Amina Adefala is the Head of Design and Chief Executive Officer of Gidan Nodza, a business venture that is into the creation of bags and other fashion accessories. Her business, which was set up in 2004 celebrates and promotes the African identity in a way that blends with trending fashion. SMEMarkethub, an initiative of GT Bank, describes Adefala as 'a designer with an eye for meticulous detail and a vision to provide her customers with unique and well-crafted fashion accessories'. Products of Gidan Nodza are mostly made of dyed fabrics and leather to cater to men and women alike. In this interview with UZEZI ADESITE, she sheds light on her business operations as well as other issues associated with the fashion industry. Excerpts:
Before Gidan Nodza, were you employed?
No, I was fresh out of Law school when we started Gidan Nodza.
How long did you nurse the dream of establishing Gidan Nodza, and when did you finally decide it was time?
I had always dreamt of having my own business as far back as I can remember but also felt the time would be right as soon as I left school.
Did you have any kind of training that prepared you for embarking on your own business?
l had to teach myself how to make bags.
Bags, wallets, belts, wrist straps and other accessories/leatherware.
Are they all handcrafted?
Yes, our products are handcrafted without a 'commercial' automated production line.
What advantages do handcrafted products have over machine made products and vice versa?
Handcrafted products are processed with a lot more attention to detail and are flexible enough to accommodate customization but mechanized production is obviously faster and can be replicated with a fair amount of fidelity.
So your company has been in business since 2004, what was the beginning like?
It was a lot of trial, error, blood, sweat and tears. But I also had quite a lot of help and support from my family.
What type of challenges do you have to deal with?
Mainly challenges of sourcing materials, tools, dedicated personnel and finance.
|Handmade designs by Gidan Nodza|
The Nigerian fashion industry has experienced a lot of growth over the past two decades, as a result, there are so many entrepreneurs promoting African fashion and accessories in their own ways. How do you ensure that your brand stands apart?
One way we try to stand apart is by having our concept designs fall within our creative control. For example most of our competitors work using African prints the patterns and colour of which were conceived and done for and by someone else. At any rate the prints are everywhere and don't come off as original.
Trends in the fashion industry are constantly changing, how do you ensure that your products stay current at all time?
We not only are conscious of the fashion trends but do our best to participate in a way that contributes in setting the trends as well.
Who is your market and how did you get their attention?
Our target market is really wide and can be considered to fall within men and women between the preteen ages to octogenarians so we project ourselves as having everything for everyone and because our products are functional for any age or purpose we cover most of the population.
Where can your products be found?
Our products can be found on our website at www.gidannodza.com and also at gidannodza.smemarkethub.com. We also stock at Weave & Co, Moorhouse Gallery, Moorhouse Hotel at 1 Bankole Oki Street Ikoyi Lagos. To see more and follow Gidan Nodza visit facebook.com/gidannodza; houseofnodza.blogspot.com; twitter.com/gidanodza; instagram.com/gidannodza.
Although it is gradually changing, there are still a lot of people who wouldn’t bother so much with Nigerian designers because some of them deliver goods their clients complain about. Is it that most of these designers weren’t fully ready to launch, or they don’t care about customer satisfaction?
Finishing is still an issue with many Nigerian designers and this goes back to getting the details right but this is quickly becoming a thing of the past. I have to say though local patronage is dismal not so much because of quality issues but because Nigerians haven't gotten past the desire for all things foreign.
As an entrepreneur, why is it important to have or define your niche market?
It is important because cultivating your niche is the best way to set yourself apart and guarantee a followership.
A lot of young people with dreams are hindered especially because of finance and execution. What advice can you offer them?
Start small but start. Many people are waiting for a tonne of money but if you manage through being small you will find people willing to invest in you to help scale up your operations. There are also many programs that help with funding and mentorship.
What are your five years goals for Gidan Nodza?
Increase our production capacity, exposure both locally and internationally, build some aspects of our value chain to bring them under our control, diversify our product base among others.