Interview: Aisha Igbinovia, Creative Director Of Handbags, Leather Goods Label- Nichole By Haguanna

For edgy bags that go from day to night and back again, designer Aisha Igbinovia’s Nichole By Haguanna label has become a favourite.

You might not know about Nichole By Haguanna yet but that’s about to change since Aisha Igbinovia successfully launched her label into the Nigerian fashion industry with a capsule collection in July 2012.

Aisha holds a degree in Law and International Relations from London Guildhall University. Now in her mid 30s, she is happily married to Martins Efosa Igbinovia and is blessed with a daughter Nicole Adeola. According to Aisha, her husband and daughter inspire her daily and give her the tenacity to work hard at her business, even though she has always had a passion and flare for designing. They are part of the reason she eventually quit her job at Addax Petroleum, a top oil and gas company in Nigeria where she was working in the Human Resources department to focus full-time and make her passion a business.

The Lagos based designer has been big news in Nigeria attracting a large following with what she describes as her “tireless work, distinctive personality, attention to detail, intricate materials used and unseasoned style”. Her feminine yet edgy bags range from clutches to totes and come in a range of colours and animal skin, while her neck pieces features intricate use of Swarovski crystals, Corals, Pearls and Precious stones. Aisha’s versatile designs are intended to take her clients from day to night with minimal fuss.

Today, brings you a special interview feature with the creative mind behind Nichole By Haguanna as she lets us into her life as a designer, mother and wife.

OB: What is your brand of bag and accessories all about?
AI: In a few words, my brand is handmade, quality, tasteful and exclusive. I officially launched my Nichole By Haguanna label in on the 8th of July 2012 in Lagos, Nigeria though I have been making bags and other accessories since 2011. Nichole By Haguanna is a label that has its distinctive personality, pays attention to detail and makes use of intricate materials. My pride in the label is that I incorporate sense of unseasoned style in every piece I produce. We produce handbags, leathers goods and bold necklace accessories that are intricately cut out from real Crocodile, Alligator, Buffalo, Calf and Snake skin. Most of my pieces are further embellished with Swarovski crystals, Corals, Pearls and Precious stones and everything is specially handmade by myself and craftsmen.

OB: What prompted you to go into bags and jewellery designing and production?
AI: I&#39ve always had raw passion and flare for fashion and beautiful things. I love to wear things that are made of good quality and I think it only came naturally for me to follow my passion. Over the years this passion of mine has improved and I came to realise that I actually have a talent for it and can make a living out of it if I put my passion, determination and business acumen to use which lead me to resigning my position at Addax Petroleum where I used to work.

OB: Are the materials you use in making handbags and jewellery sourced locally in Nigeria?
AI: All materials are sourced for around Africa, to be precise, Kano, Lake Chad, Senegal, Morocco and Lagos.

OB: Are all your pieces made locally in Nigeria?
AI: All my neckpieces are handmade by me here at my home in Lagos.For the leather goods, some are made here in Lagos while others in nearby African countries, so I have a team of craftsmen working with me in Lagos and other African countries.

OB: Who are your role models in the fashion business?
AI: My mother has been an inspiration to me, growing up, she thought me all I need to know as a young woman, she also very industrious and self motivated so I think I have those traits in me as well. Another woman that I look up to is Folorunsho Alakija, from what I know of her story, she’s hardworking and has made a mark in the Nigerian fashion industry, she’s also internationally recognised for her contributions in Nigeria and beyond, I love that about her. While for a younger generation of women, I look up to fashion designer Lanre DaSilva Ajayi, she’s shown me that talent can truly be recognised also I love her creativity.

OB: What was growing up like, any fond childhood memories?
AI: Too many fond memories, can&#39t mention them all. Growing up was amazing. Sometimes I wish I could be a child again.

OB: How do you unwind from the hectic schedule of designing and running a new business?
AI: I love watching movies and the best times are spent relaxing with my family. Also, when I can afford it I try to pamper myself silly by going shopping like most women do.

OB: What’s your fashion weakness?
AI: I have a huge fetish for handbags and shoes, I just can’t seem to get enough, luckily, I have a husband that understands this.

OB: So far, what has been your greatest challenge in life?
AI: Well, I think it has been trying to balance motherhood, marriage and running a business. I have a daughter now but it’s not easy, I admire women that have thriving businesses coupled with kids and husband, its not easy at all but I am rising up to these challenges everyday and beginning to find a work-life balance.

OB: Looking at how young you are now, what will you say has you’re your greatest accomplishment?
AI: Well, I think its too early in life for me to say I have accomplished something great, I am in my mid 30s and I think I am still a work in progress, perhaps you can ask me that again in another five years when I believes I can be able to know through my life experiences as I am currently working on what greatest achievement is.

OB:  What do you think must have significantly shaped you to be who you are today?
AI: Firstly, I have to acknowledge that God has been responsible for moulding me into the woman that I am today, secondly, my mother, she has thought me for much about life that I am proud to be raised by her.

For more details on Nichole By Haguanna, contact Aisha Ugah Igbinovia on:
Mobile: +234 (0) 706 801 7362
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