Adaeze Onu…Empowering, Nurturing And Building Community of Successful Women
Adaeze Onu is the Creative head of Dexy Creation. She is also a youth mentor and social innovator. She enjoys helping women and young minds to be the best version of themselves. Onu believes that when youth and women are empowered, they will be useful to themselves and contribute to a greater society. In this interview with GERALDINE AKUTU, she shares her passion for fashion, mentoring and empowering women.
Can you talk about your background and how it all started?
Growing up was a kind of struggle between who I am and who I really want to become.
I had natural love for art but I wanted to be a journalist. I always imagined myself speaking on television and before physical audience.
How did your background shape you into becoming an entrepreneur?
I’ve always loved the arts right from the start and use my talents to do things in a creative way. I love to be creative with my hands.
So, I would say my love for the arts and creativity propelled me to go into the world of entrepreneurship.
I began to sketch and make paper arts early in life in a bid to find solace and escape low self esteem while expressing myself through my work of art. It transitioned me into a transformational mindset shift and economic empowerment. I grew up nurturing this passion and helping other women find their self esteem and financial independence through my fashion art and empowerment programme .
What is your brand all about and what makes your brand different from other brands?
My brand is focused on telling detailed African story through our ready-to-wear fashion pieces and empowering youths and women through our vocational training institute to give them lively opportunities and economic empowerment. Our brand hinge deeply on circular economy, holistic measures and sustainability. In order to achieve our core values, we imbibe mentorship, internship and appreticeship. These set our brand apart in all ramifications.
Where do you get your design inspiration from?
Everyday life is already a great inspiration to every human being but we build ours into a concept and create beautiful pieces out of it to tell our stories better.
How would you describe the fashion business in Nigeria ?
Nigeria Fashion business is a huge market but I would say, we need great structures in place to dig the gold in the ecosystem. Also, the structure is lacking because most people who took up this skill is for survival as the only option left after nine-to-six jobs.
What would you say are the major challenges faced by entrepreneurs in Nigeria?
The major challenges faced by entrepreneurs in Nigeria are access to finance, access to the right market and efficient human power.
There are also lots of registrations, trade cost, export cost and other costs that are not accounted for by the government. We indeed need government sincere support to sustain our businesses.
Who are your role models in the fashion industry?
Christie Brown is a Ghanian fashion designer who inspires me with her creative detailing and Ituen Bassey warms my heart with her African stories.
You are so passionate about training, mentoring and nurturing the women. What role does mentoring play in the lives of female entrepreneurs?
Let me share a little story with you. I understood the role of mentors quite early when our landlord’s daughter used to groom me and nuture my work of art, we didn’t call it mentorship back then. Her existence in life made life a lot easier. She watched over me, spoke right words to me, assisted in selling my paper arts.
This is what I do for many women today, We all need that one person who believes in us when we doubt ourself or when the world seems like fading away.
You need that person who mentions your name in secret and in the open where opportunities are .
You need that person who gives you listening ears without judging you, who also tells you the bitter truth from a place of love.
Someone who has gone ahead of you beating the hurdles and holding your hands to overcome challenges too.
When you connect with a great mentor, your self-awareness becomes obvious. Women should be self-aware to build that confidence in a world that subjugates them. They need active and effective mentoring relationship to improve their self worth, increase productivity and build their capacity.
Therefore, I’m passionate about training, mentoring and nurturing women to be their best self.
We have a growing community of visionary women.
And I have mentored over 50 entrepreneurs within and beyond Nigeria.
I have volunteered and served in global institutions like LEAP Africa, WIMBIZ , CherieBlair Foundation to keep this vision alive.
What piece of advice do you have for young entrepreneurs who look up to you?
Stay true and authentic to yourself. Have mind of your own. Build great quality network, good team, have an excellent spirit, do thorough research because it will help you to be well informed and open your eyes to new ideas. Also, honour those who spare their time for you. Be kind and show love without expecting it in return.
Where do you see Dexy Creation five years from now?
Five years from now, our brand will become household name, every woman who truly wants to remain outstanding would see the need to express themselves through our bespoke art fashion pieces. We would have built our own well structured E-commerce platform to solve the challenges of sales, logistics and customer base for us and other fashion start ups.
We will have retail stores and design institute in the major cities of Nigeria and in three African countries where the main focus would be on digitizing fashion design and financial literacy. We will target 10 women fashion entrepreneurs for Grants five years from now to upscale their businesses.
What is your advice to women aspiring to be successful in business?
My advice to aspiring women is to stay courageous, focused, consistent and continue acquiring knowledge and applying it in their business journey.
What positive changes would you like to see in the Nigerian fashion industry?
I would love to see active regulatory body checkmate and take over standardization of fashion ecosystem to eliminate mediocrity in the organisation and grant license to only the right fashion tutors and institutes for training. Embracing mediocre performers will be a disaster but killing it will help to sanitise the system.
Also, internship and apprenticeship should be enforced and intellectual property right be strongly imbibed.
I want to see fashion technology taking over the industry to enhance our production, reduce waste and improve our training methodology.
How can young minds out there unleash their full potentials and be useful in the society?
Young ones can unleash their full potential by developing rich and growth mindset, have a mentor because this will help you gain practical knowledge and insight from a seasoned professional who has achieved a level of expertise you aspire to attain. It is very important to have a mentor or mentors to help you navigate through life and guide you to the right path. Also, engage in volunteer work to assist in projects. It’s not always about making money but making huge impact. The good thing is, the impact you make today would earn you money in years to come. It is very paramount to master your craft excellently well and never stop learning, focus on your goal, be well prepared and organised. Don’t compare your journey to others, you won’t win all the time, embrace failure as part of learning and succeed.
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