Nigerian Wedding Vendor Spotlight: Hats Off To Milliner & Accessory Designer, IJÉ Shákárä Of Urez Kulture Taking Nigeria’s Fashion Accessory Retail By Storm
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Nigerian Wedding is proud to announce our first Nigerian Wedding Vendor Interview Series for the year 2017, whoop whoop. Every month we will be showcasing top local Nigerian wedding vendors, in different states around the country who have greatly impacted the wedding industry with their amazing work.
To kick off our 1st interview for this month of January, we connected with the mega talented, young, vibrant and hardworking Milliner Ijeure Ezebuike Onwadike better known as IJÉ Shákárä of UREZ KULTURE!
Ije ShaKárâ is a Nigerian Multi Award Winning Accessory Designer. The Creative Director for the Celebrity Luxury Accessory Brand, UrezKulture. The last daughter of Sir Ichie,Dr and Lady L.O Ezebuike.
A Sublime combination of beauty and brains,The veteran raw talent was born on 14th November,1984. She hails from Imo state and is married and blessed with three lovely kids.
The Nigerians Womenswear Accessory Market was in its Infancy when The Label Arrived and Immediately set sky high standards on what direction womenswear accessories should take, providing never-before-seen quality in presentation and products,prompting many others to shape up and literally, follow suit.
Often referring to herself as the wardrobe magnifier, Ijeshakara’s taste is impeccable,skewing towards the type of playful avant garde pieces that befits fashion slayers,she is one with a keen eye for business,details and fashion.
It goes without saying that the Indigenous Accessory Fashion Brand UrezKulture has been the most heavily covered African Millinery Designer Label on Nigerian Social media platforms the past years and this shows no sign of abating. Almost Two decades after the label was birthed, it continues to soldier on,having formed a strong clientele and Still remains an Illusion to Other Designers in Same Sector.
Unsatisfied with resting on her laurels, the Creative Designer of the Brand recently presented her Ss17 IJÉ NGÁLÁ Rebirth Collection which was inspired by the New millennium Fabulosity in high society.
She said the collection set the stage for an Elegant and Timeless Wardrobe for the UrezKulture SlayQueens to redefine African luxury to Africa and the rest of the world.
1. How did you get involved in accessories artistry and becoming a professional?
I remain grateful for every opportunity I am given to share my story. I would say I had a calling, to be an Accessory Designer. I started beading at an early age of 8. I used to make bracelets from all the beads I pull out from my mums blouses, I would also cut up pieces from my mum’s fabrics to make cute dresses for my dolls often entering into trouble whenever my mum finds out. One piece after the other, I took my critics very seriously And gradually corrected my mistakes and Here We Are.
2. Can you describe your first experience with creating pieces for weddings? How did it make you feel?
My first wedding experience was during my Dad’s Sister’s wedding. She placed an order for all accessories to be used at her wedding to be made by me, and boy was I elated. She had a bridal train of 10 persons, 30 friends for Ashebi. All her coral beads for the traditional engagement party. Handfans, hairpieces for her white wedding. I worked till I dropped cos I no wan fall my hand.
In fact this job opened doors for me. This experience confirmed a scripture to me “Show me a man diligent in his ways and he will stand before kings and not mere men”. I got so many referrals from that wedding that I had to personally call my Aunt to thank her. This job shaped my thinking and increased my resolve to pursue my dream.
3. What has been your greatest motivation?
My greatest motivation has been my desire to outdo my Last Creation. I say to myself,Ure what next will you create that will stand out and turn heads. Then I put on my thinking cap. All my creative juices come out to play. I love Showstopping, I-Have-Arrived, Glamorous pieces like no man’s business.
4. What project has given you the most personal satisfaction?
I had gotten loads of requests from craft enthusiasts in other states and countries on their interest in taking up my classes. I was happy to go round and my participants response to the classes were indeed amazing and they could make beautiful accessories at the end of the classes. Am glad am able to Impact knowledge, change lives and give back to the society with what God has Blessed me with.
5. What would you consider your businesses greatest strength and weakness?
My business greatest strength’s are my design aesthetics. They are unique to me. This is clear for everyone to see. Our clients can testify to this. Anywhere you are in a crowd, Our Pieces will hold Its own even amongst international brands. The amazing prettiness of my pieces keeps our clients hooked and always coming back for more. They are obsessively breathtaking timeless pieces. UrezKulture Pieces are A Collector’s Item. Also not being able to respond and meet up with the huge demands from prospective clients have been our major setback.
6. What has been your greatest collaboration?
My Recent Shoot With The Great Banke Meshida,Ceo @banksbmpro for My Ss17 IjeNgala Rebirth Collection was Amazing, shot by the wonderful @YJPictures and Modeled by @Oluchionuigbo and @Chyokafor
7. Who have you not had the opportunity to collaborate with yet but would love to?
Safe to say My mum. I would really really really love to have my Mama as a Headwear Muse for One of My Collections. Just that I don’t know how to persuade her to do so. Kai.
8. Do you have any events or projects coming up?
Shoots, Shoots and more Designs.
9. What’s your vision for your brand?
I intend for my brand to continually be at the forefront of the Nigerian Fashion Accessory Retail Revolution through an innovative product offering. While my main drive is to be part of that force that will take Nigerian Fashion to Greater heights both Nationally and Internationally, using our exposure and local knowledge. Also Having a Millinery Academy in place for young upcoming craft enthusiasts.
10. Have you had any last minute fail /disappointment? And how did you cope or overcome it?
Some years ago after stocking up my shop for Christmas sales, Armed robbers attacked my showroom and made away with every single product they laid their eyes and hands on. Infact they swept my store. They didn’t leave one single earring for me. It wasn’t particularly easy finding my feet after then.
I have enjoyed a lot of Grace and Favour from God. He alone takes all the Glory.
11. What tool is your favourite (for your job) and you cant live without?
That has to be my scissors. Without it I can’t make anything literally. Would be difficult to cut out shapes as required.
12. What do you find the most difficult part about your job?
High cost and lack of ready raw materials,incessant power supply,lack of skilled workers to mention but a few are some of the downsides I have experienced in business.
13. What are the most challenging episodes you have gone through?
Many years ago ,I had a client who asked for a silver headwear which I made and delivered as we agreed. While I called to confirm if she has received it, all I heard from the other end of the line was shouts, she hurled insults at me for making ‘rubbish’ she insisted I pay her back her money cos she was sending the hat back to me. I cried that day eh, chai. While I was on my way to the bank, I kept wondering what had ever gone wrong and resolved that I would never receive such an insult again. I promised myself that I would make the most fascinating Headwears ever from then on.
14. How has social media helped with the promotions and publicity of your business?
Social media has played a Big role in giving us amazingly great marketplace insight and creating more awareness and exposure for my Brand. Different Social Media Platforms Like Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Flipagram, Twitter and so on has been a wonderful advertising medium and we have had more clients call, email and enquire about our pieces.
15. What are your favourite trends this year?
I can’t really call it a trend but one of my favourite things since last year is the way Nigerians wave embraced #MadeInNigeria and #BuyNigerian Products and have re added value and acceptance to indigenous entrepreneurs like Me.
When I started out, I would walk from office to office, street to street without anybody buying anything from me. The ones who would buy, would do so out of compassion that this is like the 3rd time I have come around to advert my products. Kai it wasn’t funny oh. Some would tell me how they wear only gold jeweleries, they can’t be caught dead wearing beads, others will avail me with long tales of their vacation to foreign lands and how much they money they spend in purchasing hats abroad with known designer labels.
16. What is your favourite piece(s) you have created?
I make all my pieces with love. They are are all beautiful and unique on their own design and content. I can’t think of any favourite.
What advice do you have for anyone his or her business?
The fashion industry has come a long way. African designs are now seen on runways in top fashion shows in the world. Soon, African designers would have their pieces being sourced and stocked by reputable international fashion retailers. They should try and get their priorities right.
Stay focused, be diligent,passionate and consistent in whatever they are doing. Above all they should stay on God’s lane.