CELEBRITY designer, and comedian AY’s younger brother, Abayomi Omoniyi Makun has carved a niche for himself in the fashion world with the launching of his celebrity showroom and 2013 Collections that featured A-list entertainers.
In this interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly held on Wednesday, August 14, 2013, at his upscale office at Bode Thomas, Surulere, Lagos, the ebony designer spoke on his career and love life.
We have not heard from you since you unveiled your 2013 Collection?
I’m working on something very big, even bigger than my 2013 Collection, so you guys should expect it soon.
Have you achieved the purpose of the 2013 Collection?
Yes, I am still enjoying it up till now. The feedback is very good and exciting.
Have you always wanted to be a designer?
No, never. It has never been my dream. It was all a mistake but I thank God for that mistake. My elder sister filled Fashion Design for me instead of Fine and Applied Arts in my JAMB form.
Auchi Polytechnic in Edo State.
People feel you are the sexiest male designer, what do you have to say about that?
(Laughs) I don’t know what they mean. My opinion wouldn’t count.
How has the business environment been treating you despite the fact that you’ve been robbed twice?
The business has been very good, if not, I would have moved after that incident but this place is a business area not residential. It is strictly for business and business is very good here, especially when it comes to fashion, except you want to move to the Island.
What is your love life like?
Love life? It’s very good and very coded for now.
So, you are in a relationship?
Sure, I am in a relationship.
Who is the lucky girl?
No, I can’t tell you that. You would see her when I introduce her to the public. You never can tell, what if she breaks my heart tomorrow.
What are the challenges?
I don’t have any big challenge. It has been good. I feel I’m blessed because I don’t really face any challenge in my business.
Before your breakthrough, did you have the premonition you would go this far?
Or did you feel your brother will help you?
Yeah, when I was in school, all my friends used to tell me that I’m highly blessed and favoured because ‘Your brother is in Lagos and he can easily connect you.’ He has been doing that. AY is the backbone of Yomi Casual part from God. Most of the contacts I have today are from AY and it’s very easy for them to relate with me when I tell them I am AY’s brother. Everybody loves success.
Where do you source your materials?
I get them from Ghana, Italy and at home, Nigeria.
How would you describe a good designer?
(Thinks) That’s a big one. A good designer is someone that can create designs with ease. Also a good designer must know how to play with colours and blend them.
How would you describe your style?
My style is very simple, elegant, cut to fit, attractive and stands you out anytime.
What makes your style unique?
We are different. My designs are very artistic. People love my embroidery because that is my trademark. My embroidery is exceptionally different. I am an artist so I try to add my artistic creativity on fabric to make it look nice. So, when you see my designs, you see that artistic features on my designs.
Who are the designers you look up to?
I look up to just one person, Mudi. He’s my mentor, he’s the biggest designer in this country. That sexiest designer you attributed to me should go to Mudi because when you visit his showroom, you would have a rethink.
What do you have to say about the nine awards you have in your showroom?
I thank God. It started coming in 2011, that was Nigeria Youth Merit Award, Fashion Designer of the Year. Also, in 2011, I got the Hottest Designer of the Year. Then, in 2012, I got awards, courtesy Effizy Magazine, Exclusive Impact magazine’s award for the year, Dynamix Awards, V-Connect.
After your breakthrough, how were you able to cope with the ladies that don’t take no for an answer?
They have to take no for an answer. I have a bad attitude when it comes to that. People take me for a snub. I smile with people I know. If you’re not close to me, you will think I am a snub. I don’t really give most the ladies the chance because I know what they can do.
Have you achieved everything you wanted to achieve?
No, I am not even close to it. I hope to open a branch in Abuja before December. That is my biggest dream for now. Then, from there to Port Harcourt and one on the Island. Then, I can relax and chop my money.
Where do you see yourself in five to 10 years?
I want to be very big in five years and even bigger than my mentor. Mudi is very big.
Are you international?
Funny enough, I am international but I am not crazy about it. People tell me I need to take my brand outside but I’m not crazy about it. I really need to but the only reason I want to take my brand outside is just for the name. there is huge money in this country. The money Nigerians pay for my designers is amazing. I have some foreign clients that can’t pay that amount. We love to look good and some of us can pay anything just to look good.
You studied Fashion Designing, did you go anywhere else for training?
No, I didn’t. What helped me from the beginning was my artwork. I sketch a lot so, it made it very easy for me. I started with just me alone with my sewing machine in my bedroom. My bedroom was my office.
No, in Lagos. When I moved to Lagos, I was staying with AY and he gave me a room in his house. That was my office, my sewing room and my bedroom. It was very funny.
Is it a lucrative business?
Very, very lucrative. Back then, people never believed in fashion. You couldn’t even tell your parents that you want to go into fashion designing. But now, you can and they will support you. Parents even come here with their kids to apply for training. I have two graduates working with me at the moment.
Do you train?
I don’t train but there are some people I just have to train like family members, church members from pastors. I have two graduates working with me now. One is an apprentice and the other is a staff. That is to tell you that fashion business is serious business now. We are employing graduates to come and work for us.
- OLARONKE MORGAN
This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday, June 20, 2013