It was the first 6 months ASUU strike in 2013. One evening, I and my friends were having a conversation in the hostel when a girl walked into our room and said she taught people how to make bags.
Everyone signed up for it but I was never around because I went to weddings almost every Saturday. Coincidentally, I was around the last Saturday of the training and what I saw and learnt just on that day alone fascinated me. I told the trainer to put me through in some things and that was how we got to where we are. It’s been a step by step journey and we learn on a daily basis. I really don’t have any special incident that made me realise that I was made for bag making. Curiosity and research improved my skills. It was an improvement on the job. I just loved the idea of making bags. Every time I see a bag, I always try to know how the bag was made and what it was made of.
After a while, I piped low in the art of bag making and switched over to makeup. I became a makeup artist for a short time and then started again in 2018 when a friend of mine needed to make a bag for his mum. Like we all know, passion never dies, it is skin deep. Coincidentally, last year I bounced back again. I would say COVID-19 gave me more time to make more designs because I started working my 9-5 job from home. At this stage, we owe a lot of credit to social media especially twitter. You know how people retweet your stuff and it gets a wider audience. These days, I’ve had clients from Instagram and Facebook Ads are also helpful.
Initially when I started, there were lots of people who believed in me. But my dad never did. He had some skepticisms and reservations about my bag making considering the fact I studied Physiology in the university and I’m currently doing a PGD in psychology. Somehow, it never deterred me from going. There were actually some days I gave up many times but I would say God helped me and also my love for making bags. In standing out in my craft, I always ensure I get the best fabrics and materials. You know it’s Ankara, so it has to be layered with very strong materials so it doesn’t tear easily.
Being a lover of arts automatically makes me a very creative person. I try to do some things very different – the shape of what the bag is made of. In staying ahead of lots of people are making bags these days so I always try to add something extra that wouldn’t get lost in the crowd of many other bags. This I do especially for the tiny hand bags. I create a drift from regular square-shaped bag.
The fact that people look down on the concept bag making because it’s Ankara is changing rapidly. Before now, they just automatically feel it wouldn’t be of quality even without seeing it in person. So when I charge a certain amount, they tell you “is it not just ankara?” But, I remember one of my clients told me that when she held her bag, she could already feel the quality of the bag. As adventurous and interesting as my entrepreneurial journey has been, sometimes I’d ask myself if I was in the right business. I think it’s a normal thing with most creatives.