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Aminah Condeh is a fashion designer and the brain behind Lumedesigns. Aminah comes from Guinea, but she was born and brought up in Nigeria and she eventually married a Nigerian.
In this interview she talks about what it takes to be a successful fashion designer, her challenges, trends and other issues in the industry.
How long have you been into fashion?
We’ve been in business for about six months but personally I been there for two years.
What kind of design do you do?
I do mostly red carpet designs, that’s what we focus on, but we also have our ready to wear, like everyday things that you throw on and walk out, for only female for now.
Do you have male brands too?
We have male brands in our store that we also push out there. They are more like the support entrepreneurs. Instead of going through the hustle of getting a shop, investing all that amount when you don’t know when your business is going to end, we give you at a lesser price.
What gave rise to the entrepreneurship idea?
When I started I went out in the market of fashion, I was with few people I’ve met and honestly speaking I didn’t want to go straight into getting a shop to avoid paying so much and because I didn’t know what the outcome was going to be. I was still trying the market and I found it quite difficult, so when I actually decided to get a store, I decided to help people that were in my shoes at that time that really wanted a store. I did the Internet business and most of the times the clients would want to see the products on ground; They would want to see the item before they could pay. Sometimes you have to take it to the clients to test-run it for us, if it is not working you have to take it back. So all those things really pushed me down. So that was why the store came about.
What kind of fabrics do you work with?
I do mostly bridals and I work with lace, different types of laces. I also deal with Ankara for ready to wear.
I think Ankara is a trend now. For me I see Ankara as a classic thing, a star, because it has been in existence for so long. Our great grandmothers wore it and you can inherit Ankara. You would think that the price is ridiculous but honestly you can keep it for as long as you want. What my mum would even tell me is that the more you wash it, the finer it becomes, and the nicer the fabric.
What are the things you can do with Ankara?
I make styles with Ankara. Mostly what I do with Ankara is patterns. There’s a lot of things you can do with Ankara these days because now we have Ankara chiffon, and so on
What does it really take to be a fashion designer?
It takes patience and God, and holding on to what you believe in, because there’s going to be so many things at the beginning. A lot of people would tell you that it’s not possible, for what your doing is total nonsense. You can spend an entire week on a particular thing and you get there and the client tells you that it is rubbish and you just look at it, but that’s her point of view. Don’t give up, that’s the main thing. As a fashion designer you can’t give up, you need to grow; you need to start from somewhere. I know that finances are a lot of issues for fashion designers in Nigeria too. When you start putting in all those structural things that goes into the cloths, it’s a lot.
Tell us your experiences as a fashion designer.
Honestly, I have had my ups and downs, good and bad times in the industry. There’s a time that I made a dress for a lady and the money she paid did not even cover the transport fare, and we had to buy additional things for the dress such as satin. Not just that, she had many demands, so I kept going up and down. She would ask for something, when you do that she would demand for another thing else. Anyhow, some of those troubling clients at the end of the day make you stronger. One of my motto is that clients are always right because at the end of the day, I’m just trying to design something to suit their needs and if she’s complaining I must give.
What is trending now in ladies style?
People are more about free these days. Those styles with long hands are what is actually trending, doing something dramatic with hands. Off-shoulder is also in, but I don’t like it when parts of your back bodies are showing, but you know body itself is fashion. It soothes, just use cloths to wrap some parts up, that’s what they believe, but for me I really don’t like that kind of dressing, it blocks me from doing so many things. But I know that personally I’m going to get to that point someday that I would stop some sort of designs and try to add my own modest theme to the world, because it starts with us. It starts with the clothing. Someday I’m going to get there.
Tell us about Lumedesigns?
Lumedesigns is of a different brand; we do our own personal things. We have exclusive female wears, red carpet wears, and dinner, assuage wears and all that. Then we are about glam for the female. Also, we are into other things like architectural, interior; we do delivery service and we also tailor-make cloths for special orders. The idea of the brand is like a one -stop shop where you can come in and get everything that you need fashion-wise. We have male fashion, accessories, clothing, kids wears anything you are looking for fashion-wise is in Lumedesigns.