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Passion, intuition and exploration are creative process behind my designs – Ginikachi Chima

Passion, intuition and exploration are creative process behind my designs – Ginikachi Chima

Mimmi Ginikachi Chima is a visionary fashion designer and the Founder / Creative Director of Mimmi Kasu. Mimmi’s academic pursuits include a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in economics. Her passion for the arts and a profound desire to explore the world of fashion led her to pursue an additional degree in Fashion Design. Armed with her new found expertise and an unwavering entrepreneurial spirit, Mimmi took a bold step and officially launched her eponymous fashion brand, Mimmi Kasu, in 2019. Her label, an embodiment of elegance, sophistication, and sustainability, quickly gained recognition for its distinctive designs that celebrated the beauty of women from diverse cultures. In this interview with Weekender, she speaks on what inspired her to transition from a career in Economics to pursue a path in fashion design and entrepreneurship. She also shares insights into the creative process behind her designs and how she stays inspired amongst others.

What inspired you to transition from a career in Economics to pursue a path in fashion design and entrepreneurship?

Although I possess a B.Sc and M.Sc degree in Economics, I didn’t start off with a career in Economics. My path to fashion design and entrepreneurship began during my university days when I had to enroll in fashion training classes during the long ASUU strikes we had. When I graduated, I got a job with Jumia Nigeria and after a while, I began to explore my fashion interests by listing my products on Jumia and they sold really well. I also made garments for myself that got a lot of attention from friends, strangers and colleagues, and this gave me the validation I needed to take the leap into full-time fashion design and entrepreneurship. The passion grew over time, and I eventually resigned from my 9-5 job to focus on building my brand, Mimmi Kasu. The journey has been challenging but incredibly rewarding, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to pursue my passion and make a difference in the fashion industry.

How has your background in Economics influenced your approach to running a fashion brand like Mimmi Kasu?

My background in Economics has greatly influenced my approach to running Mimmi Kasu. Economics has equipped me with analytical skills, an understanding of market dynamics, and a strategic mindset, all of which are crucial in the fashion industry.

In running Mimmi Kasu, I apply economic principles to make informed decisions about pricing, production, and marketing strategies. I also use my economic background to analyse trends in the fashion industry and identify opportunities for growth and innovation. Additionally, my understanding of economic concepts such as supply and demand, competition, and consumer behaviour has helped me navigate the challenges of running a fashion brand and develop strategies to stay competitive in the market.

Could you share some insights into the creative process behind your designs and how you stay inspired?

Absolutely! The creative process behind my designs often starts with a concept or theme that inspires me. This could be anything from a personal experience to a cultural reference or a social issue. Once I have a concept in mind, I begin sketching ideas and exploring different shapes, colours, and textures that align with the theme. A typical example is our latest collection ‘A Piece of Me’, the theme of the collection revolves around the idea of self-discovery and self-expression, encapsulating the essence of a woman’s journey through life’s challenges and triumphs.

In terms of staying inspired, I make it a point to constantly expose myself to new things. Whether it’s visiting art galleries, attending fashion shows, or exploring different cultures, I believe that immersing myself in new experiences helps keep my creativity flowing. I also find that collaborating with other creative and sharing ideas with my team helps spark new ideas and keeps me motivated.

Overall, the creative process behind my designs is a combination of passion, intuition, and exploration. By staying open-minded and constantly seeking inspiration, I strive to create designs that are not only visually stunning but also meaningful and impactful.

What challenges did you face when starting Mimmi Kasu, and how did you overcome them?

When I started Mimmi Kasu, I faced several challenges that tested my resilience and determination. Some of the key challenges I encountered include:

Limited Resources: Starting a fashion brand requires a significant investment in terms of time, money, and resources. As a new entrepreneur, I had limited financial resources and had to be strategic in how I allocated them.

Establishing a Brand Identity: Building a brand from scratch is no easy feat. I had to work hard to establish Mimmi Kasu’s identity and differentiate it from other brands in the market.

Navigating the Fashion Industry: The fashion industry is competitive and constantly evolving. I had to stay ahead of trends, understand my target audience, and find ways to stand out in a crowded market.

Production Challenges: Finding reliable manufacturers and suppliers, especially locally, was a challenge. I had to do thorough research and build relationships with vendors who could meet my quality and quantity requirements.

To overcome these challenges, I took the following steps:

Strategic Planning: I developed a detailed business plan that outlined my goals, target market, and strategies for growth. This helped me stay focused and organized.

Networking: I attended fashion events, trade shows, and networking events to connect with other industry professionals and potential collaborators. This helped me build a strong support network and gain valuable insights into the industry.

Adaptability: I remained flexible and willing to adapt my strategies based on market feedback and changing trends. This allowed me to stay relevant and responsive to customer needs.

Persistence: Despite facing setbacks and challenges, I remained persistent and committed to my vision. I believed in the potential of my brand and was determined to see it succeed.

How do you balance the artistic and creative aspects of fashion design with the business side of running a brand?

Balancing the artistic and creative aspects of fashion design with the business side of running a brand is a delicate but essential process. Here are some strategies I use to maintain this balance:

Clear Vision: Having a clear vision for my brand helps me stay focused on my creative goals while ensuring that they align with my business objectives.

Collaboration: Working closely with my team allows me to leverage their expertise in areas such as marketing, finance, and operations, which helps me make informed decisions that are both creative and strategic.

Time Management: Setting aside dedicated time for creative work and business tasks helps me prioritize and manage my workload effectively.

Market Research: Keeping abreast of industry trends and consumer preferences allows me to create designs that are not only innovative but also commercially viable.

Flexibility: Being open to feedback and willing to adapt my designs and business strategies based on market demands helps me stay relevant and competitive.

Continuous Learning: Constantly seeking opportunities to learn and grow, whether through courses, workshops, or networking events, helps me stay inspired and informed.

By balancing the artistic and creative aspects of fashion design with the business side of running a brand, I am able to create designs that resonate with my customers while building a successful and sustainable business.

What advice do you have for women looking to start their own fashion brands, especially those with no prior experience in the industry?

For women looking to start their own fashion brands without prior experience, I have several pieces of advice:

Educate Yourself: Take the time to learn about the fashion industry, including design, production, marketing, and sales. There are many online resources, courses, and workshops available that can help you gain the knowledge you need to succeed.

Start small: Begin by focusing on a niche market or a specific product category. This will allow you to gain valuable experience and build a loyal customer base before expanding your product line.

Network: Connect with other industry professionals, attend fashion events, and seek mentorship from experienced designers. Building a strong network can provide you with valuable support and guidance as you start your journey.

Focus on quality: Quality is key in the fashion industry. Invest in high-quality materials and craftsmanship to ensure that your products stand out in the market.

Stay true to your vision: Don’t be afraid to be innovative and creative. Stay true to your unique vision and style, as this will help you differentiate your brand and attract a loyal following.

Be prepared for challenges: Starting a fashion brand is not easy, and you will likely face many challenges along the way. Stay resilient and adaptable, and be willing to learn from your mistakes.

Could you tell us about the significance of sustainability in your brand and how it influences your design and production processes?

Sustainability is a core value of Mimmi Kasu, and it influences every aspect of our brand, from design to production. We believe that fashion should not only be beautiful but also ethical and environmentally responsible.

In terms of design, sustainability influences the materials we choose and the way we approach garment construction.

Sustainability also influences our business practices, such as packaging and shipping. We use recycled and recyclable materials for our packaging and strive to minimize waste throughout our supply chain. Overall, sustainability is at the heart of everything we do at Mimmi Kasu. By prioritising ethical and environmentally responsible practices, we aim to create fashion that not only looks good but also feels good to wear.

You’ve mentioned the importance of mentorship in your journey. Can you share some key lessons you’ve learned from your mentors that have helped shape your career?

Mentorship has played a crucial role in my career, and I have learned many valuable lessons from my mentors that have helped shape my journey. Some key lessons include:

Importance of Networking: My mentors have emphasized the importance of networking and building relationships in the fashion industry. They have taught me the value of connecting with other professionals, attending industry events, and seeking out opportunities to collaborate and learn from others.

Persistence and Resilience: Starting a fashion brand requires persistence and resilience. My mentors have taught me that setbacks are inevitable, but it’s important to stay focused on my goals and keep pushing forward, even in the face of challenges.

Creative Vision: One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned from my mentors is the importance of having a clear creative vision for my brand.

Business Acumen: Running a fashion brand requires more than just creative talent – it also requires strong business acumen. My mentors have taught me the importance of understanding the financial aspects of my business, including budgeting, pricing, and inventory management.

Overall, mentorship has been invaluable in shaping my career in fashion. My mentors have provided me with guidance, support, and encouragement, and I am grateful for the lessons they have taught me.

How do you see the future of African fashion evolving, and what role do you hope Mimmi Kasu will play in that evolution?

The future of African fashion is incredibly bright, and I am excited to see how it continues to evolve and grow. African designers are gaining international recognition for their unique styles and innovative designs, and I believe that African fashion will continue to influence global trends in the years to come.

As for Mimmi Kasu, I hope to play a role in showcasing the beauty and diversity of African fashion on the global stage. I want Mimmi Kasu to be known not just for its stylish designs, but also for its commitment to sustainability, ethical practices, and empowerment of women.

I hope to continue to collaborate with African artisans, and to use my platform to promote African creativity.

Overall, I am optimistic about the future of African fashion, and I believe that Mimmi Kasu has a unique opportunity to contribute to its continued growth and success.

Your brand emphasizes the made-to-measure model. How do you ensure personalised experiences for your customers while maintaining efficiency in production?

To ensure personalized experiences for our customers while maintaining efficiency in production, we follow a few key strategies:

Detailed Measurements: We start by taking detailed measurements of each customer to ensure a perfect fit. We use advanced measurement techniques and technologies to ensure accuracy.

Customization Options: We offer a range of customization options, including fabric choices, design details, and embellishments. This allows customers to create a unique garment that reflects their personal style.

Efficient Production Processes: We have streamlined our production processes to ensure efficiency without compromising on quality.

Quality Control: We have strict quality control measures in place to ensure that each garment meets our high standards. Each garment is thoroughly inspected before it is shipped to the customer.

By combining these strategies, we are able to provide personalized experiences for our customers while maintaining efficiency in production.

Can you elaborate on the impact of your collaborations with companies like Gtbank, Mavins Music, Filmhouse Group, and SrS Group on the growth of Mimmi Kasu?

Collaborations with companies like GTBank, Mavin Music, Filmhouse Group, and SrS Group have had a significant impact on the growth of Mimmi Kasu in several ways:

Brand Visibility: Collaborations with well-known companies and brands have helped increase the visibility of Mimmi Kasu. These collaborations have allowed us to reach a wider audience and introduce our brand to new customers.

Credibility and Trust: Partnering with reputable companies has helped to build credibility and trust in the Mimmi Kasu brand. Customers are more likely to trust a brand that has been endorsed by other well-known companies.

Access to New Markets: Collaborations have provided us with access to new markets and customer segments. For example, partnering with GTBank allowed us to showcase our designs to a new audience of banking professionals and customers.

Creative Opportunities: Collaborations have also provided us with creative opportunities to explore new ideas and concepts. Working with companies in different industries has allowed us to push the boundaries of our creativity and create unique and innovative designs.

Overall, collaborations have played a key role in the growth of Mimmi Kasu, helping us to expand our reach, build credibility, and explore new creative opportunities.

What has been the most rewarding moment in your career as a fashion entrepreneur so far?

The most rewarding moment in my career as a fashion entrepreneur so far has been seeing the impact that Mimmi Kasu has had on the lives of our customers. It’s incredibly fulfilling to hear from customers who feel empowered and confident when wearing our designs. Knowing that our work is making a positive difference in the lives of women is truly rewarding. Additionally, being able to collaborate with talented individuals and reputable brands has been a highlight of my career. Each collaboration has brought new opportunities for growth and creativity, and I’m grateful for the experiences and relationships that have come from them.

How do you think fashion can be a tool for empowering women, both socially and economically?

Fashion can be a powerful tool for empowering women, both socially and economically, in several ways:

Self-expression and confidence: Fashion allows women to express their unique personalities and individuality. By wearing clothing that makes them feel confident and comfortable, women can enhance their self-esteem and sense of empowerment.

Entrepreneurship opportunities: The fashion industry offers many opportunities for women to start their own businesses and become entrepreneurs. Whether it’s designing clothing, accessories, or running a fashion boutique, women can use their creativity and skills to create successful businesses.

Promoting diversity and inclusion: Fashion has the ability to promote diversity and inclusion by celebrating women of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds. By featuring diverse models and designs, the fashion industry can help challenge traditional beauty standards and promote a more inclusive society.

Creating economic opportunities: The fashion industry is a major driver of economic growth, providing employment opportunities for women at all levels of the supply chain. From garment workers to designers to retail workers, fashion offers a wide range of career paths for women to pursue.

Social change: Fashion can also be a tool for social change, raising awareness about important issues such as gender equality, sustainability, and human rights. By using fashion as a platform for advocacy, women can help drive positive social change.

Overall, fashion has the power to empower women by giving them a voice, promoting economic independence, and challenging societal norms.

What are some of the key trends you foresee in women’s fashion in the coming years?

In the coming years, several key trends are expected to shape women’s fashion:

Gender fluidity: The lines between men’s and women’s fashion are becoming increasingly blurred, with more women embracing gender-neutral styles and silhouettes. This trend is expected to continue, with a focus on inclusivity and diversity in fashion.

Tech-driven fashion: Technology is playing a larger role in fashion, with innovations such as smart fabrics, 3D printing, and augmented reality shaping the future of clothing design. Women’s fashion is expected to become more tech-driven, with a focus on functionality and innovation.

Minimalism and timelessness: There is a shift towards minimalism and timeless fashion pieces that can be worn year after year. Classic silhouettes and neutral colours are expected to remain popular, with a focus on quality over quantity.

Inclusive sizing: There is a growing demand for inclusive sizing in women’s fashion, with more brands offering a wider range of sizes to accommodate different body types. This trend is expected to continue, with a focus on body positivity and inclusivity in fashion.

What legacy do you hope to leave through Mimmi Kasu, and how do you plan to continue inspiring aspiring designers and entrepreneurs?

Through Mimmi Kasu, I hope to leave a legacy of empowerment, creativity, and innovation. I want Mimmi Kasu to be remembered as a brand that celebrates women’s strength, resilience, and individuality through fashion. I hope to inspire aspiring designers and entrepreneurs by sharing my journey and experiences, and by providing mentorship and support to those who are just starting out. I plan to continue inspiring others by staying true to my values, being a role model for women in the industry, and using my platform to advocate for positive change in the fashion industry.