Salim Tahir Usman is a fashion enthusiastic and multi talented entrepreneur and principal consultant of Saffaz Investment Limited. In this interview with Leadership Newspaper, he speaks on his passion for fashion and partnering budding entrepreneurs.
What does fashion and style mean to you?
Fashion would most likely mean something different to each individual. Fashion is a fluid and that’s what makes it special. Everyone has a unique response to this question and when they all come together they are all saying the same thing. To me fashion and style is all about expressing yourself. It’s the first thing people notice when trying to figure out who you are. It demonstrates your decisions, or the manner in which an individual expresses themselves through aesthetic choices.
What inspired you into fashion business?
First of all, I would say everything about fashion is beautiful, the confidence, a unique style and self love. Growing up, my mom has always wanted me to look sharp and clean. I guess that’s where my first inspiration came from.
Tell us about yourself?
Iam from Kano State, I attended Grange Hill International School before proceeding to Islamic Training Center, Madalla for my secondary education. I also attended Baze University where I studied International Relations and Diplomacy before proceeding to Near East University, Cyprus for my masters in Human Resources Development.
I’m into various types of business like fashion design and furnitures. Any legitimate means of survival, count me in.
What are your fondest childhood memories?
My fondest childhood memories were when I was 5 to 6 years I think, there was this new game that came out and I really wanted it so bad to the extent that I dreamt about it. And the next day my dad took me for a surprise shopping and got me the game. Thank you dad and I’ll never forget that day.
Who is your mentor?
Before anyone else, the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) has been my mentor since right from time, then followed by my parents.
What’s your take on the new normal, sticking to facemask while at same time staying fashionable?
Well for me I wear face-mask every time I step out even when alone driving, sometimes I try to switch up from different colors to match my outfit. Some people think it’s crazy but just remember, hats and sunglasses once started out as items meant to protect the wearer from the sun. With a popular debate raging about whether ear loops or clasps behind the head are better, you have the chance to make a statement with your mask while still protecting others in style.
What have been your challenges so far?
Globally, I would say the economy has been a really great challenge for everyone and also the lack of doing business due to the earlier days of COVID-19 but it’s a huge relief now things are getting back to normal.
No regrets at all, I consider every failure as an opportunity to learn and strategize on how to bounce back stronger.
What’s your greatest challenge when it comes to measuring up with your professional colleagues?
I would say some of the challenges are personal but generally I am not a fearless person. The main flaw with smart goals are based on understanding of what is possible (measurable) and what you can achieve (attainable). They account for the possibilities and unexpected opportunities that arise when you start thinking bigger.
What makes you happy and sweeps you off your feet?
Well generally, I’m a happy person but nothing really excites me than setting a goal and achieving it.
How do you unwind?
There are a lot of great ways to unwind or relax your body, somedays I do yoga or go to the gym and sometimes, I play games, I also do soak myself in a warm bath while listening to soothing music.
What genre of music do you listen to and why?
I really don’t have a particular or favourite genre but I do listen to all kinds of music, whether it’s RnB, soul, reggae, dance hall and many others.
What is your highest point and where do you hope to be in the nearest future?
Over the next few years, I’d like to explore and develop my project management skills. In order to achieve my goal, I will seek opportunities to extend my responsibilities within this position. I am very open to whatever opportunities the future will bring, especially within my company Saffaz Investment Ltd. I pride myself in being flexible and adaptable.
What is your advice to Nigerian youth in general especially at this trying period?
I will advise young Nigerians to stay focused and disciplined in whatever they do. They should also be consistent and not rush for quick money.
How would you rate Nigeria in terms of projecting young people for positive impact?
To be honest, the atmosphere is not really friendly for young business owners, the government keeps making announcements about grants for young people but the beneficiaries are never in sight. However, I think the government needs to do more to encourage accountability of public funds for young people and make public the beneficiaries of these opportunities.
What Stereotypes do we need to change to encourage more youths to break glass ceilings?
I strongly advise people to watch for young people who provide tangible value through their businesses regardless of their tribe and religion and young people must continue to support each other in building their brands.
Level of impact from the work you have been doing?
So far, it has been very good. Saffaz fashion house at Katukoma Plaza, Abuja has been able to provide quality wear for every class of person. The clothes are good and affordable. We are making progress to partner with Made in Nigeria outlets to stock in the fashion house and this for me is a major move. It’s high time we start patronising our own.
Level of progress made so far?
The fashion house is always booming with guests who come around to purchase their clothing needs and give us recommendations and how to make shopping better.
What role have you played in the system to change the narrative?
I work with all persons irrespective of tribe or religion. I think this is a major step for me in changing the narrative and my doors are opened for partnership with businesses that have good projections.