Fashion is a core industry in Nigeria that is guaranteed to bring in serious bucks and improve the Nigerian economy if tapped into appropriately. I was speaking to the delectable Alheri Adamu Sim of Alheri Style Empire and she shared so much of herself as regards her fashion brand and her dreams.
Alheri Empire is a fashion brand targeted towards men and women clothing in the Nigerian and international markets. It has a vision of designing fabrics with unique designs that will make its clients look exceptionally unique at every function they go.
It believes that the future of its business lies in the number of its loyal customers, the capacity and competence of its employees, its investment strategy and its business structure.
I ask Alheri to tell me about herself and how she was inspired to become a fashion designer, and she answers,
‘I was born in Zaria, Kaduna state. I studied Industrial Design (graphics) at the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. I was inspired to become a fashion designer by the Art around me. My dad is an Artist, he thought me tie & dye, stitches and batik and my mom was a tailor. at a very tender age, I already knew colors, harmony, textures, making my own piece of fabric, putting in my creativity into a piece of cloth and then giving to my mom to help me make a dress and to help me make my imagination into reality. So basically, my family inspired me.’
I ask Alheri how long her brand been in existence and its niche?
‘My brand is just a year old. It is high end, luxurious, casual and official’
On where she sees her brand in the next ten years, Alheri Sim muses,
‘I see my brand Bigger than the biggest fashion brand in the market!’
On the fashion designers she holds in high esteem in the Nigerian as well as foreign fashion industries, Sim mentions ‘NHN, Deola Sagoe and Duro Olowo’ for Nigeria and ‘Donatella Versace and Christian Dior’ for the international markets.
I ask Alheri how she meets the challenges of her clients’ demands and the turnaround time between getting designs and translating them to ready made pieces, and she elucidates,
‘Usually, I really don’t battle with my clients demands much because my designs are mostly straight forward so there is no reason to start going back and forth. It takes 8 to 13 days to translate my designs into ready made pieces, depending on the design and quantity.’
Alheri has laser sharp focus and does not entertain any doubts as to her choice of vocation. She says,
‘I don’t see myself becoming anything else other than a fashion designer.’
On her approach to customer service, Alheri explains, ‘I try to know my clients, their ideas and vision. I want to be able to see what they see so I can put in my creativity to it, to make sure that their goal is achieved. Nothing else gives me joy than seeing a happy client.’
I ask Alheri about her plans to create any platform to mentor other fashion designers or in any way grow the Nigerian fashion industry, she says, ‘ Yes, but that will be in the future. I want to change the game of fashion shows and exhibitions in Nigeria. I don’t want any situation where people will only come to look at the show. I want a situation where 99% of the people attending my fashion event will be buyers sitting at the front row, taking orders.’
I ask Alheri to list her favourite fashion pieces and she rails off enthusiastically,
‘Court shoes and strappy sandals; Louis Vuitton preferably. The long sleeved satin shirt, the cashmere knit shirt with a pair of jeans, a leather hand bag, Yves Saint Laurent preferably ‘
Finally, off the top of her head, Alheri gives 3 fashion/style tips,
‘1. Plus size women should not wear bodycon dresses. Flair gowns will fit perfectly.
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