By Esther Onyegbula
Adaeze Onu is the Creative Director at Dexycreation and the Principal of Dexycreation Academy.
Onu is a social innovator and creative entrepreneur. With a fashion and art brand founded on building women self-identity through fashion and skill training, making strong positive impact in the women community while paying attention to details and premium delivery. She is an award winner for empowerment and mentor at LEAP Africa for social innovators programme.
Onu started her business with seed capital of 100, 000 naira.
Over the years, she has empowered over 500 women and has a target of 10, 000 women in the next three years. In this interview, she talks about her journey into entrepreneurship and other issues.
What skill do you think is a must have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Prospective entrepreneurs should look out for art, writing/speaking, soft skill and networking skill. Networking is the order of the day. Social media has immensely helped my brand. We have been intentional. We understand that not everyone is needed in your space, not everyone is your target customer/audience. We have been selective and it pays off with our sales which social media contributes to 70% of it.
What do you think is a limiting factor to women entrepreneurs?
Most women are not good with numbers. By this, I mean financial statements. This is one of the major things women ignore in their entrepreneurial journey which comes back hitting us hard. Most of us make sales without keeping record of the actual sales and cost of production and other expenses.
What policies do you think government should enact to assist female entrepreneurs?
There should be an increased number of female policy makers to inspire female entrepreneurs. In terms of loans and grants, female entrepreneurs’ interest rates should be lower than their counterparts and more grants should be specific for women. Women do not have access to more opportunities; therefore the policies aforementioned would bring a transformational change.
When did your journey into entrepreneurship begin?
My journey into entrepreneurship started back in university days between 2002/2003. I began buying and selling to augment my pocket money as a student. I began to understand little business structure, keeping financial records and delayed gratification.
What inspired the establishment of Dexy Creation?
Dexy Creation was founded to make strong impact in the women community. My personal story gave birth to this journey. I had suffered terribly low self-esteem as a young girl but my art and skill wherefore I could express myself through my sketches and beautiful arts, and was making money from them built my confidence over time. Following research I discovered many women and young girls were me in the past. How do I change things? I introduced ‘ready to wear fashion’ where my designs are unique and original to build women’s self-confidence. Later I started an academy where women are trained in both art and fashion skills to stay employable and financially independent; this also builds their self-confidence.
Dexy Creation Academy is bridging the gap and challenging the status quo in fashion and art education. We remain human centric in all our approaches. We have free empowerment programme for women who are financially incapable, we collaborate with industry experts to give them best and global skill training, we mentor them, we introduce them to grants application and links, we follow up on them, we push their products and give them visibility through our platforms to make sales, we teach them business structuring. Dexy Creation Academy is a movement, we are here for visionary women, to transform, empower, inspire and to reduce unemployment by at least 20% within our vicinity and boost economic growth among women. We evolve and envisage a future where women don’t have to go through rigorous and long processes of depending on male genders financially to achieve their goals.
How would you describe the journey so far?
If it has been easy, it is not worth it. We are happy we don’t have it easy sometimes; the not-so-easy process has made us more resilient and dogged. We are always trying to find solution to every difficulty. We have worked in collaboration with some industry facilitators, expert tailors. We are also trying to digitize our design process. We keep beating our laid down objectives one at a time.
The major challenge is manpower. Most tailors in Nigeria are half-baked, not well grounded in design knowledge, not ready for internship or apprenticeship, not ready to serve, and have the poorest work ethics.
There is also the problem of fabric sourcing; since we don’t have textile industry or we have refused to resurrect ours, there is always fabric shortage. Some fabric bought once may never be found any more on order. Finally, epileptic power supply. For tailors, we introduced apprenticeship and internship programs to coach and guide them more on right work ethics. For fabrics, we resorted to African indigenous fabric; the likes of Adire and Aso-Oke are custom made for us from local sources. And for power, we resorted to solar power.
If you had the opportunity to effect legislative reform in the industry, what would that be?
We should resuscitate our textile industry and make legislative reform on fast fashion (China imported fashion) and waste from textiles must be curbed or recycling methods introduced. Apprenticeship and internship should be enforced in Nigerian fashion industry. I will pass a law that every youth in Nigeria must acquire a skill, must go through an apprenticeship programme and I will also put an age limit in civil service to clear the old and give room to the young.
What have been the high moments of being an entrepreneur?
Our brand won an award for our immense contribution to youth and women empowerment. Another high moment for us was when Dexy Creation was short listed among 10 out of 30 companies to run a project sponsored by the British Council under collaborative effort of The Assembly Nigeria and Condé Nast College of Fashion, London.
What is your idea of an ideal society?
An ideal society is a society where there is fair justice for all and women equality.
Where do you see Dexy Creation in future?
In an ever-changing environment where there is unlimited choice and a rapid evolution of customer needs and taste, we are seeing a future where technology takes a centre stage in Dexy Creation where 3D, robotics and the likes come deeply into our design process, a future where we strategically expand our business as well as the market to meet the need and taste of customers even beyond wearable pieces, perfumes, shoes, bags etc, a future where our academy is globally recognised and international collaboration with expert facilitators and mentors is easily accessible, a future where we will have sponsors and partners from all over the world for our social enterprise and we, on the other hand, would also comfortably invest and give grants to startups.
QUOTE: Most tailors in Nigeria are half-baked, not well grounded in design knowledge, not ready for internship or apprenticeship, not ready to serve, and have the poorest work ethics