Marté Egele was born out of genuine friendships and a yearning for individuality. With the desire to create unique, high quality products through the fusion of African culture and Western style, Uche Egele birthed the handmade leather goods brand, Marté Egele.
In this exclusive interview, Uche tells us about the inspiration behind her brand, how she carved a niche for herself, and something interesting that many people do not know about her. I am sure you will enjoy reading this, as you can almost feel her very vibrant and jovial personality by merely reading through.
- Please introduce yourself and your background.
Hi! My name is Uche Egele and I am the Creative Director of Marté Egele, the handmade leather goods and accessories brand based in Lagos, Nigeria.
- Tell us about your work. How did Marte Egele start?
It all started when I was 3 – 4 years old when I was constructing clothes for my dolly as we little girls do but fast forward to high school when I couldn’t get enough of fashion and had a gut feeling that somehow I’m connected to this industry.
I graduated and went off to the University of Houston to study Marketing and Sales thinking that maybe my little design skills would stay a hobby while I somehow infuse my new knowledge into a fashion company.
With the help of my sis, we talked my dad into sending me to fashion school at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles to study Womens wear and can you see where this is going?
While learning how to create beautiful clothing, I was in turn learning the art of craftsmanship for accessories and how to think up new designs and merge history, ideas and feelings into a product.
With the right friends who believed in me, my yearning to have an identity, be an individual and have a say in the society and after working in top American specialty brands, I started creating handbags, small accessories and scarf prints.
The desire to create unique, high quality products as I’ve always envisioned come in through the fusion of my Nigerian culture and the western style that I’d gotten accustomed to. To keep things grounded and to help the state of the nation and African continent, I press on every leather piece being carefully handcrafted by local artisans to keep things exciting.
- How did you come about the name and what does it mean?
I needed a name that was relatable, close to home and could work beyond borders. My middle name is Martha – given I was born in The Netherlands, I had a very close Dutch family friend who they wanted to name me after named Marté so I went for that and Egele is my last name. So there you have it.; not too complicated right?
- What is your niche and how did you know it was a market to get
Leather is a rich, genuine, classic, forever material that when properly made can be passed
down through generations. I wanted my brand to leave that mark to be a heritage symbol that
can live beyond my years.
- Where do you find the inspiration for your products?
Mainly in Art and Architecture but anything that translates an easy going, happy and bold
lifestyle draws my attention.
- Can you remember one of the first products you made? What
makes it memorable?
I started off making clothing – womenswear and editing already made pieces either to a clutch
or something else for some stylish women who needed to upgrade some items. They’re all
memorable for me because all that led to me discovering myself and what I really was to do in
fashion and why I’ll love to continue doing it.
- What are the challenges you face in your business?
At the moment, the challenges I face are elevating and maintaining product quality and
craftsmanship with the artisans, leather quality, and the rest I believe are of my own making
with being conscious with the next steps I’ll take given I strive for perfection.
- Do you have any regrets venturing into this line of business?
Absolutely not! Every situation, challenge, issue that comes is I believe preparing me and my
brand for what I need in the future to grow and better myself and the brand.
- What is your most popular product?
The Ese Mini Top Handle Flap Leather Bag
- To what extent do you draw upon your Nigerian (African) heritage
for your work?
It comes in the cross weaving stitch which I place on every piece as a signature.
- What are your goals for the future, both work wise and life?
To build an all inclusive accessories brand house for both men and women.
- What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I worked in the True Religion Headquarters for about a year in the Technical Design
- What profession would you be in if you weren’t in the Leather
My other degree – Marketing and Sales and I so love Luxury Brand Management; I’m still
thinking of going into it haha
- If you could give one piece of advice to youths who want to start
their own business, what would it be?
JUMP! Don’t doubt yourself. Follow your gut. Believe in yourself because that seed planted
in you means you’re probably very capable of achieving it.
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