I Am Creative With DiDi Daley
I love listening to peoples stories about how they took the bull by the horns and took a leap of faith but I also think it is very important to plan before you make that commitment. I am trying to figure out how to learn and be better like Didi Daley, an exceptional woman. She is the creative director of Didi Issa Accessories.
I sat down with Didi and she told me about her business, struggles and her hopes for the future.
“ My name is Didi Daley and I am the creative Director for Didi Issa Accessories. I work with leather and make leather products such as bags and wallets. I source as much as I can locally and I produce locally. I moved back to Nigeria about 10 years ago and had originally planned to start out here full time since I did this on the side back in the UK.
I studied Biological Chemistry and I worked as a researcher in Cambridge for about 4 years because I sincerely love research. I moved back with the plan to start out full time and work with the local artisans but I found out Nigeria is an interesting terrain with a peculiar class of people and I just realised there was a lot of challenge working with the artisans in terms of knowledge, skills and finishing. It was pretty tough having to travel to a lot of remote places to get the materials and find skilled hands, I literally crisscrossed the Northern, Eastern and Western part of the country and then I had to travel to other African countries just so I could get the best hands to work with. I guess the researcher in me won’t let me stop till I get the best.
It was just part time while I did my regular 9-5 and I spent most of my weekends and also days that I get home early working on it. The passion wouldn’t let me stop even though it was really tough making it work.
There is so much potential here and unutilized resources here in Nigeria. We sell off some of the most sought after hides and go ahead to import it as finished leather and pay so much. This is evident in almost every sector of our economy where raw materials are involved. Because I work within the industry, I know what can happen and how it can become a multi-billion dollar industry.
Last year, I came back and it is now a full time career and I have not looked back. Funny enough, some of my decision was formed by my husband’s encouragement, as he believes so much in creativity and entrepreneurship. There is also the joy that comes with people carrying your pieces after many years and still sending you messages about how much they love the pieces and are still using them.
For me, I believe we all cannot use the same in approach to business. I feel it is important to know yourself and know your strength. Analyse your strengths, your weaknesses and know when to stop and when to move on. There is nothing wrong in being scared, just don’t let the fear stop you. Seek professional advice, plan effectively and save up as much as you can so you don’t have to go begging and borrowing when you finally decide to take the leap.
Invest in knowledge, spend time researching where you can get the best hands and best raw materials, travel if you have to, but above all know yourself and work your own pace. There is so much opportunity in the industry and as a creative, it is best to go in armed and ready knowing there will always be opportunities.”