Toyin Lawani: I enjoy creating masterpieces
Toyin Lawani is a famous fashion designer, serial entrepreneur, and owner of Tiannah’s Empire.
Born on March 1, 1982, in Ekiti State, she has a Bachelor’s degree in the English Language from the University of Lagos. Her love for fashion took her to the Oprah Benson Beauty Institute in Nigeria, the Carlton Beauty Institute in London, and John Yim Beauty School in Korea where she got the licences to function as a cosmetologist. She has since grown to become one of the most sought-after stylists in the Nigerian entertainment industry.
Lawani has worked with many top celebrities across the world, including Tiwa Savage, Wizkid, Stephanie Okereke, Funke Akindele, Keri Hilson, Natalie Nunn, Ciara, and Emma Nyra. In this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, Lawani, who is regarded as a ‘transformation queen’, shares her passion for fashion as well as her journey to motherhood, having recently given birth to her third child.
Share with us you’re growing up?
Growing up, for me, was filled with love and adventure. I was born into a royal family, and a political one,0 in Ekiti and my mother was one of the biggest serial entrepreneurs. I followed the footsteps of my parents and learnt a bit of everything I do today from them. I embraced their entrepreneurial spirit.
What are you currently working on or promoting?
I am always trying to bring out the best in my designs. I just showcased the Rich Aunty Vibes (RAV) collection, and the reception from my fans and clients worldwide was awesome. I am expanding my fashion school, home and abroad, and the new empire, which is a fashion museum.
You make pregnancy look so easy. How do you do it?
A lot of women reached out to me to give them tips on how I’m able to make it look easy. To be honest, I also get sick, have bad days but I don’t let them weigh me down. I won’t whine about it, not stay negative about it. I focus on the positive aspects of life and kick because staying down will affect your businesses and other activities around you. During this period, make sure you surround yourself with people who have your back.
As a celebrity mum of three kids, how are you able to cope with the tasks of managing your businesses and caring for the children?
It’s extremely hard, with kids on your hands, but I live for fashion and it’s like a business to me. No one can promote your business better than yourself and I’m my own muse because I carry my pieces so well. Like they say no food for a lazy man, even when I’m down and feeling gloomy, I force myself to pull through the shoots and show up at all my daily activities, no matter how it hurts.
What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion is creativity for me. Many people just want to create an outfit, for me, I want to create an impression. A statement is so solid that it cuts across this boundary and is relative in other parts of the world. I have been doing that for years. I create and set trends with my fashion statements and I love standing out.
What is your style?
Fashion-forward, I’m eccentric, you can’t put me in a box, I am someone who can come up with anything different today and people will love it. That’s why I’m called the transformation queen. When you see a Tiannah’s masterpiece, you will just know without being told.
What’s your favourite piece of clothing?
Anything with a touch of black on it is made by my brand Elegance, by Tiannah Styling.
Who are your style icons?
Growing up, I used to be a fan of my mum. She was a fashion icon and she taught me all I know.
Who is your role model?
My late mother is my role model. She was super creative and a business mogul.
What’s your favourite local dish?
Amala with gbegiri and Ewedu.
Share with us your happiest moments?
When I styled Ciara’s ‘Love like a movie’ music and fashion show with about 300 pieces. I had to create every outfit from the scratch and it was a lot of work. But seeing that success is a thing of joy.
What are your turn-offs and turn on?
I hate gossiping and lying. I am a fan of positive people and those who can help bring out the best in my craft.
Describe yourself in three sentences.
I am a workaholic, a loving mum and someone with a creative mind.
What are your hobbies?
I enjoy creating masterpieces, dancing, swimming and traveling.
What is your philosophy of life?
Helping people, living life to the fullest and going for my goals.
If you were given an opportunity to change Nigeria, what will you do?
I will change our educational system, pension system and try to create more jobs. I will also open more doors for young fashion designers abroad.