Renowned fashion designer and the brain behind Nikky Khiran Couture, Nikky Khiran, has a neew project at hand. The London-trained designer and successful entrepreneur would be hosting an unusual beauty/lifestyle show tagged Objects of Beauty Fair.
To be held on Saturday, November 17 and Sunday, November 18, 2012, at Protea Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos, the event would attract participants from the beauty and creative industry.
In an exclusive interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly on Thursday, September 6, 2012, Nikky Khiran unveiled her pet project, highlighting what separates it from previous fashion shows. She also went beyond that to talk about her job and a bit of her very private life and more.
Nikky Khiran is a leading fashion and lifestyle line. How did it all evolve as a household name in the industry?
We originally started as a clothing line for women. Now we are diverse, a kind of off – the rack line, where people can just walk in, pick what they want rather than go for made-to-measure.
After that, we ventured into home accessories. We also have jewelry and a hand bag line. So, we want our brand to be concerned with lifestyle and fashion. That is Nikky Khiran for you.
So, what has sustained this brand over the years?
I will say it’s the interest people have shown in our products. As a creative person, I have always wanted to satisfy my clients. And people have, in turn loved and enjoyed what I do.
You have been in this business for about 25 years, did you ever imagined you would get this big and far?
I have been in Nigeria now for 11 years. The Nigerian fashion market has been very slow in growth and we have a lot of struggles and everyday challenges we face. It has been a constant struggle but we have always known we would surmount the challenges and grow our business.
What then are your winning strategies?
I think it’s basically about hard work. I don’t think there is any other way, because we put a lot of hard work and creative effort in our products. People buy us year in, year out.
Were there targets you set out for yourself at the beginning?
I’m somebody, who believes in goal-setting. Sometimes I surpass my goals, some other time, I don’t meet them (laughs). But I try not to put myself under a lot of pressure. You can’t work by anybody’s clock, you have to work by your own clock.
So, I set targets, if I don’t meet them, I try again and set new ones. The environment we are in is quite challenging. That also makes my target difficult to meet sometimes.
What would you say is the sweetest thing about being a fashion designer in this side of the world?
Some look at the job from the fact that it is glamorous to be one. For me, it’s about making my clients happy and people’s reaction to what I do. People buy our pieces and they call me after to commend our products. And that makes it worthwhile.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
Dealing with everyday challenges in Nigeria. Dealing with lack of electricity. We burn fuel 16, 18 hours a day. We also have problem of staffers with different attitude to work and dealing with various challenges in the country. How do I cope? Once in a while I get out of the country to have some rest and see another world. Then start all over again.
Who is your most fashionable Nigerian woman?
There are so many to mention. A lot of Nigerian women are extremely fashionable. I can’t take one person.
When is a woman said to be fashionable?
I would say a woman, who understands her body and knows how to bring out her best assets. A lot of the so-called fashionable women don’t know that being elegant is not the same as being fashionable. Some wear anything because it’s in vogue.
We do too many things that don’t work. You have to understand your body, know what fits your body and dress to suit it and of course, age appropriately. It’s really a combination of so many things.
What about a fashionable man?
I think the same rule applies to men. It’s not really about following trends. It’s about understanding your body. If you have a pot belly, you should not be wearing a tight-fitted dress. Some indulge in clash of colours, flaunting multiple logos, but I think less is better.
One should also dress one’s age. You can’t be wearing stuff meant for teenagers, when you are in your 50s or 60s.
How would you assess the industry?
The fashion industry in Nigeria is quite challenging. And to make matters worse, government is not supporting entrepreneurs. Most parents are not even comfortable with their children being designers. Many want their children to be lawyers, medical doctors, engineers and others they consider more professional. It’s taking a very long time for the industry to really explode in Nigeria and Africa at large.
In other parts of the world, fashion is a multi-billion industry. If only we can have electricity, 24 hours a day or even 12 hours in a day, things could be better. We don’t even have basic infrastructure. So, it’s extremely challenging to get business going here. You can sell some of the products half the price if the cost of production is lower.
We spend so much money on fuel. I have to supply in almost everything I use for production. I do what I do here because I enjoy doing it, if not, I would have left the country a long time ago.
Let’s talk about your up-coming Objects of Beauty Fair 2012. What is it all about?
I have been to a couple of fairs and exhibitions but I wasn’t satisfied with the turn-out and quality of participants. So, what I have decided to do is to put as many creative people as I could find in one place.
We have been planning this for the past six months and we have expended a lot of energy to win partners to ensure the success of the event. It’s about arts, fashion, lifestyle, wellness, beauty all in one show. Since it’s around November, people would use the avenue to shop for Christmas. Early birds would get discounts.
We are showcasing the best of African creativity. Objects of Beauty will parade well known designers, artisans and highly creative entrepreneurs. We’ve got vendors and the mainstream media.
What are the major challenges of organizing the fair?
Nigerians are very skeptical. A lot of would-be participants have not really been satisfied with how fashion shows have been organized in the past. To be kind to them, one expects to get a good deal from such events. Organizers should reduce prices of their goods and services.
They should make things affordable so that participants can go back home happy. There should be something for everybody. It’s a good opportunity to expand your clientele base.
Can you please share with us the calendar of Objects of Beauty Fair?
It’s holding at Protea Westwood, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, from Saturday, November 17 to Sunday, November 18, 2012. It’s 10am to 7pm on Saturday, we will start 11am and end the fair at 6pm on Sunday. We intend to close it with a fashion show, hopefully.
What are your expectations?
We are hoping for the best because we’ve got great vendors and great media. So, we are expecting the best.
Away from your project, how is life?
We are all in Nigeria where we deal with everyday stress. We are just praying that things would get better.
You are always well put together, glowing skin, ageless, sexy, what has kept you this beautiful?
Like I said, I try not to put myself on too much pressure. Yes, mine job is a high pressure job, I don’t judge myself by anybody’s clock. When I’m stressed, I just pray and that has been it.
How do you keep fit? Are you a spa person?
Yes, I love spas, but I don’t do much of it when I am in Nigeria. I do that when I travel. I walk my dogs once in a while. I don’t have any particular exercise regimen. I think it’s just good gene. I thank my parents for that.
What’s your love life like right now?
On my goodness. That’s a really embarrassing question. That, I’m not going to answer (laughs).
Because a lot of your admirers are a bit confused about your relationship status?
I don’t know what my relationship status has to do with anybody but I’m divorced, anyway.
Won’t you give marriage another shot?
Yeah, when the right man comes.
What are the qualities of this man you are looking for?
I think what a lot of successful women are looking for, is a man who would support them. A man who is kind and God fearing. We all need a man to support us.
So, you’ve never lost sleep over this?
No, I can’t lose sleep over a man because when I’m stressed, I call my dad. He’s a prayer warrior. I also pray to Papa God.
How many siblings do you have?
I have a little brother and two sisters. And I’m the oldest.
How do you catch fun?
I hardly have time to socialize because of my job. I don’t get out as much as I want. I occasionally hang out with friends. I like dancing. I danced a lot in my younger days but not as much right now. I read books.
Are there special ways you pamper yourself?
I love the spa thing. When I’m stressed, I travel out. It could be around the corner, Ghana, Gambia…
Can you tell us more about Nikky Kharan?
I finished my school in Queen’s School, Ilorin, Kwara. I left Nigeria when I was 19 back to England, where I studied Fashion Design technology. I am from Kwara State.
The good Lord has obviously blessed the work of your hand. So, what more do you really want from Him?
I am always asking God for different things. I keep them very close to my chest. I’m always asking Him for one thing or the other. Sometimes He answers some other times He doesn’t. I think I’m really blessed.
- This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday, September 18, 2012