|Fashion Designer Ronibe Ekhator|
When it comes to discovering new things, am on it! Going shopping or taking a walk are one of my best moments for new discoveries. Recently, I discovered a young fashion designer whose designs are spectacular. I have had the privilege to wear some of her designs. This of course happened accidentally. A good accident I must say! Her sister was my roommate and I had free access to try on some amazing pieces that Roni designed. Whenever I wear her designs, I get the ‘wow look’ following the question, “where can I find that?” When I respond to the questions, people show the look of regret cause the source is thousands of miles away. I look forward to the day when Roni can get her designs across the oceans to individuals who have been drooling for them. In the meantime, meet her here.
Quick Background on Roni. Who is Roni?
I am a student of English and Literature at the University of Benin. I strongly agree with the saying that "looking good is good business". I've not always been interested in looking good. I think I really became sensitive to fashion in my first semester in University. I would buy clothes and have to adjust them to suit me. It became difficult to pick something from the store and just put on. Somewhere in my mind I just always thought maybe I could make the outfit from the scratch but It didn't come through just like that largely because the opportunity to acquire the tailoring skills hadn't come through. However because of my love for fashion designing I involved myself in the diversity of creativity. I got into costuming and styling of course using family and friends as guinea pigs.
How did you find your feet in the fashion design industry?
Sometime in my first year, ASUU went on strike and that's when the break came. As soon as the strike started I went home and talked to my mum about learning to sew. She registered me at a local tailor down the street where I learned the preliminary of sewing. Unsure of when the strike was going to end, the agreement was to go back whenever the strike was over and come back every holiday to continue wherever I stopped. I'm so glad that I didn't let that time waste. I used it to develop the skills I had always craved for. The strike lasted for three months, I got to school and continued practicing. I didn't have the need to go back to the tailors shop again. Since then its been fashion all the way.
What was the first piece you designed and who was it for?
Anytime I'm asked this question it always amuses me because I remember the drama that surrounded my first piece. It was a blouse and it took forever to make. I was just trying to replicate what I saw on TV which turned out very differently from the original piece. Compared to what I was trying to copy, it was a complete disaster. My sister ended up wearing the piece and even though she laughed loud when she saw the original piece she still rocked it and thought it was an amazing piece for a first time. I got lots of compliments from that piece and was encouraged. So I started creating my own designs which was an amazing experience, this time it was an evening gown again for my sister which she eventually sold to a friend and that was my greatest inspiration - the fact that I could make money from doing what I love. At that time I had that joy and momentary fulfillment. For a long time when I needed inspiration to design I remember that feeling.
How do you distinguish your designs from that of your competitors out there?
To me fashion is all about uniqueness and versatility. It's about finding a unique point. I call it the designers' recipe. Every designer has his/her own techniques but for me I use a blend of English /contemporary African fabrics to achieve my layouts. For my cuts I use patterns and free hand. My designs are always personal. I think about the personality of my client and the occasion. My goal isn't just to design a beautiful outfit but something that suits the individual who'll be in the outfit.
How do you get inspired/who inspires you?
My greatest inspiration is from God who created nature. The environment, people and their diverse cultures, colors and everything and anything that nature brings.
Who would you give credit to for your motivation and the pursuant of your dreams?
I have the most amazing family ever. I feel so blessed when I think about the oneness in my family. I cannot quantify the support I have from my family. My dad paid for my sewing lessons and my mum made sure I went to the tailors shop everyday she would also get sample fabrics for me to try every time she went to the market. My sister bought my first sewing and weaving machine and my brothers were also there for moral support.
What are your current accomplishments in relation to fashion designing?
I still have to spend time at school so I can get my degree, however I spend my leisure time developing my designing skills. I have participated in a runway show' on campus called "fashion challenge". I also spent a part of the holiday courtesy of ASUU strike working with Byge Collections as one of her customers in the Maltina Dance All season 7 TV show and on a movie set. I am currently in the US working on a project which I wouldn't want to spill out now.
Yes, definitely. Who wouldn't want to go international? Like I mentioned earlier, I am currently working on a fashion related project in the US. I intend showcasing my brand not just across Nigeria but to the world at large even though it's still a growing brand.
What is your ultimate long-term goal in this career path?
My ultimate goal is to become a household name in Nigeria
What should we watch out for?
You should definitely watch out for originality, simplicity, class and style.
Any closing remarks?
I encourage everyone to pay attention to their hobbies and develop their skills. In my experience what was like a big joke has become what I look forward to everyday. I'm grateful to God for giving me creative hands and for putting wonderful people in my life.
Special thanks to Ronibe Ekhator(ukoemem - Author; Ola Y - Editor)