- Tell us something about your background.
I graduated from Precious Blood Riruta in 2005 and got partial scholarship to a Christian college in Virginia USA. My goal was to become a doctor after a few years of struggling with science classes.
- What are your qualifications?
I graduated with health science degree. Health sciences do not offer good jobs or pay well so I ended up being a stay at home mom of 3.
- When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career as a designer ?
Fashion is something I have always been interested in but never studied for. Hence, my background is not of a fashion designer but someone who has a keen eye and great imagination.
- What prompted you to ultimately venture in fashion ?
My 3 kids, who I had back to back. In fact, the last two are only 14 months apart. After having my last born I knew I could never go back to school and had to pursue something I loved. So I got on the internet and researched for weeks for dress makers, and nature has it that when you want something so bad, sometimes things just connect. I came across these two dress makers in different parts of Europe whose style was okay but what captured me was their quality. So, I gave them an offer to make the designs that I come up with and I exclusively work with them.
- According to you, what are the skills necessary to become a fashion designer ?
If you look at my brand over the years our style has become better and better. I don’t claim full credit for the designs but it’s a team work of back and forth, trial and error. One of my main dress maker grew from one to about 40 women under her in 3 years!
- What is your brand identity ?
I started with the name Baby Essentially but later rebranded to Ada Aziza after my two girls Adeline and Aziza.
- What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered along the way ?
We have some designs that we came up with that did not sell well. Conversely, others became so popular that we ended up dealing with knockoffs from other small designers or China manufacturers. Another challenge would be the language barrier since not all designers speak English.
- What makes you different ?
We love creating a positive environment and all my team members that I have feel part of the family. In fact we try to involve everyone in coming up for ideas for the new season. There are many designers out there who need to showcase their talent. In my case I did not wait for anyone to hire me. Notwithstanding, I neither consider myself as talented as some of these designers, so my daring side in simpler terms.
- What other roles did you play as the founder of your brand ?
I did all the marketing myself, from creating my website (which I think still needs professional upgrade), to social media organic and paid advertising.
- What is your other secret ?
I happen to know who all my competitors are and that fact keeps me working hard to make my brand better than them.
- What does it take to be a successful designer ?
To be a succesful designer in today’s world you have to put yourself out there. Use social media, a very powerful tool. I have seen people come from nothing to something overnight. Secondly Quality is something I take very seriously, color choices to match the season, and knowing the target audience.
- What is the goal of your brand ?
I remember when I was little, I loved reading fairy tales, books that I would mostly borrow from my friends. When I started my brand I wanted the outfits to be just like in the fairy tale books. Thus my goal is to have children enjoy being children and to keep them believing in their dreams.
- What do you love about being a fashion designer ?
Making the dreams of children come true. When working at our retail shop you should see the excitement of these kids when they walk in. It is like a candy land for them. Especially in today’s society and owing to how things have changed, it is important to let children be children.
- What work ethics do you ascribe to in the world of fashion ?
My job is my passion. People normally ask me what do you do for a hobby, my response is “I work.” When I come up with ideas and send them to our artist, then back and forth changes, fabric choices , then my dress makers make the end results a reality, there is often a feeling of a high that I get especially after we get the pictures back from our photographers.
It is like a deep visual connection exists between my team and I.
- What is your personal style ?
Personally I love to dress semi-casual. I have my mom fashion which means I am comfortable enough to run after toddlers and my “forever 21” fashion but still classy. Everything in my brand is a domino effect.
- Any unique selling points ?
We are pretty relaxed since we are all moms and sometimes when our kids are off school we baby sit them at work while they model for us. The most important thing for us is to try and please all customers and no matter how hard it may be, the customer is always right.
- Who are your typical clients ?
Our typical clients are average moms especially first time moms who want to have a special memorable experience for their child or just want to spoil them.
- Have you dressed any celebrities?
We are slowly picking up celebrity clients and have dressed a few like Porsha Williams (from Real Housewives of Atlanta).
Porsha has been featured several times with Ada Aziza clothing in several magazines including People Magazine and recently in Bravo TV. Other celebrity kids we have dressed include Toya Johnson (Lil Wayne Baby Mama) and Cardi B daughter for her first Christmas Photos with Santa. I also recognise the exotic input by my photography team comprising of Thais Preston and May G photography.
- At what age do you let children decide what to wear ?
I think by age 3 children have already started to pick their own clothes especially if they are girls. They love playing dress up and our brand offers them just what they want.
- How big is your production unit ?
From when I started doing shipping in my dining room with one infant and two toddlers, now at two warehouse spaces one of which is over 2500 sqft. At the moment my business is growing in itself rapidly and we are at a point where the waiting period for our custom dresses is up to a month with a team of about 50 dress makers who are hands on, my 3 social media creator and customer service and 3 other people responsible for shipping
- Anyone who helped you along the way ?
Only one person believed in my dream and is still my main business advisor and that is my kids grandfather. He helped finance my business when I felt it was time to grow.
- How do you handle work load ? Being the brains when it comes to designing and anything computer related. We make as many dresses as we can for the customers who want outfits delivered as soon as in a day but most of our clients prefer clothes in their own color specifications and size.
- Any plans for the future ?
Hopefully in the future I can build a bigger production building for my dress makers and hire more people.
By Oguna Mamba