In recent times, the demand for African- inspired facemasks needed to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus has been on the rise.
Many brands have leveraged the current opportunity to create well-designed facemasks that support Nigeria’s onslaught against the deadly virus.
Among these designers is Emmanuel Alade, CEO and creative director of Kodasilver Couture, a fashion brand that specialises in unisex clothing and training.
Since the coronavirus outbreak in Nigeria, the young entrepreneur has produced a number of facemasks and distributed them to remote communities within Lagos State for free as part of his efforts to curb the virus spread.
“The affliction of the mother earth by the deadly Covid-19 pandemic is not new any longer as we all know, and it’s our collective efforts as humans that will help curb the spread of the virus,” Emmanuel says.
“As a brand into cloth-making and a proud Nigerian, as part of our efforts to help curb the spread, we decided to go into mask production and supply for free to our customers, friends, and families,” he adds.
Alade started his facemask production using available raw materials in his storeroom, but he now sources locally online to produce the face mask.
“At first we made use of our available materials which we had at hand before the lockdown, but as time went on we had to source online and they got delivered by courier services,” the geographer-turned-entrepreneur says.
He says the business derives joy in helping to curb the spread of Covid-19.
“We cannot say exactly how much has been expended on the production of face masks as we derive joy in helping curb the spread by our gesture. So we do it as an act of kindness,” he explains.
The business, which started six years ago and registered in 2018, was established by Emmanuel and his wife, Aderoju.
The entrepreneur was inspired to establish his business by his mother who was also a fashion designer.
He has over 20 years’ experience in fashion and designs, having started sewing as a child.
“Well, I will say I have been in this business since I was a child because my late mother was a fashion designer,” he says.
“I grew up with the fashion business but years after her demise and after I graduated from school I took it as a very serious deal and established my outfit in 2014. It was registered in 2018,” he notes.
Currently, his business has over 12 employees and several apprentices who also work as part-time employees.
He says the business plans to expand its fashion outfit in the short run and have its showrooms across strategic locations in the country to showcase Kodasilver Couture designs.
He explains that in the long run, the business plans to establish a fashion school to teach and mentor young fashion entrepreneurs and designers.
Speaking on some of the challenges confronting the business, he says poor power supply has remained the major problem limiting his business.
He also identifies inadequate access to single-digit finance as another challenge limiting his business.
He urges the government to bridge the country’s huge infrastructural gaps while calling on them to make available single-digit credits to entrepreneurs across various sectors and not just agriculture.
He also asks the government to increase local patronage of fabrics.
According to him, Nigeria’s fashion industry, if given adequate attention, can create millions of jobs while contributing to the country’s foreign exchange through the export of local fabrics and designs.
“Our tailors need to be encouraged. Look at Aba, for example, which is a large haven for fashion and tailoring supplies,” he says.
On his advice to other young and aspiring entrepreneurs, he says, “Seek knowledge first, be focused, strong, determined, persevere and work hard. But make sure you work smart, and be patient, as Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
“It takes a lot of process, brainstorming, fall, and rise and sleepless nights to be successful,” he adds.