Bunmi Ayuba (Nee Badejo), CEO, Tailor Made Fashion, is an easy-going, knowledgeable, and versatile professional. A quintessential fashionista by all definitions, Bunmi is passionate about looking good in a unique and creative way. This trait reflects in the designs she turns out daily for clients at her outfit, aptly named “Tailormade”. During the week, She spent quality time with Demola Akinbola, Publisher of The Podium Media, talking about the fashion industry, her experience as a communicator turned fashion design expert, and her vision. Excerpts from the interview are presented below:
You studied Mass Communication, and now you are into fashion. How did it happen?
I studied Mass Communication and I practiced for a while before going into fashion designing because of so many reasons at the time. After having my second child, I wanted to go back to work but the offers I was getting was not to my satisfaction
At my former place of employment, we worked late with deadlines to meet. As a young married woman blessed with children, going to the office takes me away from my children and they often fall ill due to neglect from the day care centres, and I decided to stop work so as to spend more time taking care of my family and raising my children.
I thought of going into fashion because someone advised me about putting all the efforts, I put into my work then, into my own business. I thought long and hard about what will give me ample free time, I decided on fashion. I love fashion and I am quite creative with my clothes. I started low key opposite my house on Adeniyi Jones in 1993. I have not looked back since.
How Did you come about the name Tailor Made?
Tailormade is my brand, and I represent my brand. My clients and friends call me by my brand name because it is easier for them to remember. I am my brand.
What has been your experience so far?
So far, I have been happy designing and consulting. I design for ladies of all ages for weddings, birthdays, chieftaincy, naming ceremony, festivals, and all forms of celebration. I do uniforms as well. I have mentees in the business. Young designers starting their businesses consult me for guidance and directions. I have given talks to women on fashion and taught Gele classes. I have also done a lot of fashion shows and I have some awards in recognition of my work.
I have enough time for family and friends while doing this work. It does not even feel like work because I enjoy doing it. I have met different people in this line of business, and it has opened some doors of opportunities for me.
What are the challenges in the industry, and how have you navigated them?
There is no work without its challenges and fashion designing comes with some too. Electricity is a challenge we have not really overcome; Solar was introduced but it is too expensive. So far, we have been running our business with generators; we fuel, and repair. All these are challenges that we work with; there is nothing we can do to resolve the issue unless I move to Ghana which I do not plan to.
Another challenge is the workforce. The tailors, beaders and cutters, even the Office Assistant that procures the material needed. Without these people, we cannot operate, and they know it. You must get a Tailor that can interpret your designs, if not there is bound to be issues. We are always at the receiving end of the workforce. What I have done is to have non staff tailors outside my workforce. If there are issues, they are my plan B. Without the plan B workforce, you can end up not meeting up and disappointing your customers.
The issue of trust, loyalty and stealing. can only be handled by God. I get on my knees daily asking God for that. There is nothing to be done about that. Only God can help.
Which was your most embarrassing fashion moment?
When I was younger, I attended a wedding and I wore a waist trainer underneath my dress simply because I wanted to wear a trending style at the time. The dress was fitted. I wanted to be my own muse. After eating at the reception, I had to rush to the restroom to remove the waist trainer because I could not breathe well, it was so uncomfortable. Since then I have been an advocate of dressing comfortably, and I let the younger ones wear my designs.
Most of our customers still clamour for fitted clothes. If you have the figure to wear it, lovely. There’s a Yoruba adage that says “eni ba ma s’oge, a roju!
What is your personal beauty routine?
My beauty routine is quite simple. During the week I wash, cleanse, and moisturize, no makeup at all. I go to work makeup free. It is only when I go to parties or I have other functions to attend that I make up. To do my make-up myself and get ready for a party takes almost two hours. Before COVID, we would ask make-up artist to do it while we relax. It is better done with professionals. This pandemic has made it easier though, no make=up unless necessary. Daily, the routine is to wash and moisturize, which is a must at my age.
How can the Nigerian fashion industry grow to international standards?
What we need to grow to international standard is quite simple. The President of the Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria (FADAN), Funmi Ajila Ladipo, once suggested it, and I agree totally to a Fashion Hub. We design and take it to the hub. Tailors are there already, we do not need to rent shops, or get individual tailors etc, only our labels, we pay at the hub and our designs are made into what we want.
We can display and sell at shops, like it is done all over the world. But we are still here doing the whole work from scratch to finish. It is tasking and not cost effective. If we can achieve this, we will meet any standard in the world.
What do you do in your spare time?
My spare time is for family and friends, but when I am alone, I watch movies … thrillers. I read books and I browse the net to keep abreast of happenings.
What will be your advice for those aspiring to venture into fashion design business?
I always encourage people to go into business, there is nothing better than working for yourself. To those aspiring to be fashion designers, I encourage them to start small, so that they do not get disappointed because business does not always take off immediately.
They should source for good staff because without them there is no designer. They need humility to get good workers and clients as well, they should be ready to have lots of friends because you cannot be an unfriendly designer, you need to network, make friends that will turn to clients.
Do not give up no matter what; give it time, be out there, make noise about your brand, advertise if possible. Social media is a must. Then pray, with God, all things are possible.
Can you let us into your childhood and early years growing up?
I was born into the Badejo family of Oke Esin, Ososa via Ijebu-Ode. I was born in Lagos 54 years ago on January 31st. My parents were teachers and I am the only girl among four brothers. My parents and one of my brothers are no longer with us. I was loved, pampered, and protected by my family till now. I went to a public primary school where my late mother taught, and I went to a boarding school at Ogun state for my secondary education. My childhood was uneventful because I was a well-behaved child. I was shy and quiet. Even till I was at Ogun State Polytechnic, one thing is sure though, I have always expressed myself with my dressing.
Who or what has been the biggest influence in your life?
The Word of God has been the greatest influence in my life followed by my parents who drummed those words into my ears while growing up. Every decision, every thought and action made has to do with what I have learnt from the Bible. There have been times that I have gone against the word, but I have always come to realize that that is the best to guard and guide.
What is your philosophy of life?
My philosophy of life is always to ask myself in any situation, “what will Jesus do?” It has always guided my decisions and behaviour. It has helped in the way I relate with customers and friends as well.
What inspires and motivates you?
The creator of the universe, God Almighty, is my number one inspiration. My brothers also motivate me to do more, and not to rest on my oars; they teach me the rudiments of making money, they give me books that I read and this gingers me to do more. My environment inspires my creativity, I look at the creativity of God, the beauty, the colours, the environment at large. Music also plays a major part.
Where do you see yourself in Five to Ten years’ time?
By the special grace of God, in five to 10 years’ time, Tailormade fashion will have an online retail outlet; Our brand will be known worldwide since we are focusing on utilizing the internet to market our ready to wear. While we will still be meeting the needs of our esteemed customers who are loyal to our brand.
You want to share a story with us? You want to advertise? You need publicity for a product, service, or event? Contact us on WhatsApp – +234 803 3018 881