Yetunde Boyejo is the brain behind Younique Afrique, a design outlet based in Ibadan. In this interview with Toyin Komolafe, she speaks on following her passion, challenges amongst other issues.
How did you get into the fashion industry?
My mum took a two year course in a fashion school. As an established fashion designer whose fashion also extended to interior, she used to design and sow throw pillows, curtains, duvets, beddings etc, she also stuffed teddy bears for kids. Really it was an eye opener for me at an early age and ever since I can only say I am still soaring.
Where does the inspiration behind your work stem from?
My inspiration stems from the desire to always make things look more beautiful than they originally seemed and my in-depth love for African fabrics and how trendy they look when well designed.
What truly defines your designs?
First and foremost, true passion for beauty defines my designs then we can now start looking the needs of my client. Some want them for a particular type of event. For example, naming ceremonies, weddings or birthday parties. My branch of fashion deals with branding accessories, bridal trains, event souvenirs with African fabrics.
What made you go the fashion design route?
In year 2004, I got into the modelling industry. Being a model opened my eyes to another world of fashion. My hunger was nourished and the idea to one day own a fashion outfit was born, but to be candid, my mum first inspired me even though she did not specialize in branding accessories.
What challenges do you face in the fashion industry?
The first challenge is the constant need to be on top of your game every single passing minute of the day. You have to always think of something new, the world is constantly revolving, you should too. Sometimes I catch myself thinking too much about how to come up with a mesmerising design that will wow every eyes that behold it, which means that sometimes 24hours is simply not enough. Also these days there are a lot of people to compete with, this is why I said earlier that the need to always be on top of your game is inevitable even though I don’t consider myself competing with anybody. If I am happy with my work and my client is satisfied, I am happy.
What keeps you going when you are facing challenges?
A lot of things keep me going, the faith I have in God and myself to project the beauty of accessories using African fabrics. Also I have a bigger picture ahead of me, so anything short of getting the best is simply not acceptable. I also have to contribute my little quota to support my family as a good wife and mother, not also forgetting that that there are a lot of people looking up to me and I can’t afford to disappoint them.
What is your design process like? And how do you come up with new ideas in a short time?
The design process is not very difficult, but a little mistake can cost you lots of money and your clients. So as simple as the process may seem, one needs loads of patience, calm mind and a high level of concentration. Coming up with designs in a short time is a very interesting one but a lot of times, because I have been thinking ahead about various kinds of designs, I am most times never caught of guard. Need I say that in this business, going ahead means thinking ahead. And sometimes a careful and detailed study of the accessories and fabrics has a lot to play, bearing in mind, the type of client – skin colour and personality, and purpose the accessories are being made for.
How can a start up begin fashion accessory business?
First thing first, believe in God and believe in yourself. Have a good fashion sense, go for trainings, exhibitions, and seek for other platforms that will help improve your skill. Develop a drive and be focused.
What advice do you have for young people who want to venture into this business?
Let your passion be your drive without forgetting God. Please permit me to lay emphasis on never forget god
Where do you see your brand in 5 years?
I see myself having a fashion school that has several branches of fashion where I can empower young people asides organising exhibitions all over the world, thereby creating a household name for my brand.
I want to get to a stage where one out of every five beautiful women wears my work.
You just concluded an edition of “Be Your Own Boss” can you tell us about it and what should participants expect from the next edition?
I was really happy at the turn out of events even when initially it seemed like I have just been building castles in the air. I was particularly happy that I was used as a tool to empower people to become their own Boss, make their own money. I am proud of myself really. The last edition was exciting and fulfilling because participants got full value for their money which gave me satisfaction! Our next set of participants should expect to be wowed too as they will be empowered to be the best they can be!
How lucrative is this business.
Fashion accessories is lucrative because we now live in a world that is thriving on IT, Gadgets and Fashion, and because fashion accessories is the complimentary aspect of fashion, there would always be a market for it. No matter what one wears, one will always wear things to compliment it. Once one can carve a niche for oneself, one will realise one’s skill will keep one smiling to the bank.
What do you think government can do to encourage entrepreneurs?
Government should put more programmes in place, like capacity building programmes. They should also provide loans for entrepreneurs especially those on the small and medium scale. Having access to these soft loans will help promote and develop their business. The truth is that the interest banks and the microfinance banks put on loans is just too much.
Can we meet you?
My name is Yetunde Boyejo, I attended St. Joseph Nursery & Pry School, International Secondary School Ifako and Lagos State University. I brand accessories and souvenirs with African fabrics, tailored to the needs of my clients. I am also a writer, I authored the book called “SECRETS” which was approved by Lagos state Ministry of Education as a Literature text for Senior Secondary One Students. I am married to an IT consultant and I have a daughter. I am currently based in Ibadan. I am an easy going person and I love meeting cheerful people who believe in dreams. Thank you.