Moments with Chioma of Seamplysylvia - (Interview Section)

December 25, 2017 No Comment

The journey of a thousand mile starts with a step, so is the journey to Enterprnureship and self employment. It's never been really as easy as we are made to believe. We met with Cioma  the creative director of Seamplysylvia an upcoming Nigeria fashion brand that caters to women clothing and fashion needs without them breaking the bank. She’s also the founder of a online platform where fabric vendors display their fabrics for people to make purchases at without visiting the market or store. She shares her experiences so far and lets us into her world as a brand.

Could you introduce yourself?

My name is Sylvia Chioma, a final year student of English language and the second child and daughter of my parents. Well that’s all about me. Though am into fashion and design, i also sell fabrics for vendors on my website. So if you want to shop for fabrics you could just check on the website for any fabric ranging from, Ankara, suit fabrics etc.

What are Your Hobbies?

Well i like reading

I thought you would say you love to sew

This one is no longer a hobby ooh its now work. We laugh about the comments. But I love reading
Tell us about the brand seamplysylvia.
Seamplysylvia is a female clothing brand, we clothe women to look beautiful, classy and still they don’t break the bank. At seamplysylvia, you get to look classy and dassy for any event you are going for and yet very affordable.

What Inspired Your Brand Name?

Seam is spelt S.E.A.M and it’s the thread, the stitches and all that. The brand itself is a brand that doesn’t like to make ambiguous things; I like to make very simple things. So since I am sewing and I like to sew simple things, I just merged them together.
Everyone has a way it started, so how did it all start?
Well I started sewing at a very young age, I started at age 7. (We both laugh at the age). I attend a primary school where skill was important, so they always taught us sewing and all that, but then we never did it on a professional level that when it came to sit in a sewing machine. We would always use needle and thread, sewing different type of things. That’s when the idea came into my mind that you could actually make an outfit, I thought it had to be made in a very special place and brought down here, I didn’t know you could actually just do it in your home. So my school thought me you could make an outfit in the comfort of your home. It’s very interesting and I am a person of skill, I make clothes, I make slippers (We laugh about it as i take a look at it because she advertised it on IG). I know how to make body products like body cream, hair crΓ¨me i am very good with my hands.

So you would just call yourself a creative person?

Yes, because of the notion I already had as a child, that you can actually do these things at home, I felt I could do this, and I was really good at it back then. So no matter what I tried, it never really worked out, cause i tried been a writer but whenever I come back from work I find myself trying to cut materials, trying to sew, so I always went to bed late. So I kept asking myself instead of killing myself doing the both, maybe I should just do one full time that’s how I switched both up.

There’s this argument about who a fashion designer and tailor is, so can you tell  the difference between a tailor and a fashion designer?

A tailor is a man who makes male outfit, ( at this point I was shock) a seamstress is a lady who does female outfit, while a fashion designer is one who does the creative part of it, having to sketch. Some people are full time fashion designers; they don’t get to sew anything as their job is just to come up with designs.  Some people don’t like to be called tailor because of how some people localize tailor to the level is not what you want to do. Also people make it feel like if you’re not in some profession, you’re not doing anything, mean while some tailors make more money than bankers.

Did you did you encounter challenges from your parents? 

Yes I did.  I did diploma in unizik for two years by the time I was done I was around the age of 19 or 18, so after that I told them I had wanted to go to Ghana to learn how to sew and they refused, my father said I needed to focus on having a degree at the university and all that. Somewhere along the line I found a way to get out of Nigeria to Ghana to learn how to sew, but I told them I was going to Ghana for a movie shoot. That’s how I left for Ghana to learn how to sew.

So you sponsored yourself?

Yes I did.

How did you raise money for that?

I was writing online and was a secretary for someone and also a PA to someone. Just to put money together and I did. I was in Ghana for about 8 months learning how to sew in Ghana.
What were you telling you parent during your 8 months in Ghana? 

I had to stay off social media because I kept telling them I was on set.

What inspires your name calling for your collection?

What inspired the name Misan was when I called my friend who isn’t in the country and we were discussing our challenges we faced. She was going through much more than I was going through, but she was still encouraging me and asking me to be strong, I was really shocked cause I was supposed to be the one encouraging her as she was far from home while I was home. After I was done with the sketching, I told myself that I was going to name this dress after her because she is strong and kind.  She the kindness person I have ever met, cause even when she doesn’t have, she still gives.

How do you come up with styles, do you just look through peoples pages for style or you come up with inspiration?

First of all, lemme start by saying nothing is new; personally I don’t take peoples designs cause I know how much work goes into it. I don’t copy peoples design; however there are some designs that are just common. There are designs known to some particular people, you would know. If you see a dress made by Ejiro, you would know it’s her own. If you see a dress made by sisano, you would know cause they work with knots, if you see a dress made by Tope F n R you would know cause the clothe would be blinking all over the place. There are styles that are for everybody and there are styles that are just for a particular brand.  If I lack inspiration, I just go on line and look at other peoples work, by the time am done I get inspirations. It won’t be like your copying directly.

How do you push your brand to the larger market and make your brand different?

First, my selling point is my finishing, but I don’t hold on to that anymore because someone has brought an outfit to me to change the zip, that she didn’t like the zip and it was made from one of our top designers yet I didn’t know where to lose it from. That was the day I realized that my finishing was learning work where that particular finishing was, so I had to switch from what I had already known to what was done on the dress. Whatever I make you can wear it inside out and I don’t like seams. So that’s one of my selling points.  Another is customer relationship, so I tend to call my customer two weeks after I have delivered their outfit just to find out how they are, not to sell a new collection to them.  Am calling you cause at some point you’ve trusted me with your money and work. I deal with customer relation..
One of her works available

Some of her works 

What do you enjoy most about dress making?

The fact I can think of anything and just make it. So if in want to put a shoe buckle on my clothe I can
If you made irreversible errors on a dress, what do you do?
Does that mean I can’t find the fabric anywhere in the world, if I can then I would buy it. There’s no mistake you can’t correct, there’s no problem you can’t solve. If I make a mistake, I go get the material back.
What’s your highest charge?
 Its dependant on the details that goes into the cloth, and the price if the fabric in use. We’ve done as high as 60k.

How many hours do you spend in lace sewing?

Lace usually takes time; it can take as long as 12hrs
How do you manage large orders?
That’s our strongest point, I have tailors on standby,  so if we have large others, they come around we just finished one last week for a guy who own a boutique he requested for 200 pieces of blouses and he gave 2 weeks time line, there was no time. That kind of situation you need to invite everyone and divide it between them. They all know my type of finishing and I trust some of them to do the cutting because they are even more grounded than me. To reduce the work load, some people do the cutting, some the sewing and others the finishing, that way we do the work faster.

Do you train?

Online and offline, I have had two sewing classes this year and we had about a hundred and twenty students in total, it was amazing because I honestly didn’t think it could happen online, It just showed me I should have just been a teacher .

Who inspires you in the Industry?

That is Toyin Lawani, she inspires me cause she’s a mom and owns over 15 businesses if not even more, cause you never can tell other business she isn’t talking about. She inspires me cause I don’t intend to just sit at a place and be the lady behind the machines.

She’s Busy?

No she isn’t busy, she’s making money.  There’s a difference between been busy and making money, people are just busy these days and nothing is coming out from it. Si if you are busy, something should come out from it, that’s Toyin Lawini.

How does Nigeria fashion industry affect the economy?

Because of the type creativity that comes out from here, people from other countries if not other continent now come here to make outfit, they are literally bringing in money into the economy, now bride come here to purchase their bridal gown compared tp previous times. The fashion industry is a big one, we aren’t even asking the government to look into it as we can do fine by ourselves.  There are so many things the government needs to do and they aren’t doing it, like now I don’t have light right now. So that’s something for them to do. The fashion industry is doing allot when it comes to putting the country in the world map. Money is coming in here cause of the type of creativity we see in this country.

How does social media help grow your business?

It has helped me make a lot of money that I can’t lie about; it helps people know we are still in business. We aren’t posting it for you to place the order immediately; we are just trying to make an impression in people, just like coke cola will still put an advert out there, you need to let them know am in business for this particular thing, I know how to make this particular thing. More than all what social media is, we have made sales. Because am on social media, I have show cased my work, people have patronized us we have received money and we keep growing. Social media has gone far more than what we think it is.

What’s your advice to young people out there, what would it be?

My favourite song is encourage yourself, I have a song I play every day “speak over yourself and encourage yourself” no two people came to this world together, you are literally on your own.
You need to wake in the morning and tell yourself you’re a success, you can’t seat around and ask people to support you. People don’t want to be associated with failure; you need to tell people you can climb the bridge before they would be willing to help you move up the bridge, the more you sit and wait for people to help you, the harder it becomes. Just start from somewhere, I started from my room, then my fathers parlour, and then this store the next thing will be the uk. I started my business with one thousand five hundred naira

Tell us about it:

So I went to the market and saw this nice Ankara fabric and I was like ooh lemme buy it, I had just finished fashion school then, and I was broke I had nothing, all I had was a skill. I came home with the material and made a top, then told my sister to wear it and I put it on IG. I knew a fashion influencer I had worked with so I showed her the top and asked if she liked it, then she asked I sent it to her that she liked it and she would like to wear it, I wasn’t asking for money then, I just wanted to nice nothing in mind that if she puts on the blouse u would make sales, it was just me been nice to someone who was nice and humble to me. She wore it and orders started flying in, first day twenty people, second day ten people and in a week I had up to forty orders. So you see how it went from one thousand five hundred to forty orders. You can’t sit around and ask people to help you; there are so many free online classes you could learn from. Have you seen the form for Tony Elemelu fund, if you see it, you would know no one is ready t dash out their money that way. Always keep making baby steps. It’s a gradual process

What’s your five years goal?

My brand will be globally recognized and no one production company in Nigeria and African, we would be producing for fashion brands.