Though 21 and a Business Administration/Management undergraduate of the Yaba Colleges of Technology, Lagos, Nwafor Victoria Peace is a youth with a purpose and an author. She is the CEO of NVP Fashion World. The young entrepreneur, who started her business in 2013 is a future fashion magnate that will dominate the industry. Passionate about people development, she is constantly thinking about the youths and what more she can do to add value to their lives and reduce unemployment. In this interview with UZEZI ADESITE, she talks about her business, the challenges of being a young CEO, her future plans amongst others. Excerpts:
Where did you acquire the skill to make Ankara accessories?
Well I will say it’s a 100% divine creativity because it is all God's grace working in me. I actually did not go to learn like others. I just desired to do it and suddenly the idea came on and ever since, I have been working and even better than some who learnt. I boldly tell people that I learnt from the master himself, so they should not expect less from me.
Why did you desire to do this?
Well, I chose Ankara craft because of my passion for fashion. I really love looking good, so I take the time to design what I wear and when I noticed that I could make matching shoes and bags, I took up the skill and never looked back.
Apart from Ankara shoes and bags, what else do you make?
I also make dresses, accessories like bangles, earrings, necklaces, hair accessories, hand fans and note books. I make the note books as souvenirs for parties.
You are also involved in giving training sessions. Why does training others interest you?
I developed interest in training because I love to impact in others, giving to people what God has given to me. Also, looking at today's economy in Nigeria, we can see that unemployment is a big issue and it has affected women and mostly the youths, so I believe that if these set of people can get their hands on a form of skill, it would help them with little finance and also reduce unemployment in the country, one way or another.
You are quite young. Do people take your work and trainings seriously?
Permit me to smile at this question. Well at first when I started, the first person to enroll for my training was shocked. I will quote her exact words ‘I was thinking I came to learn from a pro’. So, people did not really take me serious. They just saw me as the average girl trying to make money for herself, but that didn't stop me, instead it motivated me to move forward and give my best to my work to prove them wrong. Like they say ‘you can't judge a book by its cover’.
In a time when the majority of youths are being called unserious about their future, what has motivated you to follow the path you have chosen?
I have seen youths suffer many ugly things and I took it upon myself to be better than anyone else in my generation. I didn't get into school when my mates were getting in. It shook me off balance and made me feel less of myself, but then I decided that the unnecessary delay won't hold forth my destiny forever if I decide to stand up and do something. That alone gave me the uplifting I needed to be where I am today.
Many youths give lack of adequate fund as the reason why they have been hindered from doing something with their lives. How much did you spend to start your business?
My advice to youths is that when we have big dreams, we should look for small ways to start them. Before I took Ankara Fashion full time, I engaged in shoe sale. I sold shoes and it gave me little fund to invest in my business and the rest of the capital came from my family. The total amount I used to start off my business full time was N40, 000. I used N17,000 out of it to register my business name.
How expensive are your equipment?
Equipment is not that expensive in the market. With 2,500, one can make 3 bags and 3 footwear. So to make a bag, you will need (Hitex board, Macho, Foam, Efostic Gum, Gum brush, Magnet pin, Chain for your bag, Bag handle, Chain holder, Hammer, Paper cutter, Linen, Gum-stale, Ruler, Pencil and your Ankara Fabric.)
Who is your target market?
At first, my target market was focused on women, the ladies, the young girls in secondary schools. But as time passed, guys have been attending my training classes and they have been doing fine with their skills, so you can say that my target audiences are women and the youths.
What types of challenges do you face?
Well, people don't take me seriously because of my age. The more pressing challenge I have now is state boundaries. I wish to move from state to state to hold trainings, but I do not have the needed resources to connect me with the target audience yet.
Do you see yourself diversifying from using just Ankara to using other types of fabrics?
Yes I do. I have tried using the Aso-Oke and the Lace materials and it’s something I can totally blend with the Ankara fabric.
You have also written a book. Can you tell us about it?
Yes. The title of my book is The Benefits You Have in Christ as a Youth. This book was inspired from God's word and from the rhema of His grace. It talked about the various amazing benefits a youth can get with just accepting Christ into his/her life. How much a relationship with God can influence our grades in school, our efficiency in the work place and our living in the world. Most youths think that been a committed Christian is hard work and will spoil their flow but the details in the book proved them wrong. God can be anyone we want Him to be; all we need do is seek to have a relationship with Him and He would make the other things easy for us.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am the only girl in the family of four, and my dad is a Reverend Minister in the Assemblies of God Church, Nigeria. I love doing things that may seem bigger than me because challenges motivate me to go for gold. My best quote is ‘if you want to be the best; do your best’, so I challenge other youths to do their best and make change in their world.
What are your future career plans?The next stage in my career is to build a standard skill acquisition center, with varieties of skills aside the Ankara craft. Skills like, Bead Making, Fashion Designing, Catering, Hat Making, etc. This center would not only give the students their skills but also a good opportunity to venture into the business world with confidence and diplomas will be awarded to them at the end of their training.
NVP Fashion World in March 2015, will hold its first ever Ladies' Business Conference in Lagos State. According to Nwafor, "the aim of the conference is to empower women in the society and help them discover their inbuilt talent and potential, showing them how to develop that potential into a matured business venture, and most of all, teaching them how to manage, brand and advertise their businesses." The conference will also include an exhibition show of products made by those in attendance.
Have any question for the entrepreneur? Drop it in the comment box. She will personally answer them.