Her story is an incredible one. Pretty and homely looking top fashion designer, Oluwakemi Goodey, CEO Heiress Couture Nigeria, actually started out designing and making fabulous dresses for her friends and clients in 2011 and was making quite an impressive progress in the business. Her clientele base was increasing and she couldn’t have any complaints about the business. But fate still had more in store for her. Things took a dramatic change for Kemi when in 2016 she put out a picture of herself and her daughter in matching outfits on social media in celebration of the daughter’s first birthday and it went viral. Everyone loved the gorgeous looking dress she designed for the daughter and soon, mothers started calling in and bombarding her with requests to do a similar gorgeous outfit for their little girls. And that was the birth of her Mum and Me fashion line. Today, her fashion outfit, Heiress Couture has become a big and successful brand that enjoys unprecedented patronage from clients all over the world. As a matter of fact, a large portion of her clientele is from Europe and America. It was no surprise to many, therefore, when Oluwakemi Goodey was announced as the Best Kids Designer of the Year at the 2nd edition of City People’s Female Entrepreneurs Award held weeks ago in Lagos at the Lekki Coliseum. She spoke with City People’s Senior Editor, WALE LAWAL (08037209290) and shared with us the story of how she hit it big in the business following the fabulous dress she made for her daughter which she put out on social media.
You just picked up the Best Kids Designer of the Year Award, how excited are you about this?
I am very excited. And I’m really very grateful to God and to City People for this honour.
Tell us, exactly when did you set up your outfit?
The business was actually started in 2011 but I started being recognised as a Mum & Me brand in 2016 when I introduced the Mum & Me outfit for my daughter’s first year birthday. It was after then that people started requesting children’s outfits and Mum & Me, and that was it.
Why kiddies outfit, why not go into making dresses for ladies?
Well, when people started requesting for children’s outfits after the release of the photo in 2016, I was quite upset. I was like, are they trying to say I don’t know how to make dresses for adults? But my husband was the one who told me, you don’t know you have carved a niche for yourself, you’re starting a brand that is not here in Nigeria, you had better make good use of the opportunity. So, I thought of it that, oh, truly, there aren’t other brands doing this, so people appreciated the fact that I made a dress for me and my daughter in matching outfit and they loved it. So, they felt, okay, so, I could make clothes for my children here in Nigeria without having to travel abroad and the orders started rolling in.
And how has the experience been for you since then?
The experience has been awesome, it has been wonderful. I didn’t expect the turnout. As I speak to you now, I ship clothes to different parts of the world, all over the world as a matter of fact. In fact, most of my clients are abroad. I ship out orders to the United Kingdom, the United States and several parts of the world.
Where is your office located?
It’s located in Ikeja, Lagos.
You said you started the business in 2011 but you were doing basically adult outfits for ladies then…?
Yes, I was. So, for my daughter’s first birthday, I made her a dress and I thought, why don’t I just make something ‘matchy’ for both of us and people fell in love with it all over the world and that was how the Mum & Me brand started.
So, now, have you concentrated solely on kiddies fashion?
Well, that’s my major market now so I’m concentrating fully on it, although I do get orders from ladies requesting for adult designs but most of my orders are for kids.
Let’s talk about your fabrics, what kind of fabrics do you work with largely?
I work with luxurious fabrics because some of these fabrics we have to import them from India, from Dubai and from Turkey.
Apart from the fact that you design specifically for kiddies which is not common, what else would you say is unique about your designs that stand you out?
The details of our dresses and I think the fabrics and materials we use also make our dresses stand out in such a way that even if our dresses are imitated they won’t still be anything like our products because of the materials we use and the volume of work we put into our dresses.
How affordable would you say your outfits are?
Well, I won’t lie, we are not average but I can assure you we are affordable to those that know quality.
That’s a very clever response. What were you doing before you got into fashion in 2011?
I was looking for a job. I finished from school and I was looking for job. I honestly didn’t set out to be a designer, but because I had given birth at that time and I didn’t want to leave my son at the daycare, I wanted him to be about two years old when he would’ve started school. So, I was like, what can I do in the comfort of my home before I can start going out again to look for a job? I told my best friend that I want to start making dresses before my son would start school and she was like, make me two office wears. She was working with Zenith bank then. So, after making those office wears for her, people were like where did you buy your dresses from and she told them her best friend made them for her. They asked her to introduce me to them and that was it till I made that photoshoot for me and my daughter. So, before then, it was just office dresses, Aso-Ebi, wedding dresses, reception dresses that I was making.
That’s an impressive story you have there, I must say. So, what should we expect of you and your brand in the next four to five years?
Well, for now, I can’t say because God is my director. But I believe in about five years or so from now, I won’t be in this position, I would’ve gotten international recognition by God’s grace.