It is another Konnect Africa Interview. Today, we feature a Fashion Designer of a very very rare breed.
In a short time, She has been able to combine her passion for decency and elegance in producing fabrics and simple designs for women. She has styled ex-Presidents’ wives in and outside Nigeria. Celebrities, politicians and female spiritual leaders have benefited from her gift.
She is also the sole African Distributor of Fouad Sarkis Couture. Her recent debut on the runway in Dubai last November was a beauty to behold as the rich display of fabrics showing our diverse culture was admired by all.
Today, we bring to you the amazing and delectable Mrs Nkechi Harry Ngonadi, the brain behind NHN Couture in Lagos. In this interview with her, she tells the story behind NHN Couture, where they are headed and ends with some great inspiration for young entrepreneurs out there.
Take it from me, You will be inspired. If you are not…. we will talk about this later. For now, Read on and soak it all in.
NHN Couture – How did it all begin?
My mum was a known fashionista, my dad as well. Growing up, I have always loved fashion. It has always been a passion I had. Not even for the entrepreneurial aspect, but for myself.
I have always loved looking good especially when I’m going to church. This is so because I believe going to church is like having an appointment with God, so everyone should be at his/her best in the presence of God. So, when I’m in church, I’m all dressed up
I also love taking pictures with my outfits. When I post these pics on my BBM and Facebook page, I get lots of compliments.
Precisely about 3 or 4 years ago, I heard God actually speaking to me that I could make a business out of my gift, because it had become a gift for the fact that I had people call me up and ask for my advice on what to wear for events, what colours to combine etc. I also helped them source for fabrics and connected them with designers around to have the clothes sewn.
I was doing it not being paid. It was just a passion for me.
I had received the vision 5 months earlier while on a 40-day fast.
The Holy Spirit told me that He was more interested in having his daughters decent while going to church and He was seeing all the things women wear. I had also witnessed this trend among ladies.
So He said to me, “since everyone loves the way you dress to church and you receive so much compliments from your dressing, I think it’s high time you also teach my daughters how to dress properly and appropriately for church.”
NHN opened her doors for business in November 2013.
What is the Vision of NHN Couture?
NHN is actually a vision on a mission. Its sole purpose is to bring decency back to the church first and the society at large. I didn’t just wake up and decide to go into it. I was sent.
NHN is an acronym of my name Nkechi Harry Ngonadi. I model most of the outfits because it was part of the instruction given to me to showcase the beauty and elegance in decent dressing.
The NHN brand is a picture of the Nigerian woman. The woman who wants to be fashionable, flamboyant, has respect for her culture but is still in touch with her spiritual side.
So that’s an embodiment of what the Nigerian woman is and that’s what the brand actually represents.
NHN was also instructed to engage in helping women build up their inner beauty. It’s not all about the outer beauty. Hence, we started the blog and the Instagram page where we encourage women going through issues in their marriages, their relationships and every other issue. And it’s been a great success.
So it’s not only about the physical adornment but also the inner beauty and also how to be a successful entrepreneur as a housewife.
So all that wrapped together is what NHN is all about.
How do you balance it with family?
I also received insight from the Holy Spirit on what it entailed and how to go about creating a stress-free brand. He told me that I needed to create time for family. He told me to take out time either to work all through the week and have the weekends off for family, since the children are around then with my husband, or leave out one day in the week and work four days in the week and Saturdays. So it was that easy.
We have our seasonal periods. We don’t work with the calendar.
Because of family, we take the summer break. We shut down for summer. Also from the 2nd week in December, we close up till February. Because that’s our spiritual time of preparation for the next year.
Tell us about your products and services.
Our motto is Simply Classy. So we do clothes that are simple, classy, decent and yet “sexy”. Because that’s what the world wants to see.
We have the factory section where the production is being made. We also have where the sewing is done and then we have the fabric section where we have our various kinds of fabrics, the ordinary, the exclusive and the luxury exclusive.
Our unique selling point for us in NHN is our fabrics. Our fabrics are unique. Because they are a piece original, we tend to have people rush in.
We get fabrics from Dubai, China, Paris, New York, Turkey. Wherever we see fabulous fabrics, we grab them. In our ready-to-wear grade, we have our tops and wrappers and we take pride in them. They are easy to make and fast to produce. So when we tell our clients that we have a 24hr- 48hr service, they order today and pick up tomorrow.
In the photo shoots, you see me modelling most of the outfits just to show people how to combine the colours. We are very good in colour combinations. It’s part of what I studied in school and apart from that, it’s also a gift from the Holy Spirit.
We use nature in identifying and combining the colours and it’s been working perfectly well.
NHN works with client’s budget. We have fabrics for everyone. We have the ordinary fabrics and then we have the exclusive luxury brands. But we invest more on the exclusive fabrics because they are made just for us. Sometimes they are made for just one person.
Where do you see NHN Couture in the Future?
We are looking at having our own property where we would have the NHN Empire. There would be sections for Fabrics, Ready-to-wear, Photography studio where families can take family protraits.
We would also have a section for upcoming designers to display their work and gain exposure. And then there will be a section for trainings, both on sewing and mentorship.
I need them to know that they don’t need millions before they start selling fabrics. Here is how I started sourcing for fabrics. We didn’t just go to Dubai before we started selling fabrics. We went to Yaba market, Lagos Island (both in Lagos Nigeria) to get these special kind of fabrics – bale fabrics. So we used them to make tops, skirts and wrappers. We started like that before we got to Dubai market and then beyond.
What is your advice to that young person who is starting out in business?
I want to encourage the young ones and those coming up to know that any business that makes God the foundation will actually be a success. I want to encourage young people in business to pay their tithes and give back to the society through charity.
NHN is involved in kingdom promotion. That is what we do. We invest so much in anything that has to do with promotion of the kingdom – anywhere it’s required. And with that, God has been faithful. Because the bible says in Matt 6:33
Seek ye first the kingdom of God….and every other thing would be added to you.
That has been the backbone of NHN. We seek first His kingdom. We tend to invest more in kingdom advancement and the journey has been great.
I’d like to say to the young ones out there that nothing is too small. You can start with anything.
You mustn’t be a designer. You can decide to be a very good cook. You can start making soup in your own house and start selling. People will buy.
If you are very good in making hair, go and open a salon. If there’s anything that makes you happy, something you are good in, you can start up somewhere.
The cruse of oil is in your own house.
Wow!!! Many thanks for sharing with us, Ma.
You are welcome.
Wow!!! Wow!! Wow!!! Wow!!Wow!!! Wow!! Do I need to say more? Go out there and start something. Don’t just start. Do it the right way and do it right away!