Allure Cover! Doris Chii Nwagwu- Creating Wealth From Her Love For Unique Headpieces
Officially started in April 2010, Doris Chii Nwagwu had no idea she will be that businesswoman who found a means of wealth in what she considers a hobby but fate as we know it comes with its agenda. With the desire to enhance the style of every woman, Doris created in a hobby, Omoge Collections, a millinery brand that caters to the fashionable need of women from beautifully handcrafted couture hats, ready to wear hats,fascinators,headdresses,bridal pieces,bridal bouquet,bridal hand fans,beaded jewelry and turbans which have graced celebrities and personalities in Nigeria and other parts of the world.
In this interview, the CEO of Omo Couture highlights the cultural shift the classic African gele experienced with the introduction of hats and fascinating headpieces and also on how African women have embraced both fashion culture as a weapon to enhance their styles in various occasions.
How did you start millinery and why the name Omoge Collection?
Being a creative person millinery started as a hobby for me. Asides “Omoge” being a pet name I’ve always had, I decided to use it as a brand name because in the Yoruba word “Omoge” which means Style, Fashion and trendy. Hence the brand name Omoge Collections.
What were some of the challenges you faced, in the beginning, trying to make people believe in your brand as a hat maker?
Like every other business with its teething problems, I had issues with convincing, first off my family and friends that I was creative enough to make a living out of a hobby. It was hard but I’m glad they came around.
How’s the experience so far having a business like yours in Nigeria and how do you think it would’ve been different in other countries?
Basically the culture difference. Here in Nigeria, we’re used to our ‘Gele’ so it takes a lot of convincing to go contemporary with the hats and fascinators.
What are some of the challenges you’re still facing in your business/industry?
An important one to mention would be the availability of the materials to create and make some trendy hats and not being available will affect production and chains of supply which might affect the costing.
What inspires you when you create your hats?
My two major inspiration will be God and Nature, just seeing the things around me can spark up something new.
When you started as a hat maker, how did you expand it to make it a structured business?
Being Creative enough to meet up with clients demands, making quality hats at reasonable and affordable prices, training, exhibitions, and shows.
What’s your greatest achievement so far since starting this business?
My greatest achievement since I started Omoge Collections are seeing my customers satisfied, that brings great joy, increased clientele base, recognition, and Awards.
What’s your most difficult time for you as a creative businesswoman and how were you able to handle it?
Having a picture/Imaginations in my head and trying to interpret and bring it to life, that can be really difficult but I try my best to get past that block and focus on what needs to be done.
What do you think of the Nigerian millinery industry compared to millinery industries in other parts of the world you’ve been opportune to know about?
As earlier said Culture difference, millinery is a borrowed trend in this part of the world and people are yet to place value on our works thus we get underpaid for it.
How do you differentiate your creations from other works in the market?
Our Hats and fascinators are known for their uniqueness in designs and most of our materials are sourced from outside the country.
How can you compare the millinery industry in Nigeria then and now, what are some of the things you think have changed and things that can be improved on?
More Awareness, now an average fashion conscious Nigerian woman knows she can fuse the “gele “ her culture is known for and the hat of the western world depends on the occasion and that versatility is beautiful to watch.
Who are some of the women that inspire you from beginning till date?
I’ve always been Inspired by my mother and some other amazing women like Folorunso Alakija, Oprah Winfrey and Ibukun Awosika mention but a few.
How do you find time to balance family and work with your businesses?
I try to put a balance so as to come out winning in all so I create time for work when I’m at work and family when I’m home or not working. It’s not easy to do but you have to find time so that one don’t suffer because of the other.
What would you say is the place of a hat in the styling of a woman? What vibe does a hat give your look?
A hat is the crowning glory of a woman’s look. When a good hat is donned, you’ll see Elegance, Classique, Regal and Panache, attributes that most women love to associate themselves with.
What’s your favorite piece of work you’ve created and how?
I wouldn’t say I have a special piece because I’m emotionally attached to all my works/creations, so no special one, no favorite.. they’re all special.
How would you describe your eating habit?
I’m not particularly a heavy eater, I prefer eating light and healthy.
How fashionable would you say you are and what’s your personal style like?
My style is similar to my eating habit, I aim for simplicity and comfortability
You have the opportunity to start all over again, what are you changing and what are you keeping starting back with?
My journey has been a learning process for me so far so I don’t think I’ll want to change anything. It has been a learning process that made me a better person and “Omoge Collections” the brand that it is.