Ginikachi Eloka describes herself as a simple and straightforward person with a creative and active mind. This adventurer and lover of fashion, art and photography, is currently the Lead Visual Creator for Instagram at She Leads Africa, Studio Manager for TCD Photography and Editor of Black Fabulousity.

This lady of many parts tells Mary Ekah about her recent project called NFB Yard Sale, which ensures quality and stylish items from the wardrobes of style-savvy individuals are made available to buyers at discounted prices and most importantly, the auction segment, which was a fundraising strategy for Iroto School of Catering in Illoti community, Ogun State

What is the NFB Yard Sale project all about?
NFB Yard Sale is a shopping platform that was created to help both people who are looking to declutter their wardrobes and make money from it, as well as those looking to get stylish and quality items at discounted prices. There is also an auction segment of the NFB Yard Sale, which was conceptualised as a fundraising strategy for the Iroto School of Catering in Illoti community, Ogun State. The mission of the school is to continuously equip young women from impoverished backgrounds with skills and a better chance of sustaining themselves and their families. We are currently being supported with pieces made by Lisa Folawiyo and CLAN (from the house of Deola Sagoe), which were donated by Bidemi Zakariyau, the CEO of LSF PR.

Why do away with good clothes?
I realised that people sometimes buy things they never wear, own things they love that no longer fits, or just simply arrive at a stage in their lives that calls for a change of style; new job, new resolutions, or new tastes. These are few reasons why clothes end up unused or as clutter in most wardrobes. The aim is to help people give their barely-used possessions a lease on life by passing it on to a new owner, while providing buyers with good quality clothing at more affordable prices. This means people get the chance to let go of what they no longer wear, and get money back which they could use to buy what they currently need or what suits their current lifestyle.

How did the sale idea come up and what do you intend to achieve with it?
The idea first came to me in November 2014; I was in my hostel at University of Lagos where I was studying Systems Engineering. I had a lot of clothes, which I wasn’t wearing anymore either because they didn’t fit or I had bought new ones that I liked better. I was thinking of a way to pass them on, but still get some value back because a lot of them were still in great condition. I called a friend who was studying Medicine at Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) and shared the idea about selling clothes from our wardrobes. Three weeks later, on December 13, 2014, the first ever yard sale was held. We had very little time for publicity and barely any money, but God saw us through and it was successful.

Buyers who came we’re excited because they had access to all these good clothes at less than what they would ever find it at a regular boutique. Those who came out to sell made good money from things they had basically neglected beforehand. It was a win-win situation. After that, people started asking me constantly about when another one will be held. One time, someone called me saying, “Kachi please the yard sale has to happen soon. I have two large bags of clothes and I don’t know what to do with them”. That really got me thinking that there was potential for the idea of selling directly from personal wardrobes to become a huge thing.

I started planning towards it, and by the grace of God, we held another sale on July 24, 2016. The idea still remains to help bring quality and stylish items from the wardrobes of style-savvy individuals to a wide array of buyers, some of who maybe bargain-hunting or budget-conscious, at discounted prices. And then I started talking to my sister who is always involved in one community building project or the other, that was how I came about Iroto School of Catering and its expansion project.

Tell us about the auction, what is the connection with this project and what do you intend to achieve with it?
We started a small campaign called #helpirotogrow. Iroto is a rural development center in Illoti community in Ogun State, which has a large population of young women who sometimes have to deal with rape, teenage pregnancy and forced marriages early in their lives. Many of them don’t know better, and are usually in awe when they see other women like them who live well and have the opportunity to be educated.

To them it’s an oddity, something they never believed they could experience or achieve, until the Women’s Board Educational Cooperation Society started a project called Iroto School of Catering to accommodate young girls from under-privileged backgrounds within the rural settlement and train them in catering and hospitality. After graduation, many of them have the opportunity to get jobs, which enabled them to assist their families; thereby improving their standard of living. Now, Iroto needs to expand and open its doors to give more young women a chance to change their lives. Our auction is targeted at raising funds to contribute to that dream.

The amount needed for the completion of the project sums up to NGN250, 648,000. NFB Yard Sale is currently working with Women’s Board Educational Co-operation Society, a not-for-profit NGO set up to contribute to the development of the Nigerian woman through various educational activities. Our involvement with the body is to help with fundraising towards extending and upgrading the facilities of Iroto Catering School which is fully residential, and accommodates young girls from under-privileged backgrounds within the rural settlement around Ijebu-Ode and its environs.

During their stay in the school, the students collaborate in various social projects carried out by the Iroto project through various activities directed at improving the family wellbeing of the villagers and assisting the children during the holiday periods through club activities they organise. After graduation, they are able to get jobs, which enable them to assist their families; thereby improving their standard of living. The auction ran during the last Yard Sale in Lagos on July 24 and was hosted by the fashion and lifestyle blogger, Cassandra Ikegbune of cassiedaves.com.

Auction is a foreign concept, how have you localised it for Nigerians?
True enough, that process of people bidding openly against one another for a particular item is very uncommon, as opposed to the regular buying and selling. However, since it involves something they can connect to, which is the local expansion project, as well as the items donated by people within the immediate society, it’s easier to getting people to buy into the idea of participating in the auction.

Talking about sustainability, how do you intend to ensure that more Nigerians embrace it?
I think achieving sustainability is a gradual process, and I don’t intend to do it alone. Instead I’m working towards involving the community throughout the life cycle of this project. Because I believe we can all learn from each other. I also believe that the way sustainable practices are presented make all the difference, which is why even though people are selling pre-owned clothes, I urge them to only sell the things that are still in great condition and also it has to be presented neatly. It should appear good and new as people don’t like buying substandard clothing items. I also reach out to people to share tips and lessons on shopping on a budget, and building a relatable wardrobe. All of that is targeted at helping people see how they can consume less, but still get great returns. It’s all going to be a gradual process.

How many individuals and organisations do you have on board?
We are targeting a market of young professionals, creative entrepreneurs, students, fashion enthusiasts and even working women and mothers. Currently we have over 20 online media brands supporting us including Pulse Nigeria, The Blogger Point Nigeria, Stylemonument.com, Africanismcosmopoitan.com, to name a few. As well as influential individuals such as Leslie Okoye of Cookie Skin, Bidemi Zakariyau CEO of LSF PR, CEO of Publicity and Branding Agency, Style Bloggers such as Derin From Isaleko, Akin Faminu, Grace Alex, Cassie Daves, and the Non-Profit Organisation Women’s Board Educational Cooperation Society, support our project. It will be hard to express how appreciative we are of all the support. These brands and individuals combined reach an audience of over 100,000 people on social media alone.

Why do you think Nigerians don’t want to let go of their personal effect?
There can be so many reasons, some of which I’m still trying to find out. But most times it’s because of sentimental value. That is, maybe they got it as a gift, it was passed down from a parent, or they bought it at a really high price and can’t imagine just giving it away.

What lessons do Nigerians need to learn about letting go and helping or supporting others?
I think people need to understand that letting go frees you from unnecessary stress. When you let go of things, you have less on your hands and less to worry about. You’ll get more breathing space, be able to focus on maximising the fewer things you have, and you’ll get the chance to acquire betters thing which will be more useful to you. Like Bryant H McGill said “Abundance is a process of letting go; that which is empty can receive.” I also believe that having the opportunity and being able to do something for someone else without expecting anything in return should be seen as a privilege and something that is immensely satisfying.

What else are you involved in?
I’m largely involved in the creative industry. Regularly, I work as a content strategist, which basically involves helping digital brands create streamlined, valuable content on the web. That covers editorial strategy, brand and style guidelines, maximising the impact of content through web/digital information such as web pages, blog posts, social media conversations, email newsletters. In a nutshell, it’s about getting the right content to the right user at the right time through strategic planning of content creation, delivery, and governance, while ensuring that the content is readable, understandable, and shareable in all of its various forms. I’ve also done freelance writing for publications such as Guardian Life and Trade Nigeria Magazine. I work as a fashion and portrait photographer as well, and I’ve previously covered Ghana Fashion and Design week, including three years of the Lagos Fashion and Design week which was previously supported by Guarantee Trust Bank and currently by Heineken, here in Nigeria.

How can young people like you impact the society more?
There are so many ways to go about that. And a lot of people are already working hard to help change our society for the better. A lot of it has to do with young people providing technological solutions to social problems, as well as starting up their own enterprises to help create much-needed alternatives.