By CHRISTINE ONWUACHUMBA
When she lost her all her savings in a fictitious micro-finance bank, Ugonna Ogbonnah, Creative Director of Ugoos Couture didn’t allow the financial setback deny her the dream of becoming one of the finest designers in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
Ugoos Couture is fashion house dedicated to raising the bar in fashion in Port Harcourt. As a woman with big dreams, her sewing skills are no longer called into question. Her designs create an aura of exuberance, with bright colours that add spunk to every woman’s personality. She is an innovative designer whose only drive in creating classy masterpieces is the comfort and convenience of her customers.
She spoke to Daily Sun at her upscale fashion house in Port Harcourt about her dreams and what is takes to create exclusive designs that every fashion lover can’t do without. Excerpts:
How would you describe your designs?
My cuts and designs are charismatic. It would be loved by all fashion-forwards because it adds brightness and grace to their attire. One of the first sewing lessons I had at school, I sewed my finger up. Who was to know that upon leaving school, I would start up my own design outfit producing stylish ethnic clothing?
What is the ratio of designers who offer such services, ready-to-wear ethnic clothes?
It is impossible to give an accurate ratio of designers who do ready-to- wear ethnic clothes. This is because almost every designer in Nigeria now makes ready-to-wear ethnic clothes. It is the in- thing now.
Do they really deliver what they promise, including you?
Personally, I deliver. My word is my bond. When I give a client a date for collection, I don’t disappoint. I will say that is one of the attractions of my customers. However, I cannot say the same for others I can only vouch for myself.
Does running a fashion house in Nigeria an enabling environment?
Yes, Nigerians are trendy people. They love clothes and looking good. A lot of Nigerians are fashionistas, so the environment is very conducive with hard work and determination.
Can Nigerian designers cater for the international society?
Definitely, Nigeria has some of the finest designers in the world who have proved themselves in the fashion world. Designers like Lanre Da Silver, Frank Osodi, to mention a few are capable to cater for Nigerians as a whole and also meet the demands of their International audience. We have what it takes; we are that hard working and can do large-scale production like our western counterparts.
Do you export your designs?
No, not yet. I am still working on that, though I have done some jobs for some clients abroad. I am still working on exporting my designs very soon.
It couldn’t have been a smooth ride for you, share with us the first time you got burnt financially?
I just got started and was convinced by someone to save money in a micro finance bank. I saved a substantial amount, only to discover when I needed money that the so-called bank was no longer in existence. I lost all my money and it almost stalled my dreams but I thank God I didn’t go that path.
What innovation have you added to the industry?
I noticed that every designer was using Da Viva to make patchwork on plain fabrics and I started thinking of using something else. I remembered the traditional Igbo wrappers my Mum used to wear; I then decided to use them for patchwork designs. I use it for jackets, skirts etc. People have really commended this innovation.
Internationally, whom would you love to dress?
I would be fulfilled if I would have the opportunity to dress Michelle Obama, American’s first lady.
How easy is it to sell off ethnic ready-to-wear clothes?
It is very easy to sell them off because they come in beautiful combinations. The colours are properly blocked, making it irresistible.