Alhaja Idera Nimotalai is the CEO of the popular Idera Fabric Store on John Street, Idumota, Lagos. Her tall 3 storey building which housed “Idera Fabrics” is always beehive of customers who always come to get the best fabrics for their Owambe.
Of course there is no way you will see Idera fabrics and not admire her. She rocks the best fabrics to parties and her shop. When City People visited her shop few days ago, she sat beautifully in a multi-coloured chattily HOH lace worth over half a million, matched with an Italian Saco Slippers of over many hundred of naira. She spent luxury as she takes us through her giant storey building. She also has other stores at John Street.
What is her story, how did she start? What stand her out? City People Assistant Society Editor, ABIOLA ORISILE had an exclusive interview with her and she spoke about her brand, her life and how she started.
Your pictures show you have been selling fabrics for years, when did you started selling fabrics fully?
Well, I have been selling fabrics for years. My grandmother use to sell fabrics. She was selling fabrics in Ghana before she moved to Iyana Ipaja. They call her “Iya Alaso”. She stays at Alagbado and come to Iyana Ipaja everyday.
When we were young, my grandmother thought us how to fold fabrics, how to arrange in colours to mention few. So if I have to say how long I have been selling fabrics, I would say from toddler but I have been selling fabrics professional since 1985 as a young teenage girl.
What does your mum do?
My mum sells stock fish and she always travel between Nigeria and Ghana, so I stay more with my grandmother who thought me all the rudiment of fabrics.
Why fabrics business? Despite your love for education?
My grandma made me fell in love with fabrics business. If my grandmother sees pretty women, she will call me to come and see them. She calls them “Omo Jayejaye”. She loves women that are stylish.
You must be stylish to be close to her. I was in Class 4 and she always loves us to look good. So even while going to school, I already know about fabrics, supplying of fabrics to mention few. Right from there was when I told myself, I am going into fabric business.
How and where did you started?
I started in 1985 at Aswani Market. It was from Aswani that I had 3 shops at Iyana Ipaja. It was from there that I started selling on the bridge in Idumota. It was on bridge while hustling that my friend Abebi fabrics and others met some China who will bring their fabrics to sell and give us commission.
We were doing more or less sales girl. In year 2000. We had already started selling by then. Before then, I had already had 3 shops. One in Union Homes, I sell fabrics in Bale (to wholesaler) then. The Idera that has one of the biggest fabric store now in Victoria Island started from Iyana Ipaja, Idera on Idumota Bridge, then Idera Union Homes before I moved to Idera fabrics on John Street, Idumota.
How long have you been inside Idera fabric home in Idumota?
I have been in this permanent site since 2010.
Celebrity babes don’t want to learn how to sell fabrics, do we need to learn how to sell fabrics?
Yes, many young babes don’t want to learn how to sell fabrics. But permit me to say that it is very important to learn how to sell fabrics. You can’t go far if you don’t learn it. You need to know how to source for fabrics.
How to arrange colours to complement one another. You need to know colours. You can’t arrange cloth any how. That is why some people will keep patronising a particular brand. You must know how to attend to customers. Everybody wants to sell fabrics, yes you can sell, but it will be good to understand the brand.
What makes Idera fabrics unique?
Being truthful to customers and treating them right. Many people will attest to the fact that I am very trustworthy. When client want to pick Aso-Ebi, I tell them straight if I have. If you give me date, I tell you if it will be ready.
When they come to buy from our unique collections, I also give them good price. I won’t want someone to buy fabric from me and meet it cheaper at other stores. It has never happened here.
Most fabric merchant kids sell fabrics, do you have kids who sell fabrics?
Yes her name is Alhaja Nofisat Adelaja. She is the CEO of Nofitex Fabrics.
How much do you start fabrics with and what year?
I started selling fabrics in 1987 with 1500 naira only. Then I was in my 30s. That was huge money and I will go to Cotonue and supply at Oshodi. Our first born sell fabrics at Oshodi. Her name is Alhaja Silifat Olowo-Cotonue. She now has a shop at Sango now.
You are always happy, what is the secret behind this?
I am always known to smile. People know this about me. They always call me Idera “Elerin Eye” (Smiling Idera). I always love to welcome people with smile.
What is your advice for young babes who want to live larger than life?
Firstly, I want to tell them to take things easy. Most celebrity women you see started small. Don’t use their success as yard stick. Education and business is very important. My kids are all very educated but some don’t like this fabric business.
So we didn’t force them. You can’t force children. You can learn fabric in 3 months.
Why are fabric merchant so stylish?
It is our job. You have to be stylish to sell fabrics. You can’t be low-life and want people to patronise you.
What kind of fabric do you sell?
I sell fabrics of all kind. I sell all kind of lace. I sell lace, Ankara.
How do you rest?
I rest sometimes on Thursday or Monday. But when I am going to shop, I resume by 9 am. People love to see me at the shop and I love to attend to my clients. They are all important. Is why I come to shop every day.
How did you get your name Idera fabrics?
It is from my name, Nomotalai Ideraoluwa.
What is the name of your grandma who thought you about fabrics?
Her name is Alhaja Muinat Balogun, alias “Iya Alaso”.