By Christine Onwuachumba
Fashion has transcended beyond the expectation of Nigerians and everyday fashionistas come up with different ideas and concepts on how to take fashion to the next level. One of such people is Veronica Odeka.
The young, amiable lady and ex-international model, who is the CEO of Vane-style, recently opened the first style showroom in Nigeria. She described it as a one-stop destination for other fashion stylists, editors and fashion production teams looking to shoot editorials for style journals. She is also providing select apparels for them. For her, this partnership will give designers additional opportunities to further showcase their work, giving them maximum exposure in the fashion industry.
“Every major fashion city has several showrooms where pieces are pulled together to ensure that designers are consistently visible to the masses, and with Africa visibly on the rise in fashion, we felt it was time to establish a much-needed style showroom of sorts with the same outcome. More foreign outfits are visiting Africa for fashion inspiration and cultural content; this is creating countless opportunities within Africa to showcase a designer’s product here and even on an international platform,” she explained.
Odeka spoke to TS Weekend at her showroom recently. Excerpts:
What is your vision for this concept?
Our vision has been clear from inception to create a lifestyle showroom, which would be the first of its kind embodying contemporary and luxury clothing brands. Our aim is to keep selected pieces in the eyes of the press alongside working with the fashion industry, organizations and events to give designers a wide variety of opportunities within the industry and consumer markets. We are here because I am actually opening up a show, a designer show that will benefit both designers and stylists including people who need to put on clothing for the purpose of personal appearances.
Did you go through any form of training to prepare you for this?
I went to the fashion school of modeling in France, I modeled for 10 years professionally from Paris to Los Angeles and when I was done with that, I went into fashion merchandising. I also took fashion styling course in London for about three months. I relocated to Nigeria two years ago and decided to start up my own styling out-fit.
What exactly is fashion merchandising?
Styling a fashion store, being a fashion buyer, I did a lot of press stores, buying and shopping for client and socialites.
For how long did you do that?
I did that for about three years
What influenced your chosen career, why did you decide it has to be styling because fashion definitely has different components?
Yeah! When I was modeling full-time, you know, you never really have a voice, you don’t have your own opinion, and you are a muse for designers to put something on you that really is what prompted it. I was wearing clothes for different designers but inside of me, I thought up different ways to put up an outfit. When I also went into fashion merchandising, I found out that people always came to me for suggestions on what to wear and how to wear them. I started designing, making my own fibers, sketches and getting inspiration.
How long have you been a stylist? Here in Nigeria, who have you worked with and who are you working with presently?
Currently, I work with Tiwa Savage and I have worked with Dolapo Oni, Elohor of Elite Model Agency, lots of Nollywood actresses, Nigerian Idol, and Project Fame. I have worked with quite a lot of people.
How do you source for clients and manage marketing?
When I came back, I started working for a magazine, I figured that magazine is the fastest way to get your work seen because you are able to tell more about your fashion sense when people see the images you have done. Yes, I will say I used that angle to establish myself. It was easier that way.
What advice do you have for young girls that would want to go into fashion?
I will definitely say you will have to learn the business, study it at least for a year so that you will actually know if this is a career for you. You can actually make a living out of this, and it is very rewarding financially. Personally, I know the satisfaction I get when I see my clients in pieces I chose for them, they are happy and I am happy.
What informs your decision for selecting the designers you have?
First of all, it has to be interesting .The cut has to be really good, finishing has to be immaculate, those are the criteria and the designer has to have a decent current collections. You have to be producing two collections every year, so that we have something new to show our customers whenever they come to the showroom.
Your career is still in its infancy, so far what has been your best moment?
This new show room. It is my best for now. It was also my biggest challenge but having succeeded, it is most rewarding. You know, it is one thing to think an idea and it is another to put it together. Having people buy into your vision and helping you implement it is most fulfilling.
What did you learn from fashion merchandising that has helped you in setting up your business?
Patience and following through with people. Also, establishing good rapport with people.
I guess social media also helps?
(Cuts in) It does help a lot.
How would you like to see your career in five years time?
In the next few years, I hope this gets bigger, I hope that people buy into the showroom. Right now, we have 18 designers, I hope to have a bigger space, have more designers up to 25 to 30 designers, as well as being able to employ more people. I also want to create more job opportunities for people that want to learn about fashion, to expose them to more opportunities, that is where I actually want to see myself in the next few years.
Personally, how would you describe your style?
My style is ever evolving, at least you can’t catch me with one specific look, however, I do like colours, and you would always notice that on me. I try to stay away from lots of jewelry because I‘m always working.
You said the best part of your job actually is the satisfaction you see in customers’ faces, now what’s the most challenging part of the job?
Most challenging is getting clothes that fit. Designers are always going to make things they like. Some of them have particular clients they want to see their clothes on. You already know that the average Nigerian woman’s body is not a stick figure, however, as a designer you have to design things based on the western cut, making it small, getting it right. So, clothes are actually challenging. It is the hardest thing.
Do you call up designers stating what you want? How does it work?
What happens is that on daily basis when I go home; I make phone calls to different designers if I have to pour pieces. I bring everything to the showroom, some designers have already signed a release, like I said some designers are okay with anybody wearing their clothes while others have specific events or celebrities wear their creations so we are very detailed,
What is your most priced item?
I have this blazer I love for some reasons. I absolutely love it; it can go with anything. It is just simple.