Patricia Onumonu fondly known by her brand name Trish O’ is definitely a force to reckon with in the Nigerian fashion industry. From her teen years, her interest in fashion was kindled by her mother’s fashion merchandizing business.
Years later, the graduate of Philosophy from the University of Lagos, decided to follow her childhood dream, a move which birthed Trish O Couture, a brand famous for its unique feminine details and dramatic cuts.
Her brand has evolved over the years, with a good number of top celebrities on her clientele list, and numerous awards for her creativity. Only recently, the Creative Head of Trish O Couture, delved into luxury furnishings, opening two outlets in Victoria Island and Ikoyi.
Here, she talks about her undying passion for her business, life and more.
You recently opened a furniture outfit: what is the connection between fashion designing and furnishing?
Fashion is part and parcel of lifestyle. Lifestyle itself encapsulates everything about a person’s well being. It’s the totality of the being. Be it what you wear, how your home is or looks, the kind of car you drive, the kind of food you eat etc.
So I am in the lifestyle business first and foremost, and I have first expressed my understanding of lifestyle as a fashion designer; someone who believes that what you wear or better still adorn, must pass across a very positive vibe about you as a person.
It’s about that your inner good vibe that’s now expressed for all to see on the outside. So like it is said, you dress the way you want to be addressed and we help in no small way to achieve that.
That same thing applies to your homes too. The home must be a place you are most comfortable in, your haven, that particular spot you are most relaxed in. So like we have done with fashion designing where we have made a great mark, we have only extended our tentacles to another aspect of the lifestyle business.
One is about a person, the other is about the person’s home. So, they are both well connected, and we have thought to provide services of the highest quality for both.
What is the idea behind the Trish O Luxury Furniture brand and what inspired it?
Like I have already said above, one is an extension of the other. Both are part of the lifestyle genre. I started with Fashion, for which I have always had a love for, and I have extended to the next thing I love so much- having a beautiful, signature, stand out home. I believe the furnitures and the furnishings in a home can make or mar that home. What inspired it, is because I love to help make a home standout. So I have only invested in what I love.
As a fashion designer do you make inputs to your clothing and furniture designs?
On both counts, its a definite yes! I am the creative director of my brand. Everything made has my personal input or touch. There is a standard that must be kept and it cannot be jeopardised. The brand is renowned for fantastic designs, great quality of fabrics used and clean finishing. Also, our showrooms must be of a certain standard, all are things considered. So I am very involved every step of the way. So also in the furniture arm of the business, we are involved to a certain level in the production of what we sell. It’s not just everything that we see that we can just bring in, believing that it must sell. There are things peculiar to our terrain that we must have in mind or that must be well considered. Such things could include, designs, types of fabrics, colours, woods etc. So we have to consider such peculiarities or we can face issues when it’s to be sold. So in terms of such, we make inputs to our furnitures too.
What influences your designs?
A lot of things influence the designs. The fabrics in vogue can influence the design. The colours in vogue can influence the design. Also, the designs in vogue also is important, as we would then put our own twist or signature to it. It terms of inspiration, loads of things around one at any point in time, can influence or inspire things too. A customer talking about what they want can influence a design. People’s body types can influence particular designs too.
What does the Trish O brand represent?
If we were to just use two words to describe our brand, it is class and distinction. We do not in anyway or manner, compromise on our ideals. The Trish O customer is that one who appreciates good quality. So what we serve without compromise is great quality. In terms of our fashion brand, we make sure that everything from design aesthetics, to the fabric used, to the tailoring, to the trimmings, to the finishing are all top notch. We want the clothes we make to advertise itself on the wearer, such that it’s a added bonus to the wearer. In terms of furniture, that’s also what we represent. We sell only signature pieces of class and distinction.
You have been in business for over a decade now, how would you describe the evolution of your brand from when you started till date?
Like every business or brand that has grown organically, it is has been a gradual progression. It wasn’t like a bolt out of the blues. We have had to learn by experience and we are grateful for that. We started on a small scale, but we knew where we wanted to go; so we kept growing and here we are now. My affair with fashion didn’t just start now. We first started selling fashion items, that was years back. Then we were honing our skills, as we knew that at a point, we would get involved in production. When the right time came, we moved into it. From a little showroom in a plaza, we later moved into our own two buildings housing our showrooms, and then our production hub, which is our HQ. We have again, extended our tentacles with a branch on Awolowo Road, Ikoyi. So as we speak, we are at 3 addresses and still growing. It has not been easy, but it has also been great and fulfilling journey so far.
How do influences from outside of Nigeria influence your work?
My work is a fusion of romance, fairy tales and feminine beauty. The Queenly look of the Victorian era has greatly influenced my designs and also giving it a global appeal to women across border.
What is the biggest lesson you have learnt as an entrepreneur?
To be an entrepreneur and a successful one at that in our terrain is not easy at all. The kind of things that you have to grapple with, that under normal circumstances should have been provided, are just too enormous. But thank God that we are coping. We have learnt over the years by experience. Imagine that to get a dedicated, disciplined, skilled workforce, who are also very honest and highly focused could be a major problem. So, when you are able to have a few it’s a big issue. The other lesson learnt over the years is that, whatever it is you are investing in to do, you must have a good knowledge of it. You can not just be a boss, who is merely an investor, but you must know the intricacies of your business(es). You as the owner of the business, must also lead by example,. How you take your business is how others would take it also. So you must always pass across the right vibe or information.
What stands your brand apart from others?
The Trish O signature is unmissable once you have come in contact with us at any point. Our attention to the minutest details is legendary. We stand by 2 things we hold very dear; class and distinction. These are evident in the clothes we make and even the furnitures we sell. We go for the very best fabrics, our designs are very classy, very elegant, could be quirky. Our finishing is superb. The whole package is complete. Even our showrooms are very well appointed, for the comfort of our clients. All of these things we have mentioned, all combine to stand us out. Even our prices are quite competitive!
How does being a fashion designer influence your style?
I am first and foremost my brand’s mannequin. I must always represent the brand very well, and that is because perception is key: imagine the person trying to dress people up not looking her best or even trying to represent the brand appropriately! So I am a fashion designer that is very aware and also one that is on top of my game style-wise too. So as a fashion designer, my outlook, style portrays in effect, my brand’s ethos, class and distinction.
If you have to advice the government on ways to move the fashion industry forward, what would you say?
The fashion industry is revenue generating arm for any country and Nigeria is not an exception. I would advise the government to set up policies and regulations to guard against copy right of works in this industry. The government also needs to give us tax breaks and electricity. These are really important to moving the fashion industry forward.
What advice would you give to young designers who look up to you?
Stay focused, consistent and persistent. Do not despise the days of little beginnings. It’s not going to be rosy all the way, but your passion will push you to aim to be the best. Keep your head up and aim for positive outcomes. Do not let challenges bring you down; the most important thing is to learn from them.
What’s your motto in life?
My motto in life is “always keep your head up, dust your shoulders and focus on positivity”.