Hats and fascinators are everywhere and making statements! From churches to formal gatherings, weddings to casual outings, you can do no wrong rocking a really beautiful hand crafted hat! Believe it or not, hats are one fashion item for women that are here to stay and Milliners are…well smiling to the bank. Happenings Magazine correspondent, Kikelomo Onigbanjo had a chat with, Bolanle Adekunle, CEO, Bosha Signature where she shared her journey into the Millinery business, the Nigerian woman and fashion.
My name is Adekunle Bolanle. I am a graduate of Ekiti State University where I studied Microbiology. I have worked in a whole lot of places before I became a Milliner. I have worked in Omolaso Kiddies Clothier, Lagos State Polytechnic, and Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency (LASAA). Presently I manage Bosha Signature, which is a Millinery.
Can you tell us a bit about the job of a Milliner?
The job of a Milliner is to make and sell different types of hats and fascinators. It is one of the noblest professions of all time.
How did you start this business?
When I stopped working in LASAA, I decided not to look for any job again. I decided to look for a shop to maybe start something small that will expand overtime, but a friend informed me about a 2-week training on different skills and I decided to attend since I was not really doing anything at the time. I did not even know the skill I wanted to learn, but I kept a positive mind and I was optimistic. When I got there and I saw the different courses available, I decided to go for Hat Making and Bridal Accessories. Infact, till the very last day of the course, I fell in love with the concept of hat making and it was as if that was what I was created to do. That is basically how I started.
How has business been since you started?
Business has been so good! I could not believe it myself. After I made my first hat, I found myself making more and more. I simply just got better at it and the clients kept on coming. I expanded my business area recently and I’m going to expand again very soon.
What is your client base like?
In the little period of its existence, Bosha Signature can boast of a vast clientage which ranges from corporate bodies, fashion firms, churches, brides and bridesmaids and society ladies.
Any plans to learn more on the job?
Of course! I realise that I have been creative with my hands and my interest in millinery grew stronger. I became so good at it that even if it’s by just seeing the design on someone’s head, I would reproduce it and it would even come out finer. I then decided to attend a Millinery school to further enhance my knowledge about it. I’m still there now. I will soon be through with it.
What are the challenges you faced starting this business?
We all know that in Nigeria, especially when it has to do with starting a business, nobody encourages you and nobody believes in you. So it wasn’t that rosy when I first started. I wanted to give up several times but I found the strength within me to carry on. Another challenge I faced is that people don’t trust our locally produced things at all. They would rather prefer to spend a lot of money on foreign things. Most Nigerians are brand addicts. They only buy things with all those big names. They are not helping us local producers at all.
As someone who makes accessories, do you think Nigerian women are fashionable?
Yes, Nigerian women are fashionable, and they know how to combine colours. I mean, as a hat maker, I have seen a lot of combinations and I can say that Nigerian women are an epitome of fashion. Nigerian fashion is the talk of the world all thanks to Nigerian women who give enough attention to details as regards how they look and what they wear. An average Nigerian woman is not only fashionable, she is also elegant.
I have a husband and two boys.
How are they coping with your busy schedule?
I have a really wonderful and understanding family. My boys are really learning to take care of themselves when I am not around. My elder son is really protective of his brother and he takes care of him as much as he can. Most times, I spend my leisure time with my husband and kids. Sometimes we go for a picnic and sometimes I take them shopping.
Let’s project into the future; where do you see yourself in five years?
Well… one of the vision statements of Bosha Signature is to become a fashion empire that is recognised both at home and abroad. If Gucci, Versace and the rest don’t have two heads and are recognized internationally in the fashion industry, why not Bosha Signature? I don’t see why my brand can’t go international in the next five years. That is our vision and we are working on it day in day out by rolling out beautiful patterns that have never before been seen.