…SAYS ENTERPRENUERS ARE THE REAL DRIVERS OF ANY NATION’S ECONOMY
Trying to catch Agoha Ikechukwu Williams for an interview isn’t easy. Ikechukwu is a modern nomad. Married to Amarachi, General Manager of Dee-Iyke Group in Accra, he shuttles between his home and studio, located off Spintex road Accra, and his other outlets across Africa.
When I finally track him down — on the phone — he’s in Abuja, preparing to leave for Johannesburg the following morning.
Ikechukwu talks calmly. His delivery is precise and confident, and he hops elegantly from one idea to another. He threads his words like colourful beads on a string and he laughs often. What was supposed to be a 15-minute interview turns into an almost hour-long chat.
The Nigerian designer, who is one of the leading young African entrepreneurs’ and award winning fashion designer, is impossible to box in.
His thinking, as with his designs, is a patchwork of influences brought together in powerful combinations of fabrics and bright hues.
“Growing up wasn’t quite easy for me. Like every other average African child, I started off in a hard way. It was even more challenging that I chose fashion as my interest, and most of all, starting in Ghana. I was mocked by almost everybody, especially in the social media.’
This young Nigerian born Ghana-based fashion entrepreneur bore his mind without mincing words about his passion for the fashion industry. He says he goes into fashion so that he can promote African fashion and fabrics, and hence, promote African culture. Ikechuckwu lament’s Africans’ unnecessary love for western fashion and disinterest in their own. He posits that until Africans begin to appreciate their own and patronize made in Africa goods, especially fashion, Africans will not be able to compete favourably in the world frontline of fashion.
I’m happy and proud, however, to say that we at Dee-Iyke Fashion, my fashion company, are beginning to change the mindset of Africans because we have created so many wonderful Afro fashion designs for people of all ages, sex and class that not only Africans from all over the continent have come to appreciate and patronize us but even the western people now appreciate African fashion too. Dee-Iyke Fashion’s designed products such as MP Suits, Senator wears, Chieftaincy robes, Kristel-Kaftan and other African wears are now in many African countries and beyond, and we hope that in the next five years, Dee-Iyke Fashion products will be in every home in Africa. Dee-Iyke Fashion will rule not only Africa but the world over with African fashions. On this note, Ikechuckwu urges Africans to celebrate themselves and patronize made in Africa goods to promote African culture and tenets.
Talking about the ease of doing business in Ghana compared to Nigeria, this fast-rising entrepreneur says it’s far costlier to establish business in Ghana than it’s in Nigeria. However, the cost of running business in Nigeria is far cheaper than it is in Ghana. Ikechuckwu stresses that irregular power supply is the greatest bane of doing business in Nigeria. He therefore urges the Nigerian Authorities to seriously look into the power sector with a view of resolving the problem of epileptic power supply in the country so that industrialists and entrepreneurs can be attracted to establish in the country and create jobs for the teeming population of the country’s youth.
Evoking the truth in popular saying that ‘behind every successful man, there is a woman’, the fast-pace industrious Ikechuckwu applauds his amiable, down-to-earth and dedicated wife, Amarachi, with encomiums, says she is the brain behind the speedy growth and explosion of Dee-Iyke Fashion.
“My wife is the brain behind the success of Dee-Iyke Fashion. I’m the CEO, but she is the manager. She does not only manage the business, she manages me too: And she does it perfectly, which is why we are growing and spreading so rapidly. Most of the times when I come up with new designs, she actualizes them. She is the pillar of Dee-Iyke Fashion,” he said.
When asked what else would he had vied into if he wasn’t doing fashion, Ikechuckwu replied that he was not sure of anything else that could have caught his interest as much as fashion does. “Although, I am a graduate of Information Technology, I am not attracted to it as much as I’m to the fashion industry. I am achieving great success in my fashion design business because I have passion for it.
And, speaking of success, the young Nigerian industrialist says that success, to him, is a combination of the grace of God with hard work. “One must work hard in whatever one chooses to do and also pray that the favour (grace) of God be upon the work of his hands. That is the only way one can be sure of making good success in one’s endeavor”.
Advice to youths: The ever-cheerful looking entrepreneur admonishes the youths of Africa, especially Nigeria, to stand up for themselves and develop their God-given talents. He urges the youths to be enterprising and independent in whatsoever they choose to do provided it is a legitimate venture. African youths, and indeed, Nigerian youths, must discard the illusion that government is to give them jobs and stand up to create jobs for themselves and others by developing their talents and working hard to establish themselves in their chosen enterprises.
Today Ikechuckwu dresses a cosmopolitan list of celebrities that includes former President of Ghana John Mahama. He uses multicoloured textiles, crafts cut-outs in the shape of feathers and flowers, and dresses women in a sophisticated plumage.
Ikechuckwu’s collections reflect the man he is, a funambulist walking gracefully between several worlds without bearing the flag of any race or country.
“A lot of young African designers are not making things that come from the heart. [Designers] need first to look and learn, get out there. [They need] to pay attention to the quality, the precision, and to have a certain fashion confidence, not arrogance.”
Ikechuckwu’s lack of arrogance is one of the qualities that make him such an exciting designer. There is no pushing hard at being the harbinger of one kind of style. To him, success is about creating.
Dee-Iyke Fashion is located at Trinity House Complex, 18 Junction off KFC, Spintex road Accra Ghana.
Tel: +233 (0) 246 10 3034