Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of GMYT Academy, and other GMYT brands, Princess Kelechi Oghene, narrates how parental training sowed the seed of greatness in her. Her transition from a full-time model to a successful owner of chains of businesses testifies that beauty and brain go together in some people.
By CHARLES KUMOLU
Prepared for the future:
I was born into a Christian home and I am still a Christian. My mother is deceased but was a great influence in my life. She was the type of mother who did not allow me to pass through school without learning a skill or two. She always told us that we needed to acquire skills because we didn’t know what would happen in the future.
Apart from learning fashion while I was growing up, I also learned graphics designs which have also helped me with my branding today. My mother was a seamstress. She was a senior staff in the defunct Power Holding Company. She was also an entrepreneur because she had a supermarket.
She also loved education. I spent my after school hours acquiring different skills. The different skills I acquired are helpful to me today. I apply the knowledge in all I do. I learned many things from my house. When I ventured into the boutique business it was easy for me to stand out. I did the business successfully for nine years, after a while I also traveled o and erseas to acquire knowledge for other brands I own.
White collar job
My mother had a big business. We started with one shop before owning two shops. That was how we kept growing. She ensured that we learned hands-on. If anybody had told me that I would be feeding from fashion, and not just that, also empowering through that, I would not have believed it. The lesson here is that it pays to encourage people to learn a skill even when they are schooling because it pays. Going to a proper school is important but people should acquire skills. It is very important because white collar job is not for everyone. That is why there are so many graduates even with first-class degrees, looking for who will employ them.
Avoid being a liability
For someone to succeed, the person must identify his or her strength and give the best to whatever task. Young people should acquire a skill like fashion designing which is very broad. Who says the person without a job cannot be an illustrator?
You can be a designer, blogger, fashion marketer, and fashion event planner. There are many opportunities out there. It is important for our girls to learn hands-on so that they can become independent and avoid being a liability to themselves, their spouses, or even society. These are the things I learned from my mother, and they are the best for me.
From modelling to entrepreneurship
I started my business in 2005. I was already running my business before I joined Orange Drugs in 2009. I retired as an ambassador in 2017. Nevertheless, I would say it has been an interesting journey from running a boutique business for nine years to starting my bespoke brand, GMYT Couture Ltd. I also have the GMYT Foundation and GMYT Fashion Academy which is the parent company today. We also have the GYMT African Humanitarian Award and GMYT Support Scheme. I was doing all these and also schooling at the same time because I love learning. I have done several Masters programmes, including management programmes, Human Resources Management and Styling. I am an alumnus of Lagos Business School, London College of Fashion and Model Fashion Academy, Dubai. I try as much as possible to develop myself alongside working.
Working and schooling
I have been working and schooling all my life. I am much focused. If I am not, we would not have been able to put in place the structures we have now. For instance, my elder sister learned catering, and hairdressing, when she was in school. She also attended to a fashion school. Aside from my parents paying for her education, she was also able to take care of herself. I remember then, in the hostel, she toasted bread, cake and other things for her course and hostel mates. She made money from it while our parents were also sending money to her. Before my mum passed on in 2012, she always called to say that she was sending money to me, but I told her not to send because I do not need it. Instead, I should be the one sending money to her. There was joy in that experience because my mum prepared us for the future. We should try as much as we can to encourage our girls, men and women to become independent. Some of the facilitators I have here are guys, and they earn good money.
I know it is not everybody that can do skilled job, but whatever anyone wants to do, the person should ensure he is doing the thing he is passionate about.
Self-worth is crucial
There is no easy way to success. For instance, we are still building our brand. I cannot count how many times I have been admitted to the hospital for working every day of the week. That is why I am reiterating that our girls be encouraged to learn a skill because at the end of the day, when they are independent they would not go into a relationship because somebody wants to offer something to them. An independent person makes a better decision. For instance, instead of buying things, the person may invest and become successful. By doing that, the person would have self-worth and whoever is coming will be scared to mention sex. When they come to you, they will value you because they know you are independent.
Known for giving
I am known for giving. After running the couture business for sometime I decided to start teaching people free at the GMYT Foundation. I started by teaching over 50 students who enrolled in the academy. However, most of the people who came were more interested in paying than learning at no cost. They did not just want to be associated with the word foundation, because they felt they could afford to pay for their training. That was what birthed the GMYT Fashion Academy. The foundation came first before the fashion academy. We became more structured and today we have more fashion academy students. That is why the fashion academy is the parent company of the foundation. The fashion academy is the source of funding for the foundation. If students were not paying, I do not think we would have been able to train over 200 women without sponsors. The GMYT Academy is also funding the GYMT Entrepreneur Award. The GMYT Support Scheme which supports startups is also being supported by the academy. I am just giving back to society. For me, the academy is also a networking platform where the students meet their prospective clients. For me, it has been a journey from modeling to entrepreneurship.
Re-ignite a mindset
We live in a world where more money is spent without making more impact on people’s lives. There are thousands of women, girls, and youths who need to be empowered. Every year, we see more graduates on the outside and fewer students admitted into schools. Some women, girls feel deprived, unwanted, lonely and even depressed. They are distressed because of their inability to cater for their basic needs amidst their overflowing willingness to earn a living. Hence, the good news is that skill as little as a grain of sand can end pennilessness, re-ignite a mindset, and make someone independent. The world has become a place where skill is more lucrative than even white collar jobs.
GMYT Foundation is known for impacting people’s lives by giving scholarships to people especially women and girls.
Through random selection, women are being admitted into the academy and trained to become proper fashion designers. So far GMYT Foundation has spent over N200,000,000 to train over 200 women.
without external support and also help them start their own business. Last year we trained over 86 women and this year we are embarking on a new project to train 500 women for free. I wish I could train everybody for free but as I said earlier. But we do not have sponsors or partners we are self-sponsored. Like I said we have graduated over 200 students that are doing well in their respective fields. Some are into production of ready to wear line. People like Ruth Signature, Yems Threadz, Amaka Stitches, and The Remide among others are our products. From this foundation, they were able to start their businesses. GMYT academy has produced over 300 students who are doing very well in the fashion industry. Some of them are into production, some are into ready to wear, and some of them have their own fashion academy today