I Am Creative With Ife Adebiyi
I have learnt never to judge people by their overall look – especially size – but I fail at this a lot because I’m human.So when this young man stepped into our office few years ago after days of unending calls I just wanted to round off with the plan for his shoot so I can get back to work.
But the moment he started talking about his dreams and I saw his pieces, I concluded this is someone I should have a relationship with. Fast forward to few days ago when he called in to say hi… (He actually does that a lot, his own way of ensuring his contact never gets cold) I felt I needed to share some time with him on this page. So we set up a meeting to talk over lunch. He steps in looking real dapper in one of his well-made bespoke suits with a very stylish looking bag and we get to talking over coffee… (I drink hot coffee anytime of the day and please don’t say anything, my doctor knows better).
“My name is Adetunji Ife Adebiyi and I am the creative Director of Rhobes Clothing – Nigerian clothing company targeting the stylish Nigerian man. I would describe myself as a minimalist” he says with calm confidence and smiles (I smile back at him as if I know what that means….lol).
“I also like experimenting, I learn the rules follow the rules and then I break them,” he said. I nodded to indicate that I was indeed following the conversation and seized an opportunity to jump in. “Tell me about Rhobes, how did it all start? Did you study fashion? How long have you been designing, and what inspired the whole idea of a clothing line?” I quizzed.
He smiled his face lighting up. . “No, I didn’t study fashion,” he stated.“I am an accounting graduate with a Master’s degree in Human Resource. My foray into fashion was more of selfishness and a sudden awareness that I could make money for myself as a student. Although I think, subconsciously, my time with my Grandma and my Uncle who was a tailor might have played a role in my influence and inspiration. I knew I would always want to wear something different from everyone and look good at it as well.”
“In my first year in the university, a friend offered to buy one of my shirts at a ridiculous amount and a light bulb lit in my head that this may not be a bad idea. So I will design a shirt, get it made by tailors and I make my margin which I will reinvest to make more shirts which equalled more money. The turnaround point was in my second year when someone came to me and asked if I could make his wedding suit and I said yes and boy it wasn’t so bad (he laughs) but with few adjustments we had a perfect outfit for him and then his friends came, followed right after by even mire friends. That was when I realised it was time to get serious and had to start researching. I would read almost anything related to fashion as well as anything that would make me understand how to do business. I already had my numbers sorted as an accountant in the making, but I needed to be grounded in business because I already had my path defined for me somehow.”
“I took few courses here and there after school mostly informal training and yes I had to learn to sew -I would go to meet tailors to intern with them. I learnt to cut, sew and make patterns. Every little detail I needed to know as a tailor I learnt to make it my business, and it happens till date. I hope to go to a formal school very soon because it’s important to back up every skill with some certification.”
Ife goes into detail how his journey has been in terms of business. He explains it has had its highs and lows and reveals he had to take a Human Resources course to help him work better with people and a team. According to Ife, “The most important thing not to forget is no dream can be achieved alone, you will need people.The goal is how to manage these people and manage them efficiently to also see your vision and become a part of it.”
To the question of when do we hope to see his new collection he smiles and says ” You know our first collection was a hit an we have to make it a back to back hit (laughing) so we need to take our time. We make bespoke pieces hence the need for every piece being remarkable.Every RHOBES piece has to align with the brand’s vision which is form, fit, function and finish. So attention goes into every piece from fabrics to cuts to design and trends.”
Ife also strongly believes in being accountable – to his clients and the business as a whole. He states that every kobo spent must bring value back to the company, which is great advice for all young business. It pays to have an accounting system that works.
Ife Adebiyi advises all young creative to begin right now – “There is no ‘right time’ to start. If it’s legal and you love it, start it. Better put if it’s legal and you love it, start it where you are; there is no better place than where God has positioned you to start that dream and passion. As long as your work is great, people will seek you out and things will align. Don’t be satisfied with just paying the bills, find fulfilment because the bills will never stop but once you lose the drive and satisfaction, then you will be overwhelmed with every challenge that comes with your job or career.”
Finally, Ife encourages us all to start with what we know and stop procrastinating. While we can improve our craft as we grow, we shouldn’t hesitate to start it now that we are scared and afraid.