March 16, 2009

I want to be a household name –Estella Couture boss

By Ijeoma Ogwuegbu

Estella Ogbonna is creative director of Estella Couture LLC, a US-based fashion house with a Nigerian slant to its designs. Since 2005, when the company started officially sending out runway collections, it has been growing from strength to strength. The Nigerian slant to its designs is not far fetched, as the name behind the business suggests it is owned by a Nigerian. But it was a dream that almost did not happen.  

“I have been designing since I was about 6 years old,” Ogbonna, company’s CEO said recently in a chat with Daily Sun. “I still remember the tiny little skirt I made back then with needle and thread and subsequently, all the papers I doodled designs and styles on over the years.  

But it was a talent I never developed, because I was chasing the academic world and bagging degrees and diplomas all over the place because of the family expectation to be ‘educated’.” Eventually, the talent would not be ignored and she started ESTELLA Couture (EC) as a business in 2005.  

“That was actually when I started sewing with a sewing machine, and cutting styles. I have lost count of the number of runways shows I’ve been on since I started. I used to keep a record of it, but it became overwhelming, so, I stopped counting. But runways shows have taken me across continents.”  

Like any new business, Estella says her business has faced many challenges. But she believes she has a special relationship that has helped her.  

“I did not plan to start EC, I quit my regular job on a cool Wednesday lunchtime because I knew I just had to, I knew it was time to channel a new course for my life, and with Total Faith in God, I stepped out and have not looked back since then. And God sees me through all my challenges.” Despite the challenges, she says she is very happy at having left the corporate world to go with her dreams.  

“Confucius said “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” I am doing a job I love, and I am simply having fun everyday. Apart from the satisfaction of making people look good in my designs, I am on track for my life’s goal, which is creating an avenue to be a blessing to widows through economic Empowerment, teaching them sewing skills and using the benefit to sustain their children.”  

The next step for her, she says, is to bring her brand to Nigeria. “I was in Nigeria for most of 2008, to survey the industry and how I can be part of it, seeing that I started my business in USA. It is quite different there. And I am now very ready to return back there and launch my designs at home. The future for me can be put in just one sentence. Become a household name.”  

There are many things, she says, which keep her going and one of them is the effect her clothes have on wearers.  

“To me, it is knowing that wearing my clothes can change the mood of a woman. Transforming a woman with low confidence into a very confident, elegant woman is very satisfying. And knowing and appreciating God for blessing me with the ability to convert a fabric into a gown, using my creativity gives a good feeling. And of course, the glamour that comes with it is not bad. 

I will definitely say my inspiration comes from God because I have had times I made dresses without even sketching a style. Just cutting and sewing straight from the heart and looking at the finished dress later and wondering where it came from. Nice patterns on fabrics get my creative juices flowing. I also look at my environment and create from it.” Link: Sun News

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