I’m excited to introduce this young lady with the name Stephanie Obi to you all. I had connected with Stephanie over a year ago and we were just bbm friends (you know one of those friends you have on Blackberry messenger that you just keep seeing their recent updates but never holla, yes) LOL. It wasn’t until recently I spoke to Stephanie and the conversation lasted for almost an hour (pure intimate business gist). It felt like we had been friends for long. Stephanie is the founder of “St Colours”. Let’s meet her…
I must warn you haha, Stephanie can gist for Africa just like I can. So just enjoy her interview answers and get inspired!
Q & A
- Please introduce yourself and your background.
My name is Stephanie Obi, and I’m an Ankara Accessories Ninja, who wants to change the world. I started making accessories in 2004, and it led me on an amazing journey. I started a business with the skill and now I help other people start and build successful businesses. I was a very restless child.
Every holiday, I always had a new skill I wanted to learn, and I would disturb my parents until they enrolled me in a craft class.
At the time I got to SS1, I had learnt how to sew, crotchet, cross stich, bake, quilt, etc. I was always learning something and I was often the butt of the “Jack of all trades” joke, because I jumped on every new thing I discovered. I was not necessarily doing this because I knew that in some years’ time, there would be no jobs and people would have to resort to skills to create jobs for themselves.
I was just very curious, and as I followed my curiosity, it opened my mind. I got a “makers” mentality. I learnt new styles of thinking and problem solving.
Anytime I saw something that caught my attention, I wondered, “how did they make it?” and I set out on a journey to find out how to make it, and when I eventually figured it out, people would tell me, “Oh she is so creative”!
I smile and say thank you, but in my mind, I remember this quote
“…there is no such thing as creative people and non-creative people. There are only people who use their creativity and people who don’t” – Brene Brown
We are all creative; we just have to discover it. This is why I do what I do. I help people discover their creativity. I help them make money from it too.
- Please tell us about your work.
We believe that you are very creative, beyond your wildest imagination, and we want to help you realize your potential.
We believe that knowledge is power, one piece of information can change your life forever.
We love Ankara (lol, obviously).
This is why we do what we do, we teach.
We teach people how to create beautiful African Inspired accessories irrespective of where they live through our online platform, ST Colours A-School.
We started teaching after years of creating and selling accessories and we have a wealth of knowledge to share.
- How did ST Colours start?
I used to make bead and chain necklaces, but I got tired of making them and I wanted to do something new, something fresh, something I had not seen before.
So I thought of making t-shirts and putting Ankara on them. It seemed like a great idea, so I delved into the world of t-shirts. I learnt so much about making t-shirts and after fighting so many challenges, I finally had a line of t-shirts. One of my t-shirts was very plain, so I added an Ankara brooch to make it look fab.
I took my new line of Ankara tees to an exhibition, and people kept asking me if they could buy only the brooch on the t-shirt. I said no, because the t-shirt would be plain without it, but the next time I went for the exhibition, I made a lot of brooches to sell individually.
And I sold out!
I was shocked! My t-shirts were still hanging on the rack, and everybody was buying my accessories like it was hot bread.
That was how my line of ST Colours African Accessories started.
- Where did your ideas for ST colours come from? Where do you find the inspiration for your accessories?
I got inspiration from my customers. People kept asking me to make different things for them and I just listened. Other times, I would go to the market and just walk around, looking for interesting things to work with.
- Can you remember one of the first things you crafted? What makes it memorable?
My patch work bags. This item was not one of my first pieces, but I remember the process clearly because of how I stumbled on it. It was Christmas time and I was broke. I was thinking of all the things I had to buy and how I didn’t have money.
I was thinking of what next to do, and then I had a light bulb moment. I literally ran to the factory and started picking up scraps of fabric.
We put them together and created this bag.
This was our first bag, and you can’t imagine the amount of joy that I felt after making the bag. We made them in so many colours, and we sold a lot of them. They remained our bestseller over the years, but of course we iterated, improved on them and made so many different types of bags later.
- You now run an online training, how has this been? Why and how did your training evolve to an online training?
It has been awesome, it is the core of what I was born to do, and I love every moment of it.
Sometime in 2012, I decided to start teaching other young ladies how to make Ankara Accessories, and soon enough, I started getting requests from all over the world from people who wanted to learn how to make these accessories but were not living in the same city I live in.
I decided to create the online courses, so that anybody who is interested in this craft, can learn how to make these accessories irrespective of where they live or how busy their schedules are
Now we have trained people all over the world, from Australia, to United Kingdom, to Malaysia, Kenya and even small towns in Nigeria like Ise Emure in Ekiti State and Ikom in Cross River.
- What is your most popular training (include image)?
Tough to pick one. I would say Ankara Accessories training & Ankara Bag training.
- What are your goals for the future, both work wise and life?
We have scaled up the online school to include more courses for people who want to start and grow a business. We are constantly creating new business courses. You can find the courses at www.stephbschool.com
- What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I have big plans for Nollywood…well if you know me personally, that won’t come as a surprise. I’m quite dramatic.
- For someone who wishes to take up this kind of career, what kind of advice would you give them? Also, if you could give one piece of advice to youths who want to start their own company, what would it be?
Invest in personal and business development, Keep moving no matter what, don’t give up.
- And finally, I would like to give you this opportunity to share two to four images of your work and tell us a little about each.
Packaging Course: This is something a lot of entrepreneurs take for granted but is very important. Knowing how to package your products can make all the difference. In this course, we teach people how to make fun boxes and paper bags that they can package their products in.
How to sell your handmade accessories course: At the end of the day, if you are not making sales, you are going to be frustrated. This is an email course where I share all my sales tips that I learnt over the years.
Thanks Miss Stephanie Obi for participating in Bellafricana’s Exclusive Interviews!
You know the main thing that I want to highlight from Stephanie’s interview is the trend in her improvement. She has progressed over the years and her curious and vibrant self has brought her this far. She has also identified her strength which is in training and empowering others which is very key.
Start investing in yourself and bring out the creativity in you!