Aisha Igbinovia runs Nichole by Haguanna, a luxury outfit. The stylish lady manufactures handbags and necklaces too. She talks more on her passion in this interview
Q: Have you always been in the business of manufacturing leather goods?
A: No. I used to work with Addax Petroleum. I worked there for about a year plus as a human resource officer and a personal assistant. Then, I designed clothes for a while (I still do occasionally) before I decided to embrace my passion. I actually nursed the idea to venture into this, two years ago because I have always had passion for things of beauty and quality. But I didn’t start until a year and three months ago. So, I would say, passion and the quest to be original, made me leave my high-paying job to do that which I am most passionate about. Moreover, the cost of purchasing handmade products abroad, when all materials can be sourced in Africa was a motivation to starting on my own.
Q: Are they ordered for or you produce en masse?
A: Each piece is tailored to each individual’s taste with all designs remaining true to the label’s aesthetics, influence and inspiration. So even though the designs have to conform to the brand’s in-house aesthetics, we are also mindful of the fact that no two people might want the exact thing, which dictates why client’s taste in designing is also put into consideration.
Q: What is Nichole by Haguanna all about?
A: It is a luxury outfit. We produce handbags, leather goods and bold neck accessories, which are intricately cut out from crocodile, alligator, buffalo, calf and snake skin. They are further embellished with Swarovski crystals, corals, pearls and precious stones. In a few words, the brand is handmade but exclusive. The target is bringing quality and elegance to the urbane woman.
Q: But do you think what you do is different from others?
A: I have worked tirelessly to make it popular with its distinctive personality, attention to detail, intricate materials and unseasoned style which cannot be replicated by others.
Q: What inspires you while at work?
A:The inspiration behind every piece is passion and quest for talent display in the creation of handmade exquisite pieces of jewellery and leather goods.
Q: You talked about live animal skin used for production, do you source your materials here?
A: I source materials from around Africa. To be precise, Kano, Lake Chad, Senegal, Morocco and Lagos. They are produced in Africa. All jewellery are handmade by me here at my home in Lagos. But for the leather goods, some are made in Nigeria, while others are from nearby African countries.
Q: Do you have any formal education in leather and jewellery making?
No. After my university education at London Guildhall University, United Kingdom, where I studied international relations and law, I haven’t bothered to acquire more knowledge or skill. What I know now is simply by having eyes for pretty details and my loads of talent.
Q: Do you have role models, whose lives inspire you?
A: Yes. My mother and Folorunsho Alakija. They inspire me with their effort to always look good and trendy despite aging. For the younger generation, it would have to be Lanre DaSaliva-Ajayi. She is one of the few originals we still have around. For international fashion designers, Azzadine Alaia and Elie Saab.
Q: What fond childhood memories do you cherish most?
A: I can’t mention them all but I did have fun growing up, it was amazing and I sometimes wish I could be a child again.
Q: Are you married?
A: Yes. I am happily married to an amazing man, whom I would prefer to keep out of the news. I like to keep my private life private. But I have a beautiful daughter.
Q: How do you take time out of your busy schedule for leisure?
A: I enjoy going to the movies and generally relaxing with my family.
Q: Do you pamper yourself?
A: When I can afford it, I shop silly.
Q: What is your fashion fetish?
A: Shoes and bags
Q: How do you merge your life as a mother and an entrepreneur?
A: I still wonder how I have remained sane! Being able to juggle motherhood, marriage and business at same time is a huge task.
Q: What do you think must have significantly shaped you to be who you are today?
A: I know it sounds like a cliché, but it’s God, pure and simple. Nothing but God!
Q: How old are you?
A: I understand that it isn’t right to ask a lady about her age however, I’m on the right side of 30 and I hail from Gboko in Benue State.
Q: As a woman who creates trendy pieces for women, how would you define your own style?
A: My style is equally trendy, at the same time classic and fashion-forward. I love bold and sharp colours which I try to incorporate in my pieces. But I will not be caught dead wearing revealing clothes.