A style-lover and designer since childhood, PBAORIGINAL founder Abisola ÀSÀBÍ bases her designs around African culture, colourful fabrics, and bursts of inspiration in church.
01. What year was your business founded and what was your mission at the outset?
➤ PBAORIGINAL was founded in 2014, and we started operating legally and officially in 2015.
Our mission when we set out was to go all out; make use of indigenous and African inspired prints/fabrics to make fabulous, western-like designs that would appeal to fabulously extra women of style across the diaspora.
02. Have you always wanted to be an entrepreneur?
➤ Yes! I started buying, selling, and making my own money at age 12.
03. How did you come up with the name for your company?
➤ The name POSH BY ÀSÀBÍ (branded #PBAORIGINAL) was derived from blending the indigenous/local/African world and the western world. The word POSH is a word from the western language, depicting exquisite style. It can be regarded as something elegant or stylishly luxurious whereas ÀSÀBÍ is an absolute indeginous name (it’s actually my name) meaning “a child of select birth”. You’ll have noticed that our designs are intentionally beautiful & rare – they are quiet select. Following from our vision and previously stated mission, it was perfect to have a name that puts forward our intention literally.
04. What was your inspiration behind founding the business?
➤ I love fashion and style and I’ve been super creative from childhood. I would sketch my own style and give it to designers, and these designs always came out gorgeous. I also started making my own money quite early.
Going into “ready to wear”, however, stemmed from a statement one of my big sisters said to me over 10 years ago now. One day she looked at me, and at the way I usually arranged the wardrobe, and said: “Abisola, if you do not own a boutique in the future I would personally ‘beat’ you!”
She didn’t mean it though, but no need to be scared for me because now I do own one!
05. How do you find inspiration for your outfit designs?
➤ I’m quite religious, so I believe in the creative power of the Holy Spirit manifesting in us. I pray about all my designs, so they’re all inspired by the Holy Spirit. I usually get my bursts of inspiration in church and I’ll quickly do a rough sketch in my sermon notes, which by now have plenty of side attractions! Sometimes I get ideas in my sleep, and when I wake up in the morning I’ll just go straight to drafting a style.
I’m also a very excited person, so I let my heart take me on all trips possible. Within my fantasy world of excitement I can create something based on my mood (which is always of excitement).
06. As a leading business in made in Nigeria RTW fashion, what advice would you give to others wanting to get into this line of business?
➤ It’s not always about the glitz and the glamour seen out there. The fashion business of today requires diligence, creativity, perseverance, effort, and constant updating of knowledge.
07. What has been your proudest moment so far in the business?
➤ The moment I got nominated for participation in the World Fashion Week because they believed the world needed to see my designs.
08. What habits do you think helped make your business successful?
➤ Diligence, the “never giving up”-attitude, innovation, constant search for knowledge in all spheres surrounding the business of fashion (not just the designing skills alone).
09. What are the future trends you see happening in the business coaching space in the coming year or two?
➤ Designers will be much more extra in their designs and more bold colours will start being trendy. A combination of bold colours and extra designs will hit the fashion floors these next few years. We plan on being irregularly extra at #PBAORIGINAL.
10. What’s your best advice for handling criticism or negative customer feedback in your business?
➤ Accept it with gladness, search for your errors even if you believed to have delivered your best, and work on it. Learn your lessons and move on as fast as the speed of light! Also, be sure to try to win back the trust of that customer as much as you can. But if you can’t do so, please move on.
11. What do you love most about doing business in Nigeria/Africa?
➤ Easy access to the materials I use.
12. What are your biggest challenges today in the business industry?
➤ Among others:
* Poor power supply.
* Shortage of competent and trustworthy employees as well as skilled workers.
* Access to funds for adequate expansion.
13. How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
➤ Staying firmly focused on my own focus and goals. I am not distracted by what others are doing. I’m true to my mission.
I’m a sucker for excellent client servicing. Understanding each client and meeting their needs as individuals has helped us a lot as well. We also identify our target audience and go right after them, not waiting for them to come to us first.
14. What was the best piece of advice you ever got?
➤ From the scripture. Staying focused. Proverbs 4:25 – “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.”
15. Who has been your biggest inspiration during the business journey to date?
➤ Mrs. Adeola Sagoe, of House of Deola.
16. Alongside your brand, what other brands do you admire the most making an impact in the African business scene that shares the same values as you do?
➤ Unfortunately they’re international brands, and just two of them: Grassfield and Ofuure
17. Where would you like your business to be in the next 3, 5, 10 years?
➤ In 3 years, we hope to have expanded our ready to wear production and sales capacity by 300%.
In 5 years, we look forward to making our mark on the surface of the global fashion world.
In 10 years, #pbaoriginal should be a fashion brand of global repute and recognition, with branches and franchise deals in strategic countries world over.
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