Funke Makanjuola is the CEO of FunFash Haven and the pioneer of ankara shoes/bag. In this interview with Deborah Ocheni, the highly innovative fashion designer whose passion for fashion is a function of her family background spoke about her fashion philosophy, the gap she hopes to fill in fashion industry and sundry issues.
What do you think of ankara shoes and bag?
They are super cool. I’m a fan and I must say a pioneer of ankara bags and shoes. I started making them as a kid in 1999 before I ever saw it anywhere. My neighbour was getting married and my elder sisters didn’t get the asoebi, so I took some pieces from the tailor close to my house where some of the neighbours took their clothes to and stuck them to some old shoes of my sisters and also used super glue then, to cover some purses with the fabric and I covered some earrings and bracelets. And that was how the journey began.
Would you say fashion business is lucrative enough?
Yes it is. You just need to understand the market and know how the system works.
Are you satisfied with your choice of business?
Yes I am. For me, fashion is innate and I believe it is my calling and also, where I can add the most value to the world around me.
What inspired you into fashion business?
My grandmother did. I remember as a child of about five years old, on a Sunday morning, we were about to go to church and my grandmother wore this elegant white dress but it was too plain. She knew there was something wrong and she wasn’t really feeling her outfit so I decided to help out by adding an umph to the dress. I cut out some roses from my dress and I sewed them into the neck of her dress (with her help of course). The drastic change was unbelievable. The dress came alive and the smile on my grandmother’s face was priceless. I’ll never forget how that made me feel. From then, I made up my mind to make people feel good by making them look good because “When you look good, you feel good.” The world is filled with depression, pain, and all sorts of ills. I just want to change the world in my own little way by making people look good and invariably making them feel good. The ripple effect of that is you ultimately do well. That was my inspiration into fashion.
What is your personal style?
I’d love to say I apply the minimalist theory. Less is best. I am elegant in simplicity. But I can go a little overboard and very loud sometimes, as occasion warrants.
How do you source for your fabrics?
I travel to get them myself, networking and sometimes online.
Are clients sensitive to this?
Do you have any specific research process when you start new collections?
Yes, I do a lot of research
Was there anyone in your family who made you develop interest in fashion business?
Yes. My grandmother who saw and appreciated what I was doing as a child.
Who inspires you the most in fashion industry?
I have a lot but let’s go with Mai Atafo
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
I see myself in Vogue and Forbes respectively and also owning a great fashion conglomerate
Are you a fan of ankara prints?
What is your take on African traditional wears?
They are super cool
Do you consider any fashion item indispensable?
How easily do you get your fashion items in Nigeria?
It’s quite easy because I have my supply links
While shopping, which fashion item catches your fancy?
Zips and pearls
Which fashion accessories do you live for?
Rings and sunshades
Do you conform to trends?
Not really. I set my own trend.
How comfortable do you feel in jeans and T-shirt?
I feel super comfy. But I love to be sassier and a little more edgy most times.
What makes a woman well dressed?
Whose celebrity style do you like most?
Fashion wise, do you have a role model?
I have quite a number
Is there anything you are unlikely to be caught wearing?
Baggy jeans, big shirts, flared skirts, just anything oversized
What is your ready to go outfits?
Bodycon dresses and heels or boots
When it comes to fashion, would you say your physique works to your advantage?
Which outfits take up most space in your wardrobe?
What is your costliest fashion possession? How much did you get it?
A custom made dress at N395,000 (I didn’t pay for it though)
How do you love your shoes?
To die for
What determines what you wear?
My mood, weather and occasion
What do you think of modern designers?
Awesome. Daring I must say
Who is your best designer?
I love Versace
Do you have a signature perfume?
Yes. Intimately Beckham and Avon’s little black dress
Do you have any fashion obsession? Sunshades
How did you come up with your brand name and what is the message behind it?
Me brand name was coined from my name Funke(Fun) and it connotes FUN literally, Fashion (Fash). It simply means having fun with fashion. There’s no hard and fast rule to fashion. Just own it, look good and have fun. There’s so much drama with tailors and most clients get fed up and are just looking for that one place that will cater to their fashion needs without stress. Hence, the name Haven which means a place of refuge or rest. So we decided to come up with a name to depict what we are all about, elegance, fun and ease. It’s fashion with a touch of fun and a place of fashion refuge. Where you can come to, and have solutions to your fashion needs
Fashion market seems saturated, how do you intend to keep afloat?
Our products are absolutely unique, quality driven, artistically inclined which makes them fun to wear, innovative and inventive. With originality and creativity being our core, we pay attention to details which gives our products that perfect finishing everyone craves. Our products are based on vogue, style and most importantly, quality. A lot of designers feel quality is highly overrated and go for quantity and profit. This makes our products outstanding because to us, quality can never be over emphasized. We are people-oriented and business-inclined therefore we give our customers value for their money. FUNFASH products reflect quality, originality, and creativity. Therefore, when a markup is placed on our products, customers are willing to pay the premium and pick our products rather than other products because of the perceived value and quality guarantee that comes with our products. In this line of business, competition is unavoidable but our market is vast, cutting across the globe with a population of over 7 billion, there’s always a market for our high value products.
Does your background influence who you are now?
To a large extent, yes. I come from a family with a long pedigree of fashion prowess. My grandmother was a fashionista and a tailor. Likewise my mother and so many other family members
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