Talking with Yemi Osunkoya aka Kosibah was a breath of fresh air. It wasn’t a long conversation. I called at 1pm then there was an interruption after which I called back. A reminder went off in his studio at 2pm by which time I had already covered all the questions. I learnt so much. I learnt a lot about Yemi Osunkoya but even more about the success behind Kosibah.
Why interview Yemi Kosibah? Well, he’s iconic in the wedding couture industry and a Nigerian. I met him on Twitter and asked if he’d be happy to feature on the blog. He was gracious enough to grant my request. Luckily, it’s Kosibah’s 20th anniversary on September 1, 2011 so I knew it wasn’t going to be a boring interview. I asked him pretty standard questions in relation to the event but fortunately he had such presence of mind and purpose that the answers were far from ordinary.
Born to a medical doctor as father and a nurse as mother, his artistic genius was discovered when he was about 6 through drawings. Fortunately his parents were not myopic and encouraged his creativity. He later on studied Fine Art at the then University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) graduating in 1987.
Yemi took me on a short course in the art of old school couture which by the way is hard work in that you make the same outfit twice. First, with standard fabric like calico which is where you make adjustments then the final piece. Realising bridal wear lends itself to ‘old school’ couture methods which was the way he was trained, Yemi has found his sweet spot. Each of his designs is a dramatic statement piece.
Secret of Success
Kosibah has survived 2 recessions. Yemi believes the secret is his ability to manage Kosibah as a business. If you run a creative business you face 2 temptations every day:
1) To do what you like not what your customers like = loss
2) To do what your customers like and lose your passion = burn out
With Yemi I believe he has done what business experts always advise – he has found a niche where his passion lies (check creativity) who can afford his services (check profitability).
Model His Success
Kosibah’s Facebook page has over 2500 likes. I asked him what his advice to upcoming designers was. “Get some training. Don’t rely on being self-taught.” he said.
Recently, Yemi featured at a charity fashion show to raise awareness of Alzheimer‘s disease. Since a question I’ve been asked recently has been about the Gele and what its significance is I decided to ask him. He mentioned a few things but one thing he said about the Gele which impressed me was that the Gele is versatile. No two designs are the same which is characteristic of Yemi’s designs. Check out the stunning dresses at http://www.kosibah.co.uk/flare2011bridal.html As it’s already too late in the day for me I’m already thinking of saving for my daughter’s gown.