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Beyond Two Decades of Shirtmaking with Davida Okpara

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+ Unveiling Her New Book- Get Unstuck

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Davida Okpara, trained lawyer and esteemed fashion designer and author, has been honing her skills in the shirtmaking department in Lagos – Nigeria for the past 23years.
Her rare talent of creating timeless pieces, keeps her clients spellbound each time .  Her eponymous  shirt brand – Davida has seen her female loyal customers grow and become a community , that remains a privileged circle to belong to .
On account of  her distinctive style ,coupled with the art of avant garde details shirt designs, her place in the Nigerian fashion industry yet remains unshakable and secured ,  as many had journeyed the path only for a short distance .
 Not just a trendsetter but an asset to the Nigerian fashion industry, Davida recently launched her own e book titled- Get Unstuck . In this interview with Editor in Chief – Moriam Musa,  Davida speaks about her life and how she has been able to sustain the brand over two decades .

T & E  –    You started this line 23 years ago, how has it been sticking to the same niche of clothing all this while ?

DAVIDA – I started making shirts, as a hobby, many years ago, while in my first year in the University, studying law.

Naturally, I just leaned towards what I loved wearing – shirts.
That hobby became a registered business 23 years ago.
I just found it easier to stick to shirts. I wanted to be a Master, making what I love to wear.
My strength has always been shirts.
It has had its ups and down, but it has been very satisfying journey.

 

T & E -Did you ever deviate ? If no , what was your staying power ? 

DAVIDA -I never deviated but I found myself occasionally making some jumpsuits,  jackets, dresses and skirts.
I would say my staying power would be God’s grace and the overwhelming support from my numerous customers. I see a lot of them who have stayed the course of 23 years +.

T & E – What is your most marked characteristic?

– DAVIDA – Lol. I would say my sleeves. I always did dramatic sleeves. I always wanted clients to stand out in my shirts. It became one of the Brand signatures. What is amazing is that sometimes I tone them down, then you see a customer saying ” this does not look like a Davida shirt”

T & E   What is a typical day like for you?

DAVIDA – A typical day for me.

Starts at 5.30am with  reading my Bible and prayers.
I try to take a cup of lemon infused warm water.
Then take a shower and off to work, which starts at 8am.
I find that I am able to accomplish a lot more when my day starts this way.
The mornings are for cutting styles.
Break time at 1pm.
Then admin work, meetings, attending to customers etc is done in the afternoon.
The work day ends at 7pm. This time extends till late when preparing for a trade show or a new collection.

T & E –  Why did  you choose to focus on shirts as your choice of design?

– DAVIDA – Shirts and trousers were my default mode of dressing. So I naturally gravitated towards making shirts for myself and then the orders started coming.

 

T & E – How have you managed to keep your growing customers loyal ?

–  DAVIDA – Staying focused on our deliverables.. We passionately craft exquisite shirts that compliment the Masterpieces that our clients are.  Any thing that goes against that is not tolerated.

– Not compromising with our quality in fabrics and finishing.
– Having integrity regarding our pricing structure
– Constantly working on our customer service.
– Patience. Taking in constructive criticism. Your critic may turn out to be your best referee

T & E –  Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

– DAVIDA – Words or phrases I overuse….
” Masterpiece”;
“Finicky “;
“Woman, know thyself, no be curse”;
Lol“;
“Self care is wealth”
Other phrases —
“Stay on your Lane”.
“Good idea or God idea” This is a phrase I always remind myself. It’s easy to become distracted looking at what is trending in the fashion scene and what other industry experts are doing, that we forget to check in with the Master of it all.

T & E   – When and where was I happiest?.

DAVIDA – Actually 2 instances, don’t know which one to choose.
The first one was when I gave my life to Christ. A colleague at the Bank I worked in, who knew I loved food, invited me to Sheraton Hotel for a Full Gospel Biz Men’s Fellowship buffet breakfast meeting. I only heard the food part and I accepted. Pastor Tunde of Latter Rain Assembly preached a message “The road back to Eden”. It was tears galore, and then indescribable joy at the end. I felt like I had won the Euro Millions lottery.

T & E  -What do you consider your greatest achievement?.

DAVIDA – People shop for various reasons. Sometimes it helps them reduce anxiety, stress and boosts their mood.
I find that my business is actually way beyond producing shirts and being paid for them.
To be able to lend a listening ear, counsel people, keep their confidences, and provide fabulous shirts that lift their moods is my greatest achievement.
Its an awesome feeling, putting a smile on people’s faces.  Someone can look better, feel better, feel more confident to take on life’s challenges, and I am there to help.

T & E  –  How do you intend to mark your 23rd Anniversary.

DAVIDA – Covid period demands quietness. So for me, it’s  just gratitude to God for keeping my business through thick and thin. And also appreciating the clients who have stood the text of time.
God blesses us, so we can in turn become blessings to others. I am now a Mentor for budding fashion creatives, who may need to draw from my wealth of experience.
I have recently written a free eBook as a simple guide to goal setting for 2021.

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