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Sunday, 28 September 2014

Meet The Young Nigerian Lawyer Turned Designer

Meet Nigeria's Johnson Iyaye, founder of fashion label, Johnson Johnson, a brand which he floated last year. The young man who read Law but has never practised chose instead to follow his passion.
He recently showcased his designs at the just concluded, International Fashion Week in Port Harcourt, where he sold out his collection. His story reiterates that hard work and passion eventually pays off. Read excerpts of his interview with The Sun below:

Tell us about your label?
We design blazers, suits, trousers and shirts of any size. I have been a designer for a year now and I have drive and passion. In fact from childhood, I’ve always loved fashion, looking good and helping people to look good. Last year September, the company came into limelight.

Did you go to a fashion school?
No, I didn't. I have never been to a fashion school. I studied Law at the University of Abuja after a year of studying Philosophy at the University of Port Harcourt. Our local tailors can really be an inspiration. Anything inspires me and once you are determined to learn something, even if you are going to the best fashion school or the worst, you would succeed as long as you are passionate about it. 

When I wanted to get into fashion designing , so many people tried to discourage me and said “do you have time”, “it’s stressful” and stuff like that. Today, people see my work and they place orders and I ship my designs to UK retailers who needed 200 units of my jackets. They just saw my designs online and contacted me. I export to Paris and Belgium too. God has been good.

What were your challenges when you started?
Life has taught me to believe in myself and pursue my dreams. I’m inspired by my dreams and then I work towards them. Ultimately, God is my inspiration. There was a time life was rough but one thing I like about myself and which I learnt from my dad is that, I don’t let things weigh me down. When I have money, I don’t go about bragging and when I haven’t, you hardly know. So far, I thank God for where I am. 

At a point, my dad was not supportive as he told me I had to get more education, adding “You are no longer a boy, if that is what you want to do, you are on your own.” Now, he’s so proud of me, because I make designer’s pieces for him and when people tell him, “I love what you are wearing” he tells them “It’s my son’s design.” Today, he is happy. He was present at the fashion parade and people now recognize him as my father. I'm stubborn in the right way, because I always stick to what I want. I've confidence in my ability and I really don’t like being intimidated.

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