Mistics Couture is a fashion outfit that specializes in making bespoke outfits. Their outfits include English wears, traditional wears, casual wears, beach wears, and so on. Mistics Sparkles is an arm of Mistics Couture that brands and designs t-shirts, fabrics, throw pillows and much more. She has styled celebrities like Yemi Alade, Kim Burrell, Oge Okoye, Funke Akinokun, Ngozi Ezeonu, and so on.
This piece discusses Onome’s journey in the fashion industry. It also talks about some struggles she has encountered and insightful advice she has learned from past mistakes.
Running Mistics Couture requires you to be very creative and that can take a toll if you are not inspired. So my question for you is, where do you draw your inspiration from?
God inspires me. Every inspiration I have comes from God because he is the creator of the world. He sees me through my day to day life and guides my path.
Secondly, my inspiration comes from a knowledge of myself. Knowing that I have a lot of talents in me, seeing that I have a whole lot to actualize in my time here on earth. After my first degree and my Masters, I did not want to work for anyone. I think I worked for a while- maybe like a month before I started my own thing. I felt like I had a lot in me waiting to burst out and I was not going to be able to let it out while working for someone else. One talent I have is that I can look at you and sketch what will suit you. I can do a lot of stuff with fabric generally. So I decided to go into fashion design.
My inspirational fabric- if I can call it that- is Ankara fabric. Looking at Ankara fabric gives me this joy that I don’t understand. I look at the fabric and I want to do a whole lot of things with it.
My mum is another person that inspires me. Growing up every Sunday, people would come out and peep at my mum on our way to church and they would call her, “to match, to match.” Even till now in her 60s, she dresses so beautifully. Her age has not really made her step down in her dress sense and she has a lot of strength, faith and hope which she passed on to me.
So in all, I get my inspiration from God. From my belief in myself, the fabrics that I love to work with and my mum.
What significant struggle have you faced running Mistics Couture and how did you solve it?
In 2014, a lot of people were stoning their outfits. I don’t know if you remember when putting rhinestones on clothes were in vogue. My customers wanted this but good stoning takes a lot of time and effort. Many designers either use a manual machine or a pressing iron. It can take 4 to 5 days to stone 6yards of Ankara. Things like this delay jobs and customers want their outfits at a certain time. All the stress you go through to stone an outfit may not be appreciated if you do not deliver on time.
Fortunately for me, I could afford the manual machine. I went to a company in China, gave them a design and told them to produce some for me to bring back to Nigeria. However, that machine did not help me work faster.
Then I travelled to Dubai because a lot of designers at the time were going there to stone their customers’ clothes. I had a box of 36 Ankara clothes that were six yards each. At the place in Dubai, I gave them all 36 pieces of Ankara outfits and they told me to pick up at 6 pm the next day. I got there before 6 pm and my outfits were already stoned.
Their speed was fascinating so I researched how they managed to deliver quickly. I discovered that they had a special stoning machine. I imported this machine in 2014 and it has made all the difference. The machine does 180 stones per minute and has saved me a lot of time, stress, and money.
I don’t call these things struggles, I call them “work in progress.” There are thousands of fashion designers all over the world and everyone wants to be successful. To find this success, you have to be determined and a lot of sacrifices have to be made.
Who is the most influential person in your life right now?
The most influential person in my life right now is Mrs Ibukun Awosika. I admire her strength. I am inspired by the way she encourages fellow women. She tells us that there is a purpose to our lives as women that is beyond marriage and childbearing. She reminds us that we need to look deep inside ourselves to find the purpose that God has placed in our lives. It is just like I always say that every woman has something great in her. Nobody came to the world empty-handed and it is up to you to bring what you are here for to life.
Your experiences, both good and bad, have been instrumental in your growth, not just as a business owner but as a human being. What are some lessons you have learned?
- Mistakes are a part of the journey. So far you are working and taking risks, mistakes are to be expected. Mistakes are not the end or a reason to give up. Instead, they are learning points in your journey. Making mistakes and learning from them arms you with experience.
- Some things must be put in place before you can implement anything and I have to remind myself of this when I am starting a new project. Regardless of the excitement, my past mistakes have taught me to consult people who have prior experience and do research before going into any new venture.
- Don’t shy away from a chance to help people because it may hurt your business. When I got that stoning machine in 2014, I knew it was a necessity for my business. I knew it was a vacuum I was supposed to fill up in Lagos. I think then I was selfish because I knew designers that were stoning manually and I kept it to myself. If I could go back, I would have created awareness and gotten my fellow designers to come on board. Apart from the money I would have made, I would have made life and designing a lot easier for people. It would have saved them time, money and effort. Right now I have another machine called the sparkle machine and to my knowledge, I am the only one that has the machine in Nigeria. I do not want to go back to making that mistake made with the stoning machine so right now, I am creating as much awareness as I can.
This feature article on Onome Ikhimioya is sponsored by the First City Monument Bank (FCMB). FCMB is passionate about empowering female entrepreneurs, helping them build their businesses, and improving the overall success rate of businesses owned or run by women.