The world doesn’t pay men for that which they know, but it does pays for what they do or induce others to do. Mandy Rachael Okhueleige,founder of the Mandy Rachael Designs and also a lead Volunteer for Street to Class campaign launches her first shoes design in January, 2012. She studied Zoology,at Obafemi Awolowo University,Ile-ife,Osun State,Nigeria. She tells Oyeniran Adeyinka, the inspiration behind Mandy Rachael designs, her passion and more.

Please can we meet you?
My name is Mandy Rachael Okhueleige, from Edo state, Nigeria. I am the creative director for Mandy Rachael Designs and also a lead Volunteer for Street to Class campaign. I had my primary and secondary school education in Ibadan oyo state, after which I proceeded to Obafemi Awolowo University  in ile Ife for my tertiary education. I have a Bsc degree in zoology.

As an entrepreneur, what do you do?
I am into the production and selling of bags and shoes with leather and fabrics, especially the adire and Ankara fabrics. All my products me handmade and materials used are locally sourced as well.

What motivated you to go into this kind of business?
I have always had the passion for fashion right from childhood, my mom was a teacher then but she had a sewing machine she uses to make our clothes back in the days. The love for designing things came from there but due to my health status I was advised to go for an easier job like lecturing, but right before graduating from the university I started loving handmade bags, I have always thought all handbags were imported into the country from Europe, curiosity coupled with my old love for fashion led me into my present business.

Tell us how you started your business?
I started my first fashion brand “Novafrik Designs” in school as an undergraduate of obafemi awolowo university, It was a brand solely into the use of African fabrics in the production of shoes and bags and fashion accessories, but soon after my NYSC I moved to Lagos and founded my present brand Mandy Rachael Designs in my uncle’s garage, got it registered and started business officially.

Mandy’s handmade varieties

Leader-work industry has become highly competitive today. This has made it important for the ones pursuing a career in this industry to work harder. How do you stay up to date with classic styles?
Well for me fashion is timeless, and so I try to put the best in what I do. All our products are made to international standards, when you set your eyes on them you find it hard to believe it was actually made right here in Nigeria, that’s the cutting edge for me, and I keep improving on this quality day in day out.

How long have you been in business? With your experience so far, can you tell us what it takes to go into this business?
Well if I want to count from my days since starting out novafrik designs in 2012 I would say 5 years, and sincerely speaking what it takes is passion, diligence and a die hard spirit, this is because the journey is tough and it isn’t for the faint hearted. You also need to horn your skills which means you need to develop yourself fully and pay your dues by spending money on yourself for the crafts and above all you should trust in God.

Mandy’s workshop

What challenges have you faced so far?
The major challenges really are sourcing materials, most of these materials are imported into the country, you find a material today you love and customers love it too, you go back to restock and can’t find it again, you need to go back to the drawing table and think of a better alternative to use.
Getting people to buy our made in Nigeria products is another big challenge as well.

Where do you find your inspiration?
I get my inspiration from just about anything around me, but most of the time it’s through music or in my quiet time.

Do you have any role model in this business?
I look up to a number of people I see as leaders in the industry
Femi Olayebi of femi handbags.
Zainab Ashadu of Zashadu
And Tunde Owolabi of ethnik by Tunde Owolabi.

What vision do you have for your business?
I hope to grow my business to an internationally renowned brand that everyone would be proud of. Expand to the point of employing a good percentage of unemployed youths in Nigeria.

What’s your advice to people who are in the business and those planning to join?
My advice to people already in the business is to love one another and support each other, the sky is wide enough for the birds to fly without touching each other. And to those planning to join, horn your skills and know your craft. Never go into it if you do not have passion for it.

How can potential customers and trainees connect with you? I mean your contact- Tel, email and a website(if you have any)
You can reach me via email at mandyrachael@yahoo.com or novafrikk@gmail.com
You can also reach me via my phone lines 07038897672 (whatsapp enabled) or 08168685967.
Follow me on instagram @mandyrachael and @missmhendy
Like my facebook page @ www.fb.com/novafrik or just search for Mandy Rachael Designs on facebook.

Thanks for your time Mandy. Wish you more successes in business.
Thank you too for having me.

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