The Journey to The Switch

In the words of Heinrich Rohrer, ‘Science means constantly walking a tightrope between blind faith and curiosity; between expertise and creativity; between bias and openness; between experience and epiphany; between ambition and passion; and between arrogance and conviction – in short, between an old today and a new tomorrow’.

The fashion industry is a global powerhouse, with billions of dollars going in and out of the industry every year. Fashion United, an international fashion company estimates that the global fashion industry is worth approximately 3 trillion dollars. The growth of the industry can be attributed largely to innovations stemming from the advent of science and technology, especially in terms of Artificial Intelligence (AI). In fact, according to the McKinsey Global Fashion Index, the fashion industry will spurt a triple growth in 2018 as compared to previous years.

In Africa, the situation is pretty similar. The recent years have seen the development of the African fashion industry, from the increase in fashion-related entrepreneurs to investments from the corporate sector, and even the government. Fashion in Africa has really come a long way, and I must say; this is truly the era of growth! However, we must also acknowledge that fashion in Africa is still developing, with traces of under-development in certain areas. The African fashion industry is not unlike its counter-parts in the rest of the world. It is comparable to a distinction without a difference. For instance, some of the same industry features exist such as channels of distribution, growth parameters and even, market size. However, some are not the same. For example, business structure, market trends, growth rate, consumer behavior and innovation. These features make the distinction and are pertinent to the business of fashion, the ultimate goal of every ‘fashionpreneur’.

A lot goes into the business of fashion and the truth is, many entrepreneurs in Africa are not adequately trained and equipped for the business of fashion. A lot of people don’t even realize that fashion is way more than sewing until they are hooked. I know, I used to be one of them! There is little or no structure in our businesses because there are not enough resources, education being one of them. A lot of fashion businesses are not scalable and sustainable. And, at the end of the day, it all contributes to the overall growth of the industry.

The Sustainable Development Goals are standards the world is working towards together as a global village. The message of the SDGs is that we all have a part to play in global development. Goal 8 of the Sustainable Development Goals promotes inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work. Goal 9 is all about industry, innovation and infrastructure while Goal 17 is about partnerships to achieve these goals. This is why if Mohammed cannot go to the mountain, I am determined to bring the mountain to him.

I am Adedokun Olateju Oluwatobi, the second child of my family. I recently concluded my undergraduate education at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos. I am a fashion designer; the creative director of 7th Avenue, my five year old baby which I started during my second year in university. In 2016, I founded A Thousand Smile (ATS), a charity outreach that has held consecutively for two years. This year, ATS was directed at empowering over 200 young women in Yemetu, Ibadan with a motivational session, distribution of items and a skills acquisition program. In addition, I founded Style Avenue Initiatives, a platform for young fashion entrepreneurs. Each year, Style Avenue Initiatives organizes an event called The Style Avenue Shopping Party, where entrepreneurs are given a platform to showcase their work for free and learn. At last year’s edition, we held classes on several topics relevant to the business of fashion including photography, technology and digital media where fashion entrepreneurs had the opportunity of learning and asking questions from experts in these fields.

After university, I discovered that I wanted more. I wanted to do more and give more, while doing what I loved to do. So, I began to ask myself questions; what, how, why? In all of the answers I got, I noticed that technology was a constant. From time, I have always seen technology as some sort of light. The way technology creates and transforms is truly game-changing, in almost every area of life. Scratch that, its every area of life.

Perhaps, I should re-introduce myself. My name is Adedokun Olateju Oluwatobi, radiographer, fashion designer and technology aficionado. I really hope that means enthusiast. Currently, I am taking German classes at Foursquare Language School, Lagos in preparation for a second undergraduate degree in Computer Science abroad in the 2019/2020 session to position myself in an environment where I can study the art of technology and network with like minds. Also, I recently got invited for an interview at Girl Code Academy after my application to join the 2018 Cohort was accepted. Girl Code is an academy in Lagos that teaches coding and programming. Besides this, I am a self-taught HTML amateur.

It is no news that the pace of life has increased because of technology. Communication and travel is so much faster, movement is easier, action is quicker, interaction has sped up and so has life, all thanks to technology. Literally, in all fields of life, technology drives transformation that makes people healthier, wealthier and better educated, on any subject at a pace that is almost unimaginable. For me, this is why I must become a technology expert, because technology creates solutions to problems that exist and even problems that will exist in the future. I want to use technology to bridge the gaps between the fashion entrepreneur and the business of fashion.

My goal is to get an education so that I can create and innovate but more specifically, develop a software application called Switch, every fashion entrepreneur’s office on the go. My other goal is to have a great mentor in software development and business management that will assess my current experience and identify areas that require improvement and also point me to the right resources for complementary study. A mentor who would guide me through this technology journey I have already begun. My aim for Switch is to be more than a mere application, but the fashion entrepreneur’s online office, guiding him/her through the business of fashion. A guide to creating the needed structure; a guide that will teach the upcoming and even the well-established, the business of fashion through the desired training that will position them to meet the expectations of the global market.

Each time I teach a class filled with young, enthusiastic fashion designers, I include a list of software applications that enable them to structure their businesses, with little or no money such as applications for accounts, sketching, and distribution channels. None of them, tailored to meet the needs of fashion entrepreneurs but useful nonetheless. I believe that Switch is just what the fashion industry needs, a software application tailored to answering the questions of every fashion entrepreneur and solving the many problems encountered on their journey to becoming well-structured, scalable and sustainable fashion businesses.

My plan is to partner with firms, schools, fashion entrepreneurs and other professionals in Africa and beyond, to create full-proof courses and resources that would be available on Switch. In addition, I intend to gather a team of soft-ware developers in creating the soft-ware application. This is tied to my seeking an education in Computer Science, to network with like-minds. My favorite thing about Switch has to be its practicability and basic resources needed to make it work. However, I do recognize that financial resources are very pertinent to its achievement.

Below is an outline of Switch.

Switch’s target users include all aspiring fashion entrepreneurs (to harness the free trainings and courses) and fashion entrepreneurs (to harness the work-space). But truly, Switch would be accessible to all, regardless of interest in fashion. The target users would be reached through social media, intense marketing campaigns, events, influencers, forums and other partnerships. Though the application would be free to all users, I intend to monetize the software application through advert placements in the application. From these proceeds, donations of a certain percentage would go towards enabling African girls like me to learn coding and software development.

The importance of structure in fashion cannot be over-emphasized. Earlier, I stated that the fashion industry is a multi-trillion dollar industry globally. In fact, it would be the world’s seventh largest economy, if ranked alongside individual countries’ GDPs. It is an industry that creates, provides and is radically changing due to innovation. I believe that it is time for Africa to harness the change that technology brings, especially in the fashion industry.

An application like Switch would create employment opportunities due to the access to free training and tutorials which would eventually help to alleviate poverty, one of Africa’s nagging problems (Goal 1 of the Sustainable Development Goals – No Poverty). As they say, a skill is one step to solving the poverty problem. It would help to create sustainable businesses that would stand the test of times and contribute to the overall growth of the African economy (Goal 8 of the Sustainable Development Goals – Decent Work and Economic Growth). Finally, it would open the door for innovation and partnerships in the African fashion industry (Goal 9 – Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure & Goal 17 – Partnerships for the Goals).

Winning and benefiting from the Toptal STEM Scholarship would be everything for me, really. It would be an accelerator, a ‘push’ tool, a beacon of hope, everything literally. Resources are a big part of achieving my dreams to develop Switch. The financial resources from the Scholarship would assist tremendously in my pursuit of an education in technology, Computer Science to be precise. Good education is not cheap, unfortunately. And even though Goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals states quality education for all, access to quality education isn’t cheap either. Also, developing a software application requires financial resources. The cost of developing soft-ware applications start from about $5000. In view of financial resources, this Scholarship would be a big step for me, in a right direction to realizing all that I stated earlier. Human resources are a key part of my journey, as well. For me, mentorship is an integral part most especially, mentorship from someone who is well-versed in technology, knowledgeable and can guide me on this journey. The benefits of the mentorship opportunity offered by the Toptal Scholarship are really limitless. From the supportive relationship, to assistance with problem solving, professional advice, encouragement and guidance mentors provide.

As Colin Powell said, ‘a dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work’. To achieve all I have laid out above, I am determined to work very hard and use all the opportunities I am given wisely and efficiently, in order to come into the ‘new tomorrow’ through technology.

Advertisements

STARTING A FASHION DESIGN BRAND – THE BASICS

Hi guys,
Hope you’ve been having a great day so far. Mine has been client meetings and fabric shopping. 

So I’m starting a series on the blog called

How To Start A Fashion Design Business.

So many people would love to start but probably don’t know how or have the money to start especially in a country like Nigeria where no premium is placed on getting a fashion education. I remember when I wanted to start out fashion design as a business, I didn’t have the skill or even the capital. I’m still learning and I’ll love to share from the bit I know about starting up. In this series, I’ll be discussing topics that include how to set up shop with less (or more), getting appropriate skill set, getting and retaining clients,  I’ll be telling my story and I hope someone could learn something. 

What most people assume – Fashion design is all fun and glamour, you’ll get to make clothes for celebrities and you’ll be popular.

Reality – Running a fashion business means that packing clothes or doing adjustments at 2 am, steaming clothes over and over again. You will likely spend less than 10% of your time designing, while the rest of the time you will be managing production, sending clothes to customers, stylists, dealing with suppliers who want their money (now), dealing with clients, begging, managing your employees while hoping they don’t fall ill, and trying to eat and bathe in between. You will eat, live and breathe your business 24/7. If that doesn’t turn you off, then keep reading.

For me, I just grew into the fashion design business, I learnt mostly on the job. I started without a clearly written business plan, no capital, no budget nothing. I made mistakes and learnt there’s a better way to start, planning.

I’ve written down a list of things you should have on your check list if you want to start a fashion design business. 

– Create a name. 

The name, 7th Avenue was created by my sister and her friend. They thought numbers were a good idea and figured 7 was a cool and luck number.

– Write a business plan.

– Develop your budget.

I’ve not always been the best money planner. I had to learn on the job and even, I’m still learning. 

Make sure you add a budget for photography and advertisement especially. That was one mistake I made or maybe I just didn’t have the money. 

Graphic design, rent for the store, insurance, power/water, stock, clothing racks/hangers/display units, etc. and such items as lighting, cash registers, card payment facilities, carry bags, advertising, etc. You’ll also need money for staff and cleaners (if you’ll be starting with any) and most importantly, create a budget for your personal salary. This will help you in saving your remaining profit, trust me.

– Vision/Mission 


– Decide if you’ll be doing the design work for yourself or if you’ll be getting workers. Eventually though, everyone needs workers/ help. You’ll find out as your business expands that you can’t do it all on your own. 

– Decide your niche.

Are you most interested in haute couture, ready-to-wear, fitness/leisure gear, the mass market? Each has its advantages and disadvantages that you’ll need to explore before reaching your final decision on which pathway to pursue. Within these major fields, you’ll also need to decide on a few sub-set areas for your fashion design.

– Get educated about the business side of fashion. I had to take online marketing and business courses on Coursera to sharpen my business management and money management skills. I’m still learning, I learn from my mum, my friends, business books, I’m still taking online courses as well.
It was fun having this chat with you, I’ll be discussing about getting appropriate skill set in my next post on this series, make sure you stay posted.

Get The Best From Your Fashion Designer

This is a new year. A new beginning. And things will change.

Taylor Swift

Hi guys, 

Happy New Year.

I hope you missed me. I’m back and hopefully better.
How have the first few weeks of the year been, for you?
Hope you’ve started acting on your new year resolutions slash goals. I prefer to use the word goals. I think I have, mostly. I’ve stopped taking carbonated drinks but I haven’t started exercising yet; still meditating on the best approach for me but it’s all well and good. It’s a process!

Today, I’ll be gisting with you about hustling med school and fashion design but first let me say one or 2 things about how to get the best from your fashion designer; I’ll cut mid way and conclude in the end. (making designer puns, eyyy)

It’s important that you have the concept of what you want in mind, in other words, don’t be clueless. Having a style idea or theme goes a long way in helping the designer know your style and guide you on that path, even if you’ll have to go for something diffrent eventually.
It also helps to know your most important measurements. For males, width, waist, shirt length, trouser length. For females, bust, waist, hip, full length, half length; at least a rough estimate.
You can quickly identify if the tailor or designer knows what they are doing or not and its very well appreciated if you are giving your precise clothes size, as well. E.g. Size 6, 8, 10 etc.

Back to my main gist. Med school was a very long 5 year journey. My goodness!
One thing juggling both taught me was how to be a better time manager. I was always on the clock because 5 mins could make or mar my day.
I remember one of those days that I had to rush out of school for a fitting at keffi after an 11am class and I had to be back by 2pm. It was a crazy rush but was totally worth it, at least I thought. I got it just in time for the next lecture at 2:05pm, just in time because the lecturer had started an impromptu incourse (test). My friends had gotten a sheet of paper for me so I just rushed off with the incourse (in my rush state of course ), but lucky me. It was not until when the correction was been done I realised that I chose the best of 4 options instead of stating which of the options were true or false ; leaving me with 10 answers instead of 100 😂
Luckily, the test didnt carry so much and I aced all my previous tests. That’s how God saved my ass!

Back to getting the best from your fashion designer; Give a date that is at least a day or two before you are actually wearing your outfit. Trust me, it helps you and the designer and lastly, be actively involved in the process of your clothes; from fabric selection to checking up on your clothes. It would keep your designer in check and a lot of errors will avoided or salvaged.

Don’t forget to follow my pages :
@Kharynafabrics for beautiful and pocket friendly fabrics
@kharyna_7thavenue especially my instastory for everyday and food life
@official7thavenue to see my beautiful designs


What are your thoughts on my tips on getting the best from your fashion designer?
Have other ideas ? 

2017 in Haute Couture

Hi fam,

Merry Christmas… and Happy New Year in advance. Hope you had a great Christmas celebration. I spent mine with family, I couldn’t have asked for more. 

2017 in the Nigerian Fashion Industry was a beautiful year, there was a lot growth for most of us. 

I’ll be doing a little flashback to my best haute couture pieces of 2017, I won’t bore you I promise. 
Bibilawrence

Fablane by Derin

Style Temple

7th Avenue

Tubo

Kathy Anthony 

Gertjohancoetzee

Youdii

Andreah Iyamah 

Mai Atafo

Toju Foyeh

56 Things I’m Grateful For – Birthday Post 

Hi guys, it was birthday on Sunday. It was a fabulous day (even though my book lunch couldn’t hold, the devil tried) but it was great. I’ll be sharing pictures from my pre- birthday shoot that didnt make it to the gram 😂 , yes I had a pre-birthday shoot and yes! It was bridal inspired.

56 Things I’m grateful for: 

1. To God for never giving up on me, even when the road was tough and bumpy, he showed light at the tunnel

2. Expensive Things 

3. Lingerie

4. High heels 

5. My family, for being my support system 

6. My Instagram family 😁

7. My mum, for her limitless support support. It’s unbelievable how she does it 

8. Chicken suya

9. Disappointments; they’ve made me stronger 

10. my friends, for being the best yet

11. food 😂 it’s such a beautiful work of art

12. Being alive and well; it’s not by my power

13. Movies that I love

14. Pizza

15. Skinny girl in transit; I always have something to look up to on Fridays 😂

16. The almost- good relationships; almost because we are not married 😂

17. Coffee 

18. Money 💃

19. Laces and chiffon 

20. Bad relationships, plenty of lessons have been learnt 

21. Make up

22. Med school experience, to be honest I think I’ll have been happier studying marketing or fashion design but it was a worthy experience 

23. Snap chat filters 

24. Inspiration 

25. My ability to dream big, I’m such a big dreamer

26. Pepsi, such a life saver

27. Lagos Island Puff puff

28. The good

29. The bad, the failed experiments, they were lessons learnt 

30. My phone

31. A roof over my head, it’s more than I could ask for 

32. Noodles 

33. Soy sauce 

34. Chinese food 

35. My strong values, morality, the art of giving and looking up to God

36. The internet for I can’t live without it 😂

37. Association 

38. For my car, it’s small and vintage 😂,  it’s a struggle learning how to drive ( I mean I’ve spent months in this struggle) but it’s a blessing from God

39. My love for cooking

40. Birthdays, celebrations in general. 

41. Good health

42. My natural hair

43. My strong will and resilience

44. For being able to be who I am , not restricted by culture, religion or any the social barriers . 

45. Ice cream 

46. Lagos living 😂 I know, it’s a struggle and I’m getting out of here at the first ticket but its an experience I cherish.

47. Fenty beauty 

48. All my platforms ; the blog, KBookList, Style Avenue Initiatives.

49. Pictures and cameras

50. My businesses; 7th Avenue and KharynaFabrics

51. All the PEOPLE that God has made to be instrumental to my success 

52. Dogs

53. All the hard work; for  its not in the success but in the struggle 

54. Kind people 

55. Restaurants 😂😂😂

56. Nigerian songs

What are you grateful for?

Dress by : @official7thavenue

Makeup by : @makeupbytm.o

Pictures by : @faith_anny

The Nigerian Wedding Industry 

​A brunch with me, with so much dessert to solve your life problems and make you giddy with joy and happiness? Giveaway details below, keep going! 

Ciao guys,
How was your weekend? Mine was really busy and fun too. I spent the whole time sewing and doing shoots. My life in a nutshell. 

Today’s post is dedicated to the Nigerian Wedding Industry, yes you heard right. What is the Nigerian Wedding Industry? Is there even a Nigerian Wedding Industry? Am I trying to be funny? Sigh. No. It’s the truth. 

Weddings are such beautiful experiences and really lucrative, especially in Africa where we go big or go home! I’m telling you, wedding vendors are making serious money. This is even heightened by the recent social media wedding craze. Everyone wants to have the best photographer who might charge nothing less than a million, they want to have the trending pieces, the best souvenirs, the best ‘change your life’ make-up, the over-the-top cakes and venues. Everyone wants their cute ships aka hashtag to trend so they pay to get it everywhere. All these and more have contributed to rise of the industry. The Nigerian Wedding Industry is one of the biggest contributors to the economy in terms of revenue. 

Forget economy sef, everyone makes money during weddings. From the parents of the bride, the couple, the family members especially the ones ‘next in line’ to everybody else. Money will be made!
I am slowly getting to the marriagable age. And no, I am not aspiring to marriage. I’m not about that chauvinist or sexist life. Anyway, I’ll be 22 on the 22nd of October! I know righttttt. And I can feel the elders already giving me side eye. Biko! Husband applications are open. Fill the form below. 😂

Seriously, I can’t help but reflect on the drama that goes on with weddings in Nigeria, the pom and the pageantry. And most importantly, what kind of wedding I want. Re Chimamanda Titans, I do not aspire to marriage. I repeat I do not aspire to marriage. I am all in favour of having a beautiful wedding, as long as it makes you happy and it’s what you really want. However, I think spending much more on the honeymoon is a better deal. Mykonos, I see you, baby. But if you can have it all, top-notch. By all means!

GIVEAWAY ALERT – Because birthday month, I’m doing giveaways on my blog, all my Instagram pages – @kharyna_7thavenue @official7thavenue @kharynafabrics and even my Book Club, #TheKBookList. Details are at the end of this post.

I definitely would love a strictly by invitation wedding but because omo Yoruba ni mi o, swagger. I don’t see that happening. Its about to be Wedding Party 3.
I love small gatherings, I think they are more meaningful. A small circle of people that actually mean something to you, not just people that want to eat your rice and go home or worse, steal your husband and rain on your parade. Small weddings are the it.
I want to have lots of dresses to wear. Don’t judge, I’m a fashion designer and everything, including my wedding is a personal fashion show. 
For food, small gatherings usually have the best food with a few exceptions though. You can do your course meals and everyone eats to their fill, as opposed to the traditional alase or olopo. 
I’m not done though but I can not be giving you people free wedding consultancy. Sorry. 

The most important part of a wedding however, is the marriage and not vice versa. So in all of the craze and sublime bliss, don’t forget your partner. Find eachother in all of it and stay stroonngg. And for goodness sake, if you can’t afford a flamboyant wedding, don’t. Your first few years of marriage will thank you.

What are your thoughts on the typical naija wedding? What’s your dream wedding? How do you feel about the over-the-top extra weddings? What’s one thing that you must absolutely have or do at your wedding? 

—-

GIVEAWAY
I haven’t been to Hans and Rene in a while, blame work and school and my sweet tooth has been aching. So I am determined to, this month and I have decided to take one of you with me. Me, you, dessert, brilliant or not conversations. It’s going to be everything.
Note – This is not sponsored by H&R. It’s a purely personal thing in which costs would be beared by me.
To win a fun brunch with me at Hans and Rene, all you have to do is follow all my Instagram pages.

– @official7thavenue

– @kharynafabrics

@kharyna7thavenue

– @styleavenue__

Then, comment on this blog post and tag as many friends as possible to the giveaway post on Instagram at @kharyna_7thavenue. The more friends you tag, the more your chances of winning.

The winner will be chosen on 22nd,  October, 2017. Good luck!

VINTAGE

I’m just a vintage soul 

-Unknown 

Hi guys,

How was the weekend and how is the new week going? 

My weekend was eventful; I had a basic Haute Couture Fashion Design Class in Ibadan, Nigeria on Saturday  and the ATS Volunteers hangout on Sunday. 

For the ATS (A Thousand Smile) Volunteer hangout, I decided to bring back the hazo dungarees. It was a picnic and I wanted to play it simple yet retro. A Thousand Smile is a charity outreach under Style Avenue Initiatives, a brand that I run. Our goal is to reach out to Nigeria as a whole and make a difference in our own little way. I decided to go for an edgy bohemian look, you can call it old school. I’ve worn my hazo dungarees only once and it was more of a traditional look that’s what I decided to spice it up with a danshiki , and yes the sunglasses! They gave me all sorta vibes. You won’t even believe how much I got them. The hair completed the look I was going for as well. How well did I rock this look? 

I’m finally starting “Journey through the stitches” 

When I started this blog. I spoke about starting a network platform for fashion enthusiasts in a category “Journey through the stitches”. I’ve not been faithful to that cause (mainly because I didn’t see who my major focus should have been & spent a lot of time and energy pursuing the wrong people)

The good news is I’m finally going to start the column from next week.

I’ll be interviewing upcoming  fashion enthusiasts from designers to illustrators, to bloggers and fashion lovers in general and put up fun, funny and inspirational bits from the interview up. As my famous quote would say “It’s not in the end but in the struggle”  I believe their struggles, smiles, failure, hustle will movitate someone. The major suppose of this platform is to cultivate a network for young and growing enthusiasts.  The social media (Instagram especially) now mostly cares about already made brands and little or no focus is placed for young growing brands like me and you. 

If you are a fashion enthusiast and you’ll love to have me interview you, send me an email at kharynaspark@gmail.com