From Saturday 27th May to 3rd June, we will be hosting the Pop-up of Nigerian designer Fatima Kamselem’s accessories brand PhatKam. Fatima’s range of accessories is infused with vibrant wax prints that are sourced locally and handmade by her team of skilled craftspeople. Sapelle worked with Fatima to co-design the range that we will be showcasing in the shop. The range includes bags for the stylish woman with a busy lifestyle and a love for unique design.
Sapelle is excited to work with Fatima because of our commitment to not only showcase African-inspired products, but more importatnly, to source from Africa and work with people who share this commitment. Because of the challenges faced by producers in many African locations, the temptation to outsource production to the Far East or Europe where the road to production is smoother, is often strong. We were drawn to Fatima’s ‘made in Africa’ ethos and were happy to co-design on certain features like the choice of fabrics and functional features.
Linda from our team caught up with Fatima this week to ask her a few questions about her experiences of doing business in Nigeria.
Q: African Fashion is usually associated with low-quality products. What’s it like to produce in Nigeria and manage to maintain high-quality standards?
Maintaining high standards for me stems from the passion I have for what I do. When you commit wholeheartedly to something, you don’t allow yourself to cut corners and that is where the quality begins to slip; when people want to cut corners. I think being true to what I do has allowed me to maintain a high standard
Q: Our customers hear about “Made in Africa” but what is your experience of this practice on the ground? Why is it important for you to produce in Nigeria? What positive and negative experiences have you had when producing in Nigeria?
The made in Africa movement is one lot of young Africans are hopping on everyday. As someone who is proud of her heritage, I always wanted to showcase that to the world and my products became a perfect avenue to channel all that energy. Producing locally and knowing that I’m directly impacting the lives of locals is one of my main motivations for doing what I do. Like every other entrepreneur, there’s always challenges and my journey hasn’t been any different but those are the moments that make the journey all that more interesting.
Q: How does your production activity impact lives of Nigerians you employ?
My employees are people like me who have an affinity for fashion; and are as passionate about Africa as I am. They have the same vision I have for the brand and it gives them the opportunity to hone their own skills and someday have a brand of their own. They would, in turn, hire other people and give as many people as possible a chance to better their lives
Q: Is it challenging to find quality raw materials for your brand? How do you overcome the challenges?
Given how famous the traditional African attire is in Nigeria, sourcing raw materials has not been too difficult.
Q: Few women start their own business. As a woman, how would you describe your journey of entrepreneurship, furthermore in Nigeria?
Entrepreneurship is challenging anywhere in the world, but even more so here in Nigeria. The business climate is just starting to improve, as the government is realizing the importance of entrepreneurs to the economy. Being a woman, the biggest challenge is the lack of representation but I’ve had a few personal women in my life that have laid the foundation for my journey; and in them, I have always found a helping hand
Q: When did you realise that you wanted to start your own company?
I have started several ventures in the past and when I got this idea, it was a natural progression that made sense. I have the opportunity to fuse two things I am very passionate about namely, my African roots and fashion.
Q: How do you mix African inspirations with the modern’s expectations of your customers?
People’s tastes change all the time in fashion. Recently, we have been noticing a trend shift all around the world where people are being more and more receptive to African fashion.