By Smart Emmanuel
Building a dream comes with a lot of sacrifices, deprivations and isolation from the crowd. Edith Kokori is an example of this, from learning how to sew as a roadside seamstress, to renting a manual machine for N500 a month just to sew in order to pay her school fees, to becoming one of the best fashion designers in Nigeria. The CEO of House of Beauty, a popular fashion label based in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state has carved a niche for herself, she was the best fashion designer award winner in Bayelsa state in 2010 and she was also awarded the best female fashion designer in 2015 by Pflamz
entertainment in conjunction with the Bayelsa State Government among others. In this chat with Naijaentrepreneur.com, Edith tells us her sojourn into fashion, the challenges she faced and how she was able to surmount them to achieve so much within a short period.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I am Edith kokori, a fashion designer and CEO of House of Beauty (HOB) label based in Yanagoa, the capital of Bayelsa state, South-South Nigeria. I am a two times best female designer award winner in Bayelsa state. I started fashion designing in 2008 after learning how to sew from a roadside seamstress before proceeding to a proper fashion school.
At what point did you decide to go into fashion professionally?
I didn’t plan to take it serious at first; I went into fashion out of necessity. I was waiting to get admission into University and I decided to learn while waiting to go to school. As time progresses, I fell in love with fashion fully and I decided to take it serious. So, what I am doing now is born out of passion. I decided to horn my skills by proceeding to learn more about fashion at Modela, a fashion school in Lagos so as to augment my knowledge.
So you ditched University for your love, fashion?
No, I furthered my education after learning fashion. I actually trained myself with the proceeds from my fashion business. I attended Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, Owerri, Imo State where I studied Purchasing and Supply.
You operate from a state as small as Bayelsa rather than Lagos, Portharcourt, Abuja as many fashion designers in Nigeria do, what informed your choice of state?
I started from Warri that’s where I learnt first before relocating to Bayelsa with my mum.I went to school in Lagos, came back to Bayelsa because I did not have an accommodation in Lagos at the time. My relocation has actually paid off because so far, it has been an interesting journey and the patronage is enormous beyond boundaries.
Tell us the challenges you faced when you were starting?
Ok actually when I started, I had no machine of my own I had to rent someone’s manual machine and I was paying the man I think about N500 hundred Naira every month before I was able to raise money to buy mine. But the main challenge was finance. I knew what I wanted, there was no money and no one was ready to assist at the time. I had to hustle my way up.
I can imagine, so what is the level of patronage for your brand right now?
Good. God has been faithful, my fashion is doing well. Many people are wearing my brand (HOB) across the country both people in high places including politicians and at other levels.
Tell us your worst and best designs so far?
(Laughed), my worst job so far was making something for a commissioner and she refused to pay me, saying that I didn’t place the material well but before then I’d made some for her and my best is a dinner dress I made for a model.
What will be your advice to any young lady who has this sort of dream without the resources?
My advice to anyone is first of all; don’t ever give up on your dream because if you can dream it, you can achieve it. If you don’t have the resources , just do as I did, you can rent for a start or meet someone who has what you need , he or she may be ready to give or assist you even for free, just take a step. It takes a show of sincerity though; you have to be sincere with the person because integrity is key to the success of every business. Sometimes we don’t do some things because we are looking for too much money but we can actually start from somewhere very little and be great. So, wake up, your dream is just a step away, you can achieve it.
See more HOB collections below;
Contact Edith Kokori, CEO, HOB on;
Facebook page: House of beauty African wears
whatsapp number: 08035446409