By Prince Osuagwu
Mrs Ebere Osagie Egberuare is a designer par excellence. However, that was not what she initially set out to do. For her, there was business in selling Indian laces and other materials to a number of Nigerian women when Indian wears were synonymous to fashion.
Her compelling delivery strategies and adroit customer- centric expertise saw to the expansion of the Indian lace shop, accommodating other materials. At this point, the who is who in Nigerian fashion business turned her shop to a major centre of activity.
However, the proudly Nigerian campaign of the late Professor Dora Akunyili, one day, hit her like a thunderbolt and she reasoned that if all the women trooping into her shop for Indian and other wears keyed into well designed Nigerian fabrics, the campaign could be a huge success.
That sheer patriotism drove in a new business strategy. She divided her Ajao Estate apartment into two to accommodate the new idea now known as Bella’s Original Stitches. Today, that idea has given local fabrics a place in the fashion world and turned several women into fashionistas.
She told her story to Vanguard in this encounter:
Foray into fashion design
Although I have been in the fashion business for some time, I never intended to go into designing aspect of the business by this time. However, two things triggered this new love taking over my life, passion and total being. It is now as though, I was a born designer.
But the first encounter was the Proudly Nigerian campaign of the late former Minister of Information, Professor Dora Akunyili. Evaluating that campaign, I looked at my relatively large customer base and saw what the woman meant.
Again, my love for beautiful clothes also played a major role. I got inspired by the beauty and glamour of our local fabrics and attire. The idea became so strong and I got so passionate. So in 2016, I gave a try with designing and stitching for women first.
Now, we have expanded into men and children designs and our experienced tailors and work force have made it possible for us to bring out the best of African and even English wears.
I make bold to claim that Bella’s Original Stitches designs are very unique; our original creations can compete locally as well as continentally. Our customer base within and outside the country can testify to that. Yet, our designs are quite affordable. We understand the economic situation of the country cut across all divides, so our prices target the low and middle income earners. We also cater for the high class customers with specific requirements.
We source materials locally, as well as internationally. However, except materials like George fabrics, Raw silk and Satins that we source from India, Dubai and Sri Lanka, all other materials we design with are sourced locally.
Outlook of the fashion industry
My view of the industry may not be totally authoritative considering that I am just only two years old here but my observation is that the industry is up for explosion in the near future. Right now, everyone is doing his or her own thing, but someday, all would join hands in delivering a robust sector that could be the mainstay of the economy.
It is just that we should strive to create an identity the outside world can never ignore; not only in terms of our rich fabrics but in styles and creativity that would reflect African culture. A lot of people are wasting our rich fabrics in creating designs that have no relationship to how we live or dress.
Combining business with family
I am happily married and I can say that combining business with family may not be that easy, but in my case, a few factors have seen me carrying both without feeling the weight- family size and business location. I have a relatively small family and my business is located in the same building as my office. These have actually contributed in making my work schedule flexible. As a result, I have had minimal challenges in carrying out my duties both in the office and at home.
Running businesses with spouses
It takes special understanding and commitment for couples to work together. In my case, we developed a working formula that has been very effective from last year. We are both on monthly salary. And accounts are audited on quarterly basis. Profits are divided into three categories at the end of each quarter on the basis of Business, Savings and Investment.
I will advise women to be more independent and hardworking in their various choices of business. Every woman must learn to improve her standard by not being a dependent. With this, we can increase the number of women millionaires in the country.
Everything is normal in QC, but we still buy drinkable water for our children – Parents
Parents who spoke to Vanguard expressed delight that the school is standing on its feet after the ugly incident.They said that despite the assurance by the school authority to have addressed the water problem, they still bought drinkable water for their children.
Said a parent who gave her name as Mrs Ogbodo:”As far as QC is concerned, everything is okay. And we have promised to work together with the school to ensure that what happened doesn’t repeat itself again.
“For instance, if your child is sick, prompt response is given to her and where the illness persists, the attention of the parents is called immediately.”
The mother of two students at QC however, said that she always brought three packs of bottled water for her children every week. “I don’t want to risk the lives of my girls, so I bring three packs of plastic sealed water for them. But, I can assure you all is well, “she affirmed.
Corroborating Mrs Ogbodo’s claim of most of the students resorting to bringing of sachet water or bringing bottled water from home, mother to a student in SS2 who resides in the school’s hostel said that although the water issue was almost completely addressed, they, the parents, are skeptical about allowing their wards drink from the tanks. “My daughter buys the water she drinks because I have no faith yet on the treated water from the tank,” she said.