Mimi Yina: The Styling Boss
Words by- Rita Okoye
Mimi Yina popularly known as Medlin Boss is the brain behind the brand Medlin Couture.
She is a Fashion Consultant, fashion label owner, and brand influencer.
The Sociology graduate of the University of Port Harcourt, UNIPORT, has successfully styled top Nollywood actors, music stars, famous reality TV personalities and dignitaries in the public, private and cultural sectors of society.
With loads of clients in the diaspora, Medlin Boss’ vision is to go global in the next few years.
She shares with Allure her business journey, and success tips, as well as plans to unveil her latest project ‘Medlin Empire’.
How did your journey into fashion design start?
My journey into the fashion world started as a passion; a fervent and certain passion. I have always loved fashion. Back in the University of Port Harcourt as an undergraduate in sociology, I would travel abroad on holidays and come back with a lot of designer clothes for my personal use and people would be like, “next time you travel please shop for us too.” I realized it would make a lot of sense if I could monetize my passion. So, I began to bring
clothes to sell whenever I traveled. I started with one suitcase and everything I brought was bought, so I began to increase the number of suitcases I brought; from one to two, then three, and so on. And that’s how the business started for me. Next came my first shop.
What were the initial challenges that you faced?
There were a lot of challenges. I have thought of quitting so many times, but I kept pushing. I know businesses come with a lot of challenges, but there’s one particular incident that made me want to consider quitting. We usually receive goods from all over the world. We receive goods from Paris, London, New York, Istanbul, etc; and I do luxury personal shopping all over the world too. So, at some point, we had a lot of deliveries that had just come from everywhere. A friend of mine, the Commissioner for Tourism in Rivers State, was going to celebrate her birthday and she wanted me to style her. So, I asked a member of my staff to arrange how the goods will get to Port Harcourt using a logistics company. This guy wanted to cut corners so he went to use an unreliable logistic company and unfortunately, the goods didn’t arrive. I lost a lot. Goods over 60 million naira. It was so bad that I had to start paying people their money back. The guy really messed up my business. For me, it felt like after all my years of hard work, someone had just taken me back to square one. So many luxury items, from Gucci to Prada, to LV. It was a sad moment for me. Everything came to a halt. I just shut down. I was always in my bed crying every day. I didn’t even know where to start. I just said to myself that I had to move on.
What did you enjoy most about being a couture owner in Port Harcourt?
The fact that we only sell quality clothing; Yes pricey but people know they’re getting value for their money when you go to MEDLIN.
What inspired the decision to move MEDLIN to Lagos?
Before I moved to Lagos, I was always coming to test the waters because I wasn’t sure if moving to Lagos would be easy because I was already big in Port Harcourt. I was scared and skeptical. I have heard stories of people doing well in Port Harcourt, then they sell their things, moving to Lagos to do business, then coming back with nothing. I didn’t want my story to be like that. I wasn’t very sure of coming. So, I would come, style, and go back. I was always flying the whole team (make-up artist, Photographer), to Lagos because I didn’t know people who could do that for me here. So, when people called me to come and style them in Lagos if the budget isn’t good enough, I will turn it down because I have to come with my team.
So, when I started getting jobs back to back in Lagos, I decided to stay in a hotel and people started coming in. At times, we would do up to five closest changes in a day. Then, I realized that Lagos is good for my line of business.
What strategy did you employ to attract society’s crème de la crème?
Originality, unmatchable quality, discretion, humility, and staying away from drama even, when it comes to me. My personality alone screams class and I know, so my clients see and expect the crème de la crème effect. I work with and elevate every client’s look to 100% and it’s evident. While I don’t change who you are, or force styles on you, I show you the best of what you want while suggesting other styles that’ll suit your personality too. People also love that their privacy is respected. I’m not one to talk about my client’s business outside and it has earned me a lot of respect. I avoid drama like a plague that it is. Come what may, my clients know that I’m not a drama lover and top clients hate drama. I’m not one to disappoint and the trust my clients have in me has continuously saved my place in People’s books.
What do you do to ensure you satisfy your celebrity and high society clients?
We pay attention to details. We don’t leave any stone unturned in ensuring we give them the best and by God’s grace, we have Governors’ wives, Senators’ wives, top DGs of banks as clients. We have loads of top society people in the US. Most of our clients don’t want us to put their names out there. People only get to know about the celebrities we style.
What has been the best moment in your fashion career?
Coming up with the Medlin Signature pants! We have an interesting part of the Medlin Brand which is Medlin Signature pants. It’s basically my good luck charm. That’s what gave me my big break in the fashion industry. The pants made people know about our brand. There’s something about the pants that people couldn’t resist. I love it so much. It’s part of the Medlin brand that’s so interesting. It’s our flagship brand for now. There’s no week that passes that we don’t get orders from all over the world. We already have people in all parts of the world that are ready to retail.
Who are some of the celebrities on your client list over the years and how did some or any of them become your client?
Funke Akindele, Yemi Alade, Omotola Jalade Ekeinde,Ini Edo, Nancy Isime, Kate Henshaw, Ayo Makun (AY), the list goes on.
Funke Akindele was one of the first celebrities that reached out to me, even before I became a full-blown stylist. She sent a DM acknowledging her love for my fashion sense and looks and asked if I sold clothes and that she’d like to shop from me.
Long ago (over a decade ago), I’d drive from PH to Enugu with a suitcase full of clothes to her set where I would not only sell but combine her looks and outfit for her; the same thing goes for Ini Edo.
The fashion industry is choked and competitive. What are your survival strategies?
First of all, I have a motto that says “There’s no need for competition because the market is big enough for all.” I do not see anyone as a competitor; that’s because I do me and passion keeps me going.
Can you share with us, your plan for the expansion of the Medlin Brand beyond?
The Medlin Empire is coming. We are going to be unveiling it very soon. Medlin Brand has different branches. We do different things; We are a sales brand asides from styling that people know us for. We do consult, we do closet changes, we are personal stylists to wives of monarchs, and we are wardrobe consultants to MDs of banks. So, very soon we are going to be unveiling what the brand stands for. We also plan to go Global in the coming years. I can see us styling Beyonce, and Jeniffer Lopez. We want to be at the Oscars Red Carpet. We want to style people for the Met Gala.
If you are not doing what you are doing presently, what other career choice would have appealed to you and why?
I would have studied law! Growing up, I thought of becoming a lawyer. I would have loved to study law because I love advocating for people. I also love politics; I think I would do well in politics. It’s something I would love to consider in the future.
Since you embraced fashion as your career path, what is the training you have undertaken to enhance your productivity and creativity?
Asides from a university degree, I’ve taken a lot of fashion courses internationally and locally. I’m on one at the moment and will still take more. I love education and constant self-improvement.
Which celebrity or dignitaries do you look forward to styling and why?
Michelle Obama; exudes so much class, shows, and lives like a humble human amidst the heights attained and is undeniably fashionable.
I also look forward to styling Jennifer Lopez and Beyonce. The big picture is to go Global in the coming years. We want to style people for the Oscars, The Gala, etc.
Who is a Real MEDLIN Woman?
A real MEDLIN woman is a classic and timeless woman, who is not defined by the status quo; An intrinsic sense of identity.
How do you find time to relax?
I hardly ever do if I’m being honest but the people around me try to let me be at intervals, handling work and easing my stress because if you leave me, I’ll work till my body says no.
Where is your best holiday destination?
I’ll say Paris because I’d get to relax and do my favourite thing, shop till I drop.