The popular fashion label Mudi is 25. Mudi is the name of the leading fashion brand founded by a young man, Clement Mudiaga Enajemo, who is very, very creative . Have you driven past his MUDI fashion house, inside Anthony Village, in Lagos before? If you have, you must have noticed how lovely the impressive storey building is. It is painted Grey and usually spots a huge(life size) painting mounted on the wall of the house. The painting gets changed from time to time. Each painting conveys an artistic message. Many don’t know that Mudi started as Artist. The building is located at a vantage position, at the intersection of Mudi Lane and Olorunlogbon Street. On one side of the wall of the building right now is the Mudi @25 sign. On the other side is written, Mudi Africa sinnage, with a list of itsoutlets in Lagos, Abuja, PH, Accra, Dakar, Nairobi and Johannesburg. There are 7 poles with flags of these countries blowing in the air. And his big black Tundra jeep is usually packed in the parking lot out there. Mudi has made a definitive statement with the building which serves as the production hub of his international fashion brand. There is no way you will drive past the huge building and not notice it.
Inside the building is another experience altogether. As you make to enter the complex, a security man in white, quickly steps forward to open the glass door that takes you right through the staircase that leads into the expansive reception area. He has a Receptionist/Secretarythat attends to you as you walk in. And as you are asked to sit and wait to be attended too, you are offered bottled water or soft drink or even wine, to quench your thirst. You can’t help but take a deep look round the reception area and you can see how colourful the inside is. If you didn’t have prior knowledge of where you were, you would have assumed it was a corporate establishment like a banking hall, or a CEOs office, going by the exotic look of the place. Looking round, you need not be told that Mudi has stepped up his game. And he is clearly ahead of the pack.
And you will begin to wonder how this pencil-slim fashion designer built Mudi, which started from one room in Ketu 25, years ago to the world class fashion centre he has created in Anthony Village Lagos. It is a lovely ambience that will allow for creative thinking and creative work.
As you get ushered into Mudi’s office you begin to wonder what the success secrets of this Urhobo guy is. You immediately figure out that it must be a combination of Creativity. Hardwork, Humility and Passion. You will also immediately recollect that Mudi resumes 7am every day and works 24/7. Last week Thursday, he spoke to City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE for close to one hour on how he built his formidable fashion empire. Read on.
Congratulations on your giant strides in the fashion industry. How do you feel MUDI @ 25?
I feel happy. I thank God for the gift. I am very happy that all I put into the business is worth it. On my own, I have kept thinking, innovating, fighting to succeed, and competing. First of all, I give all thanks to God for making me believe in myself.
When you started off 25 years ago, how did it happen?
First of all, I am an artiste and I needed a platform to express myself, so I picked up fashion designing. Back home then, most of my friends when they want to buy clothes they usually seek my opinion and advice on what and what they want to buy.
So first and foremost is the Gift, Ability to Innovate and Create and how to look good. All these made me go into fashion designing at that time.
Where were you then?
In Ketu, Ikosi-Ketu, not too far from Cele headquarters.
How did you now make that move to actualise your dream to be a designer?
A friend of mine called me and said, Clement, why don’t you take up this fashion designing business. People used to call me Clement then. There was no MUDI. He said why don’t you go into fashion designing because you have good taste in fashion. You dress well. So, I gave it a thought. I spoke to my senior brother who gave me the go ahead. I then enrolled with an established road side tailor, in Ketu there, to train, on how to do good stitches, good cuts. The creative part is in born, you don’t learn it.
You don’t learn creativity. That was how I started. I must say thank you to Richard Mofe-Damijo, the star actor. He is my big brother. He gave me my breakthrough. RMD as everyone calls him, gave me my first money to take my first shop. Then, I was struggling to get my first shop. I was saving, money wasn’t really coming, so he decided to give me the money I needed.
Where was your first shop?
At Anthony area, here I have been in Anthony since 1997. I started from my first shop, it was a one room shop, from there to Olorunlogbon, then to this place, where I am now.
What explains the phenomenal growth of MUDI?
It is talent. What I have learnt over the years is, to be a good designer and successful designer is not by how much you have in your account, not about money, first of all you must have the talent, you must be creative. You must have style. You must have taste. You must have drive. Those are the key factors.
What has kept Mudi going? Year in, year out there is always something new to expect from Mudi. How do you do it?
Consistencyhas a role to play in all of this because I get to my office 7 am everyday. Ilearnt that from you. You actually inspired me. Each time I drive past youroffice I see your car there before 7am. Movement is key. Consistency is key.You have to keep moving. Discipline is key. I know designers who feel they havearrived. They get to work around 10am or 11am and they delegate from home. Idon’t know if that works for them. But I don’t do that. And around 4pm to 5pmthey close for the day. They say they are going on networking. What are younetworking for, you leave your work, you say you are going networking. So,discipline has a role to play in the success of the business.
And also in a society where there is so much fantasy, razzmataz going on, with little substance, you have to be careful. You have to be disciplined. You have to decide on what constitutes your values. You have to be able to define me. You have to be able to say this is me. It takes a high level of confidence to say this is me. This is how I want to live my life. That is Nigeria of today.
People want to teleguide your life, they want to live your life for you. But you must be able to say this is me. Noo. This is who I am. You must be focused and you must be yourself. You will actually spend less and you will live longer. Be yourself and maintain your lane.
When you set up Mudi 25 years ago, how did you create the name? How did you carve out the brand name?
Initially, I started as Clem MUDI, so a lady who was working with Air Nigeria in those days actually said, noo. Settle for MUDI. So I did. I got the name MUDI from my middle name. I carved it out from my full name Mudiaga. It means
A few years back Mudi branched out and expanded all over the world. What is the state of that expansion today? At what stage is MUDI?
It was a breakthrough for MUDI. I started gaining that limelight nationally when I started designing for Jumobi Adegbesan. When she used to anchor a programme on AIT. Every Monday morning I had to make different outfits that she had to wear on her programme. That programme actually propelled me and exposed MUDI.
Then I decided to open some outlets outside Nigeria. The first place was in Accra, Ghana. Small money comes in from that outside market. That added value to the business. So now we have outlets in Lagos, (the headoffice), Port Harcourt, Abuja and Accra. I used to have in Dakar, I shut it down 2 years ago. It wasn’t doing well. We also have Abidjan, Nairobi and Johannesburg.
Is MUDI only for male or unisex?
Iused to do for females before now, years back, but I do only for men now. Imake clothes for only men. I stopped making clothes for women about 7 yearsago. The pressure became too much, so I slowed down on the women.