Emaeyak Ekaenang has always dreamt of owning a denim fashion outlet, but she enjoys her job working as an education consultant who manages the Abuja office of British/Canadian International Education. In this interview with Stellamaries Amuwa, she affirm her confidence in every woman’s ability and amazing strength.
How it started
I’ve always been a fashionable person, I love fashion. At the moment, I work as an education consultant. I work with a body that help students who want to study in the United Kingdom, United States or Australia, get admission into schools. I manage the Abuja office of British/Canadian International Education, but like I said earlier, I’ve always loved fashion so I had this nagging need to start something and the dream kept coming back. Nothing has ever given me sleepless nights like coming up with denim rev, like it kept coming back to my mind. Every time I tried to ignore it, I was afraid to start. I wondered if people would buy, if they’d see it the way I saw it because my brand actually works with only denim.
We make all sorts with denim, so everything you can think of. From casuals to corporate wear, we make them with just denim. The brand is actually set out to redefine denim. Now people see denim and assume it’s just a-weekend attire. If someone sees denim, the first thing that comes to the person’s mind is Friday, Saturday and all of that, but now with my designs, denim can go to work on Monday, denim can go to church comfortably on Sunday. So we make things that you can’t even think of getting in denim. People also think denim is just one plain, straight material but then there are a lot of lovely patterned floral denim designs.
At the moment, we work just online at addresses like @denimrev on Instagram and facebook, but we hope to have a physical shop by 2019. I also run a communications/event management company and I make paper flowers too.
How long have you been on this?
I’ve nursed the plan for quite a long time but we just started fully. We launched on Instagram where we put up a lot of designs that we keep updating and in my personal space, I have loads of denim designs I’ve been working on for a very long time now. We’re just starting now to show the world what we have.
What inspired you to focus on denim?
It’s just my love for denim. Like I said earlier, I’m a fashionable person, I have always loved fashion. Give me rags and I’ll put them together and it’ll come out looking stunning. I have this special place in my heart for denim, so I thought I could make so many things from denim which is why I just started with this. We have so many ready-to-wear shops everywhere but you hardly find a strictly denim ready-to-wear outfit so I thought if making a name for myself using denim and changing the perception people have of denim.
In this short period, what would you say has been your challenge?
I actually do not cut and put the pieces together, so trying to get my tailors to interpret my idea just the way I want it is one huge challenge. I’m still in the process of learning sketches, my sketches are not perfect so I just try to create as much as I can and I expect them to interpret and of course they are trying to, but that it’s not easy.
The other challenge is actually getting the right denim fabrics in Abuja because we source outside Abuja too but you discover that there are too many. I don’t want the same low quality denim materials. We’re looking at putting quality products out there. We don’t just want to make clothes, we want to make quality clothes, so getting the right fabric has been sort of challenging in a way.
Would you say it’s been worth it?
It’s fulfilling and definitely worthwhile. I look forward to getting loads of results. It excites me when I create something and look back to play dress up and I create something that is my size and I look amazing.
What’s fashion and style to you?
Style is a personal thing actually. Fashion to me is everyday life. You should be fashionable, you should be stylish, but I don’t follow trends. It’s better to be stylish because trends will always go out but style is an eternal thing. Style is you, you are your personal style so I’m more of a stylish person.
What genre of music do you listen to and why?
I love country music. I actually love all genre of music, just put up good music and I’m your fan. I love to dance, so yeah I like good music. I like music I can dance to. Our Nigerian artistes are doing a wonderful job so I love their music. I love reggae too. So if I’m to rate who comes first and who follows, I’d say country music comes first to me, reggae comes second, R and B comes and then every other thing. It depends on my mood but country music tops them all because they always come with a message.
If you were to rate tourist locations in Nigeria, which would be your best?
I have been to Obudu Cattle Ranch and I loved it there. I can go back there over and over again. I didn’t feel like I was in Nigeria, it was Christmas season and it was pretty cool out there. I look forward to visiting Yankari Game Reserve, but I’d still go with Obudu because I love cold. I prefer cold to heat, so I’d still take Obudu any day, anytime.
What would be your advice to young girls who want to go into your kind of business?
Don’t hold back, just start something, don’t be afraid, don’t think if you’re going to succeed at it. I’ve thought about this thing for a very long time, it took me forever to come up with it. I had to push myself because the thoughts of it kept coming back. I kept telling myself I need to do this particular thing. I kept making excuses too, so procrastination is really horrible. The result I’ve seen in this very little time shows me how much I would have achieved if I had started when I wanted to. So, my advice to every young person out there is; if you have a dream, please don’t wait, run with it. Even the Bible says, write the vision, make it clear, don’t just keep it to yourself. Put it out there for people to see, you’d be shocked at who would buy into your vision. So if you have any plan just go ahead, there’s no waiting, no procrastination.
What do you do at your leisure time, how do you unwind?
I sleep. I think I work round the clock and that doesn’t sound too good but that’s what I find myself doing all the time. But yeah, I find time to hang out with friends. I sing, I sing in the choir in church. I love to go to karaoke with friends. Like I said, I love to dance, so where there is music, I find myself going there to shake my body and dance. I hardly get enough rest as I should, so when I find some time, I try to get as much sleep as I can.
Where do you find yourself in the very near future?
I just want everybody to wear denim on Mondays to work. I want everybody to appreciate my brand. I want to be able to make people understand where I’m coming from, to see the picture I am seeing, and stop looking at denim as Friday, Saturday clothes. It’s beautiful, for some styles, it’s definitely for weekends, but then something beautiful can come out of denim. So yeah, I hope to receive as much support as I can get, I hope to make money too so from this time denim rev, no from any other thing. I hope to have denim rev bring me so much income that I’m overwhelmed. As it is, I’m happy already that I’ve been able to put it out there and the responses I’m getting so far gladdens my heart. But I want to see more responses, I want to enjoy more support, I want to enjoy good patronage and I actually want to look back and tell myself, ‘I’m glad I did this.’
Tell us a little about your family?
In my family, we’re very many. I’m actually from a polygamous family of 15 and I’m the last child. I live a normal life, to an extent I was pampered but my family is everywhere because everybody is finding a living somewhere in Nigeria or anywhere. My dad is late, my mum is back home in Akwa Ibom, I have siblings in Akwa Ibom.
What would be your advice to women generally?
Nothing is impossible, there is absolutely nothing you cannot achieve. As a matter of fact, we women are so loaded, the strength we carry is amazing. The power of a woman can never be underestimated. So, reach out, seize opportunities. If you find yourself in the IT world, make sure you excel at it. If you’re still very young, look within you to see that thing that you can do best and make a name for yourself in that particular field. If we were younger we would be doing better, because we know better now that we’re older. Find what you can do, there are women in IT, engineering, science and technology, mathematics.
Whatever it is that you find yourself doing that you know you’re good at as a woman. I think nature backs us up at all times, so just put your best foot forward and let nature back you up. It’s good to be yourself, it’s good to seek gender equality, woman right now are misinterpreting feminism and everybody is talking about feminism, even though they don’t know what it means. But then I’d say, discover yourself, know what is good for you, stand for what is good for you at all times. Speak up when you should. As a woman, you should always be heard and seen too. Try to look good. I see no reason why you should be tattered. Love God. If God is good to you, you should find time to serve Him. Whatever your father and belief is, hold on to the creator, and just excel in everything you do.