Building a fashion brand takes a lot of innovation and commitment, but regardless of the challenges that accompany it, it is a woman-dominated business industry. However it's one thing to thrive in a woman-dominated industry, it's another thing to do this while empowering women and building an all-women team. Hajarat is doing both and modernizing local prints in fashion at VWH apparel, a clothing line known for its luxurious and affordable versatile adire chiffon pieces.
Who is Hajarat of VWH?
I am a businesswoman that has built an adire-Ankara brand for African women following my style. The whole idea behind VWH is vibing with Hajarat, a pseudo name from my content creation days.
Run us through a day in your life as a business owner?
My typical day is very rigorous, from my 9-5 to my VWH workstation; all that back and forth. I go to work every day. My typical day looks like this; I am up at the crack of dawn, I get to work by 8:00, and I close by 4:30. I ensure that my customer's orders are packed, and I am on track with all my tailor's deliverables between these hours. Then I get home, and I go through the quality, checking every order myself. That sums up my day.
What are some of your unique experiences as a business owner?
I've learnt to be very patient. Patience is the main drive of my business because business owners in Nigeria are working in an environment that is not very favourable for them.
In what ways has being a female helped you run your business?
I have had more support from women these past few years, coupled with VWH being targeted towards a female audience. But I don't think my business is flourishing only because it is a woman based brand.
Who has been the biggest supporter in your business?
My mother has been my biggest supporter. She always buys my products for everyone literally, and I love the support; it amplifies my confidence. And my friends as well support my business a lot; to be honest, that support system is what keeps me going.
What inspires VWH style?
Me, My style is what I have had to build my brand on. So I decided to start monetizing my style because most of what I wore always attracted compliments from people.
What goes into making a VWH dress?
For me, I try to be very business-like when I'm releasing pieces. The first thing that comes to my mind is the trending styles and then trying to adjust to fit my taste as well. But mostly, my process of creativity comes when I am at my desk at home and inspired.
What has been your craziest experience with a customer?
A customer reached out to me to make a dress for her usually; before accepting an order, we specify that it takes 3-5 working days to make any design. By the second day, she already was causing drama, and then when we finally delivered the dress, she wasn't taking the delivery riders' calls. She got angry for something that was her fault.
Then after she got her dress, she came again to say that the backless dress she ordered was too revealing; it was annoying, honestly. In the end, I blocked her and vowed to not do business with her again because it was not an enjoyable experience.
Have you ever been discriminated against in a business place?
I won't name the brand, but I got invited to showcase my pieces for international women's day a while back.
Everything went haywire from the start. First, they all came to the venue later than they had instructed themselves; even though I came earliest, I was shoved back to showcase my brand second to last. And then, after I had dressed the model assigned to me, they told me they had made a mistake and that it wasn't my model.
Then towards the end of the event, they told me that I could not showcase my brand because one of the dignitaries had to leave unexpectedly. So essentially, I almost wasted my whole day.
Have you ever had challenges in running your business because you are female?
Well, it's an ordeal that is rare for me, but there are times that the people I worked with within the design process of my brand acted up because they may have felt like I was young to give them instructions and directions. But I'm the kind of person who cannot work with people who think age or gender affects their outputs and operations.
Finally, what does growth look like to you and VWH?
I aspire to have my brand grow into a more extensive business franchise, get my full-time staff and workstation, and fully manage my business without any other hindrances.