Womanist World gets an unhindered access into the professional world of a veteran fashion designer, Atinuke Smith, based in the ancient city of Ibadan, Nigeria. Her signature brand – Datina Designs – was founded some 19 years ago. Today the brand is a thriving name in the Nigerian fashion industry. Read on to know about her experience and exploits.
WW: Tell us about your business (what product or service you provide) and who your target audience is?
Smith: Datina Designs was commissioned in 1995 – our clothing line has carved a niche for itself in the minds of Nigerian fashion lovers till date. We remain one of the top most fashion and clothing centre’s in Nigeria. With our outstanding and competent stylists, our seasoned and classy tailors, we are experts in making trendy, well-tailored and cut-to-fit outfits for all sexes and ages. Our clothing line is indeed a variety of unsurpassed and superlative designs with a creative edge. The fashion school is an institution which grooms its students to be outstanding and successful entrepreneurs in the fashion field. Our teaching aids are made available to help students with easy access to knowledge and proper assimilation in making learning much simpler. Our experienced tutors make it a mandate to properly instruct the learners from the point of induction to graduation, through both theoretical and practical approaches. This is why most of our graduates are distinctive contributors to the fashion industry. Our ultimate goals are to create a fashion house that meets every day fashion needs of all women, locally and internationally; to see the African fabric which is our major medium of expression recognized globally; and to empower the younger generation in fashion and designing through excellent training at our Fashion School.
Smith: Being a business owner presents me with the opportunity of a life time because it presents me the opportunity to render a service, create and add value to my generation.
WW: What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?
Smith: Exposure to different life business coaches, mentors and exceptional business books. My pastor who is also a seasoned motivational business coach and my training at the Pan- Atlantic University, Lagos business school. It has all contributed in illuminating my mind and has equipped me with the ability to project my business to the next level. It has kept me demanding growth from my business relentlessly on a daily basis.
WW: What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
Smith: Being able to give back to my generation by mentoring more than 300 youths over the 18 yrs of managing my business by equipping them with various vocational skills which has enabled them become employers of labour.
WW: What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?
Smith: You are not in whatever field of business you chose just to make money. Be aware you are in business to provide a service and add value. You can only be truly accomplished at whatever you do when you serve and give selflessly with passion and compassion, and do whatever you do uniquely combined with excellence which would give people no choice than to pay you hugely for what you enjoy doing. When you promote excellence, money would automatically find you.
WW: What has been the most effective marketing initiatives or programs you have used to promote your business?
Smith: Engaging my target audience through relevant social media platforms.
WW: What one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years?
Smith: There is no magic in growing a business than being clear of your vision and mission, which also involves goal setting and implementation, originality, innovation and creativity; crowning it all with the power of focus and tenacity. Make sure your business is structured – you can’t grow your business without it. Make sure you are visible and create a good perception of who you are and what you stand for. People would only engage you from the point of their perception. Take good care of your accounts and be accountable. Knowledge applied is power, seek to understand.
WW: Are there any resources or tools you’d like to share with other small business owners that have helped you run your business?
Smith: Knowledge is power. Expose yourself to training in the area of business management. Consistently read books that are business related and also find a seasoned mentor in your field.
WW: Do you have any new projects coming up (or have you just completed a big project ~ reached a milestone, etc.)? If so, please tell us about it.
Smith: My big project for the next quarter of this year is to showcase my designs in the UK at an exhibition and fashion show organized by Fodion in conjunction with Nigeria High Commission and British Trade Investment. The event which is to mark Nigeria’s Centenary celebration would be taking place on July 26-27 at the Queen Elizabeth II, conference centre, Broad Sanctuary, London. SW1P3EE.
WW: What do you do for fun/relaxation?
Smith: Apart from fashion and designing, my other passion is music. I am into gospel music. It relaxes me and takes the stress off my day. I also love travelling and visiting new places and I’m also a passionate reader and writer. I’m presently working on getting some of my songs into an album and my writings into a book.
WW: What is number one business goal you plan to accomplish over the next year?
Smith: Making our brand stronger and improving on our visibility.
WW: On a more personal note, can you tell us about yourself and family, (how do you manage time between your work and family?)
Smith: I don’t mix business and home. Whatever happens at work stays there. When I’m home I give my family my undivided attention. I am also blessed with a very loving and supportive spouse and children who willingly share my responsibility with me. This has helped me find it easy to focus on home or work as the demand arises without stress.
WW: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Smith: Be original; find your voice; stay passionate and creative. No one else can do what you alone has been wired to do. Your expressions would forever be uniquely yours and that’s what makes you special. Always dare to dream and stay innovative!
Visit these links to for further access into the world of this amazing gem: www.datinadesigns.com http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tinu-Smith /453356088111104 http://tinusmith.wordpress.com http://www.facebook.com/pages/Datina-Designs/179595195419128