With the spiraling unemployment rate in Nigeria and the effort of the government to create jobs or its lack thereof, it’s refreshing to find young people who have been able to forge a path for themselves in various industries and businesses, thus gaining financial freedom despite the vulnerable nature of the economy. One of such persons is David Smart, CEO of DavidSmarrt Clothing, a cloth making business which started up while he was still studying as an undergraduate. Our correspondent, Kikelomo Onigbanjo, had a chat with him where he opened up on his creative journey and the inspiration behind his brand. Excerpts below:
My name is David Smart. I am a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife where I studied Metallurgical and Materials Engineering. I graduated in 2012. I am the MD/CEO of DavidSmarrt Clothing Limited.
Tell us about DavidSmarrt Clothing Limited all about?
DavidSmarrt Clothing is a clothing line created to produce dazzling and fabulous classy new outfits with excellent quality for both the male and female gender worldwide. We specialise in natives, shirts, suits, customised shirts, jerseys, tee shirts, blazers, jackets, and so on for both male and female. We design and make these clothes ourselves.
As someone who studied Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, how come you dabbled into clothe making?
I have always had passion for engineering and fashion at the same time; I simply followed both through. But my first love has always been fashion. Engineering is secondary.
How did you start this business?
I started in the year 2010 when I was still a student in Ife. It all started from designing and sewing for friends and housemates. From there, I started receiving contracts from campus fellowships and final year students of departments who wanted shirts for their final year dance. It has been a gradual process and I am grateful for how far I have come, because my brand is becoming a household name.
Did you attend any school or course on fashion designing?
No I did not. I learnt everything I know about fashion and designs online. I would read on someone’s designs and try to draft my own from there. I don’t copy other people’s designs; I try to make my designs as original as possible so that I can own them. I used to be a runway model. I also learnt a lot about types of fabrics and different designs from there.
Since you started this business, what challenges have you faced?
My major challenge since I started has been finance; money to begin the business, late payment by clients, clients not being able to pay for my services because of one reason or the other, cost of maintenance of machines and the funds to expand the business. I know that getting a loan is really going to solve all these challenges, but I don’t want to get a loan to expand my business because the banks give out ridiculous interests.
As a fashion entrepreneur in Nigeria do you think Nigerians are fashionable?
Yes, Nigerians are a fashionable lot. In fact, Nigerians are the most colourful and fashionable people I have ever seen. Nigerians are also creative with fashion. It is really heartwarming that we Nigerians agree on something, despite our differences, which is fashion. When you go to occasions, churches and events, you see fabulous and new creative outfits. This is the reason why we are still the happiest people in the world, despite all odds.
What is the inspiration behind your designs?
My inspiration is from God. I also get inspiration from things around me. I play around with a lot of natural colours. I just feel that I have fashion in me that’s why it’s so easy for me to keep churning out new designs. One thing I did was to challenge myself to come up with at least one design every day. I guess that challenge made me focused.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I see myself in the next five years as one of the most excellent top designers in Nigeria, creating new designs and changing the world of fashion completely.
How do you unwind?
I work hard and I play hard. I go to chill with friends, sometimes we club, and I also love driving round town when there is no traffic. I think it’s therapeutic for me and it makes me focus more.