Biola Brentwood is a fashion label that is making waves in Lagos right now. It is an upscale quality fashion house where your dream outfits are tailored to perfection, making all her clients, who are female, look Grateful and Grandeur. The shop is located at 28, Mojidi Street, Off Toyin Street, Ikeja.
The label was officially launched in March 2015.
A few days back, Biola, the beautiful lady behind the label won a fashion award at The 2021 City People Fashion & Beauty Awards for her remarkable contributions to the industry, especially with her African designs.
She told City People last week, that her vision is to bring Africa, especially Nigerian fashion to the global market. “We use fabrics like Ankara, Adire, Aso-Oke and other fabrics for our designs because of their richness and vibrancy…” Read on.
How do you feel about what you do and the response you have gotten since you started Biola Brentwood?
We thank God because the response has been very encouraging, this is what I really love doing and by God’s grace, it has been fulfilling even though we faced some challenges at the beginning like every other business. With the way Nigerian, Africa and the rest of the world are embracing African fashion right now and the entertainment industry. Promoting the African Fashion Industry. It has been encouraging.
Is African design a delibrate focus in your brand?
It is delibrate because the idea is to promote our culture and way of dressing because no one will do that for us. We Africans have to showcase what we have to the rest of the world. Though, we make Western style based on orders but we don’t want to be lost. In the Western world we want to have our identity so we can be easily identified with the African Prints and Culture.
How do you run your store?
We do custom made and ready to wear because of our culture, we do parties as Nigerians, so this makes people want to have their fabric and style because of this we do custom made and since we want to serve people and meet their needs.
We also have ready to wear to give people the opportunity to have a taste of what we do that they do not need to come into the store since they can order online.
Why did you go into fashion?
There was a time in life I found out that it is important to do what you really love because the day you start doing what you really love you stop working. In the mid-90s, I found out that I have always had a thing for fashion because I love good clothes and when people dress well. I remember when I was going to the registry to get married. Even though my husband lived in the Western world and he was to buy me clothes to wear to the registry.
I told him to buy me fabric so I can sew what I wanted, I went to a nearby tailor and told her what I wanted and that was what I wore to my registry over 30 years ago. From there on I knew I wanted to go into fashion and since then it has been a wonderful journey.
How did you come up with the name Biola Brentwood?
Biola Brentwood, my first name is Biola and this business started as a joint business with my husband in 1994. We started with men cloth and it was called Brentwood. We were making cloth for men and I was making for women.
When I had the opportunity to train outside the country, I began to search for a brand name, so because of the customer, I have been servicing since the mid-90s. I decided to go with Brentwood but since it sounded so foreign, I decided to coin it with my first name Biola. So the Biola speaks of the African origin the Brentwood will make it easy to identify with.
This has been the business name we have been using since the mid-90s. It was the business name my husband choose to use.
What has been the response from the women folk about your brand?
It has been wonderful because every woman wants to look good and if you make her look good, she becomes your friend forever. We have not done so much in marketing or advertisement and we have been relying so much on referral and it has been a challenge keeping up with the demand because the quality of what we do speaks for itself, so we get a referral from satisfied customers and it has been very encouraging.
Can you define your client interms of the kind of women you design for?
Biola Brentwood designs graceful and grandeur apparel which was gotten from the scripture that says we should design clothes for beauty and for God’s glory. So our main focus is to design clothes that make a woman beautiful and glorifies God. We don’t follow the norm because we design to glorify God which is the secret to our design. It must be beautiful and glorify God so our customers can wear them from party to Church or Mosque.
Most of our customers that are women have the fear of God, they are women of substance and women who have good taste and want to appear beautiful.
What can you say are the trending fashion styles in the world?
It is the turn for Africa and seeing what is going on, Africa is the next continent on the stage because Asia and the rest of the world are looking into Africa in terms of fashion. With Afro music and its presence all over the world, it has affected our food and all of that so they are really looking into Africa. In stores all over the world, you will see African Prints and Styles.
We have Adire and there are designers who are doing well even with Aso-Oke. Everyone is embracing our Aso-Oke and when they want to get married they want to use our Aso-Oke. We have customers all over the world because when they want to step out wearing something that speaks about Africa. It has gotten to the point where a white man will stop you to complement your dressing because it is African and even take picture of it so the focus is on African fashion and music.
Do you sell your products abroad?
Yes, we have a store in Toronto to service our customers in the diaspora. We also have a website where you can order all over the world and the logistics system in Nigeria has also helped that in 3-5 working days, we can deliver all around the world.
Do you have a training academy?
No, we do not but it is one of our future plans because it is important to pass on knowledge so the legacy can grow. But right now, we concentrate on building the brand.
What are the challenges Biola Brentwood faces?
The primary challenge faced by most fashion designers including myself is electricity supply. We invest so much in power supply that we have to buy diesel generators which makes the overhead on our products to be expensive because we meet deadlines. It doesn’t matter if it is a ready to wear or a custom made design we are making. So, it is a challenge when it comes to generating power. Also, manpower is another problem because in Nigeria we do not have an organised system for the fashion industry to thrive. Fashion is not just about cutting and sewing, it is about pattern making, illustration aspect, embellishing aspect and the marketing aspect. But the opportunity I had to train professionally in the Western world as a designer has helped me to navigate through this department so we have to train employees in areas that we know they can function well.