• Friday, June 21, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Why desire for afro-centric handmade wears is growing – Abdulkadir

Why desire for afro-centric handmade wears is growing – Abdulkadir

Obianuju Violet Abdulkadir is the founder and CEO Time-Tell Nigeria Limited and Afrikoncept Ethical fashion Brand. In this interview with IFEOMA OKEKE-KORIEOCHA, she speaks on the relaunch of her brand and a total change of identity to position it to become a global brand and align with international best practices. She also speaks on the unveiling of the brand’s afro-centric T-shirts called the Ewa-Afrik collection and how the desire for afro-centric handmade wears for companies’ promotion is growing. Excerpts:

Before you decided to rebrand, what was this brand about?

The brand has always been about excellent service. We are not changing our offering but only changing our identity. I need to make that differentiation. The pillars of the brand are authenticity, integrity, ethics, and customer orientation which we are carrying forward, but our initial logo used to be an Eagle with the double TT representing Time-Tell. The concept we had then was that we will soar like the eagle and we have been soaring for over 15 years; and now we have decided to have a global appeal and we are unveiling the new identity which has the hourglass. The hourglass represents timelessness and it is embedded in a chat box, meaning we are open to communicating with and reaching out to the world.

Time-Tell is in three areas of business, but we are largely a B2B company. We are into corporate gifts and branding, merchandising, textiles and retail solutions. Under gifts and branding, we do corporate gifts and promotional wears. Under retail solutions, we create, design, and build retail solutions for market penetration for our customers. Under textiles, we have promotional wears and afro-centric wears, which is another brand called Afrikoncept. So, it has a diversified range of offerings. However, our target is B2B. We are 80 percent B2B and 20 percent B2C. We will eventually migrate into full B to B because that is where our strength is.

Tell us about your new EwaAfrik T-shirts collections.

This is under the Time-Tell brand. It is the Tie and Dye T-shirt. We all know there are yearnings now for Afro-centric products. So what we have done is to infuse Tie and Die into shirts that you can wear either plain or you can also brand for company promotion. So, it’s an innovation.

Why did you decide to go into this innovation? Did you see offices do this or was it just something you thought would fit into corporate work life?

My business processes have always been solutions-driven and bridging gaps and solving problems. So, I noticed there was a gap – there are these general yearnings for Afro-centric products and people are yearning for authentic hand-made wear and we are not limiting this to retail sales. This is why I said we can bring this on to B2B for company promotions, brand promotions, for marketing outreach, for companies to connect and be able to use authentic hand-made tie and dye T-shirts for all their brands. So, this is a response to the yearning for infusing afro-centric concepts into marketing and sales.

Read also: Drinks.ng unveils Macaroni as brand ambassador, launches platform

At a time Nigeria is going through economic downturn, you are doing something fashionable for the corporate world. Do you think this is viable at this time?

Of course, this is very viable. Most companies are yearning for this. They just want to create a unique identity and this is allowing them to create a unique identity because you can choose the colours, the mix, and the patterns that you want on the T-shirts that will be unique to your brand and I don’t think anyone has been offering that. So, it is a new offering that people will jump on because everyone wants something that will distinguish them in the market. So, the market is there and we would be providing a lot of designs for our clients.

How do you source your fabrics? Do you also source from other countries?

We source both internationally and locally. We are the official distributor of Fruit of the Loom textiles in Nigeria. We also produce here locally. We have a factory in Lagos in our new Office complex. We can fill both gaps, whatever the needs of our clients are. For instance, the Ewa Afrik collection is made from 100 percent cotton T-shirts Fruit of the Loom and also 100 percent cotton that we get locally and sew.

You are sourcing fabrics from other countries at a time when there is forex scarcity. How are you able to manage the situation?

This is part of the reason we are innovating. We want to be at least 80 percent local and 20 percent import-driven and that is what we are doing. If you look at our business in the past three years, most of our offerings have been things we are doing locally both on the gift side, on the retail solutions side, and this T-shirt production side. We are strategically reducing our level of imports and harnessing what is available locally to still give the same excellent service and quality products.

Where do you see this brand in the next 10 years?

In the next 10 years, we would become a household name in all chain stores globally. Time-Tell has been around for 15 years and we started with corporate gifts and branding as we were doing that, we noticed people were yearning for well-finished 100 percent cotton promotional wear from our clients, especially for their premium management. When I travelled, I met the president of Fruit of the Loom for the Middle East and Africa and told him my willingness to sell their brand in Nigeria, and today we have been doing this for almost 10 years now.

In the next coming years, we will be doing a lot of production locally.

Would you say the textile section is your strongest?

The textile and the retail solutions are our strongest. The retail solutions are because we are partners with our clients. We are giving them solutions to their critical needs. So that way, it is a partnership and there is always demand. We don’t just wait for clients to bring their demands, we create solutions for them. We engage with them. We see where it is hurting them, we come back, we meet, we strategize, and see how we can create a solution that can deliver.

For today’s event, we are presenting the new look and feel of Time-Tell and our new innovative products for them to engage and see that these are the right partners they need. You need a partner that can think through your processes and create a solution that can enhance your business and that is where we come in.

Why did you see the need to rebrand at a time like this?

As I explained earlier, the look and feel is important. We need an identity that anywhere in the world, one can easily connect to. It is simple but communicates an important message.