She wasn’t born with a silver spoon but she got one for herself as a dedicated entrepreneur. Having started sewing from her parent’s living room, the Chief Executive Officer, House of Vesy, Adebukola Adeniyi, one of Nigeria’s young entrepreneurs, is now making waves as a successful fashion designer who derives pleasure in sewing bridal wears. At the recent Wedding Expo at Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, where she paraded her works, Ayodeji Ake engaged her in a tete-a-tete
Six years ago, Adebukola Adeniyi begged her parents for a little space beside the water dispenser in their living room to place her sewing machine to start up her fashion business. For two years, the push for success wasn’t rosy. Her initial story was, while growing up, she wanted to be a medical doctor who will major in forensic medicine. However, when admitted into Olabisi Onabanjo University in Ogun State, the whole story changed as she chose anatomy because of her undiluted passion for fashion.
As a young entrepreneur who sees fashion as a good lifestyle, most especially the bridal wears, she was stuck in between seeing fashion as an hobby and a career. She after graduating as a trained anatomist went for a one year internship program in a fashion house and went further to be well trained on how to see fashion as a business. She began her small business with available capital without a loan.
“I wasn’t born with a silver spoon. I had to work around. The struggle started when I had to start sewing for my friends because those were the only market I had. I didn’t go to private school. My friends were the ones who helped me advertise my work because I don’t know the big wigs. All I can say is that my work has been speaking for me.
“I didn’t look out to being a fashion designer, I only wanted it to be a side thing, and as God had it, I ended up as one. I wanted to put in for medicine but I eventually went for anatomy. Because I thought Nigeria would have been better. I wanted to go for forensic and investigative medicine, because we don’t have such in our country. On the other hand, fashion is moving and always trending so I thought I should do fashion by the side, but now I’m a full time fashion designer.
“I didn’t take any loan from the bank to start my business. I started little in my sitting room. I begged my parents for a small corner just by the water dispenser. That was where I started from. For two years I did not have a shop but I was working from my corner. I just kept on working. I knew in my mind that my work is good. When people see my friends they make referrals. Despite the fact that I’m on the mainland, they come all the way from the island because they have seen the quality of what we do” she said.
When asked why she has derived such huge passion for bridal wears, she explained it’s a calling she can’t ignore as well as a personal interest. Moreso, to her, making a bride look elegant and lovely is synonymous to magic.
“We do general outfits but our core is bridal. I can say it’s a calling because there is something about bridals, it’s angelic. There is always something so different about that day. But seeing what a bride looks like on the wedding day is like you are creating magic. It’s like you are creating an angelic look. There are certain ways we will make a bride look and it will be so nice” she explained.
On starting up House of Vesy, she said it wasn’t an easy task after knowledgeable programs attended, to help her in her fashion business. According to her, also getting customers was a challenge from the competitive market as at that time, it looked impossible. But she was able leverage on her friends who believed in her work as a fashion expert who specialises on bridal wears, and they made referrals.
“It was difficult because initially it was an hobby, I was just sewing for the fun of it. I get my friend’s fabrics and I make dresses for them. So when I decided to convert it into a full time business, there were a lot of downsizing so I had to learn the business aspect from a friend of mine. After the learning the business aspect then competition was another thing, so we have to be on the ‘A game’ at every time, and thanks to my friends as my first customers they make referrals . Trust me 80 per cent of my customers are from referrals,” she said.
Despite the competitive market in Nigeria, what has been working for Adeniyi is simply self-development. She has over the years engaged herself with fashion seminars, workshops and watching of practical videos on social media platforms to get informed on trending styles.
“Business in Nigeria is extremely competitive. Right now everyone is emerging an entrepreneur which is understandable because of the state of the country. At every point we have to continue to maintain the top by learning new things , growing with the new generation because you might just get dropped off. People coming in may have more knowledge than you but at the same time, you need to develop yourself on what is in vogue and keep following what’s trending.
“If you come to House of Vessels right now, I can assure you that you can’t get our kind of dresses anywhere. This is Lagos, Nigeria where everybody does the same thing but we do our own the same thing differently. Fittings are strictly what the client wants. We are client-based fashioners. We don’t impose but we help the client figure out what they want.” she said.
She further said that House of Vesy’s unique selling point, which makes it different from other fashion designs, is simply her ability to merge her knowledge in anatomy and fashion. However, she has always endeavoured that her designs are available to fit into a customer’s budget.
“Our unique selling points are our fittings. Maybe because I studied anatomy, I understand the female body to certain extent. So even if you are not hippy nor curvy, there is a way we will make you appear very good. Our dresses are second to none. We make dresses strictly for body sizes. Our wedding dresses starts from N350,000, and the reception dresses starts from N60,000, depending on the client’s budget.
“We have a studio, it’s basically for fittings and pickup but we are presently operating in Lagos and you can get our dresses anywhere around the country. Once you make an order, within two weeks maximum, we deliver. We will love everyone to come see what we do” she said.
Adeniyi is not only an entrepreneur but a trainer of upcoming entrepreneurs who wants to become a fashion designer. Through her House of Vesy, she gives periodic trainings on digital fashion design.
“We are running a promo that will end on April 30. We are giving off 20 per cent on wedding and reception dresses for future brides. You don’t need to have your wedding in April. You can have your wedding next year but as far as you make a booking while the promo is on, you are qualified for it anytime any day. I see it as an opportunity for brides. It comes with a free lacy bridal robe. It’s our small way of giving back to the society.
“I know people get tailors outside the country but I feel we should learn to help ourselves. I have ladies with me who are done with school and don’t have anything doing. I train them. We train ladies that want to go into fashion. We have three and six month classes. The three months class is N250,000. It includes digital sketching and information technology training. While the six months is N300,000, which is not different from the three months but with a bigger information technology package” she said.
She urged young entrepreneurs across the country to learn better ways of encouraging themselves and starting their business with available capital. She said “the upcoming one they should know God. They should start with what they have and that clients are coming that will transform that small to something big”.