Allure Interview: Kemi Adeyemo, Fashion Designer
Lagos based Fashion designer Kemi Adeyemo, just last year, launched the Jane Uati fashion brand, after acquiring her first University degree.
She got a BSc in Biochemistry, from the University of Port- Harcourt and a Pattern Drafter and Fashion illustration graduate, from M.E Fashion School.
Now she is a year old in business and waxing stronger.
In this interview with Allure, Kemi speaks on her inspiration, lessons and achievements in her one year in the Nigerian business of Fashion.
What’s the inspiration behind your brand? How did it all start?
My mum has always been my inspiration. During my growing up days, I watched how fashionable she was, the way she mixed and matched her outfit. When she puts on an accessory, be it her “headband” “fascinators” etc., I loved it, and that drew me into fashion. The idea of becoming a fashion designer and starting my brand kicked off during my university days (University of Port- Harcourt) while I was in year two, in 2013.
The urge became too much, and I wanted to start in 2014, but the course I was studying in school was too demanding so that I couldn’t juggle both. So, I decided to wait until I finish my schooling to dive into it fully. I graduated in 2017 and decided to start, but I still wasn’t stable; I was shuttling port Harcourt-Benin-Lagos. I needed to be stabilised to start. So, I moved to Lagos on April 1, 2018, and began Jane Uati in 2018.
What inspired the name Jane Uati?
The name ‘Uati’ is an Esan name(Edo state) you would agree it’s a very unique and beautiful name. “Jane Uati ” is my mother’s name. I decided to name my brand after my mum because she’s my rock. I adore her, and she inspires me.
Who’s an ideal Jane Uati woman?
An ideal Jane Uati woman is industrious and creative. She dresses with strength, and she is a confident woman. At Jane Uati, we cloth you to feel secure, confident, comfortable, bold, sexy unique and classy. Our pieces make you not just an ideal woman, but you feel like it.
What’s your creative process?
My creative process starts from me doing my research, this I do all the time even in my free time. I research about the new trends, what’s hot at the moment etc. Then my creative instincts kick in, and I start imagining how this and this would come out if put together. I try to make my pieces with the thought that ‘modest’ is the new beautiful. I sometimes sketch to bring my ideas to reality, after which I produce my pieces.
What’s your greatest challenge running a fashion brand like yours in Lagos, Nigeria?
The light situation. It is horrible and affects our productivity.
Being in the Nigerian fashion industry, what would you say is the greatest lesson you’ve learned and why?
I have learnt a whole lot in my short period as a fashion designer/entrepreneur. I would say dealing with people is by far the greatest lesson I have learnt.
Before Jane Uati, I didn’t know how to be patient with people. I usually don’t have that time, but when I started my brand, I had to learn how to communicate and listen to the needs of my clients. I can say I’m pretty great with communication and managing people.
What’s the grand plan of your brand?
Jane Uati is focused mainly on making Afrocentric pieces to promote our African prints mixing them with other fabrics and making them look contemporary. We also do modern wears without Ankara prints too. My goal for my brand is to make it a worldwide known store, where you can get both Afrocentric pieces and contemporary pieces, at a relatively affordable price. We are currently working on our website and app to cater for our Uati women across the Globe.
How supportive can you say the Nigerian the fashion industry is of young designers?
There are lots of support I have received personally from brands in the Nigerian fashion industry as a young designer. I was opportune to showcase my designs on TVC’s wake up Nigeria earlier this year, that exposed my brand to a broader audience.
There are also many online blogs that carry my designs all the time (Asoebibella, Ankaraone, Ankarawoman, Ankara styles to name a few) these blogs has been a great support to me as a young designer.
There are also competitions where young designers pitch for start-up funds and are awarded money to support their businesses.
What’s your greatest achievement so far as a designer?
Seeing the joy I bring to the faces of my clients; it’s a feeling on another level.
How do you balance work and your personal life considering how busy you are?
Wow! That’s an excellent question; fashion designing is a very time-consuming job as deep thoughts go into it. I’d say planning helps in setting a balance, know when to take a break and to create time for the other side of life. Like they say All work and no play makes Kemi monotonous (laughs).
What do you do to relax after all the work?
I’m a movie kind of girl, so I watch movies most of the time, read books/fashion magazines.
What makes you happy as a woman?
So, many things make me happy, but the best of all is Fashion. It makes me very happy.
Do you have a skincare regimen and what’s it?
No, I don’t really. I love OILS a lot though, (Almond oil, coconut oil & carrot oil).
What’s one thing you can’t do without, as a designer?
The internet (smiles).
Who are some of the celebrity women that have inspired you in the course of your journey as a designer?
Firstly My Mum, as I said earlier because she’s a very fashionable person and that was a significant influence from childhood; then Anna Wintour, Diane Von Furstenberg, Janelle Monae.
If you are to turn back the hands of time and start all over again, what’s that one thing you’ll change and do differently?
Nothing really, I love all the stages I passed through. I am where I am because of those lessons.
How affordable are your wears?
I would say very affordable because we use only quality fabrics, zips etc. to produce these clothes and sell them, at a very affordable price. We offer affordable luxury pieces.