Nkem Adeniran-Adedokun

You’re nine months pregnant, en route to a black-tie affair, and the only thing that fits is a tent. What’s a woman to do? Well, if you’re an aspiring CEO, IT specialist or a top actress, you can simply call, Nkem Adeniran-Adedokun, Maternity Consultant and Creative Director of Ninekay Maternity.

Within days you’ll have a smart tuxedo or beaded empire-waist gown that fits perfectly and looks fabulous. And make no mistake, she’s not all about couture because her ready-to-wear pregnancy and post-baby fashion line and accessories help both pregnant women and new mothers, who like to still keep their clothes functional and chic. Not long ago, finding style and maternity in the same sentence was about as likely as pain-free labour.

Pregnant women tended to keep low profiles, comfortably ensconced in their husbands’ old work shirts. But maternity clothes are finally coming out of the closet and sweat-pants drawer. As more women work in high-profile jobs and keep up their demanding professional and social schedules right up to delivery date, there is a growing need for fashionable pregnancy clothes.

Omolola Itayemi spends an afternoon with Adeniran-Adedokun, who talks about how her first pregnancy groomed her for her role as a coach and clothier to would-be and new moms. She also speaks on her tailored services that educate, prepare and support these moms

• Why I Left My Banking Job to Groom Would-be and New Mothers
• I Find Fulfillment Caring for Mothers and Their Babies’ Needs

When and how did you start your fashion business?
I started my fashion business fully in 2010 after I resigned from a banking job. I was making clothes for women (pregnant and non-pregnant) and men. But it wasn’t fulfilling because my initial goal was to make clothes and accessories for pregnant women and their babies.

Why did you choose to make clothes for pregnant women and babies?
When I was a first-time mother-to-be, I didn’t know what to expect in pregnancy because some of the physical and emotional changes I experienced got me confused. I became even more confused with numerous suggestions that I got. I ate like a glutton and gained so much weight to the extent I couldn’t recognise myself. I couldn’t find trendy maternity clothes that I could wear to office and every other place that I had to go. It was tough.

I ate anything I laid my hands on and somewhat I apparently increased my weight and that of my baby. But thank God, I passed through all those hurdles and delivered my 4kg baby boy via a C-section. But then after I had my son, I had so many other issues; complaints like painful breastfeeding, sleepless nights, emotional breakdown, weight gain, shopping for baby essentials and how to organise myself to resume work. When I resumed, I had unimaginable trouble balancing work with my responsibilities at home as a wife and a mother.

Then I got pregnant again and I had to find my way around making pregnancy and motherhood enjoyable, stress-free.
I started reading books, subscribed to notable pregnancy, baby and parental websites. I joined the married woman fellowship in my church and attended events and programmes that addressed marital relationships. I also talked to experienced mothers who were doing so well managing their careers and motherhood. I knew what to expect at every trimester and I was prepared. I started looking stylish and elegant and had other expecting mothers asking me for styling tips. It got to the point that I was advising them on how to make their pregnancy experience stress-free. I recommended baby essentials that were necessary and how to work within their limited budget.

I started designing my own clothes and ever since, I have focused on designing and manufacturing maternity and baby essentials such as maternity clothing, breastfeeding covers, feeding and baby support pillows, baby play mats and pre-packaged hospital bag containing all that a would-be mother and her new baby will need for their stay in the hospital. I also recently started an online intensive training in the USA to enable me to be able to educate, prepare and support women through the journey of pregnancy and post-pregnancy period.

I am going through this extra mile because I understand that a first-time mother needs someone to listen and answer her questions without judging; help her plan and organise her new role as a mother; set up her dream nursery; recommend the basic essentials she and her baby require which will help her to reduce wastage and save money and still be able to meet up with many other tailored needs.

How has it been?
It has been fulfilling working with new and would-be mothers; knowing that they can trust me to help them experience a stress-free maternity period is so rewarding. Although there have been assorted challenges over the years, none of these troubles compare with the joy that I feel when I see relief on the faces of people who come to me with burdens on their minds. When I see a new mom and her baby at the end of nine months, I feel indescribable joy. Those are the things that really keep me going.

Are Nigerians really trendy?
Nigerians are super-trendy. We love fashion. My youngest son, who just turned four, will tell me what he wants to wear the colour of a shirt that will fit his shorts or pants and even his choice of shoes. The use of the social media, Instagram and other fashion blogs that give up-to-date styling tips, especially on how to coordinate different outfits to suit your body shape have also increased our appetite for good fashion. So yes, I think we are a very trendy people.

What are the fashion issues that pregnant women have and is that peculiar to Nigeria?
The fundamental issue that a pregnant woman experiences in Nigeria is finding affordable maternity clothing especially what to wear to office. Some boutiques stock maternity wears but they are either too ‘mama-ish’ or very expensive. So you find most pregnant women wearing their regular trousers or skirts and they just buy bigger tops to cover their bumps.
Most of the maternity clothings are in non-breathable fabric. The texture of the fabric should be soft and such that it would allow free flow of air to suit the change of body temperature of a pregnant woman. Again, some pregnant women find it difficult to style themselves. They feel more comfortable wearing something very loose; like our traditional bubu. Like I will always advise, the fact that a woman is pregnant does not mean she cannot be fashionable.

Isn’t that an expensive venture, considering the fact that a would-be mother may not wear such clothes again after she is delivered of her baby?
Yes, I agree that it could be an expensive venture, especially when you are not sure of wearing the clothing again. But you can carefully shop for designs and colours that are multifunctional. That is one of the challenges, we at Ninekay Maternity try to solve. Our maternity clothings are designed in such a way that you can pair them up with other outfits and even wear them after you must have had your baby.

Aside from fashion, are there other ways you work with pregnant women?
Yes, we have recently upgraded our tailored services to include one-on-one and group coaching, consultation; baby registry management; personal shopping; nursery set-up; stocking and organisation; maternity photography and events. We educate and support new and expecting moms via our Facebook page, Ninekay Maternity, and our Facebook group called, ‘Moms Lounge Africa.’ We also give styling and health tips or information on our Instagram page. We are launching our blog fully in September.