This great entrepreneur is one of those that have made their mark in the fashion industry. Discovering the likes of Mai Atafo has made me think that if success were a personality, I would bet he is African.
This fashion genius has garnered numerous awards and recognitions as a result of his outstanding success in the industry including: two awards from City People Fashion and Style as Hottest New Designer Male (2009) and a Special Recognition (2010); Mode Men Magazine Fashion Designer of The Year (2010), Best Dressed Men (2010 – 2011); FAB Magazine Fashion Brand of The Year (2010); the Redefinition Covenant University Contribution to Fashion (2010), Allure Most Stylish Man of the Year (2011), and ThisDay Style Best Dressed Men (2011).
Mai was born in Ile-Ife, Osun State. Though an indigene of Ora in Edo State, he spent most of his childhood in Benin City and Lagos along with his six brothers and two sisters. He admits that growing up in such a large family, which he literally calls a village, has helped him to have a perfect relationship with people, no matter where they are from. He had his primary education at the University of Benin staff school, after which he proceeded to Federal Government College Ido Ini for his secondary education. He recalls being a very intelligent and competitive child, who took part in sports competitions and acted in school plays. Mai holds a degree in Agricultural Economics and Extension from Edo State University, Ekpoma, and a Master’s degree in Information Technology, from City University London, England. Mai has been known to say that his love for fashion can be attributed to his large family, where everyone makes it a duty to look good.
Mai who is the fashion editor of Genevieve Magazine is also a stylist and marketing consultant. I may be right to attribute his multitasking ability to the exposure he gained whilst he was in the corporate world. His first job on his return from the United Kingdom was with the American Tobacco Company, after which he joined Guinness Nigeria Plc in 2007.
In 2010, Mai started his clothing line; a leap into greatness that also meant he was his own boss. His clothing line specializes in suits for men and exotic red carpet dresses. In July 2011, Mai launched “Weddings by MAI”, thereby adding gorgeous wedding dresses to his already flourishing brand to cater for all clothing needs for weddings. His designs are clearly top notch and timeless, as well as clean-cut and urban.
Mai Atafo’s first major debut was clothing the likes of Omowunmi Akinnifesi (MBGN 2005), Pasuma Wonder and Wale Rubber in the Maiden Edition of the TV Dance reality show “Celebrity Takes Two”. He was also involved in the second season of “Celebrity Takes Two” clothing Stella Damasus and Yemi Blaq. Mai’s creations are a visible presence in other major TV shows/events like The Future Awards, Hip Hop World Awards, Soundcity Music Video Awards where he clothes high profile clients and artistes such as, Raz Adoti, Ashionye, M.I,Waje, Omawumi, TuFace, Bez, DBanj,Banky W and Kemi Adetiba. Other celebrities who have been spotted in MAI designs on the red carpet include actors Dakore Egbuson, Stephanie Okereke, Stella Damasus, Mercy Johnson, Gbenro Ajibade and Ramsey Nouah. Ex-Beauty Queens Omowunmi Akinnifesi, Munachi Abii, and Adaeze Igwe are not left out of the MAI parade.
In an interview with Vanguard News, Mai dropped some stand-out fashion tips for the menfolk:
“If you have one colour splash in your combo, I don’t think it is bad. If you have red trousers and you are wearing a white shirt and a black jacket, I don’t think you’ve done anything wrong. I think that is absolutely fantastic. If you decide to wear a black trouser and white shirt and red shoe and red belt, I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. I won’t wear orange shoes but I can wear orange in some shades. So I’d say spice your dressing with a bit of colour but do not wear a red jacket, red belt and red shoes. If you are dressing for a music video, it might be okay. But there are a few balances. These days, your socks can be as colourful as you want it. It’s just a flash. Your pocket square can be colourful. That will be nice.”
Even though he admits that his biggest weakness is clothes, Mai added that the one thing he would never do in the name of fashion is sag his jeans. “I have a waist” he said, “so I put my jeans on my waist.” I hope our youngsters will learn from this.
Mai Atafo is making his mark in the world, chiefly because he had a clear vision of what he wanted and he went for it. Do you have a vision? If you do, then go for it .It is definitely worth the try.