Based out of Nigeria, Moofa has gradually emerged as one of the leading fashion empires in Africa. With a distinctively ultra-feminine design aesthetic, the brand has consistently churned out the best in fashion and design, through the artful combination of versatile fabrics, divine craftsmanship and attention to detail. Run like a tight ship under the able hands of its creative director Yinka Arolambo; the fashion brand has over the past seven years created pieces that oozed of great charm, sophistication and class. As she prepares for the launch Moofa’s ultra- modern showroom, we sit to an interesting chat with the inspiring designer.
What’s new with your brand?
It’s an exciting time for us at Moofa as we are learning new and better ways of satisfying and engaging with our growing clientele. We recently moved to a new and bigger space, redesigned the Moofa logo/identity and reworked our website as well. Since the move, there’s been a ripple effect of newness all around the brand. There’s also a renewed energy and interest in the job. We are paying more and better attention to details and also ensuring to maintain our focus on quality and great customer service. The design school is also growing in leaps and bounds which is also pretty amazing.
What are the high and low points of running a design business in Africa?
There are challenges everywhere, not just in Africa, even though our issues seem to take centre stage half the time. Having said that, designers in this side of the world will tell you that power supply is a major and common setback. This one issue has impeded the growth of many small businesses as we are forced to pay so much in power consumption. This issue is closely followed by a high rate of staff turnover. The younger generation are now easily influenced by the social media craze and the vague assumption that the more followers you have determines your level of success in life; so they no longer spend the time to learn the ropes.
On the finer side of things seeing your finished piece on clients and receiving their positive feed backs takes the stress away. There are a lot of wealth ofcontent from which designers can draw creative inspirations from – our deep unruffled cultural heritage, way of life, rich traditional fabrics that can be made into a variety of creative ensembles; our human resource and day to day life experiences- the things that make us special. These qualities make business in the side of the world enriching.
How have you been able to marry creativity and business so seamlessly?
I will say that I am blessed with a lot good people and mentors; people who have continuously given me good counsel from the get go. Having the right people around, people who are also very successful in their businesses is an essential commodity for growth. When I started out, I didn’t really know how to separate business from passion, how to ensure that my passion paid my bills, so I was almost working for free. I guess that’s the price we all get to pay… something has to give. It didn’t have immediate return on investment but it eventually paid off. I got a lot of training, pep talks and practice coupled with the firmness to say No! The urge to create something extraordinary will sometimes make me create expensive pieces that no one will buy, they will eventually end up in the wardrobes. Some other times we will create pieces for celebrities in hope that they will help our public relations but sometimes the outcome is futile… but to be honest I have no regrets at all.
Give us a little brief about your work background and journey into the design world?
My love for fashion basically started when I got a job after secondary school working as a sales girl at COS World in Victoria Island owned at the time by Lanre Olushola, Wole Ogunbanjo, and Toyin Subaru. It was a clothing store and working there gave me a lot of insight as to how people loved and followed fashion. The customers who came there would always ask for my opinion on how to mix and match their outfits,they would eventually pay me a lot of compliments for my suggestions and from time to time would encourage me to consider fashion as a career. While at the university, I always adjusted my outfits and sometimes created my own style as well. After doing that for a while with myself and some friends, I decided to pursue fashion proper. I enrolled in fashion school after university and with a lot of support from my mentor Lanre Olushola I took courses that helped me understand design and the business of fashion. When I finished I started networking and making friends in the industry- from meeting celebrities to parleying with the media, the rest is history.
Have you ever been pushed to the edge?
When I started seven years ago, I was responsible for everything; from cutting to sewing, to going to market, to marketing the brand. It was beyond me to be honest. I almost quit. I took a hiatus and started applying for cooperate employment. I eventually spoke with one of my aunts; who she encouraged me to continue, maintain my focus and work harder, she said it will all eventually pay off… and she was right.
If you were in the position of power; what would you do differently with regards to the fashion industry in the country?
Creating a large scale production outsourcing centre where designers can go to produce their pieces on a larger scale, as opposed to every designer having to produce every single piece or designs they create would do us a lot of good. I will work towards providing stable power supply; organize fashion workshops and training for upcoming designers, empower the local production of quality fabrics, so we don’t keep running to China.
What lessons have you picked along your journey to these heights?
Oh, a lot. On this journey,I’ve seen many impossibilities become possible – you can do anything you set your mind to. I’ve also learnt to be focused, dedicated and resilient. Growing a thick skin is also very important in this line of business. Learning to love your craft and building the much needed confidence to sell it. For someone to thrive in any business at all one must be ready to work hard, be persistentand flexible enough to learn new tricks about the trade.
What would you really like the world to know about your brand and the African fashion industry in general?
Moofa is proudly a made in Nigeria brand; we create timeless pieces for fashionable, confident, modern and powerful women. We pay a lot of attention to details, our clothes are affordable luxuries. We have a design academy where we empower young aspiring designers to learn the craft and thrive. We also intend to start outsourcing tailors to designers very soon; something we believe will be beneficial to fashion houses as well as the graduating students who need work experience.
In terms of Africa, I can tell you for free that Africans are very creative, talented, and successful entrepreneurs and I am very proud that the fashion industry in Africa is growing by the minute, the spontaneity of the industry is mind blowing and we are blessed with a crop of designers that can stand side by side with any fashion brand anywhere in the world. I am proud that fashion in Africa has shown that you do not necessarily have to be an engineer or a doctor, or an accountant to be successful, you can be whatever you want to be and succeed in life. I would also love people to pay visits to our new showroom on 179a Isale Eko Street- Dolphin Estate. Thank you for your time.
You can follow Moofa on social media through the following links
Creative Director: @fasholaolayinka