At the risk of sounding monotonous, I must re-emphasize the awe I feel when I encounter people who push the envelope, who refuse to settle in Box-A because everyone thinks they should, and aim for Box-Y, with its two branches and a very long tail.
Ngozi Anele Ijoma, Creative Director of Zed-Eye Fashion brand was a mathematician by day and a designer by night, whose creative fires were stoked by the presence of her mother’s fashion house: an enterprise inherited from her grandmother. Ngozi says she hid and learnt to sew until her mother relented and chose to educate her properly on the matter.
So abundant was her flair that as a Secondary School Student of Bereton College in Port Harcourt, Rivers State Nigeria, Ngozi was highly sought after amongst her colleagues who sought more bespoke fits in their school outfits. On the other hand, she recalls that she was bullied and teased relentlessly for her scrawny appearance; a situation which served to send her deeper into a world of colour and creativity where she could truly express herself.
Fast forward a few years later, and Ngozi was shipped off to study her A-Levels in Accounts, Maths and Statistics in London; no worries there as she spent most of her free time fixing hair and designing clothes. Her first sewing machine was purchased from her earnings for 20 pounds. At a TEDx Talk, Ngozi revealed that there were days she spent in a dreary shelter in Soho because her Aunt kicked her out for her desire to live her designer dream.
Things only seemed to get worse from there when she turned down her admission to the London School of Economics-almost unbelievable- and instead sought admission to the London School of Fashion, an anomaly because her A-Levels were not fashion-related. Despite the odds, Ngozi showed the stuff she was made of when she aced her entry test by designing and sewing a skirt in one hour; who says practise doesn’t make perfect?
Things definitely looked up after her trial by fire, and she went on to St. Martins-considered the Harvard of Fashion Schools- where she perfected her talent and craft. According to her, “It wasn’t easy but I pushed and everyone else can. If I can make a change so can you.”
Hailed as the Nigerian ‘Vivienne Westwood,’ Ngozi has built Zed-Eye into a trans-continental brand that delivers distinctive élan, and seeks to encourage young talents and creativity.
“Reality is a product of our dreams, decisions and actions,” Ngozi states unequivocally and nothing could be truer. As Fela Durotoye also opines, you make your future; don’t just sit there and let things happens around you. In this new week, resolve to translate one dream to reality, it may not be whole or complete, but start!!!
© 2013, Jennifer Nkem-Eneanya. All rights reserved.