Client Profile: Chinonso Aladi
Chinonso is a now-graduate of the Kent State Fashion School and hails from Nigeria, which is the inspiration for her fashion line that incorporates traditional African fabrics into modern pieces. While researching production possibilities for the full line, she has been designing and sewing custom pieces for customers.
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture?
My initial spark to start a business was to provide a solution to a problem of having more African inspired clothing in everyday life. My clothing line creates a platform for West African fabrics in the contemporary market. Wearing African-inspired clothing is relevant because more people are inspired to showcase where they are from. It is important for people to show and celebrate their pride, culture and association to be African anywhere in the world.
What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
Some of my failures have been from charging too little for my custom-made garments. I am learning to price my product right to cover production cost.
Who or what motivates you?
As a young black female entrepreneur I am motivated by telling my Nigerian story. I love storytelling and doing that through fashion is exciting and humbling at the same time. My story is inspired by the dressing, cultures and people of Nigeria: their way of life, through their dressing shaped some part of my identity.
I was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, a big melting pot of all different cultures. I always admired the clothing and internalized how tweaking the fabrics a little bit could help create my individuality. I would always take my mum’s fabrics and play around with the drape, texture and patterns to create something new. I would get asked a lot where I bought them, that’s when I realized I had something going.
Also, the fact that people can relate to that inspires me to keep going.
When did you really get motivated to take your idea from just an idea to an actual line? Was there a moment of inspiration or lots of little signs?
For me the transition came from being told my ideas of African fashion weren’t good enough for my class projects. For me that was my "a-ha" moment: I realized I could focus on my style of fashion outside of the classroom. I decided to ignore the criticism by working on all Afro-Western projects separate and outside of the classroom. Doing that afforded me the ability to keep my identity and create a brand.
What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
My greatest fear is failing. I am learning now, that failure is part of the success story. Although I know the beginning part is the hardest, it sometimes feels like it is going to be hard forever.
Where you see yourself and your business in 5 years? 10 years?
Fully running Nonso Aladi and making it a global brand.