Meet the Founder of Netyarts. Ms. Neti Usman, a mother whose love for Arts and Craft, colours and culture, drove her to become an entrepreneur. One that enjoys sharing her art with the world. Today, we had a chance to meet up with her for an exclusive interview.
Without further ado, let’s meet the Founder of Netyarts.
Please introduce yourself and your background
My name is NETI USMAN. I’m from a large family, although I am from Edo state I was born in Lagos State, Olodi – Apapa to be precise. I’ve always been fascinated with Arts and Craft right from secondary school. This drove me into pursuing a diploma in Arts from the University of Lagos and got my first degree in Textile Design from the University of Lagos. I also served at Lagos State council for arts and culture. This only fostered my love for Arts, humanity, culture and heritage, which led me to start my own company – NETYARTS
Tell us about your work. How did your company start?
On paper, Netyarts officially started this year but I’ve been on this a long time. So Netyarts started from when I was a student. I was making these beautiful pieces for my friends and their friends but to me, it was just my art and what I enjoyed doing, which also got me money [laughs]. This continued after I finished school and kept pushing it, until I got nominated for Best Indigenous Textile at the ACE Awards, hosted by Bellafricana in 2017. I thought to myself, being recognised for my work, something I love doing is probably a sign that I invest more time into it and take it to the next level. And so I did.
The NETYARTS is into ADIRE Arts and Craft, Handmade, Hand-dyed brand, that produces and promotes handmade and Hand-dyed, creative unique premium quality textile designs on clothing and crafts.
Our products are indigenous motif that tells a story about our culture and heritage. These motifs are created on cotton fabric chiffon, lace, silk, Jersey pashmina/scarfs, polo/ T-shirt, joggers set, silk viscous, Linen and even denim. All our products are durable and colourful.
We also produce end use products like ready to wear, Adire caps, handmade and printed notepads, mugs, shoes, bags, accessories, socks, painting, drawing, string art, interiors décor, and mural. Using resist method like Batik, stitches known as Shibori, starch known as Eleko, and tie-and-dye.
Furthermore, we train and empower women, youth and kids in schools. This also helps to preserve art tradition, culture, rich heritage and textile making skills in Nigeria.
How did you come about the name and what does it mean?
Netifah is the name given to me by my parents which means blessing and so I decided to be a blessing to others through art. How? Through training, empowering and producing. I simply shortened the name and added art to it – Netyarts.
Art is the expression of human creative skills and imagination in a visual form.
Netyarts is a blessing of creative beauty.
What is your niche and how did you know it was a market to get into?
I had no idea that it was a market to get into at first. Textile Designing is large and vast. I love changing colours and find to very fascinating. Our indigenous Adire fabric is becoming a very appreciating work of art all over the world. Many self-expression fashion designers draw inspiration from it, same as me.
Where do you get the inspiration for your products?
Self-expression – imagination, the society.
The more I improve myself, the more I can help the world around me. I have the power to spread love to each and every person that crosses my path through my art.
Can you remember one of the first products you made? What makes it memorable?
The first product I made was a motif on paper and I had to do an appliqué on the fabric and dye, was an old comb design from the Gambia’s ancient sculpture so I had to do an appliqué using shibori stitched resist, before dying, seeing it on my mum makes it very memorable, unique and beautiful.
What are some of the challenges you face in your business?
Every business has its own challenges and for my industry, I have encountered a few.
The cost of the production. On a few occasions we get questions and remarks about the “extravagant price” on some of our items and some assume that because it’s locally made then it should be very affordable – cheap. But the reality of it all is that if the quality of the fabric and the originality of the chemical isn’t good, the end result would be terrible. All our fabrics ranging from cotton down to denim are of superior quality, which is expensive to get, and that is why the dye craft and resist motif come out looking rich and vibrant while the fabric still remains in perfect condition after going through numerous dyeing processes.
The process. Due to the fact that everything regarding the making of adire is handmade, the production process might seem slow because of the different motif and resist being used. More so, the weather climate plays a major role in our process. Excessive rainfall could hinder post production [the drying stage].
What problems does your company solve?
Empowerment. Youths and children, especially women need to be empowered. We give them skills that the can use to fend for themselves.
Do you have any regrets venturing into this line of business?
Not at all. Although I wish I knew half of what I know now. It would have probably made the journey a lot easier [laughing]. But one must go through the process.
What is your most popular product?
Well, many but I’d probably go with UWA (WEALTH) JOGGERS.
To what extent do you draw upon your Nigerian (African) heritage for your work?
Adire is a handmade and hand-dyed unique part of our heritage/ culture – Africa (Nigeria). Netyarts is a reflection of this and that is relevant.
What are some of your short term and long term goals, both in your business and life in general?
My short term goals is for NETYARTS be able to produce and create more intricate designs successfully for more customers. Also to collaborate with big fashion brands, celebrities and even boutiques. To be a household name in the industry.
The long term goal is to build a very large NETYARTS ADIRE EMPIRE with several branches around the world. Creating employment and simply creating.
In what way has being an entrepreneur affected your life?
I never liked being micro-managed. Always knew that I would be my own boss. Plus it has given me more confidence in my works. Pushed me to do and be better. I see business in a very different way now.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I wish people know I genuinely love to help with anything related to the Adire and craft artworld, by impacting my knowledge of Adire and craft to the world.
What profession would you be in if you weren’t in this Industry?
If not for NETYARTS ADIRE BUSINESS, I would have been a dancer 💃
What is success to you?
Success to me is accomplishing a certain set of goals not necessarily motivated by money. Although money is the Koko[laughs], but by creating with creativity, passion and hard-work, also impacting my knowledge and skills in the society through Adire and art.
If you could give one piece of advice to anyone who wants to start their own business in your industry, what would it be?
We might lack capital and resources, but what we don’t lack is our ability to create unique designs, sketch the designs you want make, start small and never give up.
Who [and or what] has been your greatest source of inspiration?
Firstly God has been and will continue to be my greatest source of inspiration. My kids, friends, community.
If you were to do a biopic of your life, what would you name it?
NETY, THE WHOLE 30YARDS OF ESTHETIC