Africa Fashion Guide
A social enterprise promoting sustainability within Africa's fashion and textile industry.



Fashion

April 3rd, 2018

Fashion Education to Fashion Enterprise in Africa – A Nigerian solution // EDUCATION

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We are pleased to have caught up with Mrs Sola Babatunde, founder of OSC (One Stop Celebration) fashion college. With a plethora of knowledge and experience in the fashion industry, she needs little introduction. Sola champions the female entrepreneur in the fashion education industry in Nigeria; she has won several awards and has been recognised for her contribution to the Nigerian fashion industry.

Based in Lagos, Nigeria, the OSC college dubs itself as ‘the best fashion training school in Nigeria’ which aims to train, develop and support fashion entrepreneurs to be highly skilled and efficient. The college has impressive links to industry experts, companies and brands; allowing students to have the right exposure for employment and entrepreneurship.

Continue reading as we speak to Sola about her pioneering work, her success and her thoughts on the industry in Africa and globally.

 


 

AFG: What is your vision for OSC, and what drives the vision?
SB: Our vision  for our fashion training school, OSC college of fashion, is to make our training available to all that need high quality, international standard in fashion and entrepreneurial training in Africa. What drives this vision, is the passion to provide quality training to Africans and anyone who needs this training in Africa. In Nigeria today, there isn’t any university offering fashion as a course. According to a UNIDO report, a few polytechnics have out dated curriculum; the curriculum from these schools are not industry relevant, and this has adversely affected the industry in the past. With our training school, we provide skills that enable and empower our students to create wealth, eradicate poverty and have employability skills.

AFG:  How important is the fashion industry in Nigeria? Is this a viable career?
SB: The clothing retailer, Zara, has more than 2,200 stores in 93 countries and is the flagship brand of the Inditex Group. It is renowned for its ability to develop a new product and get it to stores within two weeks, while other retailers take six months.
Our aim is to start with the fashion education. In Nigeria most designers are focused on individual clients instead of building clothing companies. I know the capital to go all out isn’t readily available, but the orientation of made-to-measure only has to change if we are to benefit from the industry revenues. We need to start building companies that would out-live us and leave legacies for the coming generation.
AFG: In Nigeria today, what is the significance of having a fashion education?
 
SB: The significance of quality fashion education cannot be underestimated. To run a fashion company, it takes more than passion, you must have the right training, team and entrepreneurial skills, which you can only get from a quality school. 
osc
AFG: How does your business fit into this industry? And how can it connect graduates to the industry so that they have opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship?
 
SB: At OSC college of fashion we use our specially developed industry relevant curriculum, industrial machines, highly trained professional instructors, combined with entrepreneurial skill training via our business of fashion courses offered in our school, our curriculum is developed on industry best practices, and the needs of the market and business training.
We have a compulsory 3 month internship program where we post our students to companies for industrial attachment, where they learn further practical entrepreneurial skills as well get retained by these companies. We also train people for employment purposes. 
AFG: For those apprehensive about taking a fashion course in Nigeria, what would your advice to them be?
 
SB: No need to be apprehensive. At our school we have had various  students from all over Nigeria, international students, and exchange students from different countries. Our school is safe, in a conducive environment. We have hostels right inside the school. Students can try any of our short courses and see what they would learn in a short time. We have had students come from fashion schools in the UK and the USA. They can also write to us to ask any questions they might have, via info@osccollegeoffashion.net
AFG: What plans do you have for OSC in the next year or two?
SB: We plan to open more branches, have international collaborations and have a thriving online school
AFG: As a female entrepreneur and business owner in Africa, how has your gender impacted your journey?
 
SB: My gender has being a blessing. This industry is usually more female dominated, so it wasn’t hard to start operating here. However, combining business with family and personal life is a very different ball game. Most people in Nigeria see fashion as a hobby or a small business or craft that would allow them stay at home. It is usually seen as a very small micro business, so taking it to a proper business level has being God, with a lot of focus, determination and just sheer stubbornness (lol).
AFG: What do you think the manufacturing market can offer designers and labels wanting to make their clothes for mass production, in Nigeria?
 
SB: The manufacturing market in Nigeria can offer a lot to the designers or labels who want to produce in Africa. We have a mass production factory in Lagos. In Africa, you can make small orders, unlike china and India who would want to very large orders. Africa provides quality, ethically produced products and hand-crafted services. Africa is closer (to the UK) hence a shorter delivery time. There are flights going out of Nigeria to the UK and the US every day. Designers from the US can also take advantage of AGOA, hence they wouldn’t pay tariff on their products from Africa.
AFG: In your opinion, how do you think the fashion industry in Nigeria can make its mark on a global scale, where quality and relevance is concerned?
 
SB: Yes we can, with the right narratives, like you. You are doing great job by the way. A continuous focus and deliberate focus on quality, getting the right education, owning who we are, not losing our strengths as well as embracing technology and automation for production. With the right collaborations and partnerships we would get there. The globe is already looking to Africa; did you see the Stella McCarthy dress at Harrods for over a $1000? That should have being made by an African designer or at least produced in Africa.
AFG: What tips and advice would you give to new designers setting up business in Africa?
 
SB: Do your research; know your target market; focus; don’t try being everything to everyone; know your numbers- meaning your accounting; and pray! Don’t be afraid to think big but start small.  

It’s great to have figures like Sola, who promote quality and relevance on a global scale. They are proof that Africa not only produces raw materials, but harnesses the real opportunity to share and empower others for education, training and employment. The tables have turned, and they are finally in the right position.
You can stay in touch with Sola and OSC College by following the social links below.

 

Facebook – OSC College of Fashion

Twitter – @OSCfashionsch

Instagram – @osccollegeoffashion

main feature image OSC 2015 graduates

 

What are your thoughts on the current position of the fashion industry in Nigeria? 

Please comment below and share this interview with your industry network.

 

Article written by Keji Ewuosho for Africa Fashion Guide

Keji is the Founder & Creative Director of Keji Victoria







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