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Adesola Adepoju – Giving traditional wedding attires global appeal

Ever since she launched her fashion line few years ago, business has been growing steadily for Adesola Adepoju, Creative head of House Jahdara. The designer, who relocated from South Africa to Nigeria years ago, has perfected the art of providing affordable luxury for every woman. With a strong eye for tailoring and fit, Adesola Adepoju creates feminine and modern silhouettes to celebrate every woman’s form.

At what point in life did you discover your creative flair?
I have always loved fashion, glamour and everything in between from a very young age. I was influenced by my mother who always dressed up, and my then Nanny, had a sewing machine which gave me the liberty to play with the machine anytime I wanted to make new dresses for my dolls. I was just a girlie girl.

Tell us about your growing up years and what informed your choice of career as a teenager?
I am the youngest child of my parents. I have always loved fashion and when I was a teenager, I went into modelling. We took a lot of family vacations while I was growing up and with that, I was exposed to diverse cultures that influenced my style a lot. I would always be the one my friends would call when they needed advice on what to wear. Sometimes, I even put outfits together for my mum. This is why my parents thought it was just a hobby. So when I told them I wanted to pursue it further in LISOF (fashion school) in South Africa, they were totally against it. But now, they are my biggest supporters.

How has it been over the years and how has the business experiences and innovations shaped you overtime?
So far, it has been an amazing but very challenging ride being a designer. I trained in Johannesburg, South Africa: moving back to set up in Lagos, Nigeria really opened my eyes to a whole new market. With our goal at House of Jahdara to take African designs to the world, it even becomes more critical because each piece of clothing from the brand has to be perfectly finished, go through quality control before it gets packaged for the client. What this has taught me over time is patience, learning to work with different types of people- from tailors, seamstresses, customers with different personalities and challenges. Running a business in Nigeria with challenges like light, fabric saucing, devoted and committed staffs is not easy. All of these have shaped me into one strong African woman.

Where do you get inspiration for your designs?
For me as a designer, it all has to do with my state of mind or environment at every given point in time. I could be on vacation with my husband, shopping in the mall or walking my dog. Not to sound cliché but I am definitely inspired by everything around me. For instance, I created a collection called “Gray Knots” while planning my wedding last year. For me, it was special because Gray there meant growing old with my hubby and Knots meant tying the knot together at our wedding. So really, everything and anything around me, gives me inspiration.

How would you describe your personal style?
My personal style is very easy. My goal is to feel comfortable with every look

What is the latest trend for ladies?
I generally don’t follow trends, what is trendy to one person could be a faux pas to another. When it comes to trend, I believe in US Vogue magazine’s Anna Wintour’s quote: “Trendy is the last stage before tacky”. I also believe that as a designer, we have to be original which is why I always say, “the trendiest thing a woman can wear is whatever makes her feel beautiful”.

Who is the Jahdara woman?
The JAHDARA woman is a fearless, confident, sophisticated woman who appreciates risk- taking rather than stick to the norm. She embraces and recognizes the value of being different, and standing out without even trying. She can conveniently juggle career and family, and still take out time to look exceptionally good.

What are you fascinated by at the moment and how does it feed into your work?
Stars and the woman form. The glittering shining stars in the sky, speaks a lot to me and because of this, I have been working with a lot of Swarovski stones, crystal beads and shimmery fabrics, which I use in creating pieces that accentuates a woman’s body. So at House of Jahdara, every body shape is key priority.

What is the best advice you have received as a young entrepreneur?
Focus and never look back.

If there is one celebrity you would love to dress, who would it be, locally, internationally and why?
Internationally, I would love to dress Viola Davis. Her role in the American legal drama series, How to get away with murder, just shows a very powerful, strong woman who though has her personal struggles, but still comes out looking stunning. And locally, I would love to dress quite a number of African celebrities because it takes a strong woman to rise to the top and maintain the position.

If you have to advice the government on ways to move the fashion industry forward, what would you say?
More involvement and support. I mean, the fashion industry is a multi-million dollar industry, which is now global as opposed to it being small and intimate in the past. Nigerian fashion is making waves worldwide. If there is something we all as a country can agree on, it’s the fact that everyone loves to look good. And just like Nigerian music creating a force, globally, the Fashion Industry can answer and create more peace than we think.

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