•How Instagram Helped Her Business Grow Big
Popular Aso-Oke brand, Bimms24, is owned by Abimbola Ipaye, unarguably the queen of Aso-Oke in Nigeria. Her Aso-Oke and beads have clad countless Nigerian brides and adorned their necks and wrists respectively. She is definitely a great Aso-Oke merchant in Nigeria. Her Aso-Oke is unique and usually stands out, especially the bedazzled Aso-Oke which is a mix of so many accessories. Meeting Bimbo for the first time, work is all you get to see as she practically believes anyone who walks into her store is a patron or customer.
Very unassuming with an alluring and infectious smile, she treats all customers with great respect. In just 4 years, her brand is much bigger than her and many brides have had a magnificent engagement ceremonies adorning her beautiful pieces. She trends on all social media and it is just the touch of a difference she puts in aso oke that has made her stand out.
The ever smiling and bubbly lady is a Bead, Aso-Oke, and Fabric guru and has catered for a huge percentage of Brides and Grooms across the nation and even abroad, sharing a bit of her story, the CEO of Traditions by Bimms” started about 4 years ago, but has become independent since she was 14 years old. Her difficult childhood steadied her for challenges and ensured nothing breaks her, she just keeps pushing.
She started by sewing and selling patched Ankara skirts in the university and after graduation, she got a contract job in a pension company, left the company and started making beads.Then the love for Aso-Oke started and she hanged around her family’s friend, who makes Aso-Oke to learn. She started the Aso-Oke business from her room, then moved to a BQ and later to where she is now. Bimbo’s journey to fame is an interesting one, not only interesting but very inspiring, In this exclusive interview with City People’s Society Editor, TAYO FAJORIN OYEDIJI, she opened up on her brand, her life style, goals and how social media shot her to the limelight.
Your brand is a one-stop-fashion store for Aso-Oke, what exactly is the brand all about?
Bimms 24 is all about Aso-Oke, but not just Aso-Oke, but the modern, the beautiful, the modern and newly-made aso oke because I got tired of the old Aso-Oke, and I decided to put some spice on it. So that is all that we do here.
What is the exact spice you add to it?
The spice is just adding one or two things to Aso-Oke. To me, I believe if you can add loads of things to other cloths, you can also add to Aso-Oke, just do it in a way that it will look classy and doesn’t look out of place. You can stone it, pearl it, lace it and do many other things on it.
Most brides, these days, wear your brand, what is the unique selling point (USP) that sets Bimms 24 apart from other outfits?
This might sound somehow, but honestly, I must tell you, it is the glory of God, because sometimes I don’t even understand what I do, and the other thing is that one has to be consistent in whatever you are doing. Always set a goal for yourself. As I always say, I am not competing with anybody, but with myself. Customer relations is key for me, I have a best friend of two years, who was my bride two years ago, and I only met her when she came to do Aso-Oke, and we are best friends now. Everybody is doing Aso-Oke now, so for me I will hinge on my customer relations.
In the stiff competition in your sub-sector, Bimms has been in the forefront and brides practically running to Bimms to make their Aso-Oke, what does this means to you and how do you feel about it?
I feel blessed because as I said, sometimes, I don’t even understand what I am doing, but it shows that God is involved. Creativity is involved too, that’s what I feel. Being able to give brides more than what no other regular brides are wearing, giving them unique design, their own style, setting them apart from the regular brides make me happy.
Every bride who walks in here always says she wants something different. Some will even go as far as saying they want what no one has worn before and I am always saying it is not about what someone has worn before, it is all about how you carry whatever you wear, so it is just taking somethings away from what ‘B’ is wearing and put it on A. It will look different to you, but if you look at it creatively, it is just a little difference. So, every bride I know wants something different. So, I feel glad we could meet their needs.’
How did Bimms 24 start and what led you into Aso-Oke designing?
While I was growing up, I wanted to be so many things. I wanted to be a diplomat, air hostess, and so on. In as much as I wanted to be anything, I always say to myself, I just want to be famous. While growing up, I noticed that I have a good sense of style, knowing who you are and what you can do say much about your person.
So, I noticed my sense of style attracts people’s attention and they always ask: Where did you get this, how did you put it together and all that, how did you achieve this? So, I thought, I could just be a stylist. I also realised that being a stylist then did not really sell in Nigeria because nobody understood what being a stylist was. Everybody could just go into their wardrobes and put A and B together even if what they are wearing do not blend accurate.
Since I love dressing people, I can put my energy into something else and I noticed that whenever my mum was going for weddings, she used to wear the same clothes as grandma. One day, I asked my mum if she borrowed someone’s Aso Oke ,that looks like what grandma wore. And she said ‘No’, it is hers, that she didn’t borrow from grandma.
My cousin also wore similar clothes on her wedding day, and out of curiosity I told her one day, that I wanted to start doing Aso-Oke. She asked whether I was okay That what did I know about Aso-Oke? Because I have seen Ibo people wore George and they spiced it up, so I said to myself, if a plain material such as George could be accessorized, why not Aso-Oke? so that was how I started. I just felt there should be a change, something should come up, modernize the Aso-Oke, spice it up and let it dazzle, that was how my designing Aso-Oke came to be.
Can you differentiate yourself from Bimms and the real Bimbo?
As I always say, I have a multiple personality, when I am Bimms, I am a totally different person. What I have in my head is work, designs, talking to my workers, relating with customers. The Bimms part of me is the one who goes to parties, the Bimbo is a quiet type that stays in the house. I will not say I am a loner, but I love to be in my space, the Bimbo part of me is quiet, plays much Bimms part of me is all about work. I can come to work in the morning by 9am and leave at 9pm, I know when Bimms or Bimbo is talking, Bimms can be a bit controlling because I want things to be done the way I want it, but the Bimbo is pleased with anything. My work takes much from me and it is strictly hard work.
You have been in this business for close to 4 years and it has readily become a brand in this short while, how has it been in the last 4 years?
It has been very tasking and a blessing as well. God has been good to me. I noticed the shortfall of the business because whatever it is you put out there. People copy it and spoil the business for you. Everybody just wants to dub whatever you put out there people give the excuse of saying they look up to me, but I say No, you don’t look up to people like that by doing exactly what they do.
There is a story behind each of my design, if you cannot tell the story, you should not do it. I can tell the story of how I achieved all my Aso-Oke designs and the motivation behind them. Sometimes, it wants to make me cry because sometimes I feel bad about it, but I also see it as a blessing, that they are putting me on my toes to do more, because if they did not copy, I would have relaxed. It can be a blessing and also otherwise, but I take the blessing part of it.
How do you come about different designs?
It depends, I might look at you, look at the dress you are wearing and something will just speak to me. Sometimes when I think deeply, I get inspiration. Sometimes I just walk up the street and see a drawing and I am like I can put this together. What you need is just to give me an info of what you want and I will do the rest.
How fulfilled is Bimms?
I will not say I am hundred percent fulfilled, yet because I have not got to where I am going, Istill have a whole long journey in front of me. My dreams are bigger than me. even though sometimes I feel as if I don’t want to do this anymore, I just say I need to keep going.
Sometimes, when you feel that stress is too much or you are not getting what you want, you will just get tired and want to quit. Do you know how many times I have thought of quitting and relocating and not coming back? But you know what, I always come back to my senses and say, this is where God has placed me and I cannot let another person take my glory. I have to continue from here.
Whatever it is that is going on, there will surely be an end to it. Some low moments, sometimes, it is the way customers relate with you. You cannot satisfy everyone and some customers even go to the extent of comparing you saying, you? When did you start? Some people have been there for many years and in my head, you can’t speak back to your customers. You better pray that you are more successful.
So, some customers can be that loud, I have great respect for those in the business before me, I have respect for their works, so I don’t like to be compared with any person, but that is what we do here. For instance, carrying gists that were not true about you. Saying what can I do, that some people are better than me, so those were the things we faced in the business. I noticed many people are not really happy if someone is successful.
They may even crave your downfall or want you to fail. Some go to the extent of coming to my page or calling to say how happy they are for me whereas it is all lies. So, it got to me then that I wonder how come people that do business always sit in church, now I know why they do so, because in the wedding industry or other ones, you have more enemies than friends. People smile at you saying you have done well, whereas envy and perhaps hatred sit deep in them.
If you are smart, you will know they are only fair weather friends for a particular season, if you are not there, people move to the next person. So, you don’t have to have friends and friends like that, you are your own friend. That is why I said earlier that you are your own competitor. Once you realise that, you buckle up.
Is Bimms 24 affordable?
Yes, Bimms 24 is affordable, affordability is relative, depending on what you want, I will not say I am expensive, but I give you value for your money. In fact, I will give you more than what you want, so that you can come back. Sometimes, you cannot be everywhere, but it is your job that brings people to you.so what a bride wants are what we key into. What makes us different is how we have been able to treat our patrons right by giving them more than what they want. I tell people, I get married every weekend starting from Thursday because whenever I am doing customers Aso-Oke, I do it as if I am the one getting married. I am always happy to see my bride, I am happy to see my bride happy.
What does style mean to you?
Style, to me is, picking 2 or 3 things and creating your own style out of than not dubbing. When I see a particular thing, I pick one or 2 things from it, then create something out of it that even the person I picked it from would never knew I got the idea from her and she would even copy what I have copied from her, so that’s style for me. Style is turning things totally round in another way that people will see it and admire. I love to turn heads and standout.
How does your mum feel about you now?
She feels very happy for me. Will I just say my mum? Not only her, but everyone that genuinely loves me and believes in me, because reading my story and where I came from, I am not supposed to be here. That is why I tell you everything is possible with God. I didn’t even know I will be this big, I didn’t even know I will become Bimms 24. I was just doing my own thing. just working and doing my job, doing the Aso-Oke that I want to do, but how I moved from A to B, I still can’t say, but I know that because I am a stylish person and I don’t like to repeat things, something always tells me to move from a point to the other. I am
I was just doing my own thing. just working and doing my job, doing the Aso-Oke that I want to do, but how I moved from A to B, I still can’t say, but I know that because I am a stylish person and I don’t like to repeat things, something always tells me to move from a point to the other. I am Abimbola not Bimms 24 when I started and I never knew Bimms 24 would become be a household name, it was just supposed to be a fun thing, and I remember, when I wanted to join Instagram then, I was using blackberry, I had no android phone, so I saved up for it.
Finally, when I got an android phone, I had to register my name as Bimms 24 just for fun and kept telling my stories through pictures, that was what my Instagram page was meant for, just for fun. So I am shocked it has become big like this. So, I believe someone has put Instagram in someone’s head just to announce me. If people had not seen my Aso-Oke, you would not be motivated because there are so many of us doing Aso-Oke, but they get motivated by me.
What is your growing up like?
Growing up was in my own world, I grew up in a family where you practically have to do everything by yourself. I became a mother at a very tender age because I have to care for my four siblings. I am the first child, so my mum left them in my care. I had to take them to school and practically became their mum. Growing up for me was not like every other child’s growing up because we are different. I grew up on the Island, Adeniji Adele.
Lagos Island was a cool place when I was growing up. To the glory of God, I learnt from the Island, and I am happy I grew up there. It has taught me many lessons and I say I am from the streets. It does not mean you live on the street, Island babes are proper Isale Eko babes, so what you can bring up from where you grew up matters and not letting your environment affect you negatively. I keep speaking to myself, I set out to be different, I want to be famous, I never knew I would be Bimms 24. I just wanted to be different and for parents to turn to their kids and say won’t you rather be like Bimbo?
Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
I want to be the best in the world, I want to get to a stage that I don’t want to sell anymore, I just want to train, teach, impact knowledge. The moment I stop selling Aso-Oke, I will start training people and teach them how they can start their Aso-Oke, business. I will have a school where people pay and learn.