By Florence Amagiya
The movie and fashion industries have no doubt made Nigeria an international icon everywhere in the world by the popularity of artistes dragged to our movies; via African Magic televisions and generating of funds for both the youths and the country at large.
In this interview with a fashion designer, a movie producer, a wife and mother, Joy Chico Ejiro; she tells her story on how she has been able to juggle all these four without breaking a sweat.
It started way back in the University days when l needed to make more money to make ends meet. I am from a family of ten. I lost my daddy early in life and my mother couldn’t take care of us. So, I was into hawking of food stuffs, selling of soft drinks among others.
After leaving Secondary School; l joined my elder sister in Lagos state who wanted me to attend University of Lagos, Unilag, for my University programme. On campus, l would carry my wares from one door step to another. I helped my classmates sell wears they wanted to dispose of and l also discovered my love for fashion and l explored it full time. I was still in the fashion business when l met my husband, l discussed it with him after the marriage and the rest is history.
While building my fashion business, l added costumes which is also an aspect of fashion. It was easy to develop the costume part of the business because l am married to an artiste because the market was readily available. And that was another avenue to showcase my fashion skills. So l started producing costumes for his movies and some other movies.
As a costumer, it would have been easy embarking and producing all the costumes needed in movies but l thought that there should be division and diversity. So l stuck to producing only English costumes and leaving the epic costumes to its experts.
My journey in the business
I started with fabrics. I was getting a lot of fabrics for my business until President Obasanjo banned importation of foreign fabrics. He said that we should look inward. Then l traveled abroad, l changed the settings of the shop. I started buying Silk fashion. I would travel to Istanbul, America to get Silk for my fashion business.
At some point, the ban was lifted and the whole place opened. I came back again to Fabrics. I was just designing; l would give the fabrics to Tailors to bring my designs to life and l was always getting disappointed because they never kept to their promises of timely delivery. I was advised by a friend to get sewing machines and sit in my shop and employ tailors who would work solely for me. I took the advice and that birthed this fashion home. We have been in the fashion business for 15 years; we added the sewing arm, only four years ago.
What has kept me in spite of all…
Like l said, l discovered l had passion for fashion and l went in depth, but it was not always rosy and it is not so rosy still. I have always said that what keeps a man going even through challenging times is the passion for what he is doing. So in my case, in spite of all the huddles l saw and l am still holding on because there is this beautiful feeling that comes into me when a customer goes home satisfied.
Managing the home…
Over the years, l have always put my family, children and business in the hand of God because whatever is kept in His hand is safe. I also intentionally made my children to be independent. Today, they are all grown except for the youngest but they can take care of themselves at home. They can prepare their meals themselves. I had to do this because l may not be there always for them and my business has made it that l am always on the move.
I would wake up by 8am and l would drive to Balogun market on the Island when l need a fabric or some thing very important for the business and l do not get what l went there for; l would go on to Yaba Market and if its not there. I am planning to travel abroad to look for it. So with this in mind; l trained my children accordingly. Today, the stress is less because they can take care of themselves and l am happier for it.
I would say that l am one of the blessed women around and it shows in all l do because l married my friend.
My dread hair
Yes l carry dread which l have trained for 19 years today. It started when l had my first child when the stress was much enough and l was also adding going to the saloon virtually every week. I knew l had gotten to my limit as l couldn’t take it anymore. At that time, Liz Benson was on dread also and l asked where she did hers and there l went and today it is history. I am very comfortable with it and l do not plan to add anything to it or remove from it. I can practically do any style with it.
Where l see my fashion business in 10 years
Honestly speaking, l do not know where my fashion business would be in 10 years time because l am not God, but l believe with God on my side it would still thrive in 10 years time.
Advice to business women
My advice to women or to people considering a trade is to stick what comes easily to you. Stick to your passion. It is one thing to do business; another thing to do what you enjoy doing. It is so because when the chips are down; it is what you are passionate about that would keep you going. Not what someone advised you on.