I walk into the GTCentre and I feel like I am at Selfridge & Co. Every vendor’s cubicle is structured and perfect, and the lights are out of this world.
I am immediately transported to my masters days in the UK in 2016, where every time I went on Oxford Street, I literally was always stopped in my tracks by brands that have stood since 1800s. I thought about Nigeria, wanting so much for us, and aching to have such solid brands.
I came back to the country in 2017 and I began to blog about fashion, literally recognising the development I was itching to see. I’m back again at GTFashion Week for the second consecutive year for so many reasons.
I was particularly touched by The Fashion Weekend design of last year. It was so special to me because it literally gave hope to the questions in my heart, which inspired me to write a story I titled ‘The Brick versus The Mortar’ on the blog. It literally brought Oxford Street and Selfridge & Co. to Lagos.
One thing I do on my blog is try to promote the fashion industry by supporting existing and burgeoning fashion designers and vendors, covering all the days of fashion week, interviewing them and elevating their brands.
On the first day of Fashion Weekend this year, I literally cried because I felt like I was doing something worthwhile, as I was able to speak to quite a number of designers and vendors, partnering with them to elevate the fashion industry.
It’s almost like GT Bank answered the questions that I had in my heart and provided an opportunity for the growth that I was looking to see and to also be a part of that growth.
I definitely found some fabulous brands that I thought to celebrate. One of them is Sheep.ng, a handmade crochet brand.
I walk up to Nonso, owner of Sheep.ng, a lovely young lady and I ask her to tell me about herself, how long her brand has been in existence and how she has been finding business. She says,
‘ My name is Nonso. I am the creative director of Sheep.ng, a handmade crochet brand, and everything is made from scratch. I started sheep.ng about a year ago. It’s been fun, it’s been hectic. I’ve had like crazy customers, but thankfully none of them has been that terrible to say something bad about my brand. So there’s been a disadvantage working with my brand in Nigeria because crochet isn’t exactly valued in Nigeria. It’s more valued abroad but people are getting used to it. They are starting to welcome it and I’m super excited to have my first pop up shop here in.’
I tell Nonso honestly that feel I like anyone who gets a stand at the GTBankFashion week is a super star and she says excitedly,
“You have no idea. Beyonce cannot talk to me right now. I am super hyped. A lot of people have been coming to my store to talk about how amazing my work is, so I know that it’s definitely something good. So yeah, it’s been fun. ‘
I ask Nonso where she sees herself in 10 years and she says
‘I see myself in Milan, Paris, New York doing Fashion Week-definitely going international.’
I ask her if she sees herself doing only crochet in 10 years and she dreams out loud,
‘I want to venture into interior pieces, like rugs, throw pillows, wall hangers, all that kind of stuff with crotchet.’
Nonso shares how she got inspired to making crochet pieces,
‘I learnt crochet by myself. No one taught me. I learnt on YouTube about a year ago. No one taught me and it’s been working out just right. I got inspired by Norbana on Instagram who does crochet. She gave this long speech about how she paid her tuition for 3 years from crochet and she’s in London. I mean, it’s not cheap yo. I don’t know why she started but I definitely got inspired. My friend crochets as well. She has a brand called 21 Wool Street. She inspired me too. I just woke up one morning and I said “Elizabeth does this, so I’m gonna do it as well.” I’ve always been interested in learning a craft. Whether it’s making bags or whatever, but crochet kind of just caught my eye. It’s so amazing turning wool or a skin of yarn into clothing. You could wear it to the beach, for dinner, anywhere. And you’d look bomb in it, especially in my outfits.By the way my brand is very affordable.’
I ask where she draws inspiration from for her individual pieces and she says,
‘It could be from an art gallery and I get inspired by colours, and then I infuse those colours into what I’m making.’
I definitely wish Nonso all the best as she builds her brand!