‘Success does not come because of one’s background’
Tiffany Amber’s Folake Coker unveiled 15 Women of Vision in partnership with Diamond Woman at an exclusive event on Saturday, October 11, 2014. They are inspirational women who have strived to make a mark in their individual fields.
On the list are Ife “Cuppy” Otedola, Ifeyinwa Ighodalo, Funke Opeke, Ola Orekunrin, Eku Edewor, Peju Alatise, Uche Majekodunmi, Adesuwa Onyenokwe, Adenike Ogunlesi, Oluchi Onweagba Orlandi, Maryam Augie, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, Omoyemi Akerele, Uche Pedro and Jumoke Oduwole.
The women are to mentor select Nigerians on business and the campaign is expected to run for five years. After a year, the mentees shall graduate from the scheme and will be assisted in spearheading their dream careers.
Folake Coker spoke more on the campaign and her luxury brand…
What were the criteria in selecting the 15 Women of Vision?
We had a panel of six including myself and a representative from Diamond Bank. We came up with the list of 150 women. We downsized it to 100 and then to 50. At a point it was difficult to reduce the number. We decided to adopt another method of age bracket of 18 and above. They have to be entrepreneurs, they have to be women who have made a mark for themselves. We finally arrived at the 15 women. Many people have criticized the selection process. I read a comment on a certain blog which said, the list is for only the rich and famous. I picked something from it. Success does not come because of one’s background, this is a luxury brand and we need to have women who are doing well. Next year we may decide to throw the gate open. This campaign has opened a lot of opportunities and we have seen that people love the brand.
What will be the mode of operation of the mentorship campaign?
It is going to be an open campaign. Applications will come from everywhere. We can’t mentor everybody. I mentor people. A lot of fashion designers doing very well now came from Tiffany Amber. Ejiro Amos Tafiri worked for me for five years, she is doing well now and I am happy for her. So, at Tiffany Amber we open up ourselves for people every year. We are successful when every other designer who came through us are successful.
What is the significance of the number 15 to you. You are celebrating your 15years in business and you just selected 15 women for a mentorship programme?
I didn’t celebrate my 10th anniversary. When I started Tiffany Amber in 1998, I was a young girl with a dream. Over the years I became a woman with a vision. Now I am very clear about where I want to take the brand to. That is the reason for the 15th anniversary.
We might even do 16th or 20th. To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the brand, I thought to myself I should give back to the society and what occurred to me was this women of vision programme. One of the most fulfilling moments of my career has been the incredible women I have come across in my journey. They have mentored me, encouraged me, empowered me and I thought I needed to share them with the world.
Going through the list of the women selected, nobody from the public sector. Why?
The choice is that we want those within our control. I can’t choose a minister or a local government chairman; they already carry a lot of load on their heads. I chose Jumoke Oduwole because of education; she is a lecturer at the University of Lagos. I think she is someone special a lot of people are looking up to her. It is the first edition, we are still learning. It is a long term project. If 50 people come out successful and we have another 50, we will be proud of ourselves.
What would the mentors be looking out for in mentees?
Potentials, seriousness. People want to make quick money nowadays and there is no short cut to success. They will also be looking for individual talents. If you don’t have any talent, it will be a waste of time for the mentors and the mentees. We hope a lot of people will come out successful from this programme.
What would you say sustained your brand for these 15years?
A lot of drive, lot of passion and prayers. This is a very difficult business. Before now, people believed women should stay indoors, stitch clothes and make dresses. Now, we have multinational companies investing in the business. Every street now has tailors working, it’s one of the biggest main stay of world economy. It’s just that we don’t write down what we earn. Fashion is a huge business in Nigeria; we are hiring South Africans and other nationals.
How affordable is Tiffany Amber’s design?
If people can’t afford Tiffany Amber, they should be able to afford TAN. Tiffany Amber Nigeria (TAN). It’s a luxury brand to provide luxury service to Nigerians.