Good day, this is Madeena Maishanu from Afrokanist Magazine, could you start this interview by introducing yourself?
My name is Munir Yakubu, I am a fashion designer and a business man. I like to call myself a hustler because I don’t think there’s anything that I don’t do, as far its going to benefit me in one way or the other so yes, in general I am a hustler.
What motivated you to become a fashion designer?
Growing up with my mum, she had tailoring machines at home, she’s the kind of person that wakes up in the morning and makes something that she would wear the next day. That is her regular routine, I never see her wear the same thing, because of how much she was into fashion. So I guess I picked it up from her and there was this boutique close to my house, it was called Chukwudi and Sons. I always used to go there, sit around and I guess that was also a big influence to me. Also my brothers were very exposed when it comes to fashion so yeah , I guess that’s about it.
How long have you been a fashion designer for?
I have been a fashion designer professionally for almost four years now.
What do you love about your job?
It’s easy, there are no restrictions. It’s an expression of my ideas, I am not held in a box, I can do whatever I like, my mind is free. And the best part is that I don’t work for anybody so I have total freedom. It’s just the freedom that I like most.
What are the challenges you would like to share with us about being a fashion designer?
To be honest, one of the biggest challenges I face is pleasing the customers over and over again. Because I might make a collection this month, and people would like it, and if they like that collection I have to make something that beats that collection or that would be better than that collection. And as a fashion designer, those ideas don’t come all the time , I could just be sitting down and the idea will come and also I could be trying to get ideas for months and they wont come. So making another collection after I have made a collection that people were impressed with, I would say that is the basic challenge that I face as a fashion designer.
How do you tend to overcome these challenges?
I just allow myself , I take some time off, I do things that motivate me and then eventually the ideas come. Also I have people around me that help and push me.
What does African Fashion mean to you ?
African fashion is like a girlfriend to me, it’s something that I nurture very much, it’s something that I have a lot of faith in, it’s something that I see as the future of fashion. I want a situation where by in a few years from now, Africa will take over the world when it comes to fashion. Our African arts, the whole Ankara theme of dressing and everything would be out there. It will not just be us adopting the English style of dressing or the American style, I want them to also adopt and accept what Africa has to offer. So African fashion to me, is a very very emotional topic. It is something that I hold very dear to my heart, it is something that I pray that during my own era we would take it to the level that we hope it’s meant to be.
What do you make of the statement that says, fashion such as African Fashion has the potential to unite both Africans in Africa and Africans in the diaspora?
That is a very powerful statement, because I have practically seen it happen a lot of times. Lets say I wear an outfit, a Sabali outfit, and I am somewhere in Europe and someone sees me. Another black person or another person from Africa sees me, they get really excited like “Ahh my brother, how far now?”. So yeah that’s a very very strong statement. Our fashion unites us not just in Africa, outside Africa too.
What advice would you like to give our young African entrepreneurs.
To be honest, it wont happen easily, it wont happen overnight, you have to keep on striving. I started Sabali four years ago and in my first year, I can proudly say that I didn’t eat out of the money I earned, that was the period that I was being patient. You have to be patient in whatever business you are trying to do, you would not always be where you started but once you give up, that is the end of that dream. I also call myself a dreamer because I tend to dream a lot about so many things, I have so many dreams. So, at the end of the day you have to push that dream, you also have to remain patient with what you’re trying to do.
As you know, Afrokanist Magazine is a new upcoming International Magazine for Business Culture and Lifestyle. We try to portray a better and greater image of Africans, and our main aim is to show the Africa that the media doesn’t show. So, as an entrepreneur who has been in the system for a long time, what personal advice do you have for us?
First of all, I am very very happy about what you people are trying to do. I am delighted and before I try to advice you, I hope that frequently we would also work together to take you people to a higher level.
I am happy about what you’re trying to do, and definitely its going to be a bumpy ride because there are so many magazines out there now. The competition for you is going to be very stiff, but you just have to come up with something that no other person is offering. You have to give them something new, you have to make them see that you’re also a magazine like every other magazine but you have your standards and you are ready to stand out. You also have to be a moving force, we Nigerians don’t like things that are slow and steady, we like to see you work all the time. For example, if you are doing an interview today and you don’t release the interview and you just make people wait till like after two months before you give them something else. You have to be steady in what you’re giving them, I believe that is the key to media. You have to keep giving them news, you have to keep making them know what’s happening with you.