations are gotten from everyday lifestyle and evolving modern tastes of modern women.
Can you remember one of the first products you made? What makes it memorable?
One of the first products we designed was Aje Kimono, a Long Jacket made with a combination of Aso Oke and an Adire fabric that has a pattern of Cowry (Cowry traditionally insinuate wealth). The fabric has since been changed because of the inconsistency in it’s color, we were unable to perfect our dye combination for the specific fabric.
It was our best selling from the Launch date of the business and has been the selling heavily ever since (this might be due to its very different look that set it apart from other random Kimonos in the market).
What are some of the challenges you face in your business?
The main challenge faced day to day in my business is the fact that Handmade Fabrics, especially Adire are now been massively replicated by other countries and sold back to our people at a very cheap rate. This is very bad for my business because some person out of ignorant might feel that my products are too expensive compare to the printed clothing sold to them at cheaper rate. The Government should do better in this aspect please, for how long do we import the items we can produce on our own? Sadly, the fabrics used in producing even the original handmade Indigenous clothing we use are also imported, making it difficult for a low class citizen to afford.
Do you have any regrets venturing into this line of business?
My only regret since I started this business is that I did not start on time. I mean, I had a solid 8years experience before I started making money out of it. If I started a long time ago, my business would have grown farther than where it is now.
What is your most popular product?
My most popular product is ‘Aje Kimono’ set, a bestseller back to back for couple of months now.
To what extent do you draw upon your Nigerian (African) heritage for your work?
The Heritage is what I sell. The aim is to take African Heritage global.
What are some of your short term and long term goals, both in your business and life in general?
My main Goal is to preserve and promote the African Cultural Heritage while making an ends meet out of it. My vision is to make sure that in the next 10 years, foreign outfits are 95% eradicated from our Continent and our Locally-made outfits takes place and becomes affordable.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I’m a Fashion Designer, a Textile Art Designer, A Data Analyst and a Fashion Creative Designer. This are rear talents to be processed by just an individual.
What profession would you be in if you weren’t in this Industry?
I would be a Data analyst.
If you could give one piece of advice to anyone who wants to start their own business in your industry, what would it be?
Look before you leap, stay consistent and be willing to take huge risks