For many entrepreneurs, their businesses start with a passion or a need to address a key challenge that exists in the marketplace - in the case of talented Nigerian fashion design entrepreneur, Wunmi Amokeodo, founder of Design for Love (DFL), it was both of these factors.
LoA found out more about this highly successful fashion label and its substantial track record from Wunmi Amokeodo, the creative and business brain behind this unique brand.
What does your company do?
We design and manufacture female apparel and accessories - specifically dressy casuals and business casuals using Ankara and other fabrics that are more synonymous with the Nigerian and the African market.
"At Design for Love, we design and manufacture female apparel and accessories - specifically dressy casuals and business casuals using Ankara and other fabrics that are more synonymous with the Nigerian and the African market."
What inspired you to start your company?
I needed something to keep me occupied apart from my 9-5 job, what we call here “a side-hustle” so I started selling fabrics and being a creative person - I would sketch designs for my clients who bought my fabrics. However, I got constant complaints from my clients about how hard it was to find a good tailor to interpret my designs, so I took the brave step to start Design for Love (DFL).
Why should anyone use your service or product?
Design for Love has successfully maintained its integrity over 10 years and by integrity I mean putting our customers first, keeping to deadlines, being dependable and also giving out quality products and services.
"I would sketch designs for my clients who bought my fabrics. However, I got constant complaints from my clients about how hard it was to find a good tailor to interpret my designs, so I took the brave step to start Design for Love (DFL)."
Tell us a little about your team
We have got two parallel lines: the ready-to-wear and the made-to-measure (bespoke). The made-to-measure line has more people to manage. Within the made-to-measure line, we have got two managers. One is responsible for production and quality control while the other is a design creative and the admin manager. Between them, they have five years of experience and they are both passionate about what they do. My head machinist has spent 8 years at DFL, and I practically trained him. He supervises the entire technical team, which consists of 19 staff: 16 tailors and 3 embellishment creatives.
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
Both my parents were entrepreneurs, but I started out in the workforce in Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja. After receiving complaints about the difficulty of finding good and affordable tailors to interpret my designs, I started a search for tailors. The very good tailors I found were expensive and beyond the reach of my target market (which was the young working class). Around that time however, the company I was working for sent me to Lagos (Nigeria’s commercial hub) on a project that was going to take 4-6 months. When I got to Lagos, I started asking around for tailors and eventually I found one. Interestingly, I was reading a book about business start-ups and how you can raise capital by breaking the amount into bits and getting the required number of people to contribute those bits through the sale of a product or service. With that in mind, I decided to make two shirts and I wore one of them to visit my cousin, who was working at the headquarters of a major telecommunications company. When I got to her office, people complimented me on the design and I made it a point to tell them I had made it, even though I had not officially started my company. There and then, people bought into my idea and placed orders. I collected down payments for those orders and that pool of money became my start-up capital. That was how I transitioned from selling fabrics to actually designing and producing clothes.
"Design for Love has successfully maintained its integrity over 10 years and by integrity I mean putting our customers first, keeping to deadlines, being dependable and also creating quality products and services."
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
We are looking at how we can expand beyond Nigeria to have more people stocking DFL products or DFL having more retail stores across West Africa.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
Impacting lives. That is, positively impacting my staff and creating jobs - that way they can impact their own lives and homes, and also instilling our can-do sprit to change their outlook on life.
Impacting my clients, knowing that our clothes instill confidence. For me, Fashion is about impact.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
Research your business and don’t be too afraid to be hands-on. You need to get dirty to get gold. Gold is not found on the surface. If you are not ready to dig and scratch and find, you are not ready to go big.
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Why LoA loves it….
At LoA, we love those tenacious women creative entrepreneurs in Africa who see a challenge in the marketplace and find a solution, harnessing the power of all their business acumen and creative energy. Wunmi Amokeodo is one such entrepreneur in the world of Nigerian fashion design and business, bringing the art of fine tailoring into the reach of the young, fashion conscious, working class people of the country. Her love of Nigeria’s traditional fabrics is cleverly reinterpreted into highly contemporary, young, fresh designs that have a high quality, couture approach but at an affordable price. We think this is one exciting brand to watch as it looks to expand. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and CEO of Lionesses of Africa