Seeing celebrities wearing some mad outfits just dey sweet me! Have you seen some of Asake or Rema or Burna Boy’s fits? They are donned in the nicest clothes. How you dress accentuates your persona and personality. Don't tell me you didn’t see Asake’s skirt outfit from his Chicago concert.
Anyways, we did some research and found out that the people behind all these badass outfits afrobeat stars wear are their stylists. Then we went around Lagos and found Celebrity Stylist Victor Nja.
Nja Mbuotidem Victor Ori is a creative director, fashion designer & stylist based in Lagos Nigeria. He currently runs Tuff World (An art-inclined luxury streetwear brand). Victor has been in showbiz for over 5 years and has styled notable A-listers such as Rema, Bnxn fka Buju, Oxlade, Zinoleesky, Asake, Timaya, and The DMW Crew to name a few–so the majority of the eccentric style pieces you see on your faves he probably styled it.
And you know we are always curious here, so we had a chat with him about how he runs this business and makes money off it. It seems like a really fun job to do.
What is the Victor Nja story?
Styling and fashion have always been second nature to me; from way back in secondary school until now when I decided to create a career out of it. I grew up watching the adults around me style themselves in clothes that were different from the norm. Every Church Sunday, I’d just stay and admire everyone’s clothes. I think that was my first introduction to styling.
Who is the most popular celebrity you’ve styled?
I’ve worked with several celebrities, both mainstream and upcoming in Nigeria and internationally; I’ve worked with Asake, Teni, Davido, Rema, Timaya, Oxlade to name a few. But given the nature of Asake and BNXN’s (Buju) career sprout, I’ll say they are some of the most popular Nigerian celebrities I’ve styled this year. For international celebrities, it’s Majid Jordan who is signed to Drake’s OVO record label on the song with Nonso Amadi
How do you make money as a stylist?
Omo! Working as a stylist is not all roses and champagne oh! Majority of the time I end up spending all my take-home profit on sourcing the items to fit my clients in. Like sometimes if I spend money on two outfits here and there the money is gone. In this kind of business, you should have the mindset of running a long-term investment instead of a quick way to make money.
Definitely, business has to be steady but not slow, how has your business evolved?
In the beginning, I’d charge as little as 15k per gig and try to work with that budget even though it was impossible…but man’s gotta eat! But yeah, now I have to think of each person’s preferences, their budgets, their personality and the kind of art they put out. This helps decide if I’ll be fitting them in a custom-made piece or something off the rack (ready-to-wear).
What does your work day look like?
Sometimes my work day is me running around shopping for materials, and clothes, then back and forth at my tailor's place. And on other days, I’m on set with my clients—under the Sun (outdoor shoot) or inside heat (indoor shoot). But my work day cannot fully be explained, because it’s never the same situation twice. My work day is very flexible and stressful, I have to go around on my own sorting for clothing items. When that’s done, it’s off to set
What’s it like working with celebrities?
Working with celebrities can be fun and tedious at the same time; it’s complex. You have to read the room, each person has a different personality, and we have to accommodate their thoughts, style, likes, and dislikes in styling them.
What are some of the craziest experiences you have had since building your company?
We are in Lagos and craze no dey finish! But one time I took a rack of clothes worth over 2m to a client's house to style him and when we got there—he told his maid to only collect the clothes from us and we were told he didn’t need us, that only the clothes we had were important. They wasted my time, and a lot of back and forth before they finally allowed us in.
What are some of your challenges in this business?
Another crazy thing that happens is the struggle of getting clients to pay on time; one time I had to chase and beg a client to pay me just 50k. So if you don’t have mind and patience, this type of business will give you headaches
What are some lessons you have learned from running your own business?
Never undersell yourself, when you run your own business—you’re in the position to dictate how much you’re worth. Along the years in the beginning of your career, people will try to downplay your work, worth and relevance, but it’s up to you to design what you want
Where do you see your brand in the next few years?
I hope to get my styling and clothing company recognized globally, currently, my brand is divided into two: Tuffworld (Bespoke and Tuff merch designed by me) and TheVictorNja (styling). I see my brand getting me into rooms where I never imagined I’d get into. It’s just the beginning honestly.
Keep up with Victor Nja on Instagram!
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