“Tailoring, to me, is a passion, not just a job. It is a career where your creativity and imagination play an important role in your productivity.”
Ibukun Toluwase Omonehin (nee Obanure), a Kogi State-based CEO of a tailoring outfit, IBK Millennium Fashions, is a young woman who, very early enough, knew her mission in life and was determined to actualise her dream. At the tender age of 15, she had mastered the art of sewing, a trade she learnt from her mother. Rather than seeking for the now almost non-existing white-collar job after her university education, she took a plunge into the world of entrepreneurship where she is making a name as a tailor. She speaks to Newscoven.ng on her profession, her passion.
Who is Ibukun Toluwase Omonehin (Nee Obanure)?
I am a young woman, a Nigerian who believes that the sky is the starting point for anybody who is of the strong conviction that the world is there for him or her to conquer. I am from Iyara Ijumu Local Government, Kogi State. I started my primary school education at Heritage International School, Egbe, Kogi State.
Thereafter, I attended Heritage College, Egbe and CHS, Iyara, both in Kogi State, for my secondary school education. From there, I proceeded to Kogi State University where I obtained Diploma in Accounting and I later gained admission to study Economics at Federal University Lokoja, Kogi State. I just completed my mandatory one year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme recently.
How did you feel serving your fatherland as a youth corps member?
I felt great and fulfilled serving my fatherland. It was a year I got certified, not only by serving my country, but also serving myself as I gained some knowledge too. I made new friends during the course of my service year. The journey of serving my fatherland through the NYSC scheme is done, but service to humanity continues.
You are a young married woman. What informed your early marriage?
Truly, I was still in school when I got married but I was emotionally and mentally ready, and that was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life.
How were you able to combine your roles as a wife and mother with being a youth corps member and also with your work as a tailor?
Really, it wasn’t a roller coaster, but I thank God for giving me a supportive husband who understood the assignment so well. I am also grateful to my Local Goverment Inspector (LGI) who helped me with a good Place of Primary Assignment (PPA) where I was given some time off because I trained some youth corps members in Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Department (SAED) programmes.
Also, the people working with me were so committed and hardworking. They managed the business so well that my absence were not felt. I only handled dispatchs and attended to customers, both online and offline.
Growing up, did you ever dream of paid employment?
Oh, yes. I have always believed in getting a white-collar job after my education, but the narrative has changed now. All my efforts now are concentrated on how to expand my business and employ more people to work with me.
What informed your choice of profession as a tailor and at what age did you make up your mind to go into the profession?
I was born into the profession. I was born by a mother who is still a practising tailor. I grew up assisting her after school. At age 15, I was already sewing on my own.
Why did you opt for sewing male clothings, instead of making clothes for your fellow women?
I was sewing for women when I was working with my mother. I stopped it because it is stressful and non-profitable in this locality. Women tends to bring sophisticated styles which are time-consuming with poor monetary offer in return, while men’s styles are straightforward. The time I will use to sew one woman’s outfit, I would have used it to sew three kaftans for a man.
Did you ever feel intimidated finding yourself in a male-dominated profession?
No. I don’t feel intimidated. Rather, it has helped to boost my confidence. However, most men feel awkward for a woman to sew for them because they have this mentality that women cannot sew their clothes well or meet their satisfaction.
Which one did you find more profitable, sewing for men or women?
It is more profitable and economical to sew for men because it cost more to buy accessories to make beautiful and sophisticated clothes for women. But it doesn’t cost more much to make beautiful and smart clothes for men. Also, it is less time consuming. Men are easily satisfied than women who will take notes of every details.
Have you ever been sexually embarrassed as a female tailor and how did you handle such a situation?
If you had not been a tailor, what other career path would you have taken?
I would have built a career around my field of study, but I wouldn’t have function best. People perform better when they enjoy what they are doing and every individual has their own inherent skills and abilities to do what they can do effortlessly.
Tailoring, to me, is a passion, not just a job. It is a career where your creativity and imagination play an important role in your productivity. Moreover, I have always wanted to be my own boss. It is not an easy path, but I have no regrets that I chose it.
How supportive is your husband of your dream and growth as a tailor?
My husband has been so supportive and understanding. He wants my happiness and so he allows me to do whatever will makes me happy. He helps with dispatch and other runnings of the business whenever I am not available.
Did you find fulfilment in what you are doing presently?
My love for fashion and looking stylish started off as a child. Over the years, this love has become a passion for me. I am making money out of it and I am so happy about it and I look forward to creating job opportunities for others.
Where did you hope to find yourself as a tailor in another five years?
I have many dreams as regards what I am doing presently. In another five years, I can see myself owning a big fashion outlet in the city of Abuja; accepting and executing huge contracts like sewing school and NYSC uniforms. I want to be able to employ 50 people and even more, working with me within next five years.
The trend today is that almost all youths want to japa. What can make you to think of seeking to leave Nigeria?
Most people following the trend don’t really know what they want to do. As for me, I am not ready to leave Nigeria and I believe that Nigeria will be better. Maybe, if I want to expand my business to other countries, I may think of leaving the country.
Most young ladies often see men as their meal tickets. What is your disposition to this vice?
I find it very annoying. It is laziness that would make a lady to think that she cannot afford the good life she desires. You can live the best of your life by being focussed and with smart work, consistency and contentment.
What is your advice to young ladies of your age as regards the choice of career or profession?
I will advise and encourage ladies to get involved more in what are traditionally regarded as predominantly male vocations or jobs. They can easily grow and build their confidence, knowing what they what out of life and how to positively pursue it.