Maryam Haruna Yahaya is CEO of La VIDA Fashion Abuja. She speaks to TMG about fashion and how you shouldn’t put limits on yourself or your business.
TMG> Tell us about yourself-
Maryam> I’m from Bauchi State. I attended Adonai International School for my primary education and did my secondary school at the Islamic Training Center, Madalla. I’m an ABU Zaria graduate of Bsc. Chemistry.
TMG> How long did you nurse the dream of becoming a designer before it became a reality?
Maryam> I have always been a fashion-conscious person. Even as a kid, I had been told by friends several times to go into fashion because I design my clothes and they saw the potential in me.
TMG> What is your area of interest: designing, tailoring or both?
Maryam> My interest is in both Designing and sewing but so far, I have only designed.
TMG> Did you go to a professional school to acquire the skills and what credentials did you earn through the program?
Maryam> I didn’t go through any professional training. I am self taught. I believe fashion runs in my blood. Nevertheless, I am working on improving my tailoring skills at the moment.
TMG> What type of clients do you produce for – men/women; old/young; Nigerians or Western?
Maryam> I have always been interested in clothing- my products are for everyone but mostly suitable for ladies and can be worn anywhere around the globe. I prefer my clients to not have a feeling of inferiority when they travel to foreign countries or have to go to stores to get suitable clothing. I want my clothes to be comfortable, unique and different from your everyday clothing.
TMG> Who do you find easier to market your products to?
Maryam> Well, marketing is not easy but like I said earlier, my design is easier to market to ladies because it is more suitable to them.
TMG>What inspires your designs?
Maryam> My inspiration comes from where I come from; most people there are not fashionable and that is what inspired me to pursue fashion. In my opinion, clothing is about the confidence that you carry with yourself, that way, you can rock anything. I know it sounds creepy but I dream about my designs sometimes. My collections, designs come from different inspirations, the street mostly.
TMG> What is your staff strength like?
Maryam> Well, I have 3 tailors for now and I have one person who handles the delivery service.
TMG> Give us an example of someone you have trained or mentored. Where did they start and where are they now?
Maryam> Mine is a young company. Even though I have people that look up to me, I haven’t mentored anyone; I am trying to fully figure myself out.
TMG> What challenges do you encounter and how do you handle them?
Maryam> At the beginning of my career, I had issues of communication. I’m not really a person that likes speaking to too many people but I’ve gradually overcome it. I also had some challenges with delivery but that is also taken care of, Alhamdulillah.
TMG> Tell us about your management style and how you handle your Customers?
Maryam> Customer Satisfaction is our top priority in la VIDA. We strive to provide the best for customers. As they say, customers are always right.
TMG> Tell us about an accomplishment that you are most proud of in your career?
Maryam> The whole idea of fashion and the best accomplishment for a fashion designer is seeing people wear your designs. There’s this feeling of excitement one gets. It’s all about creating a personality. The way you dress is really the way you feel, live, what you read, your choices. That’s what I want to put in la VIDA.
TMG> Tell us something you would like to learn or improve upon?
Maryam> I would like to improve on my tailoring skills by going for an intensive course at a fashion school. This is so that my sewing can improve more.
TMG> What other back-of-the positions have you previously held before going into fashion?
Maryam> None. I have been a fashion person all my life.
TMG> Who are your role models and what inspires you about them?
Maryam> My role model is the CEO of Pinkfleur. Her designs are unique, deep, and tell a story, and that is what I strive for. Basmak, soha are a few others that I like. They are modest and very fashionable at the same time.
TMG> What do you say to other youths to encourage them?
Maryam> You have to believe that you are the architect of your own life. There is no limit to what you can achieve except the limit you put for yourself. If you think it, do it!