Tell us a bit about you.
My full name is Nikki Odu-Khiran. My father is from Kogi state and my mother is Nigerian-Ghanaian. I was born in Aberdeen Scotland, had my grade school in the USA and finished secondary school in Queens School, Ilorin, after which I studied fashion design technology at the prestigious London College of Fashion, England.
How was Nikki Khiran couture conceived?
I started my label, Nikki Khiran couture, over 20 years ago in London and moved to Nigeria 13 years plus ago to launch my design studio. While in London, I had a lot of encouragement from Nigerians that visited and those I was close to encouraged me to come and open a store in Nigeria. I started coming to Abuja about 7 years ago and doing private viewings for my clients and their friends, and found my work very well received in Abuja. I then decided to expand and open my Abuja store about 2 years ago in Wuse 2 Abuja.
What is your niche market?
The Nikki Khiran woman is self-assured, individualistic and confident; feminine, yet strong and doesn’t follow trends. She’s a real woman with real curves, whether she’s a size 8 or a size 20. Our brand is about timeless, elegant and effortless clothing, for women with real curves, exquisite tailoring in gorgeous fabrics for women who want unique, classy and elegant clothing whether you’re 25 years old or 70.
What kind of challenges have you faced; has the business been profitable?
I think the major challenges I’ve had is lack of basic infrastructure, I’ve had to do everything from scratch, provide alternative source of electricity, get zips, trimmings and fabrics when I travel abroad, so it’s made the cost of production much higher. I also have to deal with staff that have a totally different work ethic and were mere artisans with very little education and little skill that I have had to train from scratch to my level, yet people expect our prices to be less than our counterparts abroad who have everything at their disposal! We also don’t get any funding or help from government bodies or financial institutions, yet in civilized countries fashion is a multibillion dollar industry! Indeed we have a long way to go! But we thank God!
How do you come up with new creations, designs, collections etc?
Being a naturally creative person, ideas always come to me, especially when I’m relaxed and fabrics inspire me as well as traveling and music.
What is your definition of style?
To me style and elegance are interwoven. Style is knowing what to wear, how to wear it and when to wear it. It’s being confident enough to try different looks and knowing what works for you. It’s elegance, individuality, grace and confidence without trying too hard!
Who are your role models?
My mother is my biggest role model. As far back as 1977 she already had a PhD, was a consummate business woman, homemaker and career woman, she touched everybody’s life’s in a positive way. My other role model is Oprah Winfrey. Her ability to rise above her life’s challenges and become one of the most influential women in the world, her humility and ability to touch people’s lives, without expecting anything back in return makes her a truly awesome woman!
What is your philosophy of life?
Whatever your hands find to do, do with all your might!
What’s next for you and your brand?
I would like to pass on knowledge to the next generation and impact lives; others are still in the pipeline and have not matured.
Do you have any advice for upcoming fashion entrepreneurs like yourself looking to make a mark?
Being a creative person is a gift, it can’t be forced, people tend to copy what others are doing, you might be stylish but that doesn’t make you a fashion designer. Work under an experienced brand for a few years, understudy the person, be teachable, humble, exposure and experience are invaluable. You can never know enough, you must be able to balance creativity with being an entrepreneur, a lot of creative people find it hard to marry the two, so they fail at business, and don’t copy others, dig deep and create your own concepts!