‘I used to win weird awards, Miss Manicure, Miss Hot legs…’
‘My parent’s tough love has something to do with my successes’
Just six years as a designer, the name Ejiro Amos Tafiri is fast spreading like wild fire in local and international fashion shows. Her parents and teachers have marked her to become a medical doctor because of her brilliance in basic sciences. She shocked everyone when she opted for fashion designing. Her parents were hard on her; she did not bulge but vowed to excel as a designer. She gained admission to Yaba College of Technology where she studied Fashion designing and eventually graduated obtaining a Distinction as well as the Best Student award. Aside her Ikoyi store, she recently opened her second shop that comprises Atelier room of bespoke clothes and a fashion school in highbrow area of Ikeja . She also graduated her first set of fashion students. Speaking with Effects, she tells you how she switched to fashion and how it has been and her lifestyle.
Your name has gone viral in Nigeria fashion, at what point did you decide to become a fashion designer?
It all started in my SS1, when I went to Yaba College of Technology on an excursion from my school, Queens College Yaba. We went to the fashion section and I said, oh my God, so something like this exists, where I could do what I love. My background was in sciences. My parents thought I would become a doctor or an Engineer but that day, I discovered fashion and freedom to create. From there, I nurse the desire to become a designer. It was tough getting my parents to come around to like it, it was really hectic but they finally allowed me to do it. I now vouch to make them proud and be the best I could be so that they would not regret allowing me to study fashion. After secondary school, I gained admission to Yaba College of Technology. I made sure I didn’t pass my JAMB to do medicine so that I could take Poly Jamb and I filled fashion designing. My parents were not happy about it. I got admitted and they let me go.
As a successful designer , how do your parents feel now?
They are proud now. My mum also works in my company now after she retired from the government, as an immigration officer. She now works as the Human Resources of the company. We have 30 staffs here. Initially, it wasn’t; easy. My dad showed me tough love. He told me one day that I can’t continue running my business from the house, I had to run to one of my family friends who gave me two shops to use by the roadside around Ikotun area. It was a tiny place. That also made me work hard and look for clients. I’m very appreciative of the tough love, because if they didn’t push me that hard, I wouldn’t have gone out to become who I am. Even my teachers in Queens College were not happy. Everyone just thought or assume I would go to University of Lagos, University of Ibadan, or Obafemi Awolowo University and study medicine. I had never heard of Yaba Tech until that excursion day. I’m sure my parents would have cursed the day I went on that excursion. (She laughs)
In Queens College, were you popular among your classmates?
No. I was more like a rebel. I had long nails. I usually kept my nails. I worked so hard with my hands so I don’t keep my nails. I used to win those weird awards, Miss Manicure, Miss Hot legs and I was my Dormitory captain. If I want to give someone birthday gift, I will make the gift myself. I probably paint a picture, frame it with a broken louvers, I will sharpen it. I did funny things. They must have known me as that girl that was a bit weird. My classmates knew that I like clothing and textiles, so they are not so surprised.
Tell us more about your graduands in the fashion school?
We launched our Ikeja office, which comprises of the shop and Atelier room of bespoke clothes and the school. This is our second shop in Lagos and our first school. We are graduating our first sets of grad ands from our introductory course and we want people to come and celebrate with us. We have two different courses; we have introductory fashion course and a foundational fashion business school. The introductory, helps people discover fashion in its lowest form. e.g. what does fashion mean, what is fashion illustration etc. they get to understand the basic of fashion. Learn how to make simple skirt, understand what it means to make clothes. I believe a lot of people dabble into fashion without being sure of what they want because it’s very attractive these days. Everyone like fashion but not everyone can be a dressmaker or a fashion designer because it’s not an easy job, it’s tasking, and it’s tedious. So, when you have that idea and you think, you want to continue, we now open up a foundational business course to you, which kind of ground you in all things fashion and fashion business from our own perspective being that we’ve grown organic very strong grassroots and we have become like an established brand in Nigeria. We want to empower young Nigerians and show them that it is possible to do this without having come from an affluent social background or have the right connection of friends.
What’s fashion for you?
Fashion for me is a way of life. I have this gift to create; to make clothes and when I make nice clothes it makes people happy. It’s my own way of being of service to humanity. The gift that God has given me to make people happy. I like to be comfortable, I think its because I’m constantly on the move. I dress for the occasion. If I’m at work, I dress down. I could wear short knickers; I like short knickers because they are comfortable. Going out, I put on the whole Ejiro Amos Tafiri Paraphernalia. I dress the way Ejiro Amos Tafiri woman would be seen. Most of the time, I’m very heavy on comfort; I’m very heavy on organic fabric for our weather. Not something that has too much polyester because it’s hot, you might sweat, I’m cautious of those little details. I like clothes that make me feel like princesses. It depends on where I’m going. If I’m going to church I dress like a queen, if I’m going to be in my office I dress down, it depends on Ejiro Amos Tafiri and what day you catch her.
What is it that you cannot wear?
I’m very open-minded when it comes to clothes. I dress to make myself happy. I don’t dress for people’s opinion or what they think or how they feel. I could dress sexy sometimes but at the right place with the right people. If I’m going to the beach I dress appropriately, if I’m going to a party, I dress appropriately. I can’t think of anything that I won’t wear. But you can’t see me wear leggings and wear a crop top.
You said you love power bike, why?
I like power bike, because it’s fast, strong, and good to control. I can’t ride yet. I must have power bike. I have bothered my fiancée so much; he has given up talking me out of it. I will buy everything for the safety. I’m waiting till when I have money. I love my life and I value my parents, all the money my parents spent on me, all the people that depend on me, so I won’t just go and kill myself because I want to have fun.