Felix is a Social Science student of the University of Cape Coast and a fashion designer. He was born and bread in Lagos, Nigeria and then came to Ghana for his university education. Blackandwhitegh team met and interviewed this talented designer…..
BLACKANDWHITEGH: 1st of all what’s up with the name “Smoky Clothings”?
FELIX: As a young child i was troublesome and a lot of peeps at home felt my rude attitude was because I smoked despite the fact that i didn’t smoke, a lot of people believed i did especially as we all know that looks are deceptive and so i coined the name ‘SMOKY CLOTHINGS: Made in Africa’. I also believed that I could make my customers look “Smoking” hot as we all know that a lot of us dress to attract the right girl or guy.
BLACKANDWHITEGH: So what made you venture into fashion designing?
FELIX: I finished secondary school in 2006 and started designing in 2009, as at then I was just making stuff for myself based on inspiration from my uncle who is also into clothing and when I wore these stuffs out, people were usually like “wow guy that looks really nice, where did you get it?” and am like “oh I made it myself” and so started this journey.
BLACKANDWHITEGH: How do you come up with your distinct design? Because it’s necessary to survive in the industry right?
FELIX: First of all I believe there is nothing new under the sun. I try to study customers, fashion shows, celebrities and what is and was in vogue and then try and create a fashion concept out of my internal and external environment.
BLACKANDWHITEGH: Internal environment??
FELIX: Oh yes, one has to dig deep into his own mind and allow his creativity to come into play. I also like playing around with textiles and blend different ones together to create something maybe crazy but distinct and brand new that my customers can appreciate. I also believe in diversity because it doesn’t make sense to have different clothes with the same design or else let’s all just do wash and wear.
BLACKANDWHITEGH: I can see that you use a lot of your sociology knowledge in your business, so how do you combine fashion designing and school?
FELIX: E no easy at all oh especially for UCC. I try to read what I have been taught almost immediately so that nothing piles up, my weekdays are basically for school and my weekends strictly for business. But despite that it’s not been easy at all especially when you have customer deadlines and still have quizzes and assignments to meet up to. I believe time management is very important.
BLACKANDWHITEGH: Tell us about your customers
FELIX: Is it attitudes, lifestyle, size, well there are very amazing people. I believe that to survive in the business world you have to understand them. I try to give them reliable deadlines for my product so that I don’t end up delaying and sincerely tell them what I can and cannot do. I also believe loyalty is important so that you strife to please your customers and so they serve as inspiration for your ideas and create room for consistency. At first I thought I would have problems as a young Nigerian designer trying to enter the Ghanaian market but it didn’t take me long to realize that Ghanaians, Nigerians, Ivorians, Togolese and a lot of other Africans are the same, so that my outfits are BLACK people oriented and there is no room or need for culture biase. I believe Nigeria is a state in the Federal Republic of Africa. In fact, most of my customers are even in Ghana. They are all nice people to work with in-terms of style, price increases, etc.
BLACKANDWHITEGH: Mr.Smoky are you in a relationship?
FRLIX: (He laughs) Hhhhhmmmmm yes I am.
BLACKANDWHITEGH: And what’s her reaction to your business?
FELIX: Well she is not very cool with it, she complains about me not having time for her and she is not okay with me having female customers at all but despite that she actually promotes me.
BLACKANDWHITEGH: And how does your family relate to your business?
FELIX: I believe times have changed and even parents have to change. Despite the fact that my mom is one of them “education is compulsory”, she supports handwork and craft and even gives me tips and advice on my designs.
BLACKANDWHITEGH: So what are your major challenges?
FELIX: Capital as usual was a big issue for me in starting up and I also had issues with customers concerning pay. Some would pay in bits thereby reducing the value of your money and others would default in paying. I also had issues with transportation especially with delivering to other countries and getting materials from Nigeria. But I see all these as challenges with forming a customer base.
BLACKANDWHITEGH: Where exactly do you work?
FELIX: I have my own personal shop in Lagos, Nigeria but in Ghana I share a place with my aunt in Winneba who’s also a fashion designer. I intend on expanding so am getting a place in Cape coast next year.
BLACKANDWHITEGH: So what next after school?
FELIX: Like I said am planning some serious expansion so I intend on getting a manager and employing a few more people. I also intend on going for my Masters in Fashion Designing either in the USA or in South Africa and PhD if necessary so maybe I would get a Doctorate in Fashion Designing and become Professor Smoky (He laughs).
BLACKANDWHITEGH: So who is your fashion icon?
FELIX: I look up to my uncle; KB Clothings who’s based in Dubai and also Yomi Causals based in Nigeria.
BLACKANDWHITEGH: How do you blow off steam and chill?
FELIX: Am also into music production and like to play around in my studio and cook up music. I also love going on road trips and sight-seeing, I like nature.
BLACKANDWHITEGH: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
FELIX: Wow!! I see myself as a “big boss” in-terms of entrepreneurship. I intend to venture into music production, catering and other things but still in an African context. I believe I can sell African ideas on a global scale like the way America sells us their Technology, we’ll also sell back to them.
BLACKANDWHITEGH: And what’s in the pipeline? What should we be expecting next from Smoky clothings?
FELIX: Right now I’m majorly into custom jobs and special orders but I have some customers who buy in bulk and resell, some in Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Canada and S.A so I intend on mass production by next year so that I don’t have to wait for specific orders and measurements. I also intend on going digital so that orders can be made online. I’m also planning on a fashion show next year here in Cape Coast in which I would be the headline act but would also showcase other African fashion designers.
You can contact Felix on +233543215528, +233232332988 and via firstname.lastname@example.org