‘My Goal is to Build a Global Fashion Lifestyle Brand’

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Tina Ndidi Ugo is a fashion entrepreneur and Founder/Chief Executive of DIDI Creations. In this interview with Mary Ekah, she recalled how it all started, the challenges and her aspirations
How did your venture into the fashion world start?
Let me start by saying that I also love make up and accessories from my teenage years. This metamorphosed into my university days at the University of Ibadan, where I would alter already made clothes through shredding, painting etc. just to look different. After graduation in 2001, I worked briefly with the corporate sector, insurance, aviation and publishing respectively. As surprising as this may sound, while I was still in the corporate sector, I literally was changing jobs every year during this period, as there was no job satisfaction.
I quit the corporate world finally in 2005 to become an entrepreneur and set up my first fashion business same year, though it was part time at the time, as I ventured into other businesses. DIDI Creations Limited was birthed in 2012 and growing the brand is my full time job at the moment. I decided the brand will be a one stop fashion company that will cater for the fashion conscious male and female across the globe through creating unique pieces of clothing, bags, footwear and accessories. My long-term goal is to build the brand to become a Global Fashion Lifestyle brand that every fashionista would love to be associated with.
How would you describe your band?
My brand, Didi Creations, is one stop fashion company that caters for the fashion conscious through creating unique pieces of bags, clothing, footwear and accessories. We have also recently launched a kids line called DIDI Creations Kids.
What makes your brand different from others?
Quality and perfect finishing is key in everything we do. Our ethos and signature are: offering quality and value for money to clients is key in everything we create, hence our slogan ‘Premium Quality for Less’. We are known for creating statement pieces (sometimes one offs) and most of our design inspirations are drawn from colours, retro, African arts and culture; hence the colourful, retro and afro centric theme in most of our designs.
You opened the show for the recently concluded Africa Fashion Week London in September, how did this make you feel?
It felt amazing and I was delighted when I was informed I would be opening the entire show this year. Barely one week before the event, I wasn’t even aware I would be showcasing as I initially planned to only exhibit my pieces from my recent collection. However, when I got the phone call from the organisers that they wanted me to be part of the designers to showcase on the runway, I grabbed the opportunity to showcase my creativity and came up with a collection in three days. Thankfully the audience loved my pieces.
Who does Didi Creations stand for?
We stand for the bold and fashion conscious male, female and kids who love to stand out from the crowd in unique statement pieces.
What has been your staying power in the business?
I would attribute that to my perseverance and absolute love for the fashion industry.
What are the challenges that come with the job?
Truth is that the fashion business is a cutthroat business and takes a bit of time to break even or get any return on investment. It is also quite capital intensive; hence if one isn’t genuinely passionate about it, then it becomes easy to give up on it at some point.
What is your definition of style?
Style is a way of saying who you are without having to speak. This for me means a person’s way of life, which encompasses their personal style of dressing, hair, mannerism, etc. The list goes on and on.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I hope to have succeeded in breaking through the UK market in 10 years and hopefully some other parts of Europe. I am currently in a working process to create more brand awareness here and to get major departmental stores and independent retailers to stock our pieces. I am happy with the progress we have made so far, but these processes take a bit of time, so fingers crossed.
Who are your role models in the beauty and fashion industry in Nigeria?
There are quite a few of them, but top on my list is Nike Okundaye of Nike Arts Gallery who I would say based on my research, revolutionised the design of Adire and Batik. I’m not sure many in Nigeria know her unique story, but in other lands, especially Europe and America, even kings and presidents cherish her works.
You have made a success of your career how does this make you feel?
To be honest, I would say I am still on the way towards achieving success in my chosen career but I remain thankful for how far the brand has come in only four years of its existence.
When you are not working how do you relax?
I’m a workaholic so when I’m not working I try to make the best of it; I read, listen to music, soak myself in a hot tub or visit the spa for massage sessions. I travel quite often on solo get away trips as well.