February has been a beautiful month so far,. This week I had the privilege to get an interview with Rosie Jacobs, CEO AshillaRozae Atelier for the future of the Africa fashion series. I definitely got enlightened on various issues in relations to Africa Fashion. This is still The future of Africa fashion series…
●kindly share a brief introduction about yourself and your brand.
I’m Rosie Edinen Jacobs; a fashion designer and also founder and Creative Director of AshillaRozae Atelier. On my best days I’m usually a fun, quirky and artistic girl. I had a degree in Accounting before proceeding to study Fashion Designing. So, that levels me out both in the art and the business side of things.
I started AshillaRozae in 2016 and it has since blossomed into a womenswear line that caters to the clothing needs of the stylish working-class woman in diverse work environments. I am a lover of all things artistic and quirky so this naturally is reflected in AshillaRozae designs through our couture, ready-to-wear and diffusion lines. Our hallmark is the delivery of skilfully crafted pieces of very high quality and aesthetic standard, while providing maximum comfort and convenience.
At AshillaRozae we continue to position the brand to become a leading market shareholder in the fashion industry.
●What inspired you to go into fashion?
Fashion for me came naturally. As a child, I would very often refuse to wear a dress my mum bought because it didn’t conform to my own tastes. As I grew older, I would loosen up my dresses and re-fashion them as I desired and I remember always telling everyone else how to dress up.
Its a tad surprising now when I hear childhood friends recall conversations we had about my desire as a teenager to pursue a career in fashion. I didn’t even know I was that clear about going into fashion at the time. Apparently, it’s always been there.
●What do you feel is the biggest problem associated with the fashion industry in Nigeria? Kindly proffer solutions.
I think our problem lies more in the general lack of proper structure in the industry. As adaptable and creative as we are in Nigeria, very redundant processes in garment construction are still being practiced widely in the industry, and even taught in vocational centres. There is a general lack of education in the best international practices. So, Ngozi or Yetunde who is a novice learning the rudimentary processes of tailoring would usually be trained in the local and redundant techniques and is oblivious of the fact that there’s more out there, a completely modern and standard practice. She keeps working on her skill and wonders why her garments do not fit as well as the foreign apparels do or why she can’t achieve certain cuts. When or if she finally makes it to a proper fashion school, doesn’t understand why she has to start her learning from the most basic level when she already has “fundamental” knowledge.
As a result of this unhealthy situation, it is quite expensive to hire or collaborate within the local industry because there’s a huge lack of properly trained or skilled workforce. The designer who now desires the best practice is faced with the dilemma of hiring expensive but skilled labour or training talent from scratch, both which are capital-intensive.
To proffer solution to this, I believe private and public stakeholders need to come to a consensus to modernize training standards at educational and vocational centres. This would also include adding fashion design training to degree programmes in universities. With concerted effort this subsequently would lead to a wider circulation of international best industry practices.
Also, the nationwide lethargic power supply situation is a major handicap. It’s a huge problem because not only does it cost more to run a business, it also forces some unhealthy improvisations which ultimately reduce the quality of skill overtime and consequently, that of finished products.
●What do you think needs to be put in place for a better fashion industry than what we have now?
Standard garment production factories are long overdue in the Nigerian fashion industry. Strategic private and public sector partnerships could attract foreign investment and skill development projects with other countries that are already more advanced in the art, technology and business of fashion.
When you look at the fashion value chain in Nigeria, it’s obvious that there’s a lot of potential yet untapped in the ready-to-wear market.
●Where do you see the fashion industry in five years from 2018?
If the right steps are concertedly taken by stakeholders, private and public, to put the necessary infrastructure in place, with the impressive level of talent and entrepreneurship in the country, Nigeria is bound to be a top player in the global fashion industry as both a creative and production hub.
●What do you feel is the biggest legal issue associated with the fashion industry?
The biggest legal issue in the industry sadly is education. There is a lack of knowledge on the most basic legal processes to protecting one’s brand. Also cost in a way makes legal channels inaccessible to creative entrepreneurs with limited resources.
● Is your brand protected legally? If “yes” how and has such protection been effective. If “no” why?
AshillaRozae is fully registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission. It was one of the first things we did before we set up shop as a real business.
●What plans do you have for your brand in 2018?
A few of them actually. We’ve been undergoing a lot of internal restructuring lately. At the heart of it is a plan to keep our beloved brand edgy, relevant and enterprising. So I mostly encourage our loyal customers to keep posted with us this year as we roll out new product ranges and collections in the coming months.
In a sense yeah. Our art is ready for export but not so much our business. We still don’t quite have that figured. There’s work to be done in that regards.
●Are you ready for international trade?
●Kindly give words of encouragment to struggling fashion designers in Africa?