Eunice Inyang, CEO of Uniq Couture is a household name in the heart of the nation’s capital, Abuja.
This dynamic and creative mother of three who is in her early 30s is married to her soul mate, Iboro Inyang. An epitome of beauty and brain, Inyang, is best described as a consummate fashion designer and has been able to distinguish herself by making clothes for elites in bead making.
In this interview with Effects, the Awka Ibom State designer and Chemistry graduate from the University of Uyo shares her experiences in the craft, marriage, and why career women should make parenting their priority.
What were you into before you ventured into fashion designing?
After I graduated from the University of Uyo, I worked as a chemistry teacher in a secondary school. Thereafter, I enrolled in a fashion school where I leant bead making and tailoring. I also worked in a fashion outfit for before I set up Uniq Couture.
Most of your clients are women, how has it been working for women?
Honestly, it is not easy working for women because they are highly selective and most times, some of them don’t know what they want. Therefore, we have to articulate our creativity to make designs that suit their bodies and they would admire
Would you describe tailoring as a skill or talent?
I was passionate about fashion designing as a child. My flair for the craft was discovered while I was in secondary school. Then, I used to create and design dresses on paper. However, fashion designing has been my first love. I studied chemistry not knowing that God had destined me to work in the world of creativity. My quest for survival lured me into learning the craft instead of waiting for government jobs endlessly.
How did you come about your business name Uniq couture?
I drew inspiration for the label from my name, Eunice.
What inspires your type of beads and clothing?
Most Nigeria prints like ankara are designed with creative patterns and colours; which makes the styles easy to create. Also, I drew inspiration from accessories that match a particular type of fabric, after which I stretch the desired designs for finishing.
You are outstanding in female designs; don’t you make outfits for men?
We make men outfits but 95% of our designs are for women and these include accessories like beads, shoes and bags. In our society, men prefer their fellow men to make their clothes and this affects our business, Surprisingly, women patronize male tailors more than their fellow females thereby giving male tailors higher rating in dress making without considering the creativity of women.
Don’t you see that as a challenge?
It doesn’t bother me because women make dresses more than men and the growth of my business depends on the women. I don’t have any problem with less patronage from men. But, it would be a welcome idea for men to consider us as equals without discrimination in business.
Are you saying women are more fashionable than men?
There is no basis for comparison; the fashion world is created for women. For instance, an average Hausa woman can sew ten clothes in a week, but a Hausa man would sew one outfit for a week.
Who are your target audience?
They are northern women. They adore decent dressing and patronize traditional attires more than other tribes who prefer western outfits. That does not mean that we don’t make western designs.
How do your international clients reach you in your hideout here in Gudu?
My clients in Akwa Ibom send their measurements and their materials, while I create the designs, sew and send the clothes to them. I have few clients in United Kingdom who provide mobility to get their designs delivered.
How do you get your materials?
Most times, clients bring their fabrics while I create designs from their materials. I also travel abroad to buy materials and accessories for sale because my fashion house comprises the tailoring session, beading line, accessory store and boutique for ready-to-wear outfits.
Do you train people?
Currently, we have two apprentices for every session because of our limited capacity to take more trainees. Maybe, when I have good designers like myself, I would be able to assign more trainees to them.
What vision do you have for Uniq Couture?
I look forward to establishing a fashion factory for mass production of ready-to-wear outfits for Nigerians and promote our made-in-Nigeria products. Also, we intend to venture into mass export of our fabrics even as we patronize their ready-made outfits.
You’re barely 5 years in the business, how were you able to achieve a brand within a short period?
I’m thankful to God for enabling me to actualise my vision and impart new ideas into people. Also, hard work, diligence and being focus are contributory factors.
Can you share some of your childhood experiences?
I must applaud my mother for her love and support. In fact, my mother inspired me into fashion designing as a child through our domestic staff whom she enrolled for tailoring; I learnt to do straight stitching with her machine. However, it’s my destiny.
Tell us a bit about your family?
My husband is Iboro Inyang. We met in church during my birthday celebration in Akwa Ibom when we were asked to stand for recognition. Fortunately, he toasted me after church service. We became friends and started dating and later, he proposed to me. Today, we are happily married and blessed with three children.
How are you combining your duties as a wife, mother and entrepreneur?
I’m an advocate of time management; I run a schedule that accommodates opening and closing hours and I don’t work on Saturdays. On that day, my staff allow me to attend to personal and domestic issues.
Critics blame parents, especially mothers for the rising social vices in the country saying, most career mothers lack parenting. What is your view on this?
Parenting is not a duty you delegate to someone. There is no way a house help or domestic staff will raise your children to your expectation.Oftentimes, some mothers chase career without prioritizing their children. What will you tell that child in the future? That you failed as a mother to give him or her moral values? Believe me, no amount of money is worth the problem any child will give you due to your carelessness. Why should you delegate your duty to a house help who would eventually train your children in accordance with his or her character and knowledge? So, we should spend more time training our children no matter our busy jobs.
In addition, I believe it takes both parents to rear children, but our society have abused it. Some fathers are too busy to execute their fatherly roles, some are hardly at home. Again, when you don’t spend time with your children, how do you inculcate those values you preach to the world in them? Fathers should create time for their children because a tree cannot make a forest.
How are you enjoying motherhood?
It’s a great privilege! Though, it comes with challenges but the grace of God has been my strength.
What has life taught you?
You shouldn’t take any opportunity for granted. The opportunity I had as a child was maximized in adulthood. So, always work towards achieving your goals in life at every opportunity.
You have a very beautiful and attractive skin, what is the secret behind it?
I eat healthy and drink plenty of water. Most importantly, I live holy life regardless of my shortcomings.God will garnish your physical body with beauty and happiness.
What does style mean to you?
It means comfort; looking good .Aside that, it’s imperative to consider fitness when making designs.
What is your advice to aspiring fashion designers?
Firstly, you must acquire knowledge to know the rudiments of fashion designing because without knowledge, you cannot stay in business.
What moment would you describe as the toughest so far?
I was depressed being a full-time housewife. It was as if everyone was ahead of me until, I started tailoring and owned my fashion outlet. However, I’m elated and conquering my fears.
In our society, there are some women who celebrate being housewives, but you were bothered being one. What is your take concerning this?
It depends on the individual; some women feel comfortable staying at home with the children, all in the name of being full-time ‘housewives’. For me, it’s has been hard work and building a future. I imbibed being industrious from my mother.
Are you of the notion that every woman should be productive irrespective of their career or business and add values to the family and the society?
It all depends on our husbands. If my husband had not supported me, I don’t think my growth would be this attractive. Some men don’t like showcasing their wives simply for the fears of either losing her to the public or she, surpassing him financially. However, my husband had the confidence to invest in me and I’m forever grateful meeting him in my journey through life.
Are you saying your husband is not scared of losing you to another man?
Why would I cheat on a man who makes life so meaningful for me? My husband is handsome, caring and dedicated. What else do I want in another man? Meanwhile, I must applaud my husband for his understanding. Besides, he knows his wife and it is imperative you marry your friend. Love, trust and above all, the grace of God have been the secret of our nine years of successful marriage.