Month: June 2019


  True Story,

She was an old friend. I treated her the way I treat old friends at my store, with fondness and the familiarity reserved for people you grew up with. I also obliged her request for a discount, an alteration and free delivery, why not? It’s only money and she was loyal or so I thought. I think I experienced my first feeling of betrayal the day I went into her store ( popped in to say hello) and saw a copy(a very poor copy) of my design on her mannequin. Her eager sales girl, anxious to make a customer of me explained that I could order the dress in any color and it would be made for me in Senegal where they were sourced. I called my friend immediately. I asked why she did it , she apologized and said she honestly didn’t think I would mind. She had sent her dress ( the one she bought from me at a discount) to Senegal and they delivered a decent sample and even offered to make the dress in other colors. It was an offer she couldn’t resist. I felt hurt, betrayed and uncharacteristically angry….I might even have raised my voice ( albeit politely 😂) . That season was the lowest point in my business life. What she did exposed my business to copycats and not just any copy cat but the aggressive kind, copycats with even more capacity than me. Copycats that delivered poor copies of my work and cheapened my designs. Customers were dropping like flies, sales were at an all time low and I honestly thought I wouldn’t survive. She didn’t know it but that single act of sending my design to Senegal almost ruined me. But it didn’t…….

Many businesses have been ruined by copycats and I was almost one of them. To be honest I think those who buy these poor cheap copies are just as much victims as I was. In my desperation to save my business and increase my dismal sales numbers I started making cold calls to old customers who had suddenly,abruptly stopped buying from me. One of these customers admitted that she stopped buying because she noticed that my designs, especially some of the pieces she considered expensive and “special “ were being worn by people on the street, very casually. She said she spoke to a few of her friends and they had noticed it too. Her conclusion was “ doesn’t Tomi know who her customers are? Why would she cheapen them like this?” Her words stung. I explained what had happened and her  response changed my life, she said “well I have decided to buy from another brand, it seems her designs are not easy to copy” ( I knew the other designer she was a victim too, but that was not the point 😂).

To survive this season I needed to deliver something that couldn’t be copied. That is exactly what I did . My next collection after that experience changed everything for me and 8 years later my brand is stronger and still delivering “something that can’t be copied”. In my online course I dedicated an entire lesson to how to deal with copycats based on how I survived that season . Copycating is a bigger threat now than it was 8 years ago. Creatives in all industries are vulnerable. The threat no longer has to come to your store or pretend to be a friend, your body of work is just a click away and the copycats are even more sophisticated. Why then am I so unbothered by them. Its because of what i know now. In a way I am thankful for what happened then. It forced my business to a new level and forced a shift in my thinking.

Take the online course “How to start a ready to wear label in Nigeria”  click the link ‘Enroll button’ on the site to start. Don’t wait to go through what I did, learn from my experience. And to the copycats I say “bring it on” 😎. 



When Cynthia decided to go into the business of fashion it was based on the overwhelming number of compliments she received for her unique style. It seemed she had a gift to somehow make anything look good on her. Friends looked forward to seeing how she would transform a simple Ankara dress code into a red carpet worthy moment. Her mum noticed it too and made her the official family stylist at photo shoots and events. Those were the simple days. 

Her passion for fashion was one thing, her sewing skills were also admirable. She learnt from the best, her aunt who lived with her had taught her how to sew as a child, she was clearly meant to do this, so she did.

She created a collection of trendy party dresses, work dresses and casual dresses. She travelled to China and produced them. Her friend had given her a few leads. The factory made 300 pieces of each design in variety of colors and prints. They looked lovely. She tried on a sample and it was perfect.

2 months after her return to Lagos her orders were ready and shipped down. She had decided to run her business from home and online through her website and instagram. Sourcing from China meant her costs would be low and her pricing competitive. All her friends would be invited for the launch of the brand and already she was getting orders from those who saw the pictures posted of the samples. She would be sold out in no time. Or so she thought….

The first disappointment came when she noticed that all the work dresses were a whole 3 inches shorter than what she expected. Then there was the quality of the fabric of the purple swing dress , the exact one she sampled and posted all over her social media Channels . The blue cape dress , and all the shirt dresses were fine but the blazer dress , her proposed signature design, was not fine, the sleeves were all cut small, too small. She began to panic. She called the factory, all they had to say was “sorry” they were happy to alter if she sent all the pieces back, but  she would have to bare the cost of shipment. She couldn’t afford that . She instead said a prayer and hoped for the best. 

The launch was a success. All her “fans” showed up. The shirt dresses did great, she sold 70 of them. As expected the blazer dresses were loved by all. But only 2 people could get there arms through. The work dresses, swing dresses also didn’t sell, “too short” people said . Too bad

I met Cynthia a year after she launched her label. She still had a store full of inventory she couldn’t sell but this time a head full of relevant knowledge of how to do it right. She stumbled on my online course “How to start a ready to wear label in Nigeria” and registered immediately. She said it was the module on production she loved the most. If only she had taken the course sooner she would have learnt exactly how to handle outsourcing internationally. Now “she knew better” and was going to give it another go. 

You don’t need to make expensive mistakes before acquiring practical relevant knowledge. Click the ‘Enroll now’ button on the site to start the course “How to start a ready to wear label in Nigeria “ immediately. 


True Story ” The Pink and Green dress from the Baby Shower”

Ronke was a tailor or was it a fashion designer? Somehow she couldn’t decide. She loved her work and was eager to please her customers. It seemed her customers loved her too, why wouldn’t they? She was charming and so creative with their fabrics. She interpreted their designs like a genius and was so warm about it too.

So Bukky calls with an urgent order. It was bestie’s baby shower and she needed a shift dress that was playful and different. Ronke delivered, it took her one week, Bukky only had to come for fittings twice. She was proud of this one ,simple ,creative and cheeky. Bukky was too pleased , she paid and left smiling .

So the bridal shower was a huge success. Bestie is a people person and her people showed up. There were so many pictures on IG and their hashtag trended for two whole days. But it wasn’t bestie’s bump that got the most likes, it was Bukky’s shift dress. She styled it with a pair of killer heels and got her face beat to perfection. So she did what any satisfied client would do. She added Ronke’s handle and hoped the buzz would reward her tailor …or designer (she also wasn’t sure)

The Buzz did nothing for Ronke. You see the fabric was Bukky’s. The gorgeous green trimmings she added to the neckline was a lucky find and hard as she tried she couldn’t replicate the dress. Her DM was full but she couldn’t convert to sales because she never planned to. What happened next was even more bizarre but hopefully a lesson for us all.

 So Ronke got frustrated with all the enquiries she was getting for this one dress. If she had a penny for every time someone asked for the “Pink and Green dress from a baby shower “ she would be rich. But she wasn’t rich because the green and pink fabric was a vintage buy from Bukky’s travels to Singapore and the fitting was made so precisely for Bukky it was near impossible to replicate. It wasn’t for lack of trying. Each attempt left her customer underwhelmed. So she did the only thing she could to buy her some sanity. She deleted the picture from her page and asked Bukky to untag  her from the post. Peace at last . Sanity restored . She was back taking fabrics and charming customers with her creativity and warmth.

Meanwhile somewhere in another part of the Country Tolani had just started her ready to wear label. Going through Pinterest for inspiration she stumbles on a cute cheeky dress from a baby shower.  Her creative juices started flowing. She got her supplier to create a batik design with a green and pink color mix . She went on Alibaba and ordered an intricately woven trimming as an accent for the dress. She made her version a two piece to help with the fitting and finally she got a curvy size 12 model to wear it, styled her in killer heels and face beat to perfection, she even threw in big loopy earings and an Afro wig just like Bukky. She made just this one dress took a picture with her phone ,posted it on Instagram,tagged all her friends and added trending hashtags.  She got her first dm ten minutes after posting. and within a week she had sold 12. The last I checked , Tolani had sold 150 dresses in this design . She has gone ahead to create other versions of this dress and it’s still keeping her busy. She now has the dress in 2 concession stores and on her Instagram page and website. 

Tolani is thankful to that lady on Pinterest that inspired her. But it wasnt Bukky that made the magic. It wasn’t even Ronke. It was Tolani and her ready to wear model that allowed her to anticipate success and prepare for it.

 So what is the moral of the story?

For every “one off” piece you make you have atleast 150 (unrelated) people who could have paid you for it. Your creativity is truly a special gift from God and it is your right to create wealth from it . It is also your responsibility to touch as many lives with it too. I promise you, creativity is not enough and the most creative of us have been frustrated into giving up because of the unrealistic demands of a Bespoke model especially if it’s not balanced with a ready to wear offering. If you are Ronke, or can identify with her. You need to take my online course “How to start a ready to wear label in Nigeria” and glean from my 17years experience in this space.  Click the “Enroll now” button on this site to get started  . I am eager to teach what has made Xclamations so successful if you are willing to learn.

True Story ” The Pink and Green dress from the Baby Shower”