MEET THE MAKERS
Abimbola is the youngest Seamstress currently working with Lola’s African Apparel. She is 30 years old and since working with us in 2018, she has quickly built her business in acquiring electrical machines and hiring more seamstresses to work with her in her shop. She is a college graduate, but like many other Nigerians, she was unable to secure a job and was essentially forced into retaining and working for herself. She made a good decision and sews excellent garments in the latest West African styles.
“Knowing and working with Lola's African Apparel is a divine blessing. I feel so lucky working with them. They have been an amazing partner. They are my source of motivation. Within the period I started with Lola's African Apparel, I got registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). Also, during this period, I got my first industrial machine. I have got other modern tailoring equipment during this period; however, the most significant is the industrial machine. This has helped my work; in terms of versatility and neatness of work. I have successfully trained two apprentices, and I have eight more trainees learning the art of fashion designing. It has been good working with Lola's African Apparel.”
Wole has been a tailor with Lola’s African Apparel since our inception in 2010. His shop makes many of our original men's Dashikis and suits. Wole had to drop out of school in primary 6, which is the equivalent to the 5th grade, due to the passing of his mother. He went to live with his grandparents and decided to learn to sew after many years jobless. His lack of education prohibited him from qualifying for many jobs and he took on tailoring to change his faith and eventually have his own business. After perfecting his craft, he moved to Lagos, which is a major metropolitan in Nigeria, to work and earn enough money to buy his first sewing machine. After 4 years, he moved back to his home town Oyo and opened a shop. Since then, he has trained 6 junior tailors and is currently working with 3 young men, who are also working towards their entrepreneurial dreams.
Wole says that tailoring has been a dream come true for him. Since working with Lola’s African Apparel, he has been able to build a home for his family, purchase a motorcycle to transport his family, and pay for his children’s school fees.
Kafaya, also known as Iya Sewa, has always had a passion for sewing and began learning the craft immediately after graduating from secondary school. Whenever Lola’s African Apparel needs inspiration for the latest designs that West African Women are wearing, we turn to Iya Sewa. She has an eye for flair and doesn’t shy away from new bold designs and concepts. She was an apprentice in a seamstress's shop for a number of years and began her own business in 2004 when she rented out a shop and purchased her first sewing machine. She got married after establishing her business and had three children.
Sadly her husband passed away in a car accident in 2010, leaving her a widow and single mother to support her family on her own. Iya Sewa began designing and sewing for Lola’s African Apparel in the Summer of 2010 and since then, her life and the lives of the people she trains and who work with her, have greatly improved. She has since had 5 apprentices in her shop, has relocated to a bigger location, and invested in more machines for her craft. Three of the women she has trained have blossomed into starting their own businesses and supporting themselves and their families. In addition, Iya Sewa has been able to buy her own home and send her three children to private school.
Baba Ibeji in the Yoruba language means father of twins. Baba Ibeji has sewn for Lola’s African Apparel since 2011 and he and his shop makes many of the Dashikis you know and love. Despite Baba Ibeji only having completed the second grade due to his parent's inability to pay the school fees, he has built a prominent business. He recently built a house for himself and his family and today does not have to worry about his own children missing out on their education because he can pay their school fees. Baba Ibeji is a valuable member of his community by sharing his craft and training and encouraging other young men into sewing and having their own businesses. He has trained five people and his sixth student will graduate in 2021. Since working with Lola’s African Apparel, not only has Baba Ibeji’s life and that his family improved, but together we are also helping others build knowledge, independence, and the Nigerian economy.
Ayo was trained by Baba Ibeji and now has his own business as a tailor.
Iya Ibeji in Yoruba means “mother of twins”. The Yoruba people have one of the highest occurrences of twin births in the world, with twins in every 45 out of 1,000 births. Twins are seen as a Divine Blessing. No wonder the Yoruba have so many twins! Iya Ibeji has been a seamstress for over 25 years and has successfully trained 30 women in the craft. She was the very first seamstress we began working with at Lola’s African Apparel and seeing her life and business bloom since then has been a true honor. With the income she has earned, she supports her family and her elderly parents. She has also expanded her business to buying and selling authentic African Ankara (wax print material) in her home town. As a devout Muslim, she has attained one of the major pillars of Islam which is to travel to Mecca for a religious pilgrimage. Iya Ibeji is truly living a wonderful life!
A new seamstress, working as a trainee in Iya Ibeji's shop.
Having an education does not always equate to the average Nigerian being able to secure a job or career and having a livelihood. There is a lack of employment for a large percentage of the population and the high levels of corruption and poor infrastructure makes the process of finding jobs very difficult, and for many impossible. Many Nigerians find that the best option is to work for themselves.
Like many, Anuolwa is a college graduate, yet was unable to find a job and had to retrain herself in another profession in order to survive. She is a self-taught seamstress and since 2017 has built her business. Since working with Lola’s African Apparel, she has been able to buy two sewing machines, rent a workspace, and support herself and her 1- year-old daughter. Anuolwa's dedication and skills have greatly improved and her hope is to increase her business and one day be able to pay it forward.