Faith Olayinka Babalola is an international fashion designer. She is a Nigeria born, but is currently based in the US. She is a co-founder of Faith Collection (Unisex) that caters to young people. Faith recently spoke to City People columnist ADEDOYIN about the challenges facing fashion designers. Below are excepts of the interview.
For how long have you been a fashion designer?
Just as the adage goes” Time flies when you are having fun.” I have been in the Fashion Industry for 10 years.
Tell us why you chose fashion as a career?
There’s a lot to this story. Firstly, My Mother is the Inspiration. She’s been a Fashion Designer since her Teenage years. There was a day I requested for my High School Graduation dress, made by her Apprentice; They couldn’t make what I wanted in time after begging for days ooo…That led to me not wearing the costumed made dress… (Covers face)…. I was forced to put in all effort to learn after my graduation from High School, also attended a Fashion Institute during this time..Finally I have a degree in Fashion Designing within 1year and half.
Tell us your experience as a fashion designer?
I love challenges. With fashion trends rotating and fading in and out, the industry is changing. I had the opportunity to step outside my comfort zone; working in fashion allows me to meet so many people, all with different backgrounds, experiences and stories. I have learnt a lot from the people around me…the people I met at the early stages of my career played a major role in my life.
Have you ever been in a situation where you almost quit your job as a designer?
There is no job without dark days. Let me give you a recent scenario. There’s this lady that was introduced to me by her elder sister, you know what it means when your biological sister introduces you to someone to make you your 18th birthday dinner dress. When she finally met with me, she showed me what she wanted. Guess what? We had to combine 7 different styles to get her dream dress (in my head, am like this girl will end up being wahala) to cut the story short, she finally came over for her 1st trial.
Have you ever seen someone who at first glance at something hated it and yelled on you?
She ended up trying this dress and became ashamed of herself … this dress was perfect…no adjustments. She turned to me and saw me crying..Trust me I didn’t know where that water was coming from. They started begging me …and gave me 40% tip of what she paid for the dress. She’s now one of my favorite people. Working with the public has taught me how to remain calm and humble.
What are your challenges?
Meeting people who are not your age group, talking to you like you are nothing. Working late nights, making my personal cloths last minute for parties.
What do you think is lacking in fashion business that you don’t like?
It is hard for up-coming designers to find a platform to showcase their works. It’s all about being well connected in the fashion industry.
How does fashion business operate in the U.S.A?
The USA is the center of the ready-to-wear market and it is a country that embraces change, and fashion is ever changing… Trust me, it is the true destination of people who have a passion for fashion. Where cultural diversity can give rise to unique perspectives on fashion trends and the future of the industry. Everyone you meet out there will have one thing or another to say when they see you wear any African made outfits. Sometimes I feel ashamed to wear Ankara or lace (covers face) because the attention it attracts is not good for somebody like me. This business has made me meet lot of people I never think of. You stand out when you wear any African attire.
Have you ever felt rejected because you are black?
When speaking of fashion or being a Fashion designer. I have NEVER!! Lots of people I have met love what I do, the skin alone draws attention. They always want to dress like us. And am proud to tell anyone that I am a Nigerian, that alone gives you customers. They trust us when it comes to fashion. For instance, there’s a lady getting married last year and the couple are not Africans but this lady approached me and said she wanted to dress like a Nigerian for her wedding. She couldn’t pronounce Aso oke but her explanation tells me what she needed. .(in my head am like can she tie aso oke iro and buba)? .
Tell us about your brand?
My brand is for both genders, young and old. One thing that makes me different from some designer here is that, I don’t use patterns or buy traced out patterns from stores!! Some upcoming designers ask me how I do it, I simply tell them “it’s all about being creative, it’s something have been doing for 10years.
As an international fashion designer can you give us 6 tips of how a lady could look good and gorgeous?
- Be aware of your body shape by taking your measurements. The most common types are:
(i). Pear: larger hips, smaller waist and bust. Highlight your small waist and shoulders.
(ii). Apple: larger bust and waist, smaller legs. Draw attention to your slim legs and hips.
(iii) Hourglass: larger bust and hips, smaller waist. Play up your classic curves and small waist.
(iv) Banana: Thin through bust, waist and hips. Play up your slender figure, using belts or cropped jackets to draw a line across your waist.
Remember: light colors highlight, dark colors. For instance, if you like your waist but don’t like your hips, wear dark pants and a light shirt.
- Practice good posture. The way you carry yourself tells other people a lot about how you feel, so make sure you’re communicating confidently.
Choose things that compliment your face structure: Your hairstyle should compliment your face. If you are conscious about your bulging cheeks, avoid short hairstyles. Instead, go for a layered cut that frames your face. Similarly, your spectacle frames should look good on you. Not everybody can carry off thin rimmed or nerd glasses. Just because they look good on your favorite celebrities does not necessarily mean you will be able to carry them off too. Instead of copying styles, choose a look that works for you and you will look smart.
- Accessorize smartly: Do not overdo the jewellery, whether it is for office or parties. A statement necklace does not need chandelier earrings and multiple bangles, huge cocktail rings and anklets. Guys, make sure that your tie goes well with your shirt and blazer. Your cufflinks should be smart, especially for office wear.
Inspirational words for upcoming fashion designers?
Get some experience with an experienced designer or with a label that is going to be a good exchange of your time for a rewarding experience. Try to learn about everything when you’re there: design, cutting, studio management, ordering fabrics, suppliers. Make as many contacts as possible along the way. Stay true to your tastes and visions and take all opportunities offered to you – even if they don’t work out you will learn something from them. Be humble; learn to accommodate young and old. know YOUR WORTH!! The truth is, everyone’s route is different. It doesn’t mean one is better than the other; we’re just different.