Charles Okolie is the young Creative Director of ChadaTrends, a clothing brand that deals in customized T shirts, bespoke cooperate wears, urban natives, English cooperate and casual wears. Charles is also a personal fashion stylist. He styles clients for different events and occasions. He is also a model. Charles is only a 300 level undergraduate student and he already wears these many caps. But Charles’ journey into the fashion industry started a long time ago, about half a decade now. Ever since, there has been no going back for the student entrepreneur.
In July, 2012 – a year after his graduation from secondary school, Charles commenced his training to become a fashion designer. He started with the basic learning of printing and customizing of shirts within the space of 8 months. After those rigorous months of learning, Charles tried his hands on sowing and found that he loved it. He continued to horn his skill which incidentally is what he really has passion for – fashion. Today, Charles can rightly be called a student entrepreneur as he is meeting his fellow students’ needs by creating beautiful fashion pieces and making them available and affordable to his fellow students and people outside of his university community. In this chat with the Geology student of Federal University of Technology, Oweri, (FUTO), we ask what African fashion concepts have influence on him and how profitable the fashion design business is among other things.
As a student entrepreneur, how do you balance your school work load and commitments to customers? There is time for everything. Once I am done with my school work for the day, I engage in my business. I don’t work during hours scheduled for my school work. I know I have to dedicate enough time to my studies and all because that’s equally important. At the same time, I do not like to disappoint my customers. Basically, school takes more of my time, but due to my growing experience in the fashion business, I have always found a way to balance school and business and I don’t disappoint my customers. So despite school work load and other things, we still get work done.
Do you ever decline a customer’s request because you can’t meet up? I rarely do, but whenever such situation comes up basically due to the work load in my hand at that point in time, I notify my clients on the probability of completing their work. So when it happens, the client will be aware and not be grievous of the situation.
Do you have an idea of the number of clothes you’ve made?
I have made countless number of clothes since I officially started my fashion designing over four years ago so, I lost count, it is countless.
How profitable would you say fashion designing is?
It is really profitable. In fact, I use the proceeds from my fashion business to take care of essential bills and the important financial responsibilities I have as a student. When I go back home, I still pay some of my bills with what I make from my fashion business, so I can say it is paying off. But as you know, the higher you go, the more profitable it gets, so hopefully, I believe when the brands becomes a household name, then we will be smiling to the banks. But for now, we thank God. I also would like to empower younger ones in my own little way which starts from as little as providing job opportunities for them by employing them later on.
What fashion designer(s) brand in Nigeria inspires you?
Presently, I am really feeling Yomi Casuals.
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