Busayo Salahdeen is the brain behind Bibire International, a brand all about creating timeless Afropolitan design pieces that meet the modish demands of the fashion lover globally. She speaks with MILLLICENT AREBUN ONUOHA on her competitive edge in the fashion industry, the impact of African root yearnings on her brand and the place of fearless in business among others
Synopsis of your journey so far
The journey so far has been interesting and I can only say that you are limited by what you think and believe in. Bibire has gotten this far because we have remained fearless in the face of the ever-changing environment we live in. Bibire officially started in 2013. Although the company was registered in 2010, everything was done on a low key until 2013 where we launched our own store with a factory. Then, we produced a lot of corporate shirts because there was a huge market for it and that was what the initial business plan was written on. But over time we have come to diversify into female clothing as well.
All about Bibire International
One thing stays true: every male or female desires to be unique in their own different ways. You want people to see you, know you, and realize you are unique. One of the ways to do this is to dress the way you want to be addressed. Remember Image is everything. When you wear something different from the ordinary, you cause chaos when you arrive an event (in a good way of course). Because the truth is, you want to be remembered as that lady or that man that made everybody go wow! So that is a common thing people have in common, including Nigeria and the US. But a major difference in the two countries is that due to being far away from home, Nigerians and other African countries in diaspora yearn for their African roots, that feeling of homesickness lies beneath the happy smile you see all around, this is why anything African becomes a natural. In fact, this is what makes the ANKARA print more appealing to them than other kind of fabrics
How do you keep and retain your edge in the competitive market in Nigeria especially Lagos?
As you very well know, we always take our designs up the notch by creating timeless pieces, and while we stay true to our aesthetics which is giving our customers’ classic designs that last for years, we have infused a lot of African prints into our designs and given birth to Afropolitan designs which are a mix and blend of cosmopolitan and African which people always love, both in Lagos and abroad.
How has the rave of MadeIn Nigerian goods affected your business?
It has been very exceptional. People love the feel of Africa and everything from Africa, especially the vibrancy and richness of the African culture that reflects in our clothes. In a very positive way, it has helped grown the business even further.
What is the place of social media in your marketing/design scheme?
Before social media, you had to rely on referrals from your existing customers or do advertisement in order to be in the face of your target market. SM has made it easier and faster for your business to grow in a geometric progression.
On accessing BOI fashion fund
I would apply if I was in Nigeria and I knew it was time to expand. I hear it is accessible if your books are up to date.
What’s your opinion on design theft in Nigeria in line with the increasing social media wars by colleagues in the creatives world over it:
I actually don’t pay any mind to that anymore because I have come to the harsh realization that the same set of ideas and inspiration come to different people at the same time, its how when each individual act on it that differs. Take designing for example, the first person to act on it is the original owner while others who weren’t as fast are termed design thieves. Do you ever wonder why there isn’t a trademark on clothing designs? Imagine a lot of people that would be sued just because they dared to dream, and they dared to act on their inspiration.
Are you a member of the Fashion Designers’ Association of Nigeria?
No I am not, although I attended their meetings while in Nigeria. I think I just never got around to officially joining.
Upcoming project for the second half of 2018.
We are trying something totally new to us that promises to be huge, but I can’t say it yet. I don’t want to spill the cat out of the bag.
Advice to emerging fashion designers.
Be focused, go with your intuition, it never fails you and act on it.
Read, Research and reinvent constantly. Lastly, fashion is a business, treat it as such.
What is fashion to you?
An expression of yourself and how you want to be perceived, it’s in the way you act, your mannerisms, the way you dress and want to be addressed. Fashion is simply being you.
Personal fashion signature
My signature look isn’t dull. I never was one of the less is more school of thought, so to me, more is more. sparkles, colors, shine, I am all for it. so if you see someone looking all bright, dazzling and vibrant, that’s probably me.
Beauty secrets and routine
I drink lots of water, make smoothies from fruits and vegetables and I am good to go. I also exercise regularly and lastly, mind my business(lol)
Prada (La femme), Dior(J’adore)
Fashion items you will go back home for, if forgotten
Hand cream, and sanitizer.
Black pants, a jacket, plain shirt or blouse and at least a pair of high heel pumps.
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