By Ayo Onikoyi
Mimi Linda Yina, the Chief Executive Officer of Medlin Couture/Medlin Homes is a leading celebrity stylist and style consultant who styles many celebrities across the continent and beyond. A-listers like AY, Funke Akindele, Ini Edo, Tonto Dikeh and many others have all attested to the genus of her art.
Beautiful, affable and with the aura of can-do spirit, Mimi speaks with AYO ONIKOYI on how she started the Medlin brand, the price she paid, the help she had along the way and how she came to be at the top of the ladder in fashion and style business. Read on:
What’s your business all about and how did you get started?
My name is Mimi Linda Yina, CEO of Medlin Couture /Medlin Homes. I am a verse entrepreneur, I have unisex boutiques for men and women ,a style consultant and celebrity stylist. It started years ago while I was in the university as a passion first because I loved fashion and then due to the fact I travelled out of the country quite often my friends/course mates back then would admire my dress sense to school and requested I brought some back for them to shop ,so after a couple of pressure from them I yielded in and then started with just a suitcase to see how it was.
Behold, as soon as I arrived they would shop everything and I must say that gave me a motivation to continue. So yeah, that’s how the famous Medlin brand started.
I import goods from all parts of the world, everything fashion. I have a production house here in Nigeria where I produce our famous signature pants. I am a style consultant and stylist, I style people for their big days such as weddings, birthdays and events. I also style celebrities for their numerous red carpets and awards and day to day outings
When did the Medlin brand start and how has it been?
The Medlin brand officially started in 2009 and I must say it’s been awesome so far. It’s been a process actually, we’ve taken it one step at a time. I am not one to be in a hurry or rush things I let the brand be a baby brand and nurtured it and grew it to what it has become today. In a nutshell I must say it’s been a journey and I am grateful to God who gave me the patience to trust and believe in the process.
What does it take to succeed in your kind of business?
It takes a lot I must say but then I will mention a few. First, you need to be consistent, we have been consistent over the years. You have to be innovative always, thinking outside the box. You have thousands of people in your kind of business but you should try to create a niche for yourself and that can only happen if you are consistent and innovative always. Give your clients something new and something to look forward to.
What about challenges and how to tackle them?
Challenges are a lot too many to mention, you have a lot of competitors and you have a lot of people who copy your work. You have a lot of people who try to sell stuff cheaper than yours just to make reference that Medlin is expensive.
They go the extra mile and sometimes, desperately to prove our stuff are way expensive than theirs. Some go as far as defaming your character to hurt your brand in the bid to make theirs look better. But then I tell you one thing, I stay focused, never distracted, I just focus a bit more and eyes always on the prize.
Given the stiff competition in the fashion and style business, what’s unique about Medlin brand and can you honestly say you are at the peak of the ladder or just getting by?
To be honest, it’s amazing how anybody sees a Medlin styling and they automatically know it’s Medlin. We know how to make a literal fashion statement.
Baumgartner in you are what you wear, what your clothes reveal about you ,we create unique statement and classy styling for the classy woman and classic man. Keeping it classy and serene is my watch word.
Also, we don’t only style we make all our clients realize the inner beauty in them which is rare and they get so emotional after their styling which shows we are doing something right. Yes, sure we are at the peak of the ladder but then I try not to use that phrase because we keep aiming higher as high as the sky goes.
Which Nigerian celebrities have you styled?
Many I must say, Funke Akindele Bello, Ayo Makun Also Known As AY, Tonto Dikeh, Omoni Oboli, Ini Edo, Asogwa Alexandra Amuche Sandra, Bamike Olawunmi Adenibuyan , Teddy A, Nina Chinonso Onyenobi, Ifuennada and many more.
How does fashion define the personality of a person?
For me, I think fashion is a form of saying who you are without having to introduce yourself. The way you appear matters a lot, it can quickly tell someone who you are and your personality.
What is the difference between fashion and style and can you separate one from the other?
Of course, you can separate one from the other , style is very personal, it has nothing to do with fashion, fashion is over quickly, fashion is a constantly changing sequence of trends whereas style is something a lot more permanent and isn’t subject to changing on a whim in the way that fashion is susceptible to.
What about style and beauty and sexiness and how can fashion accentuate these?
They all work hand in hand, fashion accentuates this areas in way that the most fashionable you are brings out the beauty, style and sexiness in you so yes fashion accentuate them all done
What defines your sense of style?
For me, less of following trends and knowing what fits the unique me and what I am comfortable in, being stylish in my true self.
When is fashion distasteful?
For me, I think less is more, when you have too much going on then it’s distasteful to me, it’s better to keep it serene and let them see the individual and too much everywhere keep it classy.
What experience in the course of your business remains most indelible on your mind and why?
I can’t forget one horrible experience; I was in London and Yemi Alade needed styling, someone recommended me to her team Yungsix to be precise, so the manager called impromptu and requested a styling for her and the looks she wanted.
I said okay I will put something through for her and it was big as she flew in from Paris to sign an endorsement. I sent a mode book to her she loved them then said to come quickly we were running out of time.
The driver took forever to get to me and they kept calling back to back as I kept the whole team and recording waiting. I packed up her box and because my boxes were same, in the quest of rushing out as the driver pulled over I mistakenly picked the wrong box.
On arriving the venue which was the other side of London I apologized to the team and they took me to the fitting room only for me to open the box and it was a wrong box . I could see the disappointment in her eyes . I broke into tears because it seemed like all their waiting was in vain and because I am known for perfection and getting it right I felt so sad to know all my effort was in vain.
Let’s talk about social media, has it helped your business?
I joke about it a lot with my best friend and say God bless the person that invented social media, in fact Instagram to be precise and she keeps laughing and saying yes this platform has helped your brand so much in a time where it seems like the country was in recession.
So yes, like I said Medlin has been there but with the power of social media, in less than two years the brand has become global.
We carter to people far and wide. In fact most of our clients are in diaspora, the whole world knows the Medlin brand courtesy of social media. We are selling out and clearing and cashing out on a daily on social media. I don’t want to call figures but we cash out on a daily basis and that’s because I make very good use of my platform for the right things.