Blessing Bashir is not your regular lawyer. This lawyer, who delights in helping small scale businesses to thrive, as their legal adviser, is gradually carving a niche for herself in the fashion world. The vibrant fashion entrepreneur talks to Azuka Ogujiuba about her passion for Law, and fashion. She also opens up about challenges as a fashion entrepreneur and what she thinks of the industry in Nigeria, among other things
Everyone should enjoy free expression
I have always wanted to be a lawyer while growing up. As a young girl, I believed everyone deserved fair treatment irrespective of his or her racial or financial background. My decision to become a lawyer was to give a voice to the voiceless and fight injustice in my community. Everyone should have the right to freedom of expression, as part of their fundamental human rights, without fear of oppression.
I have always been doing fashion even without realising it
Fashion has always been a major part of my life. Interestingly, my grandfather used to make clothes, so did my mum and my mother-in-law too. I have always done fashion even without realising. However, in 2016, I decided to make a business of it and I must say it was one of my best decisions in life. I decided to go into fashion because law, in practice, is a different ball game from the theory. After my law school programme, I was convinced that I did not want to do litigation. Also after working in Law and Management Consulting firms, I decided that I wanted to be a legal consultant and assist businesses with legal advisory and compliance, which I could manage together with my fashion business.
Combining legal duties with Fashion
I make sure that I plan my schedule, meetings and appointments to make sure that there is no clash. I also have partners who are available to help manage the workload during peak periods. Generally, having a great team at work in both careers makes the dream work.
The problem with the Nigerian legal system
The Nigerian legal system has many bright lawyers who rarely maximise their potentials because of a somewhat failed system. Just like other legal systems, it has its challenges, but these challenges are becoming so excessive that it cripples the system. It is my hope that devoted lawyers continue to fight to keep the legal system whole.
Fashion entrepreneurs are getting it right, but…
In terms of designing, I would say yes, fashion entrepreneurs are ‘killing’ it and can boldly compete with the rest of the world. However, in terms business structure and management of the fashion business itself, I would say a lot of fashion entrepreneurs have a long way to go. Personally, I ensure that I constantly educate myself and take courses that would improve my knowledge on the business of fashion. Fashion is historical and there is so much to learn if you decide to be educated. You would be surprised how much you would learn that would shape the future of your business.
Key challenges as a lawyer and fashion entrepreneur
As a legal consultant managing my own business, I rarely face the typical challenges a young lawyer in Nigeria faces. However, poor infrastructure is a challenge that cuts through every entrepreneur in every field. As a fashion entrepreneur, there are a couple of challenges you face which include, poor infrastructure, lack of funding, lack of access to quality materials and accessories, managing tailors and other related artisans.
Inspirations as a fashion entrepreneur
A major inspiration for me is the amazing Nigerian fashion designers that have gone before me and made fashion in Nigeria so admirable. I love Lanre da silver Ajayi, Tope Fnr and Myqlady, these women inspire my fashion journey and push me to do better. In addition, I am conscious of the fact that the livelihood of my staff depends on the success of the business; that thought inspires and encourages me to work harder.
My formative years
My formative years were very interesting, most especially, I enjoyed my education. I was always on top of my class and would feature in dramas, as a lawyer. I was on TV shows like ‘Speak Out’ and even once featured as a child news caster on NTA news. My parents did well to instill good Christian values in me, being the first of four children. I was raised to be a good leader. I was also a part of a dance group in church and I always came first at dancing competitions at birthday parties. I must say I had well-balanced formative years as a person and I am very thankful for that.
Educational background and career
I attended Federal Government College, Ijanikin, Lagos, and obtained a law degree from Babcock University. I also hold a diploma in Criminology. I was called to the Nigerian Bar in 2016. During my school year, I interned with prestigious law firms and financial institutions. I worked as a legal associate at a consulting firm after which I left and decided to start my own legal consulting firm and fashion business.
My parents provided me good life
My parents provided me a good life and good education. They are honest and God-fearing people, very hard working too. My dad would always say to me hard work does not kill, it is enjoyment that kills. Growing up, my mum made sure, we had compulsory prayer sessions and vigils. Whenever I remember these experiences, they make me happy because I must say that they have formed the core of whom I am. My belief and faith in God, coupled with hard work and determination, has shaped my career in a most beautiful way.
Things I still desire
Yes, I am looking forward to my local and international runway shows and to the launch of my fashion stores in major cities in the world.
Lessons life has taught me
A major lesson I have learnt is to always set things in motion. I have realised that nothing is bigger than I am; the bigger the dream the better. I have learnt to appreciate valuable relationships and put God first in everything I do.
My biggest fear in life
Not maximising my God given potentials to the fullest. I work hard every day to make sure that never happens.