Living a stylish life and impacting others’ fashion choices are two traits every fashion entrepreneur covets deeply.
Feyisola Adeyemi, CEO and creative director of women’s wear label, ‘Luxury By Feyi’ is the embodiment of these and much more. Having put off launching her first collection for 30 years, her exploits in the last five years are a testament to her tenacity and talent. To date, her designs have been featured in publications such as Vogue, Glamour, and a few other global fashion platforms. Luxury By Feyi has also debuted on mainstream stages such as the European Music Awards, the Emmys, the NAACP Image Awards and Coachella. This is in addition to having a collaboration showcased with Aston Martin London during the SS19 London Fashion Week. In this interview, she tells us how fashion started for her even while thriving in her previous career. Excerpt s…
Has the goal always been fashion and entertainment?
To be candid, I thought I would end up in the entertainment industry because of my love for Pop Culture, which influenced my decision to go the media line after the completion of my Social Science degree that offered two paths, one in the clinical field and the other in entertainment. This eventually led to an amazing opportunity working in radio at ‘Inside Africa Ireland’ where I rose among the ranks and got the chance to produce my very own show. But that still didn’t lead to much personal fulfilment. Moreover, even before obtaining a degree in the Social Sciences, I obtained a diploma in film introduction hoping to follow that path to be a movie director or a producer, but along the line, I discovered that wasn’t really fulfilling for me. This was in addition to another diploma in Public Relations which also didn’t feel right to me. But I never knew it was going to be fashion. Don’t get me wrong, I knew I had a deep passion for fashion but it took me until my adulthood to come to terms with the fact that I could turn my passion into a full-time business and earn a living.
You certainly have come a long way. In the five years that your fashion outfit has existed, you’ve made quite the impact, getting recognition and mentions on quality platforms. How did you achieve that, what’s the secret to your success?
I understand getting my brand featured in Vogue, debuting on mainstream stages such as NAACP Image Awards, Emmys, MTV European Awards, Coachella and even a collaboration showcase with Aston Martin London during the London Fashion Week is a big achievement within the short period of five years, but it’s all been through hard-work, resilience, not limiting myself and work, and an unwillingness to quit. Most importantly also, the secret to my success has been getting my fashion brand building structure right, which includes, brand identity, brand mapping (positioning), brand purpose and more.
When you decided to try fashion, what was the first thing you did?
I started a fashion blog ‘SimplyGlamorousFashion’. It started out as styling content, covering celebrity fashion, and it grew so much in popularity that I got the opportunity to travel to cover red carpet fashion. From that point, my inbox and comments started flooding with people seeking fashion tips and consultations. The signs could not have been clearer to me that I needed to leverage the connections and launch my first collection.
Since you switched careers, any regrets, and which is also more challenging?
No, no regrets at all. I feel more fulfilled now than ever. Aside from having a bigger bank account, I also have the opportunity to impact people by using my brand to create a voice for women and the younger female generation, particularly of African descent, not to limit themselves but break boundaries and be the best version of themselves globally. Of course, being a fashion entrepreneur is more challenging because it takes a whole lot from me physically, spiritually, emotionally, and financially.
Would you say fashion is a profitable venture, compared to the other industries where you’ve worked?
I think this depends on individual preference and your purpose in life. Personally, yes, fashion is a profitable venture for me compared to the other industries have worked in because asides from a much bigger bank account, it also gives me joy to be able to impact the community at large with my creativity without limitation. It took me a while to find a fulfilling career that gives me the platform to fully showcase personal fulfilment and my purpose in life. So for me to have the opportunity to make an impact while making an income is more profitable to me than any other venture. Also, nothing beats being your own boss.
Who is your biggest cheerleader and supporter?
I am my biggest cheerleader, but my husband is my biggest supporter.
With ttheCOVID-19 pandemic in play, social media and e-commerce have become the new market place. Is your business tech-compliant?
Oh yes, we started off as an e-commerce brand so we didn’t really need much change on how we operate. Our Masterclass tagged ‘The Unstoppable Fashionista Brand Building’ where I teach about fashion branding is a digital training class and has even been scheduled before the spread of the COVID-19. It was just a coincidence that our timing falls into the lockdown period.
Would you say that the Nigerian fashion industry is measuring up to the rest of the world?
We are not there yet, but we are not doing badly either. The necessary structure to aid in building a professional fashion brand needs to be visible in Nigeria. The Nigerian fashion industry need a not-for-profit governmental Fashion Council Organisation, just like the British Fashion Council, and Council of Fashion Designers of America that would harness the collective power of the industry to enable sustainable growth and strengthen Nigerian fashion in the global fashion economy. The Organisation would be responsible for promoting and launching both leading and up and coming Nigerian designers into the global market.
Consequently, the industry and Nigerians, in general, would be able to differentiate between a professional tailor and a designer, a bead worker from a pattern cutter and more. But I believe we will eventually get there at some point, as long as we keep pushing.
If you were to make a different choice from being a fashion entrepreneur, what other careers would you consider?
I think that would be owning a restaurant because I love cooking.
A lot more women today cultivate multiple streams of income. In your assessment, why is that?
Multiple streams of income serve as protection against uncertainty and also helps you build your skills. More so, the more income streams you have, the easier it is to recover if one of them goes away.
What can we look forward to from Luxury by Feyi?
Having a much bigger presence in the Nigeria market and other fashion capital cities like Milan and Paris that we haven’t really made huge impact. We are grateful, we’ve been able to penetrate the United Kingdom and American market. Also, we are working on getting our ‘Unstoppable Fashionista Brand Building’ masterclass much bigger visibility to attract more audience.
Who are your role models?
Honestly, I don’t really have a role model, but as a storyteller, I find inspiration from nature, cultural values, personal stories and surrealist art pieces from creatives such as Andy Warhol, Alexander McQueen, Elli Saab and Stephane Rolland.
What is it that you believe a person must possess to be a success, and what makes that quality so important?
Positive attitude and perseverance. One needs to possess a realistic optimism because you have to be able to take action and be optimistic no matter what the result may be. Your mindset must be built around the belief that your success is inevitable. This positive attitude allows you to persevere and be resilient when things don’t go your way.
Do you have any plan to diversify?
Of course yes, that is one of the reasons I’m back in university for another degree. As the perfectionist that I am, I don’t like taking shortcuts, I like doing things accordingly and I believe for me to achieve the height that I’m aiming at as an artist I need to have a wide range of intellectual skills in generating and developing the idea needed to get there.
I just finished a two-year diploma program in Art and Design, which I’m aiming to use to pursue a Fine Arts degree at the University of Oxford come September 2020, because I see myself more as a surrealist artist than just an ordinary designer. And for me, ideas and concepts are the core of all creative art and design world, while imagination, innovation and intuition in the vocational world of art and design are crucial for practitioners to create successful artworks, designs, and products.