My name is Judith Abashe Gwabin from Zangon-Kataf local government area of Kaduna State and Atyap by ethnic origin. I was born into the family of a retired civil servant, Mr Gwabin Abashe and a businesswoman, Mrs Lai’atu Abashe on 22nd August, 1990 in Kaduna State. I am the third of four children. I attended Arwa Nursery and Primary School, Wuse Zone 4. From there, I proceeded to Air Force Girls Comprehensive School, Jos. After my secondary education, I gained admission to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria where I obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Television Journalism. I did the one-year NYSC programme in 2013/2014 and I served at the News Agency of Nigeria, Headquarters. I went further to bag a Master’s degree in International Affairs and Strategic Studies at the Nigerian Defence Academy in Kaduna State.
I am into fashion business with the brand name, Jaylian Limited. Our focus is mainly on female clothing and trainings for interested persons. We have ready to wear outfits, bridal wears and special events outfits. We are solely about meeting the fashion needs of a contemporary woman. For trainings, we have classes for individuals who are passionate about learning the skill of sewing as well as the business of fashion. We teach pattern drafting, sewing techniques, garment construction, perfect finishings and lots more because I am interested in impacting and transferring the skill to others.
HOW IT ALL STARTED?
I started in 2016. Growing up, I loved everything fashion and I noticed how I could fix things with ease, add beauty to my dresses or shoes as well as removing some things I felt did not really look nice. This passion grew as days passed by but I could not get the right place to express my ideas, so, I had to focus on school. I despised the idea because there was no university in the country where I could study Fashion Design and I knew my parents would not have their child become a ‘tailor’. But, after my service year, I was determined to live my dreams of influencing the fashion industry with my ideas. I quickly approached my mother, shared my plans with her and she agreed but my father preferred a white-collar job, which was not forthcoming. I began selling costume jewelleries to enable me sponsor myself to a Fashion School. My mother still had our earlier discussion in mind, so she gave me N20, 000 to pay for training at a tailor’s place and I began in February 2015. In October, I moved to a standard fashion school, Evelyn Tailor School of Fashion Design in Gwarinpa, where I learnt professional sewing and in eight weeks, I completed the course. In 2016, I began sewing for myself and people were admiring my outfits, from then on, orders kept rolling in till date. The journey has been awesome.
WHAT SETS YOU APART FROM COMPETITORS?
The process involved in making our clothes as they are made with very neat finishing. I also hate to disappoint clients, because over the years, I have noticed it is common with tailors. In my three years of going into the business, I can confidently say the record of disappointment on my part is just two per cent and I am working hard to ensure our deliveries are without delays.
The passion for the job keeps me going even when it gets tough. I love what I do and compliments for my designs, seeing my students excel encourage me to do more. Criticisms have also helped me work on my lapses. In the course of my work, I discovered the gift of teaching and I have introduced this in the business as I train interested individuals and help them live their dreams.
I am not successful but I am in the process of getting there and I can say I have achieved much with the help of God Almighty. Prayer, dedication and hard work have helped me stay committed to the job. I am open to corrections and new ideas, as they have helped me achieve more in the business. I started the business alone but I currently have four staff and I am hopeful that when we begin expansion in March 2019, we will employ more hands. The company is registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) of Nigeria. We have trained a reasonable number of students who are doing well in the industry today.
Every business has challenges especially at the early stage and finance is one of the challenges I face. We hope to expand our business operation from what it is today to where it is meant to be but that has not stopped us from working because we believe the only way to get there is through hard work. Availability of fabrics and accessories in Nigeria is also a factor as importation makes our cost of production expensive.
I am not aware of any fear because I love what I do.
My only regret is wishing I started earlier but it is better late than never.
In the next few years, I see the company producing clothes and exporting them into the foreign market. Also, I see us impacting sewing skills to a larger group and going as far as empowering women and girls to start up their own businesses.
MOST MEMORABLE DAY
The day I was able to make and complete a dress from a sketch, to cutting, sewing and finishing with a perfect fit within eight weeks. With this, I knew I was on the right path to achieving my dreams.
I love learning new things, impacting knowledge and interacting with people.
My first mentor is a friend and teacher, Mrs Foluke Olamide. She used to be the proprietress of the fashion school I attended. I also have a few others like Yemi Kosibah, who is a Nigerian Designer based in the UK- he makes wedding dresses, Michael Costello in the US and Tubo in Lagos.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE BUSINESS WITH FAMILY LIFE?
It was not easy, especially in 2017 when I was running my Master’s programme and had to work weekdays, and attend lectures during the weekend. It was not easy but it was worth it. I always have to create time out of my busy schedule to maintain family relationship and try as much as possible to strike a balance.
I have come to the realisation that everyone was created with the ability to do things perfectly without pressure. We are unique and should discover areas where our strengths lie, work towards it by making it a reality. No woman should stay idle; start a business no matter how small.
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