Zakariyah Azeeza is the chief executive officer and senior designer , Zzyzzah Clothing, whose unflinching passion for fashion saw her switching a career in communication for designing. In a tete-a-tete with Ayodeji Ake, she revealed the struggles behind her brand
Many must have assumed while growing up she ate with the proverbial golden spoon. But growing up for Zakariyah Azeeza, the chief executive officer and senior designer, Zzyzzah Clothing was just normal, nothing extra ordinary- no summer in Dublin, Dubai or London, but hardworking practicals and theories from her parents stands her out. After she graduated from the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ) in flying colours, discipling in mass communication with aspirations of becoming a distinguished broadcast journalist, yet Zakariyah would not let go of her passion for fashion.
She laminated her result and kept under the bed in pursuit of her first love, fashion. Today Zzyzzah Clothing is one of the leading fashion designing outlets to reckon with. Her story is not far from the popular saying that ‘the patient dog eats the fattest bone’. While struggling to setup after her successful fashion classes and seminars, Zakariyah reached out to different brands for support, and even featured on several international interviews as a designer, yet, all wasn’t forthcoming. At some point, she almost gave up but the undying zeal made her retire to her mother’s old sewing machine, where she proceeded on her one million miles journey into the fashion world with just a bold a step.
She reminisced: “I studied mass communication in NIJ but I started sewing even before I got admitted into the institution and knowing my kind of person that I’ve always dreamed of becoming my own boss and creating a household name for myself, so going to school was for the purpose of being educated, to acquire knowledge, exposure and other important benefits which comes with it so I could be able to put to use when necessary. I never had the mind of working full time in a company other than my fashion company.
“I wanted to be a good fashion designer and with the limited instruments I had, I made some designs, talked to few ladies and friends in my neighborhood back then, I sold to them at very cheap prices and amended perfectly where necessary just to encourage them to keep patronising me. That was what I did for quite a while. I was making the little I needed to sustain myself, bought necessary equipment and at the same time garnered lots of experience till I got a referral to meet Patrick Atuche, founder of Triem Couture, who needed a female designer to be part of his company in 2015.
“I was contracted to design and make special outfits for 10 female models who all participated in the fashion line launch event of the company, all within a time frame of two weeks and had the opportunity to work alongside the CEO l’emiral couture. It was a big one and I was glad the designs came out great. There were times I wanted to put aside my clothing line just because of lack of funds, I tried sending out mails to companies abroad, did Skype interviews, even wrote a mail to the famous Toju Foyeh to work with her but as God will have it, none of it worked and just had to go back to the drawing table to see how best to tackle my challenge” she said.
While building her fashion career, things wasn’t going on smoothly as she thought. After overcoming the challenges of setting up herself, she faced entrepreneurial challenges as a result of the economic challenges faced in the country. She was not ready to run away, so what worked for her was first her passion, then commitment and consistency, although at some point, the money wasn’t coming for her as expected.
“Being an entrepreneur isn’t as rosy as everyone thinks, more so in a country as Nigeria where challenges are being faced at every turn, but one must keep striving and never give up. The journey of becoming a fashion designer wasn’t totally smooth but I thank God for where I am today. The flair for fashion designing came from within. My mum was a fashion designer back in the early 70’s through the 90’s and I grew up understanding the etiquettes of what fashion design entails. Although, back then, I wasn’t interested in making fashion designing a full time occupation but here I am today, I’m my own boss and I’ll always appreciate God for that,” she said.
Today, the 28 years old, who hails from Ogun State, is one of the young fashion CEOs making waves in Nigeria. She has carved a niche for herself through her brand, Zzyzzah Clothing with mouth watering success stories.
She shared: “I’m a fashion designer with wealth of experience in the fashion designing industry, based here in Lagos, Nigeria. I design, sew and sell female outfits ranging from traditional attires to casual outfits, ‘Owanbe’ dresses, bridal wears and more, basically for the female gender only.
“So far I’ve had the opportunity to create exquisite designs for over 200 beautiful women, bridesmaids dresses, brides reception outfits, including the Miss NIJ 2018 and I also received an outstanding award as the Fashion Designer of the year 2018 by the Nigerian Institute of Journalism.
“Zzyzzah Clothing is growing and we are looking at expanding our horizons more. We offer fashion design training for periods of six, 12 and 18months at affordable rates. We have our outlet in Ikorodu, Lagos and we are hoping to have one pretty soon on the Island. Our designs are exquisite and classy and we try as much as possible to make our clients rock them confidently”.
Amazingly, she creatively aspires to bring her communication ideas into her fashion business, thus creating a new media platform to exhibit her latest sketches and designs. “I’m looking at starting up a fashion blog pretty soon, more like coining it into what I do for the purpose of bringing fashion news to people and make them stay abreast of trendy styles in the society” she said.