How a young, beautiful Lawyer transitioned from winning court cases to conquering hearts in the Fashion world: Meet Elizabeth Idem Ido, Founder – Mmabon’ Custom Clothier – Nigeria’s hottest and fast-growing T-Shirt/Custom apparel designer
They are warriors seeking to conquer in the courtroom.
A place where a “sentence” can be life-altering.
Lawyers, either at the bar or the bench “testify” that legal practice is not all roses.
They “declare” that navigating the delicate arteries of a justice system, is a sweet-bitter ‘hustle.’
But if this is so, why would any legal practitioner top-up the “stress levels” by diving headlong into the cluttered terrain of “business?”
For Elizabeth Idem Ido, Founder and Creative Head at Mmabon Custom Clothier, the answer is simple.
“I was a practicing lawyer in 2009; I knew there was something else I could do asides go to court and read all sorts of law books.
I started with designing and printing on T-Shirts for my friends. It spiraled to their friends, and then their friends.
It became a wider circle of people who wanted customized products. They stretched my limit, and it got to a point where we had to start producing the custom apparel itself… I took some time off work to put the business together, and I never went back.”
Almost a decade after that switch, the vivacious lawyer has scored a double slam.
Transitioning from a successful legal practice and Amazon of the courtroom, to a creative force in the design studio. Producing beautiful, custom apparels and T-Shirts. Winning customers with her speedy product turnaround time.
So is that all?
Curious to learn more about the fast-growing enterprise, exhibitors live sought an interview with the Founder and Creative Head.
Thus, one bright January afternoon, with a video camera planted in her exquisite outlet, it was time for our “cross-examination.”
So what’s the ‘game’ at Mmabon’ Custom Clothier?
The elegant and amiable chief executive explains:
“We are a fashion and lifestyle brand that specializes in custom apparel in 3 categories.
We have Basic T-shirts that customers either can buy plain or have printed in store.
We produce from scratch custom apparels for schools, companies, groups, for some individuals
We also have our Urban Ankara Ready to wear pieces, that can be bought from the shelves or customers can personalize some aspects of our designs regarding fabric, color, style, and fit.
Our strong point literally is our turnaround time around product customisation.”
Located in Lagos, the business serves customers across Nigeria and outside. Elizabeth reveals that plans are on to re-brand, and open outlets in other cities, starting with Abuja.
“We are re-branding from custom clothier to Custom and retail this year (2018), to reflect our product line up.”
According to Elizabeth, part of that re-branding exercise is to leverage on E-commerce to enhance customer service.
“The first quarter will see our DIY (Do-It-Yourself) site come up. So that we can free up some of the processes we have inside, so people will be able to customize and design their T-Shirt and artwork online and we get your order at the back end.”
Breaking out at GT Bank Fashion Weekend
The GT Bank Fashion Weekend is an annual event, nudging the Industry forward. Though the Fair is much younger compared to the Kaduna International Trade Fair, and the Lagos International Trade Fair, it has gained tremendous mileage with stakeholders in the sector.
The GT Bank Fashion Weekend spotlight emerging and established brands.
What we gained participating at the GT Bank Fashion Weekend
For Mmabon, the 2017 edition was a blast; its urbane, stylish customized T-Shirts were a hit for many visitors at the Fair. Even co-exhibitors were placing orders right off the bat.
“The GT Fashion Weekend is a brand to associate with. It is a very competitive avenue, and the fact that we were selected is a huge achievement for us.
The turnout was amazing. We engaged and printed on over 200 T-Shirts for clients on the spot between the two days. So yes, it was amazing. We had our urban Ankara ready to wear. We catered to women, men, and kids. We printed on the spot for some exhibitors’ right there.
After the event, our walk-in traffic here at the office tripled.”
While the media and other industry observers rate the GT Bank Fashion Weekend high, as an exhibitor what would be her suggestions for improving the Fair?
“The event is above standard. And I see them, committed to improving the experience year by year.”
Nigerian Fashion Industry
The conversation shifted focus from her brand, to the larger fashion industry. Despite the glamour and glitz of the fashion world, I proposed to her that there must be challenges stakeholders contend with.
“Some people will say power (i.e. . . Electricity), but power is manageable if you are producing at optimal capacity, I will say, for me, it is the consistent supply of raw materials. That is where I have a problem. I am talking about trimmings, fabrics, accessories. I could go to market today and find a particular fabric, the customer likes, or particular organization likes, but I go back there tomorrow or 2 weeks later, and it’s not there.”
The secret of success in Fashion Business
Considering that she came from a different professional background, I sought to know the secret of success in the business of Fashion. Is it all about talent or connections?
“I would say hard work, because I’ve seen less talented people with hard work, make way for themselves.”
A piece of advice for aspiring fashion entrepreneurs or designers
And what would be her advice for any young person coming into the industry?
“Fashion is vast. Whatever aspect you want to go into, be trained. Find a niche, find where you are strong at, and evolve.”
Elizabeth revealed that her love for design and fashion dates back to childhood. Recalling that as a kid, she created fashion scrapbooks and sold stuff to friends.
What is in a name?
English Playwright, William Shakespeare said: “A rose is a rose, by whatever name it is called.”
True. However, in Africa, names are profound. So what does the brand name “Mmabon” means?
“Mmabong is my pet name; I am from Cross River State (the Southern part of Nigeria). It means Mother of the Chief. … it has nothing to do with the business, but I wanted the brand to reflect who I was as a person.”
In many Nigerian communities, the mother of a chief or king is a respected matriarch. She symbolizes important values.
These values include excellence, knowledge, consistency, steadfastness, honesty, fairness, kindness, wisdom, patience, love and much more. She is a bridge builder between all segments of that community.
These salient attributes of the Chief’s mother may well be the underlying essence of Mmabon’ the fashion brand.
The interpretation or meaning of the name can be identified as clear attributes of the fashion brand. The parallels resonate.
Like Mmabon the matriarch, Mmabon’ the brand is adding value to the community.
It does so by providing excellent, knowledge-based quality products.
It offers consistent and efficient customer service, anchored on its fast product turnaround.
Furthermore, Mmabon is enhancing prosperity in society by creating employment opportunities directly and indirectly.
It offers economic value to society through its goods/services. At the same time satisfying a basic human need for clothing.
Through its pricing models, it ensures there is something for every segment of society. And everyone can pick up a T-Shirt or custom apparel that suits his or her purse.
We say congratulations to the team.
So when next you are shopping for customized apparels or T-Shirts, for yourself, family or friends, you know where to go. Mmabon’ Custom Clothier.