— 26th November 2017
Princess Kelechi Oghene –FASHION DESIGNER MENTOR
By: Bianca Iboma
WITH a degree in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from Lagos State University, LASU, Princess Kelechi Romeo Oghene struck out 10 years ago to grow and turn her childhood passion into a successful enterprise which today owns a bespoke fashion brand, GMYT. While pursuing her undergraduate studies, she set up a boutique. And then moved on to study Textile and Fashion Design. Her creativity has won her international recognition. In the quest to build the brand, she has taken business management courses at the Lagos Business School. In this interview, she talks about how it all started and sheds light on the work she is doing in mentoring young women through the skills acquisition programme run by her company
Let’s start from the Skills Acquisition Academy which you operate as a fashion entrepreneur. Tell us more about it.
GMYT Fashion Academy has an excellent structure in place. I actually embarked on a detailed research before I was able to create, implement and establish this structure. I do one-on-one training with every student. I have a course curriculum with a log book where every student takes stock of the classes they have attended. I must see the signature of the students and the instructors. If there is any reason for a student not to be available, the person would write the academy to state the duration of absence. The academy would in turn halt the tuition fee paid and as soon as such a student resumes she would continue from there. Normally, we teach them at their own pace. The students have their kits, containing all the necessary items required for their training. If a student is slow to catch up with what they are being taught, we take it at her pace. The students that I am training here are trying to buy time to learn. Some of them work and do other things that take their time but as an entrepreneur in the fashion industry, I have been able to build a curriculum that fits into the students’ schedule. So we make it conducive for them. Our curriculum is totally different from any other fashion school. The course is carefully designed to impart total skills that will transform the students to become well rounded fashion entrepreneurs in terms of skills and management. I am grooming them to become successful fashion entrepreneurs. I have been able to train 60 female entrepreneurs in sewing and designs. By this December the academy would be 12 years. It has been a journey. It has always been my vision as an individual to give back to my society.
How do you balance your creativity with commerce?
I think I am still struggling with that because I actually went for a programme at the Lagos Business School (LBS) to learn about business management. I don’t think you can balance it, you just take one step at a time. Though I am through with the programme I still take classes. I teach my students to keep learning because the moment you stop learning you start dying. I am still going to do another programme on client management. I have been in the fashion industry for some years and I still take classes from facilitators with my students. Even if it is their instructors giving them lectures. I continue to improve on my skills. I tell my students that knowledge is a process. All our machines are industrial machines and all advanced and intermediate students are trained and equipped. I ensure that they are trained by successful business people who have succeeded in those areas, this would assist them build their businesses. That is something every designer should be aware of regardless of their level of success. My designs are not extreme or conceptual. They are made for people based on request and I am making sales. I don’t limit myself to one market. I put in much creativity to give my clients value for their money.
When did you actually start as a fashion entrepreneur?
I have been in business for 12 years. I started with a boutique. Then the couture and later the academy and now the foundation. It has been a journey. I read Management Sciences at Lagos State University as a part-time student. And I began with selling jewelries and accessories. So I was running my business and studying at the same time. I did that until at a point in time after school when I decided that it was time for me to introduce my own brand and label. I was owed over N200,000.00, because I used to go to offices, to sell. I became angry and that was how it all began. I started selling mens wear; the women were always owing me. I rented my first shop at Ojomu. I had a choice of buying a car or the shop but went for the shop and later moved to a bigger shop. I started the GMYT boutique, Couture, academy. Now we have a foundation. Last December, I launched House of GMYT to serve as a parent company to all my businesses after 12 years.
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