Handsmithen is an ethical brand that makes use of waste in the fashion industry to produce useful items like accessories, appliques and even clothing. It loves to refer to itself as a “Circular Economist” brand. Handsmithen has evolved and has quite a number of achievements to its name. The most recent being the top finalist at the Creative Enterprise Support Program by the British Council. The brand began in 2019 by the creative Miss Vivian.
We had a chat with her to get to know her and her brand and here is what she has to say:
Tell us about yourself
My name is Vivian Nnnenna Ogbuagu. I am from Imo state, Nigeria. I am a graduate of Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. I’m basically a creative person that likes to do things with my hands and proffer solutions where necessary. When I’m not working, I love to relax with music and Karaoke.
Tell us about your brand
Handsmithen is an ethical brand focused on the achievement of a circular economy in fashion. We make clothing, appliques and accessories from fabric off-cuts, sourced from tailors as well as garment factories.
What is your background in fashion?
I had always loved using my hands so while I was job hunting shortly after NYSC, I got trained in fashion drafting informally with a family friend for a short while. I graduated after working for about 4 years. Later, I was awarded a scholarship to study fashion at a program sponsored by Betty O school of fashion in Lagos state. At that time, I already had a workstation where I met with clients so it was not an easy transition to continue what I loved doing when the program ended.
Shortly afterwards I moved to Abuja, applied for the British Council CESP and was selected. I was fortunate enough to be one of the finalists. However, this program and all the others before it impacted my life so much so that, there was never a doubt in my mind that quitting my job at the time, was the right thing to do. This journey led me to find my purpose as a circular economist in fashion.
Tell us your brand story (How you started and where you are so far)
Handsmithen initially started as a home business where I was making and selling handmade crotchet items. Later, I enrolled with a friend to learn pattern drafting. When I was properly equipped, I opened my first workshop in Lagos to clients for made-to-measure outfits. After intense training overtime, my business evolved. Hence Handsmithen Recycle was born – where I focus on making accessories from cut-offs that would otherwise lead to pollution. Our goal is to unite all creatives within the fashion industry to see how we can all contribute to reducing waste by recycling waste for a cleaner and healthier environment.
What are your goals and aspirations for the next 5 years?
We plan to establish a network of fashion creatives working together within diverse expertise for the common goal of achieving a circular economy in fashion.
What makes your brand different from the other fashion brands
I am not just a fashion brand. I am a brand with a purpose and that is what sets me apart from other brands. My purpose is to reduce waste for a cleaner and healthier earth. The fashion industry is one that produces a lot of waste from fabrics, plastics and sometimes other forms of waste like papers too. My Purpose is to take these wastes and turn them into useful fashionable items again.
Who is/are your role models in the business
I love Nkwo because she has a similar concept to mine. I look up to her too.
What is your highest achievement in this career so far?
I would say my highest achievement so far is being among the top finalists of the Creative Enterprise Support Program by the British Council. There were over 60 of us that started. We went through three stages and I was lucky to be among the top five. I don’t take it for granted. It is a hallmark for me for now.
What advice will you give someone who is just starting out in this line of business?
This industry has a lot of noise. If you want to succeed, you should learn to drown out all the noise and discover what you want to focus on. Experimenting is key.
Share your contacts and social media handles with us.
Phone number: +2348092008962
Here are pictures of Handsmithen’s products. Please reach out to her and support her.
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