Brandan Nwaokike is an exceptional Nigerian fashion designer whose fashion house cloths celebrities within and outside the country. He makes clothes for the Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha and some celebrities. He set out by selling Okirika clothes, which he said he used to cloth big boys in Lagos. He shares his journey, dreams and challenges with GBENGA AGBOOLA, in this chat.
Tell us about Lapenza?
Lapenza couture, we do customization. We give you the design the way you want it.
What stands Lapenza Couture out from others?
The difference between Lapenza and other fashion houses is that I and the company have a heart of gold. I have always believed in being the best in everything I do. I have the belief that Lapenza Couture will be the biggest fashion brand in Africa. That is the picture I am carrying around. Lapenza Couture has not been around for long and we have already clothed politicians and celebrities of timber and caliber. Our clientele includes important world figures and personalities. We clothed the current Mayor of Atlanta, Uhuru Kenyatta, the president of Kenya and at present we are clothing Rochas Okorocha of Imo State. We also have on our clientele list, senators and some dignitaries.
What kind of designs do you do?
Our designs are called Afro-centric designs because it has no boundary. You can wear Lapenza Couture top to wear a jeans. You can wear a T-shirt with Lapenza Couture pants.
Have you been acknowledged by the industry?
Well, we have received a number of recognitions from different fronts. We were given Award of Excellence by Unilag. At the just concluded Fashion world awards, we received the award for the Outstanding Designer of the Year. We have also received Award for being Outstanding Designer of the Year from LASWAN.
How did you venture into fashion designing?
The art runs in my family, we are artistic family. My younger brother is a sculptor; he will look at you and mode you with little efforts. Another brother is an architect while my elder brother is into furniture making. I started my journey into the fashion world from Okirika business. Even with the Okirika business, my clothes stand out and they are the best; I clothed many big boys in Lagos.
Marketing is one of the challenges of fashion industry. How do you manage the marketing aspect of the business?
Marketing is one of the difficult aspects that if taken for granted, it could hamper the attainment of set goals. So, I am following the new trend in marketing. We are moving with time with e-marketing. I am a great marketer. To sell anything is not easy because you need to convince people that your product is good. I have been blessed by God with the ability to be able to convince people of what I have. The marketing is one of the soft sides but with God, we will get there and the whole world will know that we exist.
What was your childhood dream?
I have always dreamed of being a fashionista. As a child, I used to visit an uncle who owned a shop where he sells tailoring material. I have an understanding of the fashion industry from the rudiment, all items of tailoring material. I have been associating with tailors long ago.
Apart from designing, do you do any other business?
Fashion designing business is a jealous business. It doesn’t give you chance to do other things if you really want to do it well. You have to put in all your time and effort into the details until it is finished. If I will venture into another business, it will take a long while; by then I will have had people who can do things the way I do.
Bank of Industry has concluded plans to give out loans to the fashion industry; would you be interested in taking the loan?
Yes, I would. The fashion business is capital intensive; there is no amount that is enough to work with. Because of that, I have been keeping my financial record which is one of the requirements.
How are you giving back to the community?
We try to contribute meaningfully to the world with our one million cloth project to the less privileged. Our target is to give a million pieces of clothes annually. Although it sounds impossible, God has been making it possible. Last year, we had our fourth annual charity visitation at two homes. At times, two staff will work on the clothes we are taking for charity and that is all they will do for the whole day. We always start early, for this year we have already started sewing the clothes to be given away in December.