By Ifeoma Ikem
It was a roll call of the literati and cognoscenti, and of the glitterati and paparazzi, entrepreneurs and politicians when Mina Ladi Luxury Enterprise, trading as Asooke by Mina Ladi, unveiled its luxury fashion brand in Lekki, Lagos recently.
While welcoming guests to the epochal event, Lagos polymath and Chairman of the firm, Tunji Suleiman, revealed that Mina Ladi is the brainchild of Hajia Amina Ladidi Suleiman who is the Creative Director of the haute couture label. And that he helped birth it, infused quality control and assurance, and promoted the brand. According to him, “My wife has had a lifelong interest in looking elegant. Right from childhood, she had liked to dress up and be gorgeous.
Whenever her parents got clothes for them kids, she would tinker with hers, attaching a bow here and stitching a pleat there. And she would otherwise tweak such that the garment would be altered when she was done. Later, she started drafting her own patterns and designing outfits and accessories for family and friends for free or next to no cost.”
Continuing, he said, “As we all know, it takes a fashion-conscious man to spot a fashionable woman. Some people have called me a dresser in my own right. So it was not abnormal for me to see the talent and to support the dream and help turn it to reality, especially as I was already an entrepreneur of many years standing, which proved to be an advantage. So we developed the model in-house and conceptualized the process early on. The realization took vision, capacity and resilience. So you can take it from me when I say that this shop is a testament to my wife’s creativity, commitment, diligence and passion, and to teamwork.”
Going on memory lane, Suleiman recollected, “Before we started out, we had agreed she would go to business school. So we had her enrolled in Richland College in Dallas, Texas, USA where she completed a certificate course in entrepreneural and business management. She also attended fashion school and master classes in Nigeria. Her training at an atelier in Dubai where she learned tambour beading and other embroidry techniques has influenced our unique designs.”
“We registered Mina Ladi Luxury Enterprise in 2018 and started production from our home in Lekki; trading on Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and on the web at www.minaladiluxury.com.”
“We have since been draping the wardrobes of discerning clients that can afford our garments in Nigeria, in Lagos, South-East and South-South, and in Abuja and the North, leveraging on my wife’s northern connection. And we have patrons in USA, Canada, and Europe. We have also dressed Indian couples for weddings abroad.”, Suleiman recounted.
“As everything celestial must appear or be manifested in the terrestrial for man to appreciate, it was only a matter of time before we came down to earth from cyberspace to unveil this outlet of Asooke by Mina Ladi in the Center of Excellence”, he submitted.
“Now, clients who prefer to transact business on terra firma can shop our ready-to-wear and book appointments for bespoke and fittings in Suite 17, Aaron’s Mall, Lekki 1”, the Mina Ladi Chairman added.
Before the unveiling proper, the Lekki big boy shared the brand’s vision and roadmap, saying, “Our ultimate goal is to take Mina Ladi closer to our clients everywhere and to consistently craft and deliver ready-to-wear and bespoke fashion masterpieces. In the near-term, we will focus on sustainable growth and open more stores as we go along, on the Mainland and beyond”.
Nasir Illias, representing the Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria (FADAN), assisted by Mrs. Ronke Edun, a leading fashion designer and MD/CEO of Bolenny Couture in Otta, Ogun State cut the ribbon to open the black- and gold-themed shop, the interior and lighting of which was designed and executed by Mr. Suleiman (who is an engineer) and admired by the guests, clients, associates, and family and friends present.
In her remarks, the Computer Scientist-turned fashion designer and Director of Creatives and Production, Hajia Suleiman, elaborated on the fabrics, patterns and computer-aided techniques used in crafting some of the unique designs on display. “Our forte is the elaborate and bespoke African wear for weddings, namings, anniversaries, memorials, and other ceremonies where the celebrant or guest desires to ‘shanawole’ and to stand out. We create luxury high fashion and make it affordable.”
She added, “We mostly utilize the Asooke weave and other local fabrics, but add foreign laces, lycra, organza and velvet. We combine colors and panels with our patterns and finish in bead and/or stone work. We also accessorize and embellish with pearls and/or petals as needed for the particular client to handcraft unique, dazzling attires; complimented by our special veils and trademark luxury hand fans without which the outfit is not complete especially for the ‘lolos’, ‘oloris’ and ‘sarauniyas’.
“Our ready-to-wear line of t-shirts, kimonos, tunics, capes, and turbans is doing well, just like the bespoke ”, the Creative Director disclosed.
The shopping session was a success. The bestsellers were the unisex Blinged Patriot T-Shirt which sold out, the turbans and turbanators for ladies and the unique tunic and cap for men – dubbed ‘TJ’s Gbarie & Gobi’ that combined the ‘alari’ Asooke fabric, Yoruba and Ghanaian styling and Hausa embroidery into an iconic garment design popularized and modeled by Mr. Suleiman – which recorded several bespoke orders.
Dignitaries that graced the event and shopped included Engr. Ayoade Lawal, an APC aspirant for the last gubernatorial election in Osun State; Mr. Ted Kpone-Tonwe, Country Manager of Red Transport, an international logistics firm; and Mrs Jennifer Ogbaide, CEO of ZIWA’s Place, a frontline interior designer in Lekki.
Others included Mrs. Zainab Okunola, CEO of Khalten Scents from Port Harcourt; Builder and Estate Developer, Mr Olaku Asupoto; and Mrs Olayinka Abiola, widow of the late MKO Abiola who prayed for business profitability and brand success for the fashion label.
The media was adequately represented with the attendance of Mr. Olawale Abideen, President of the Nigerian Guild of Investigative Journalists (NGIJ) who led an array of journalists to the event and compered the programme. Also present were fashion photographer, James Atuegbu, reporters and cameramen from City People, Spice TV and a host of other media houses.
Freebie ‘Fascinators’ were gifted to guests for their girls who were all excited as they happily adorned the colorful hair pieces.
In closing, Hajia Amina Suleiman thanked all present for making time out of their busy schedules and in spite of the Coronavirus scare to witness the occasion. She also prayed for the safe return of all guests to their respective destinations.
It was altogether a fun-filled day with plenty to eat, drink and to take away amid pulsating music that lasted till late into the evening.
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