By Vivian Onyebukwa
With an engineering background in the Department of Electrical/Electronic Engineering at Auchi Polytechnic, Chukwumah Emmanuel went further to study Mass Communication at the University of Lagos. This is due to his interest in creativity, which led him into the fashion and beauty industry. He is known for his annual beauty show known as “Nigeria Hair Show” where he promotes the hair and beauty industry. Now he has gone further by hosting a fashion show called “Runway Nigeria”, where he will showcase local and international fashion designers.
Chukwumah Emmanuel is the Managing Director of Multi Devices Communications Ltd, an event management, content development and publishing company.
In this interview, he talked about his interest in the world of fashion and beauty, which he says made him give up a career in engineering.
How did you get into the world of fashion and beauty?
My interest in fashion and beauty grew due to my interest in colors and creativity as I practiced print production after my studies at the University of Lagos (UNILAG). In 1997, when the awareness of wearing Ankara fashion in Nigeria started, I was one of the people working for it. Then it was strange to wear Ankara in the office. Also, with my experience and my passion for the art of hairdressing, I launched the “Nigeria Hair Show” in 2005 organized by my company, Multi Devices Communication.
When was the last time you hosted the event?
I tried so hard to stay afloat in the competition, but I quit after the 12th edition.
As we know, for every business, finance is always a major issue.
How did you meet the challenge?
Ability to change strategy throughout the day and the event. Every day you decide what comes next and be very creative. It was my saving grace. No one knows your actual content, so however it turns out, it’s fine.
How long have you been doing this?
I have worked in the fashion and beauty industry for over two decades.
Tell us about your new baby, the show “Runway Nigeria”
“Runway Nigeria”, is a franchise of an American company, JMKPublicist. Multi Devices Communications Ltd, our company, got this franchise and we want to prove Nigerian hospitality and tourism through our collaboration. Runway International Showcase has different editions throughout West Africa, with the latest event being held in Maryland, USA. The concept is great because it aims to bring in other designers from all over the world.
What kind of clothes do we expect from designers?
Models to be featured include easy-to-wear clothing, corporate clothing and accessories.
Why bring in foreign designers?
A lot of designers want to come to Nigeria because we already have the market, so they want to come to develop their business. Again, greater brand awareness and sales will be assured through good networking with some of our best hands. At present we have three overseas designers ready to showcase and they will be networking with our designers here in Nigeria.
Is the fashion show worth the cost?
It is worth it because it is a way to promote our dear country. With this, we will market some tourist sites in our country.
Fashion shows are out of fashion due to economic crises. How do you plan to earn your money?
I’ve taken note of fashion trends and found a way to make it work and easily, and that’s by developing personal brands that can help you.
How often do you plan to do this show?
It will be an annual event, which will help most of them grow.
How are you going to sustain this new idea?
After taking a break from the “Nigeria Hair Show”, I gained more certificates to help position me for the future. I acquired an Executive Master Certificate in Project Management as a skill that positions my thinking process. I also pursued my education in Spa and Medical Aesthetics at the Federal College of Education, Akoka, Lagos. Then I also went further to Harvard Medical School in America where I got a Certificate of Achievement in Health Improvement with a focus on Quality and Safety and got very high marks. It gave me the opportunity to start a professional association of spas and cosmetologists in Nigeria to focus on keeping our skin safe with the advent of organic products everywhere. So with all this, my plan is to gradually revolutionize the sector.
Tell us about the models that will highlight the clothes
We did the model casting for the event in April this year and the turnout was massive. As this is an international event, the designers need their time stats to work with. So we had to do the casting to get the details quickly.
On what criteria did you select them?
The models were selected based on their size and experience.
What do you think the government can do to promote the fashion and beauty industry?
The government has a lot to do to support the fashion and beauty industry. There are many trainings both domestic and overseas that we should take advantage of to empower our employees.
Another major problem to be solved is the inability to sustain our textile businesses. Currently, we cannot stimulate five textile companies in a country of over 200 million people. We still import from West Africa and other countries.
Additionally, when it comes to the beauty industry, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) find it difficult to work with government agencies that regulate products, making it difficult for them. We have to change the system.
Again, when it comes to importing, it’s another issue with freight charges being over 100% after purchase.
Describe the Nigerian fashion industry
Fashion designers in Nigeria are truly creative and ready for the best, but need exposure. Again, there is no money to push. The fashion industry needs to improve and be stable because most of the old designers are still going bankrupt due to non-promotion.