Inspiring Story of Temilola Akintayo, CEO of De Image Creation Fashion School

…Seeks Establishment of Fashion Village

By Bunmi Ayodele

Temilola Akintayo, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of De Image Creation Fashion School and a mother of two from Ikere Ekiti in Ekiti State started her fashion career 27 years ago. Today, her fashion school has progressed rapidly to become a gathering place for all those who have lofty dreams in fashion designing.

Initially, Mrs Akintayo never wanted to be a fashion designer. Her dream was to be a lawyer. But through the waywardness of fate, she found herself in fashion, fell in love with it and now, she is getting it right.

Narrating her early and humble beginning, she said “I learnt my skill in Ketu, Lagos, I can’t say I really wanted to learn to sew, I didn’t have it in mind to learn this skill, I just wish to go to school to become a lawyer but unfortunately, I lost my parents at a tender age, my mum died when I was nine and my daddy followed some years after. I have been an orphan since then but to God be the glory, I was able to put things right. I decided to learn a skill at my tender age because I did not want to be a liability to anyone.”

“It crossed my mind and I did a little research on it. I was living at Ojota at the time. So, I walked down from Ojota to Ketu to research on where I could learn the skill. Eventually, I was led to Demurin, Ketu, Lagos where I eventually learnt from. When I wanted to start, my soon-to-be boss asked of my parents and I told her I was an orphan. Surprised, she asked who would pay for my tuition fee. I told I her I would, I then asked for the amount. It was N100. N100 has a very high purchasing power in 1988. I asked if I could pay in two instalments and she agreed.”

“I began to save all the money I got as gifts, incentives and reward for work. With that, I was able to raise N50 and I paid the first instalment just before I started learning. It wasn’t quite rosy when I started, I went on an empty stomach on many days. I was living with a brother in Ojota during this period, he was a family man from my home town. On some days, I would trek from Ojota to Ketu because I could not raise the transport fare. These were challenges, but I didn’t allow them to stop me. I was determined and I paid the balance not long after” She said.

Today, the fruit of Akintayo’s labour is paying off. She now runs a big school where fashion designers are trained. She runs a one-year total training package, a nine-month advanced learners class, six months for basic learners and three months for refresher course for people who want to update their knowledge, remould and upgrade themselves.

On how she started the incredible Fashion School, she said “I started De Image Creation Fashion in 1990. The name has been so unique and people keep asking how I derived it but it was simply the grace of God that opened my eyes to the name”.

Like any other business, Akintayo has experienced some sort of challenges in her business. According to her, “When I started the fashion school, I didn’t plan to teach people personally because they may not get me right as I may want to pour out too much at a time. So, I got an instructor to work for me who will teach them for about two years. It didn’t take long for me to realise that they are not giving the students all they really need and what I really want them to achieve.”

“It became clear to me that the instructor planned to train the students and then poach them. I told myself I could teach and the students would understand. Buoyed by my new resolve, I took up the job. I applied at a fashion school with a total package. In that school, we learnt almost all aspects of designing from baby wears to female wears and men’s wear.“

“After equipping myself, I was able to successfully train my own students. In 2017, I started an empowerment programme and it was free for all. 40 students graduated and till now, they are still faring very well.”

Mrs Akintayo also noted that Nigeria is blessed with brilliant and creative fashion minds, she said fashion is growing higher and higher and that Nigeria will soon be up there. “You can’t compare the work designers do abroad to ours because we do customise and sometimes we do a job that we don’t go back to or remember,” She said.

“Even when there was no phone and social media, designers overseas will create a style and produce in multiples, unlike what we do here. When we even manage to create something unique, many of us lack the requisite finances to produce in commercial quantities. If the government can assist us with that, we could do better than our colleagues in the international industry.”

“Designers abroad have factories where they do their job, unlike those of us. Most people here perhaps have only one machine. If the government can get us space, maybe something like a fashion village, where we can come together as a team, we would do better than we are currently doing. To raise a fashion home to good standard consumes a lot of money. Still, we are optimizing our resources,” Akintayo said.

She went on to urge fashion designers in Nigeria to always be consistent and persistent in their jobs, believing in their crafts even in the face of discouragement. “Always consider your customers first, be humble and when you tell them what to wear, don’t forget to tell them why the style is like that. This is because naturally, designers are creatives. However, that does not mean we should be bad at customer relations.”

Advising the young ones, she said “Back in the day, it was rare to see any youth engaged in dangerous activities, but now it is unfortunate that most don’t want to work, they like the easy way out. Rarely do you find apprentices at training homes anymore. My advice to the youth is that they should never give room to idleness, rather they should find something creative to do per time. If they are already involved in any social vice, it’s not too late to quit such, replacing it with useful skills that can assist them in life.”

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