IINTERVIEWS: ADERONKE OLUBANJO OF IBADAN FASHION COLLEGE
Can you tell us a bit about yourself so that our readers can know more about you?
My name is Aderonke Olubanjo, mother of two and wife of one, Ondo state by origin, Ogun state by marriage and Ibadan by residence. I am a graduate of Mass Communication and Journalism from The Polytechnic of Ibadan and at a point, I decided to go into cloth making. Now I am the CEO of Ibadan Fashion College
Why cloth making and not any other business, not even journalism, the course you studied in school?
Initially, I wanted to pursue a career in the course I studied (as a journalist), but I became scared of professional journalism when I started to hear stories about how female journalists have to do all sorts of unprintable things to make any headway in the profession. That is the excuse that I like to give to my journalist friends, though. The real reason I went into cloth making is that I prefer to get things done by with my hands. So a few years ago, when I was still in school, I had some issues with my tailor, then someone suggested that I learn to make clothes myself. So I started learning to sew while I was still studying Mass Communication.
Now about your brand, DGV Styles, how was it conceived, and what gave you the idea for the Ibadan Fashion College?
Well, DGV Styles came first before Ibadan City Fashion College. DGV is a fashion firm where we make clothes. We make wedding attires, casual and corporate European clothing styles and all types of native attires for people. the firm officially started in 2000 and within a couple of years (at the time I got married ) It became a strong viable business. It got a lot bigger in the year 2010, and we were able to acquire our store in the D’Rovans area. It was about that time I decided I needed further training, to learn some new skills in the business. That was when I realized there was no standard fashion school in the city. Then I started to interact with other fashion designers and I found out that there were so many people like me that want to learn new fashion skills,but have no place to learn. It hit me that I could do something about it. I was not sure I wanted to teach initially. I am quite shy and have a bit of trouble addressing people, and I lacked the patience to be a good instructor. However I really wanted a place where I and other people could learn these skills, so I went ahead to start the college anyway. So the Ibadan Fashion College started precisely on August 15 , 2010 with just six students. it has grown exponentially since then and as of today, we have trained over six hundred students.
What are the challenges You face in the running of DGV Styles and the Ibadan Fashion School?
Every day presents a new challenge, Trust me. Kids that you can beat and scold are far easier to teach than adults you have little or no control over, so you have to continually tread a fine line with the students. Asides that, the Nigerian economy falling into recession is now also a problem. There is also the issue of epileptic electricity supply. The unstable Forex is also a problem because the best machines for the job we do are not made in Nigeria. They have to be brought in from outside the country. These machines are longer affordable because of the crash in the value of the Naira to the Dollar. There are many others, but these are the ones I can remember for now.
In what ways do you think the government can be of help to people doing your kind of business?
With the high unemployment rate recently, it is time government begins to support vocational training initiatives like ours. I heard about the Garment Factory policy during President Umar Musa Yar’Adua rule but nothing came out of that initiative after his death. Projects like that will not only employ trained tailors it will also boost the country’s clothes export revenue. We also want stable electricity to reduce the extra costs we incur on fuel for generator for our sewing machines. It will also help if we can get affordable/subsidized equipment,as well as non-interest loans.
Still on the Ibadan Fashion College What are the entry requirements to study?
Absolutely nothing, just an interest in what we do. We have First degree and Masters degree holders here among our students.We have undergraduates and secondary school leavers learning here in our school.Some of our students are nursing mothers and housewives. We have both male and female students. Some people are even nice enough to enroll with us their house helps from faraway settlements as part of their exposure to a big city. Everybody who has an interest in what we do is welcome. for your information.we don’t not only train people based in in Ibadan, we have had students that came to Nigeria from UK and USA purposely to receive training from us, we have students that are not even Yoruba.
How long does the training last for?
We have short courses of 2-8 months depending on how fast the student can learn. We also have a diploma course runs that runs from 18months-2 years. For the diploma, we issue a certificate approved by the government which is valid anywhere in the world. We train people to make unisex clothing, bags, shoe and even kiddies wear. Currently, it is an open registration all year round so people can apply anytime of the year that they have the fund, time and zeal to start learning.
Is there way interested people can register for your course online?
Not at the moment. I personally prefer for people to visit, ask questions and know all about us. I like for people to see our facilities and assess our methods, because we train students individually rather than in groups, before registering for our course. However, online registration is an option we are looking at.So someday soon we will have it on our website.
How affordable is the tuition?
We ensure it is as affordable as possible, current our fees range from 30-50 thousand Naira, depending on the course duration. We have had the same tuition fees for a long time in spite of the country’s situation that has led to an increase in prices of almost everything. It is because for us it is not about profit but about passing knowledge and making a positive change in the lives of people.
Do you think there is any common ground between Fashion and Social Media?
There is a strong connection between fashion and social media. People are becoming increasingly conscious of what to wear these days because they know thousands of people on social media will criticize their looks. There are lots of fashion articles and tips on Blogs and Twitter and lots of style and color match to copy on Instagram and Snapchat. Fashion and Social media are helping each other because fashion posts are a huge percentage of social media content.
What are your long term goals?
Moving forward and being great, I dont want to let the cat out of the bag yet . However I can tell you that there are some projects we are working on, one of which is coming up in December where you can buy quality ready-to-wear clothes at extremely low prices. It is our way of saying “Thank you” and this project is exclusive to Ibadan only. The Ibadan Fashion College is also working on affliation with big brands, corporate firms and schools abroad to benefit our graduates.
Are you on social media?
Of course we are. Kindly follow @dgvstyles on Twitter and Instagram, or just search Ibadan City Fashion College on all social media.
It has been great talking to you.
Thank you so much for coming around to chat with me. It was great to have you around.