‘I want my clients to have the feel good factor of luxury’

UK-based Tina Ugo is the CEO/Creative Director of DIDI Creations Limited, a luxury goods label. With her designs also selling back home, she tells GuardianWoman the challenges of being a Nigerian designer abroad and the birthing of her children’s label DIDI Creations Kids

Let’s meet you please
My name is Miss Tina Ndidi Ugo and I’m a Fashion Entrepreneur. I am the CEO and Creative Director for DIDI Creations Limited, a fashion company incorporated and based in the United Kingdom. We cater for the fashion conscious male and female through creating unisex clothing, bags, footwear and accessories. The brand has recently expanded and launched a Kids line in addition to our existing unisex lines.

I was born in Lagos, and had my primary and high school education in Lagos. I had my first degree in Philosophy and Political Science at the University of Ibadan where I was awarded a Bachelor of Arts (Combined Honours) degree in 2001. I relocated to the United Kingdom in 2009 for further studies after I lost my mum. In 2010, I was awarded a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Management after completing my studies at the London Business College.

The following year in 2011, I was awarded a Masters in Business Administration by Edge Hill University, Lancashire. Finally, I have a few certificates for short fashion courses I have done so far. I come from a close knit-family, and I am the first of six children.

My Brand Story
I relocated to the United Kingdom for further studies and decided to stay back after my Masters in Business Administration. I was aware of how tough the job market can be, hence decided to set up my own business upon graduation. The fashion industry became my first option as it was innate, I would eventually be fully involved in it at some point in my lifetime. I decided the brand will be a fashion lifestyle label that will cater for the fashion conscious male and female across the globe through creating unique pieces of clothing, bags, footwear and accessories. Since this was going to become my full time job, I knew it had to be done professionally and fortunately, my recently concluded MBA at the time had prepared me on the steps to follow in setting up a business professionally.

Why did you opt for luxury fashion and who are your target market?
I opted for luxury fashion because I wanted demand for my goods to be more than supply.
I wanted to cater to a niche market and also want my clients to have the feel good factor that is associated with luxury each time they are in my piece, knowing they are wearing or using a product that isn’t out there nor for the masses.

Prior to launching my brand in 2012, during my research and brainstorming phase, I decided I was going to focus on high quality and perfect finishing on all my pieces.
This is the reason why I work with some of the best and tested artisans across the globe to create my perfect finished products. My target market is the middle class to the upper class demographic.

How have you been able to hold your own as a Nigerian Designer operating in London?
I would attribute that to my perseverance and absolute passion for the fashion industry.
I am yet to get my Return on Investment (ROI), but I am optimistic that sooner than later, I will get my big break here. The fashion industry is a very competitive and cut-throat industry hence its very difficult for emerging designers like myself to break into the main stream market.

Do you operate at home at all? How many fashion shows have you organised or attended and what has been the success?
Yes I have a presence in Nigeria and have several loyal clients there. I have a few stockists in Lagos and Abuja who currently retail my pieces. I visit home often and organise exhibitions to unveil my new collections annually. I have showcased in a number of shows in London, New York, Kenya and Nigeria; and surprisingly I have had positive feedbacks from all the shows. I even had a few market leads from some of them.

You’ve been off the radar for while and just made a come-back at the recently concluded Africa Fashion Week London. What have you been doing and

What do you have up your sleeves now?
I took time off work in 2015 to have a baby, but I’m fully back now. I have recently launched a Kids line in addition to our expanding brand.
I am also back in school, currently doing a one-year Diploma course in Interior Design at the Institute of Interior Design London, as I plan to come up with something in the near future. I’m also about to enrol for a fashion merchandising course in the coming weeks. So watch this space.

It felt so good to be back on the runway, and I actually opened the entire show at the AFWN 2016. My highlight on the day was when I walked that runway to go take a bow with my 10 months old daughter in my arms. It felt fulfilling. My revamped Kaftan collection which I showcased on the day was inspired by my stylish mum of blessed memory and my love for vibrant colours.

Tell us your experience of motherhood. Was it your baby that inspired your new collection?
I’m loving and embracing every aspect of motherhood. However, it is quite demanding and since I had my daughter, I’m not sure I’ve had more than four hours of sleep daily. This is because I tend to work and study overnight after I put her to sleep. Yes my daughter inspired me to start a Kids line. DIDI Creations Kids started shortly after I had her, as I wanted a platform to constantly design things for her. Prior to when I had her, I searched for big baby hair bows in a few shops and couldn’t find what I wanted exactly, so I had to settle for smaller ones.
This got me thinking, and I concluded there was a gap in the market so I started making baby headbands (which are actually named after her) and I also design kids dresses at the moment.
She is one of my kid models and the brand ambassador for my Kiddies line.

Kindly describe your new collection
Miss Tina Ndidi Ugo is back with her one-of-a kind structured bags, which have been the signature of the DIDI Creations brand since its launch in 2012 till date. This collection is termed “His and Hers Collection,” as we didn’t want to leave our stylish men behind this time.

My mission for this collection is to give a wild twist even to the most serious and demure looks through the sequences of spots and patterns on a snake’s skin. The inspiration for this collection was drawn from a true masterpiece of nature, which generates orderly, disorderly graphic designs, concentric and symmetrical, round and oval. The good news for our stylish clients who love to stand out from the crowd is that no two bags are the same in this Limited Edition Collection, which means any fashionista who carries any bag from this collection has that piece limited to only her.

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