As an upcoming or emerging fashion entrepreneur, you need to learn from the mistakes of experts in the industry, to avoid them. Many fashion brand owners these days make certain mistakes in branding, choosing the right location, and many other factors needed to run a brand effectively, which could have been avoided if they had learnt from experts.
The Fashion Phoenix column is one where we take time to speak to different professionals that are doing great things in the Nigerian fashion industry, including footwear makers and clothes designers.
We recently had a chat with Boluwatife Olopade, the Founder and Creative Director of Torera Couture about her struggles and challenges in building a reputable fashion brand. Stay with us as she spills the tea on how she comes up with her designs, handles irate customers, and positions her brand for global recognition.
About Torera Couture
Torera Couture is a fast-growing Nigerian fashion brand that offers bespoke clothing line services for women and children. The fashion brand deals in the production of elegant bridal, native, casual, dinner, and corporate dresses at affordable prices while portraying decency.
The eponymous fashion brand is owned by Boluwatife Olopade Torera, a Business Administration graduate, with a major in Human Resource Management. Like many fashion brand owners who started in the university, Boluwatife Olopade also started learning fashion designing in the university.
“I started learning how to sew in my third year of university. I went to fashion school occasionally during summer break and then I finally got a chance to do a 1-year fashion design program during my NYSC year in 2016. After this, I started the brand, Torera Couture.”
The Torera Couture team ensures that they do not compromise decency while creating outfits, as one of their goals is to bring decency back into our society.
First Year Of Torera Couture
Unlike many fashion brand owners who faced numerous challenges at the start of their brand, the first year of Torera Couture was much better than expected.
However, due to the large number of orders she was getting, she had to decline many orders to avoid disappointing clients. And this is one thing fashion designers need to understand when running a brand.
Most times, it is better to avoid taking on too many orders if you know that you cannot handle them, rather than taking the orders and disappointing customers.
Another thing she did to help her tackle her numerous orders was to employ tailors to help. This, in turn, increased her production capacity.
Challenges And Breakthroughs In The Torera Couture
Just like in all other industries and brands where hiring the right staff is a big deal, the founder of Torera Couture also had some challenges.
How was she able to tackle this?
“With staffing, I’ll say networking is very important. Relating with designers that have gone ahead of me has helped me with the whole staffing process.” – Boluwatife Olopade
The importance of having a good location or workspace where clients can come for consultations, bookings, fittings and many more cannot be overstated. As a fashion designer, it is important to choose a location that is easily accessible, safe, and has high growth potential.
For Torera Couture, they have now recently moved to a more central location that makes it easier for their clients to come in for consultations and fittings.
Running a fashion brand can be indeed tasking, as many brand owners say, and finding a balance between work and personal life can be a bit difficult.
“Talking about work-life balance, I honestly don’t have that all figured out yet as I am trying my best to put more structures in place that will help me create the much-needed balance. We are also looking to recruit more hands for different aspects of the business. In the midst of all of this, I try not to compromise on my relationship with God and my family, as I put them first in all I do.” – Boluwatife Olopade.
“I get a lot of ideas during my me-time or from samples I totally want to recreate in order to portray decency. I also get a lot of ideas from my mum and my sisters, as they love fashion and are always eager to let me in on their ideas.”
Also, since women have a diverse taste in fashion, they try as much as possible to interpret them correctly through the designs.
As a Lagos-based fashion brand with customers from all over the world, it is usually impracticable for clients to come in for measurements. And sometimes, clients send in the wrong measurements, which leads to a poorly delivered outfit.
“To correct this, we came up with an idea of having video calls with our clients to put them through on how to take accurate measurements. This has helped us to achieve a 99% success rate.”
Also, like the founder shared with us, in handling irate customers they listen to the client and handle all problems with a sense of understanding and urgency. They also ensure that no client leaves their studio dissatisfied.
“When a service has been paid for, it is important that the client gets value for their money.” – Boluwatife Olopade.
How Torera Couture Is Adding Value To Communities
The Torera Couture brand offers free training to at least 3 students every year to equip them with the right skills and knowledge needed to pursue a career in fashion designing and as part of their corporate social responsibility. They also provide opportunities for internship for students from the Lagos State Women Development Centre.
While some of these people are retained in the brand, others go on to start their fashion bands, thereby, reducing the rate of structural unemployment.
The Torera Couture brand is one that is very passionate about grooming a brand that will outlive its owner while implementing its core values and impacting many lives positively.