In this exclusive interview with Elizabeth Ido, Creative Director and Founder of Mmabon Custom and retail, I got to learn about how the Mmabon brand was built, the vision behind the brand and a few tips and nuggets to consider, when starting a business in the custom design and retail industry.
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- Please introduce yourself and your background.
My name is Elizabeth Idem-Ido. Design Director and Founder of MMABON’ Custom & Retail. I have about 7 years of Law Practice behind me before my full time involvement with MMABON’
- Tell us about your work. How did Mmabon T-Shirts start?
I stumbled on selling my own new clothes during Law School year in 2004 and found I thoroughly enjoyed the process and so dabbled into it for about a year with my friends as my main customers. Looking back, that was my foundation. In 2008, I knew there was more to me than Law Books. With an eye for details, I started designing and printing on Tshirts by myself. Sold to my friends yet again, to their friends and it spiraled out of my immediate circle.
- How did you come about the name and what does it mean?
I honestly couldn’t think of a name for my Brand, other than my name. It’s actually derived from my official ‘house’ name, Mmabong (means mother of a Chief) Where I am from (Calabar, Cross River State), most people have a native pet name outside of your official names. I took out the ‘g’ at the end and started building a fashion brand that represented who I am about – Detail and Different
- What is your niche and how did you know it was a market to get into?
I would like to say we have carved a distinctive niche with customizable Apparel especially Tshirts. With us, you would find a wide variety of Tshirt Fashion I daresay you can’t find elsewhere in Nigeria. The focus is so intense, we literally stretch the possibilities of what can be done with a basic Tshirt. Every other product we have, is a natural spin-off from Tshirts e.g. Caps, Shirts, Tshirt dresses, Sweatsuits etc
I started off with designing and printing ‘Statement’ Tshirts, and it was interesting to see the freedom that came with it: freedom to express yourself, the sentimental attachment to that piece of clothing because it meant something to you and you could stand out and have a distinct identity with just a basic Tshirt. We had found a way into people’s wardrobes under the guise of fashionable Printed and Custom Tshirts ordered for Family events, School Reunions, Business Branding etc.
- Where do you find the inspiration for your products?
High Street Fashion Trends and culture
- Can you remember one of the first products you made? What makes it memorable?
Statement Tshirts. People were excited to get anything they wanted printed on Tshirts.
- What are the challenges you face in your business?
Probably working with locally sourced raw materials.
- Do you have any regrets venturing into this line of business?
- What is your most popular product?
School Reunions and Family Tshirts
- To what extent do you draw upon your Nigerian (African) heritage for your work?
The African print infusion with some of our products. We work with Ankara and Adire fabrics for some of our customized orders as well as our limited range of Ready To Wear pieces.
- What are your goals for the future, both work wise and life?
Business Wise: Build a large scale Retailer brand for Customizable apparel and accessories. Life: Move on to something else at some point, basically max out all of my potentials and bucket list
- What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I Love Reggae Music
- What profession would you be in if you weren’t in the Clothing Industry?
- If you could give one piece of advice to youths who want to start their own business, what would it be?
Find a niche, give value and be ready to commit to the full haul
- And finally, please share images of some of your work and tell us a little about each product.
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