At first sight, one is easily struck by her unique persona. Ruth Davies-Ibiamu, the helmswoman at Ruthies Interbiz Empire, is a proof that intellectualism, calmness, industriousness and stylishness can find a perfect balance in one individual. Recently, the Rivers State-born Abuja top fashion designer unveiled the Ruthies Magazine with a slogan ‘Sophistication and Probity Interlaced.’ Funke Olaode uncovers the story of Davies-Ibiamu in the light of her many exploits.
She is one of the top Abuja fashion designers who have clothed many celebrities including First Ladies and women on the corridors of power. Every of her moves in her career exploits is calculated with one goal in mind: finding purpose. With calmness and effortlessness, you may wonder how she combines her role as a wife, mother, pastor, public speaker, counsellor, leader, and lately a publisher.
“It was my upbringing,” she continued. “I thank my dad for providing everything I needed to blossom as a child. Everything I needed to grow up, he made sure I had them. Apart from taking care of our needs, he also inculcated discipline and spirit of hard work. To him, there is no short cut to success. Above all, he is a lover of education which he believes is the bedrock of an individual’s development whether as a businessman, academia or entrepreneur. Apart from God, my father sharpened me to be the woman I am today. And when it comes to domestic chores, I give kudos to my mother who ensured that we are all grounded. She also sowed the seed of love among my siblings today. We are bonded:”
Her educational roots began at the famous Archdeacon Crowther Memorial Girls Secondary School (ACMGS), Elelenwo, Port Harcourt and thereafter, the University of Port Harcourt, where she graduated with a BSc in Public Administration. Yearning for broader educational exposure, she proceeded to obtain a post-graduate Diploma in International Relations and then an MSc in Political and Administrative Studies from the University of Port Harcourt.
It comes as no surprise that she has emerged a leading light in the fashion sphere. Mrs. Ruth Ibiamu boasts of a vastly superior fashion aptitude. To prepare her for excellence in the fashion industry, she sought the best in fashion education by studying Fashion Designing at the University of Arts, London, United Kingdom. She has since built a fashion enterprise whose clientele spans Senators, First Ladies, Ministers and Business Executives.
Her deftness and leadership in the fashion has earned her numerous acclaims. She is a recipient of the Rotary Club Abuja 2022 Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award. In 2019, she received the award for Best Innovative Female Fashion Designer, United Kingdom by Passion for Africa Fashion, Liverpool, United Kingdom. In 2016 and 2018, she was conferred the Papyrus Magazine CEO Award; and in 2017, she received the Peace and CSR Award, Nigeria.
A woman of immense talents who keeps evolving with her vision, her sojourn into the fashion world isn’t accidental; but the power of dreams.
“I have a dream and I am passionate about nurturing that dream. You know it takes passion to overcome the thoughts of giving up when faced with disappointments and life obstacles. Fine, I am a public administrator by training. I can tell you that education is not designed to fill the mind and produce a closed mind. It is designed to open up the mind and provide it with capacity for independent thoughts that create original paths that discover our authentic gifts, abilities, personalities and heartbeats tailored to our unique experiences. Fashion has always been there; what education came to do was to discover and enhance it,” she waxed philosophically.
When asked about the turning point for her to decide on fashion as her career path, she revealed: “Well, I have always been a fashionable person. For me, it has been a childhood thing. I have always had an incredible dress-sense since childhood. What I have done over time is sharpen those innate potentials to blossom into a global brand.
For the CEO of Ruthies Clothing Brand/Beauty Parlor and Spa, her journey into fashion and beauty was bitter sweet. It would have been an aborted dream but for her determination. Recalling the sad tale when she lost it all, she said: “I had a boutique some years ago because of my love for fashion, but in 2013, my boutique in Port Harcourt was burgled and I lost everything I worked for in years. So, it took me some time to recover. Again, I had to leave for the USA for six months because I just got pregnant for my last child and I stayed away. I bounced back and by reawakening my dreams. ‘I said to myself, ‘come on, why should I even go outside and buy clothes, why can’t I produce them here?’ Within that period, I thought of starting up something. I started with ready-to-wear. I got somebody to sew and I got the fabrics, gave them the style, then we produced.”
As she was evolving, her vision was becoming clearer. She decided to hone her skills by enrolling at a fashion school in the United Kingdom. She returned to open her Abuja branch with only two machines. Today, she owns a production place, three different studios where she produces alongside a showroom. She has added a beauty parlour comprising a salon and a spa.
Her exploits as a fashion mogul has taken her to the United Nations where she talked about zero tariffs for African designs.
“I am proud and humbled to represent Nigeria at the UN and spoke basically about Nigerian designs going into the international market. At that time, I felt it was not proper that they come here and we have their clothes in our shops, and when we go over there, we don’t even have a stand in their shops then. It was later we had a stand at Harolds in the UK. I thought that shops like Macys and others should have our stand with African designs on it because we have a lot of Africans there. So, I thought that it would be nice to have our designs in the shops. Hence, I spoke about this at the UN.”
The fashion mogul is a wife, mother, pastor and now a publisher. How does she juggle everything?
“I learnt early that what is important may not be urgent and what is urgent may not be important. Through effective prioritisation and time management, I have mastered the art of focusing per time on what is both important and urgent, to be able to multitask and achieve whatever I set in heart to achieve. I am a pastor. The pastoral part is what is in me. I take care of a group of people. Before now, I used to preach from church to church. But I don’t do that anymore. Preaching is about shepherding these people and touching lives. It’s more one-on-one contact with them. That’s what shepherding is about. I give you an example, the Women of Glory Foundation is a huge foundation. We have branches even in the USA and the UK. And when most of them have issues, they call on me whether it’s marital issues or otherwise. Sometimes, we bring people together to see how we can assist an individual. We intervened in a woman who had cancer. Today, she is back on her feet and has returned to work.”
On being a mother, she revealed that she always puts her family first.
“I work, but as soon as I get home, I pay attention to the family. I am a mother to so many children, I have a lot of children that are under my care. But to the glory of God, most of them have graduated.”
Describing herself as a very spiritual person, she said her personal communion with God remains her biggest source of energy, apart from family and friends. “God has been my staying power. With him, I can do whatever I want. No one can survive all in life nor combine the very many responsibilities without the help of God. Like I tell people, it’s never your ability.”
After recording many successes in the fashion world, recently, she went into publishing by unveiling The Ruthies Magazine with a slogan, “Sophistication and Probity Interlaced.” She recounted that The Ruthies Brand was birthed with the underlying philosophy to highlight and celebrate the poise, refinement and sophistication of womanhood via fashion. “Through the years, we have been careful to work a fine line that ensures every single design concept we create reflects the essence of this philosophy. Also, cemented in our design thinking is the notion that the African Woman is a custodian of the rich African heritage. I was looking at the area I came from, which is Rivers State and I saw that we have a beautiful culture and also we have beautiful cultural attire which people don’t know about. I felt that it was time to put it out there. I always say to people, I am a proud Rivers woman, I am an Ikwerre daughter married to an Andoni (Ijaw) man. Part of what I want to talk about is your culture as a woman and the culture of your marriage. For instance, you are a young woman born in a different environment, culture and you have to go to a completely different cultural background. My part of Rivers state is different from my husband’s part, then our beliefs are different from theirs. So, I am trying to bring the message out. It’s something really interesting because our children don’t understand that. So, I will like them to learn our culture and traditions.
“With the magazine, we hope to reach our target audience in a more personal and memorable way. This step is very audacious considering the overwhelming power that social media has on fashion today. Ruthies publishes its own designs and products. It’s beyond mere copying and pasting designs that are not home grown or bespoke, which most online advertisers cannot produce on demand.”
Within this saturated world of glamorous magazines, she said with the unique style of Ruthie it will surely stands the test of time. “We are here to stay because the sustainability of any vision thrives on clarity, originality, passion, commitment, strategy, competence: Clarity addresses who we are out to impact, what we want to achieve and the difference we want to make. Originality addresses the fact that this is not just done because it is the trend or because that’s what everyone is doing; it has to be a niche and content creation should not be a struggle. Passion and commitment addresses the emotional energy required to sustain the pursuit. Strategy covers the technicality required by SWOT analysis, for sustainability, marketing, networking, collaborations and visibility. Competence means that aside the fact that the publisher is an expert in her chosen path, she has surrounded herself with a team of experts in the relevant industries to ensure seamless operations and productivity. Having put these in place, we look forward to RUTHIES being here for a very long time.”
Happily married to an astute businessman, Chief Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, CEO/ Managing Director, Hopeup Integrated Industries Nigeria Limited and blessed with wonderful children, she assured her readers that having been passionate about the girl-child and women-folk, especially the African woman, her desire is to see the African Woman blossom and live her best life. She promised to pursue this through several women non-profits endeavours and now as a publisher.