SHE is Esther Ileogben, the woman behind Estito brand, a one-stop fashion outfit, which is gradually becoming a household name. Very hard working and determined, she has also honed her skill in the fashion world. The lawyer turned designer spoke to ENCOMIUM Weekly on her brand and more.
Looking back at how Estito, as a brand started, how will you describe the road to where you are now?
I must say it is not by my power but God’s grace that I am here today. It has not been a smooth journey, it has been very rough but with God on our side, with our determination and push, in fact, both push and drive for success, one will always make it.
Did you ever envisage that Estito, as a brand will become this big?
Yes, that has always been my dream, to make my brand a household name. This is just one step from miles ahead. Back then, we were the pioneer in the so called movie or Nollywood. Then, I got series of makeup and award as the best costumier in the home video industry. The beauty, fashion and clothing stuff has always been in me, it has always been a passion. I have always had the dream of making it big, becoming a household brand.
Why did you leave costuming and makeup for fashion?
I didn’t really leave costuming totally, it is still along clothing. I just decided to start making my own dresses. I took a step backward from the makeup thing, it was hectic for me. I was also in school, so I decided to finish my education. After which, I went into the clothing stuff full time.
What will you attribute the secret to, apart from God?
It’s the passion for success, the drive, push, determination. Like any other business in Nigeria, it is not easy to be at the top of affairs, no matter how small the business is. The challenges are enormous, you have to contend with so many things at the same time, once at the top, if you are not really focused, if you are not determined, you wouldn’t make it. I know some big names in the fashion industry that have packed up, they are no more. So, it is not really easy to get to the top, even when you get to the top, it is not really easy to stay there. You really need that drive, that determination to carry on.
As a businesswoman, what are the lessons you have learnt in business?
As a businesswoman, you have to realize one thing, everybody cannot be your friend, everybody cannot be your customer, everybody cannot be pleased with you. No matter how hard you try to please them, just try as much as possible to take 80 per cent of your clients, go all the way to make them happy, then you will be in business. By the time you take 20 per cent effort to keep your 80 per cent clients, you will find out that you will be successful in your business. That is what I have learnt, no matter how good or perfect you are, just get the ones you could hold and please them. If you are trying to please everybody in business, you will just crash.
As a businesswoman, how do you manage your finance?
That is also a vital part of any business, I do my budgeting right. Income, daily expenses and I also mark out my profit margin. As I guess that has always helped me.
Why did you diversify into men’s clothing because Estito is known for clothing women?
I am married, I just discovered that I am not able to design for my husband, so that when he is out there, his friends can commend what he is wearing and I know he will give credit to his wife. He threw the challenge to me, so I decided to start, since then, it’s like I don’t want to do the female stuff anymore. It’s really been good, there is no one I show my male designs that don’t fall for it. It’s been really good. As a designer, it is good to have clothing lines for male and female, that is what is obtainable in the international market. For men, we do western and African clothes. For Western clothes, we do some little trademark to stand us out.
It seems Estito is a jack of all trade, do you have any other business you do?
Estito is not a Jack of all trade, she is just a multi-tasker and all her business are in the same line. For instance, I just went into the beauty sector, they are all interwoven, it is about style, it is about looking good, your presentation and personality. It is what I have been doing from the outset. One of the reasons for moving from my other place is because of the beauty aspect, we are now on Ogundana Drive, I have my showroom, workshop and beauty parlour there. I call it Estito Showroom Beauty Palace.
How do you intend combining your businesses?
I think I am just lucky. I am talented. I am a woman of many parts, apart from studying law, I am a talented person when it comes to handicraft. I don’t need to go for any training, once I see you do it, I will take it on my own and I will get it perfectly. Even when I was in school, I was making my sister’s hair, even the clothing business started in school. So, it is inborn, it wouldn’t be difficult for me. Since my studio and workshop are in the same place, I am always there for my clients.
Share with us your greatest challenges as a businesswoman?
Manpower and human resources. But one most important thing is to let the workers know that details in the finishing matters a lot. It goes a long way. I use to do a lot of training, talk and supervision, so that it will stick. It is a recurrent thing that could be hectic. Then, power is another great challenge, we need to put on generating set most times.
How do you manage the homefront and your studio?
That is another ball game, but I thank God for my husband who is very understanding, its not really easy. But I find myself coping, my husband has also been loving and supporting.
What is your greatest dream for Estito brand?
I want to see Estito brand in all departments all over the world.
– SHADE WESLEY-METIBOGUN
- This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday,November 29, 2011