Home Interviews The Interview: Dora Ogbu,founder,Arrydworld

The Interview: Dora Ogbu,founder,Arrydworld

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The Interview: Dora Ogbu,founder,Arrydworld
44th Edition

Lion Lady Dora Amara Ogbu, NLCF, is a wife, mother, and Lady in the order of Knights of St John International (KSJI), and a graduate of Public Administration from the University of Benin.

She has over a decade of experience as a Data Entry personnel in Integrated Data Services Limited (IDSL), she is also the CEO of Arrydworld, a skilled entrepreneur and a facilitator in skill acquisition where she has trained over 100 youths in Edo State.

She joined the Association of Lions Club International in 2018 and served in various leadership capacities. As a humanitarian, she has made donations in her locality in Benin City including widows, and orphans and has sponsored upcoming Edo State entertainers.

A-CHOICES: Hi, Dora thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

DORA: Thank you for having me I am delighted and humbled by your quest to have me on this platform. Well, I am Mrs Dora Amara Ogbu, a wife, mother, entrepreneur, a lady of the knight of St John International, and a graduate of the University of Benin, Edo state, I am a Lion; of the International Lions Club, It is the largest humanitarian service club in the world.

A-CHOICES: What was the catalyst for starting Arryword?

DORA: Thanks TJ, well it’s my love for fashion to create something different from the normal cut-and-sew wear, secondly, I like to be independent and never want to be a liability to anyone, this independent nature was the main driving force. Looking back on my early childhood, in a polygamous family, my mother worked so hard with her meagre salary to give me and my siblings a good lifestyle even when things were rough. Her strength gave me the push to fight and achieve my goal.

A-CHOICES: When did you first know you had the potential to be an entrepreneur?

DORA: The very day I made a dress all by myself, not having any experience with sewing or pattern making, I had never visited a tailoring shop because all I have ever worn was already made dresses. it was my 13th year birthday so the little baft material from my secondary junior school needlework, I made the dress. I was so excited and very proud of myself and that was it!

I started writing to fashion houses abroad to send their summer and winter wear catalogues and one in particular replied to me (Deraljane Fashion House) and apologised for the late response. It was an awesome feeling 

A-CHOICES: What is your advice for up-and-coming female entrepreneurs?

DORA: My advice to all females especially the upcoming and coming one, is to be focused, be determined, do (90%) ninety per cent of planning and (10%) ten per cent execution, recognize your passion, be resilient to finish, shun distractions and dare to be different.

A-CHOICES: What are the major challenges you have encountered while building a business in Nigeria and how have you overcome them?

DORA: Resilience is the word, I kept telling myself I am the best, I can do it no matter the glaring harsh challenges I will survive and so far Arryworld is still being preferred for it’s uniqueness. Honestly there’s so much opportunities in Nigeria yet challenges abound, the western in Nigeria will say ” ópó’ meaning it’s plenty but succeeding in the midst of them is a choice every entrepreneur will have to make. My first challenge was my choice of fashion line, that is using our African print as my major fabric for production. It’s very difficult to introduce something different from the  usual and regular, So finding myself going outside the normal English materials, imported clothing and accessories that was not popular became a threat to me, also lack of dedicated workers. Then comes the epileptic power supply, multiple taxation and increase in rent posed a major challenge. In all these, I strived to overcome them by simply fusing myself into the system, employed strategies to win the heart of the youth especially by creating free training, sponsorship and massive involvement with entertainers in my state, collaboration with other brands and creating awareness in social media. Thank God we got lots of positive responses, clients and partnership

A-CHOICES: In recent times, the global demand and discussions on African-inspired clothing have led to a tremendous boost in sales for some African designers and brands. What do you have to say?

DORA: This has always been our prayers. Every designer wants to make money, every brand wants to stand tall when names of designer are mentioned so our African print designer and sellers shouldn’t be left. Am so proud of our Africa print because of its beautiful features, no party is complete without the popular use of the ‘Aseobi’ so sales must increase, you know what that means? Plenty money of course. Getting a well-tailored outfits cost nothing less than $70, to the average  seamstress in Nigeria is quite an amount to take home.

A-CHOICES: Do you think that African-inspired pieces like accessories, furniture or fashion are just a trend?

DORA: African inspired accessories like neckpiece, bangles, earrings etc is an old traditional accessory worn by Royalties; with advancement in fashion and design tech, more styles are added to make them look more fascinating and classier. Now we are seeing more patterns being introduced to home interiors giving it a vibe. Just a little wrap on the side stool, couches, throw pillows etc with African fabric, makes all the difference. This means they’re great piece to experience with trends allowing designers to translate the impression they want to passes across to their clients. It will keep growing massively as long as there are inspiration coming from designers and individual that are creative.

A-CHOICES: Why Ankara Souvenir, What’s special about Ankara?

DORA: One of the reasons I chose producing souvenirs with Ankara is the attraction it got the first time I presented to a friend’s birthday party, I discovered guest preferred it to the usual plastic buckets, packers and the like. I found that they’re unique, environmentally friendly, very useful, reusable, affordable and sorting for raw materials for production is so easy. So why not Ankara Souvenir!

In Arrydworld we got over fifteen different Ankara souvenir items that we are so proud of because of its uniqueness, it’s comes in attractive fabric that at a glimpse of it, you will love to have them. It’s another way of promoting African fabric and am happy the rate the white guys patronize them each time they visit Africa, I believe it’s eco-friendly too. Ankara is catchy, its beautiful!

A-CHOICES: On a scale of one-10, how open do you think Nigerians are to having a stylist manage their wardrobes and appearances and having a personal shopper?

DORA: Only 1%. The reason is you TJ for example does anyone manage your wardrobe or design your cloths, does anyone shop for you or any member of your family? The answer is NO. The average individual feels no one should dictate or determine what he or she should wear, there’s this saving ”one man’s meat is another man’s poison” so it’s only politicians and very few top celebrities have a stylish manage their wardrobe and appearance or to shop for them.

A-CHOICES: As a wife, mother, entrepreneur and advocate, how do you find balance and unwind despite your busy schedule?

DORA:Well it’s not easy but family is everything to me, especially my children they mean the world to me. I have an understanding husband and kids, most time I seek their advice and they’re part of the business in their little ways. So I am able to carry them along. I remember when I officially unveiled my brand my daughters were part of the models and my little daughter who is a DJ anchored the show. Then as a Lion while  serving the  needy we  have activities to  unwind,  Lionism  is a big fun for me. Occasionally  I  organize  my  old  school  mate  for  a  little  get  together, there  we enjoy ourselves remembering the good old with of course music to thrill the air, finally I love traveling it’s part of my fun time because I get to leave my immediate environment.

A-CHOICES: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give your younger self?

DORA: So many factors: first my mum, then my passion to be an achiever no room for laziness. I don’t like to be at anyone’s mercy, I love to give myself a treat, I love to be independent, it gives   me

self-satisfaction and I hate poverty so in other to maintain my needs I have to keep pushing because my early childhood wasn’t too good and I feel I deserve better.

A-CHOICES: What is the bigger picture for your business, say, in five years?

DORA: It’s simple, voice your thoughts to those that matter, run from dream killer when you identify one, eliminate emotions and sentiment in decision making and pursue your dream.

A-CHOICES: The African Fashion Industry is said to be worth over $50bn and we haven ’t even scratched the surface yet. What needs to be in p lace fo r Africa to experience a major boom and break into the global market, in the fashion space?

DORA: Hmm our government need to wake seriously because Africa got the well with All to lead the world. In Nigeria, more than 80% of our textile printing industries have folded up. Why? No constant electricity, multiple taxations, insecurity and the worst of it all Importation of foreign fabric! That has caused a huge loss to the fashion world, I want to believe that Nigerians got their independence when they didn’t know what it takes to be independent. Sustainability is key to every nation’s growth. Africa is blessed with everything we need but what is happening? Bad and selfish leaders not genuinely putting policies in place. Some polices that there the makers are the breakers.

I believe the fashion industry can yield more than 5% profit to the economy of a nation going with the trends in fashion today. So in a nutshell, the government Revamp our textile industries, stabilize the power supply, should stop importation because we can survive if the enabling environment is put in place.

A-CHOICES: What’s the piece of advice you’d give your younger self?

DORA The best advice I have given myself is “No room for laziness, keep up, learn more and achieve it” By the grace of God Arrydworld has trained over two thousand youth in her local community and we intend to do more as the year goes by. So, I keep moving.

Author: Gbenga Teejay Okunlola

London, UK

teejayok@gmail.com