Allure Cover: Kiki Okewale – Giving hope through Fashion
Kiki Okewale is currently one of the most successful fashion entrepreneurs in Lagos. She is the CEO House of Plush Exclusive (H.O.P.E.) and Fashion and Kiks Couture; an exquisite fashion line which prides itself in clothing and styling services to discerning individuals with class and sophistication.
A brand built on passion and integrity, the luxury brand is famous for its use of exotic fabrics, good use of patterns, embellishments and blings to create distinctive outfits.
Kiki who holds a B Sc. in Business Administration from William Shakespeare College, University of Portsmouth in the U.K, an MBA from Ladoke Akintola University, Osun State, also operates a fashion academy for aspiring fashion design practitioners.
How did HOPE begin and what inspired it?
I started out as a volunteer on Seun Oloketuyi’s directory project, “Best off Nollywood.” I later worked and learnt the art of marketing and branding at Marketing Mix & Co, a leading PR firm in Nigeria, where I worked on such big accounts as MTN Nigeria, UNILEVER Nigeria, and some state governments, amongst others. I also worked and learnt the art of Public Relations at TPT and 001 Nigeria, where we handled Etisalat, Nigerian Breweries amongst others. I have a diploma in Green cleaning from the Green Cleaning Institute in Chicago and I was the representative for Africa, which led me to establishing plush cleaning, a cleaning and facility management business.
Fashion has always been my passion and first love. As I visited other countries and interacted with other cultures, my passion for fashion began to grow. So I took time to learn a lot about it and trained myself to be a leader in the industry. I established House of Plush Exclusive three years ago and Kiki Okewale Couture came a year later.
What sets you apart from other fashion brands out there? What is your unique selling point?
We are very particular about detailing, finishing, and use of patterns, embellishments and blings to create distinct unforgettable outfits and styles. The referrals we have had, has proven that over the last two years.
Your foot wears and bags have your brand name on them…
Yes. they are custom made by Kiki Okewale.
What inspires your designs?
Over the years, I took time to study people and how they feel when wearing outfits. Our designs are a projection of how you want to be addressed and how you want to feel. When you are wearing statement pieces, your confidence is just on another level. I let that push me to create our pieces. I am inspired by a lot of things and I do a lot of research as well. I like pushing myself and trying hard and unconventional designs.
You have a lot of bling accessory why is that?
The stars give hope by glittering and our brands initials is H.O.P.E. So just like the stars, we love to glitter, we love to dazzle and shine bright like a diamond. It is our own way of giving hope.
How would you describe your style?
I am a casual dresser; maybe because I do not go out much. But when I decide to show up, then, trust me, I will give them reasons to stare. I like to be comfortable in my outfits too.
You seem to like jewelry a lot, so which is your preference, gold or silver?
I rock both very well but I prefer silver.
What are the challenges that come with the business and how do you stay above board?
In every business we all face challenges. Our prayer is not to be swept away in it. Having a business in Nigeria is not easy. It’s very expensive, with so many bills, staffing and electricity issues. It is so exhausting but, we will survive and come out stronger and better.
One of the challenges that I face also is getting quality fabrics for my exclusive collection. When I travel, it’s always in search of quality, exclusive fabrics because quality is what my brand is known for. I can’t compromise. I make sure my customers get the best.
What is your beauty routine like?
Nothing extraordinary to be honest. I moisturize, cleanse and drink lots of water. I love massages and scrubs. I don’t wear makeup, except if necessary because, it has its own effect on my skin.
If I were to peep into your make up bag, what would I find?
Definitely my lip-gloss
Who or what inspires you as an entrepreneur and why?
I have always been an entrepreneur. As a child, I was always selling one thing or the other, even when I was working, I had my side hustle. My mum and dad were entrepreneurs and a very passionate one at that. So I learnt from the best. My husband is also a successful entrepreneur and supports me in all ramifications. So with this combination, the sky is surely the starting point.
What do you do to stay fit?
My secret is fruits and exercises. My husband and I, make it a duty to visit the gym every evening and I stay away from fatty foods. But honestly, I am still struggling. With all the work, sitting in traffic, eating late sometimes, coupled with pregnancy, it’s not easy at all. The key is loving yourself and if you don’t love yourself, work on changing it.
If you have to go on holiday, where would be your dream holiday destination?
I will go anywhere with good beach and night life. I still have so many places I want to visit.
What is your eventual dream for HOPE?
To be the leading brand in my industry, to style the who is who in the world and to be recognized as an international brand. I have so many dreams, but bit by bit, dreams will surely come through. I am so excited about the FUTURE.