Ejiro Amos Tafiri: A Fashion Conversation
Hard to miss, the name Ejiro Amos Tafiri is embossed in white on a black one-story building at the heart of Ikeja, Lagos; it was not surprising to learn that she occupies the entire building.
In nine years, she has come to solidify herself as a foremost brand for the African woman who loves print fabrics, fashion-forward pieces, and traditional glamour. “Thank you for coming,” she says after opening the door, her voice welcoming.
While conversing, she mentions how she has been working since the beginning of day. Hard work, I would later learn is one of the secrets to her success.
As a young girl, Tafiri’s interest in fashion was just that, an interest. A tomboy at heart, she took her first dip in the waters of fashion through her grandmother who would always get her to make simple pieces. Her dolls were the first to consume her designs.
Tafiri’s mother would, also, dress her up for church in matching bags, shoes, and headgear. A rebel with a good cause, she discovered Clothing and Textile, defied her parents, and chose to study the course at Yaba College of Technology instead of a science subject at another institution. Her parents became more open to the idea as she was the best student throughout her time at school.
After her National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Tafiri interned for two years with Tiffany Amber, a Nigerian female-owned International fashion brand. She left the job and started her label in 2010 in her parents’ home. Her success?
One would say it is luck, but it had nothing to do with it. Three months after she launched her line, her dress would be worn on the cover of Complete Fashion Magazine. A little while later, Tafiri would go to exhibit her designs at Arise Fashion Week.
What people did not see was that she could not afford to hire anyone; leaving her to become the designer, marketer, purchaser and all-round errand girl of her brand. “I would go to the market, carry things on my head and hand,” she says. “I can’t begin to tell you how many phones I lost in that period from pick-pocket.”
The major turning point in her career started at “Oleku,” an outfit birthed from the re-imagination of Iro and Buba, a traditional attire she had loved wearing as a child and a young girl.
Although “Oleku” was not well received at first, the design went on to sell thousands giving her the financial power to open her store at Ikoyi. With a signature so recognizable, Ejiro Amos-Tafiri has birthed other iconic designs including the Celine Dress and Nadine Set.
Saying MeToo With Designs
Is Ejiro Amos-Tafiri, the person, different from Ejiro Amos-Tafiri, the brand?
“I am Ejiro Amos Tafiri the person. I have my brand but I am the core of my brand.”
This proves true as her personal beliefs are upheld in the brand. Tafiri is passionate about feminism and has chosen, through her latest collection, to shed more light on the topic.
A decision that stemmed from her criticism of being politically correct in the past, and from her own experiences as a victim. She recalled being abused as a child in kindergarten and taken advantage of as an adult, and the shame she had to live with for years.
“I don’t want to stay a victim. I want to use my platform and be bold.”
Ahead of Lagos Fashion Week, Tafiri is putting the final touches to her collection titled Pump Up the Volume. She believes that the voices of women should be as valid as possible.
Tafiri feels women have the right to be whatever they want to be – strong and delicate – however they want to be it. She also believes in the power of speaking up, “If you speak up, you would find out that you’re not alone.”
Ejiro Amos Tafiri doesn’t associate her happiness to anyone. However, she remains grateful to her family and the experiences she has had.
Despite having a child, Winnie, from a failed engagement, she believes it worked out the way it was supposed to, “If I didn’t have that relationship, I wouldn’t have my baby right now.”
A hands-on mom, she interrupted the shoot at some point to collect the 18-month old Winnie from school…
Grab a copy of The Guardian Life magazine today to read the full interview….