‘I left my well-paying job to follow my passion’
Rebecca Adebiyi Abioye is the Chief Executive Officer and Creative Director at O’tra by Becca, a fast-rising fashion brand based in Lagos. Recently featuring BB Naija’s Anto in her latest campaign, VRAI, she talks about finding her feet in the industry, leaving her job to follow her passion without a safety net and her fashion academy
Why opt for haute couture and custom-made dresses? Why not just mass-produce and let people pick what they like?
I want to satisfy every individual; I want them to come in and tell me this is what they like and want and try to satisfy them in every way possible.
Haute couture that will appear on the red carpet or special occasions has to be custom-made specially for you.
How did you get into this industry?
It’s a long story but I’ll try to summarise. When I was young, my mum used to have this small hand sewing machine and I started playing with and got very interested. I used to make small outfits for my mum and classmates.
After secondary school, I got into school and got a job after that. However, I resigned from my job and went into fashion school.
A few months after fashion school, I decided to set up my own brand.
When you say you resigned, you left your job without any safety net?
Yes. I was working for some years but I have always loved fashion and I wanted to fulfill what I think I am supposed to do in life.
I make all the dresses myself by hand; the fabrics are carefully selected and garments are treated luxuriously. You can hardly see designs made here anyhow because each garment is lovingly and personally made.
We all know hand made dresses tend to be very expensive, how affordable are your outfits?
All the dresses are very affordable for people that desire luxury; I would describe them as “affordable luxury.”
Asides wedding dresses, we do dresses for events, red carpet dresses, birthdays and so on.
You recently released a new bridal collection featuring BBNaija’s Anto, tell us about this experience and collection?
It was really fantastic I have to say. We picked her because she is the perfect muse and we believed she would fit wonderfully well with the collection and she did a perfect job.
The bridal 2019 collection is called Vrai, which is a French word meaning true.
The reason why we decided on that is because we have clients come in, demanding for this or that design and the experiences I have had with them is about being their true selves.
Brides want to wear something they’re comfortable in, and tell us this is how they want to be seen on their big day and this gave me the inspiration for this collection.
What makes this collection different from others you have put out in the past?
The outfits in this collection are unbelievably gorgeous. We have different types of wedding dresses, ball dresses, mermaid dresses and so on.
For the simple brides that don’t want anything loud, we have pencil dresses and for edgy brides that do not fancy wearing white, there is the rose petal dress, which can double as a reception dress.
There is also the corset-like reception dress, jumpsuits for brides that don’t want to wear a wedding dress or want to use it for a registry wedding.
How do you source fabrics?
From any and every market, locally and internationally, basically anywhere we think we can get good fabrics.
Tell us some of the challenges you have faced?
Power is our greatest problem. As I am speaking right now, we have not had power for almost a week now, this is the greatest challenge we have running this business. Getting good staff is also another challenge.
What major fashion shows have you showcased in?
We participated in Africa Fashion Week Nigeria (AFWN) last year, La Mode Magazine this year and we would be featuring in Zenith Bank’s fashion week taking place this weekend where we intend to make a big splash to wrap up the year.
What should we expect from O’tra next year?
We are coming out with a new collection early next year to satisfy our brides and teeming customers and I promise that it would be bigger than this year’s. I believe everyone is a star and celebrity and deserved to be dressed by me.
This year has been great and with our latest collection, we have been getting so many positive feedbacks and vibes and I believe I am ending this year with a positive bang by showing at the fashion show next week and our clients should anticipate because we have a beautiful surprise for everyone.
Tell us about your fashion and design academy?
I set up this academy to help aspiring fashion designers realise their dreams and make it come true.
Our programme is very intensive and in less than two weeks, students can put outfits together because we are committed to equipping our students with skills and practical experiences required to handle the entire creative process of fashion from concept to consumer.
The program helps to produce caliber of designers, ready to enter the fashion industry with proficiency and confidence.