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Nigerian Fashion Designer Deola Sagoe is Featured on Al Jazeera’s ‘My Nigeria’ Series | Watch

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My Nigeria is filled with beautiful things as well as things that may be perceived as ugly. It is a land with potential. – Deola Sagoe

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Deola Sagoe is one of the designers who led to the global expansion of Nigerian fashion even though Deola’s father, prominent Nigerian businessman Chief Ade Ojo, never wanted his daughter to go into fashion.

As part of the My Nigeria series on Al Jazeera, Deola Sagoe takes us into her fashion world and how she sees Nigeria.

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The Deola brand is cast in the role of an effective and impactful organisation, particularly with regards to Nigeria’s image.

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Deola explains that ‘Being a Nigerian was no limitation for me because I just thought, well you haven’t seen me and there’s loads more like me.’Deola Sagoe My Nigeria 0022 Deola Sagoe My Nigeria 0032 Deola Sagoe My Nigeria 0040 Deola Sagoe My Nigeria0046

Watch her feature below.

26 Comments

  1. Tife

    September 15, 2015 at 9:50 am

    I didn’t watch the video, but from the pictures i did not see one single black woman sewing for her. Nawa for u madam

    • Dee

      September 15, 2015 at 11:29 am

      Some people will probably crucify us but I want to re-echo your sentiments- unacceptable! I thought this was maybe from a factory outside Nigeria, but it looks like that was in Nigeria and all “foreigners”

      We can come up with excuses about “oh work ethics, what she is comfortable with, etc”, but like the Yorubas say “oun ti o da, o da”, you can invest in people and build a good culture, no matter what the surrounding is like- so she can def employ Nigerians.

      For example her daughter is probably not the best creative director she has met, but she is investing in her by giving her a chance to work with her, etc

      Anyhoo, Ms Sagoe (my namesake), you are soooo gorgeous! Those shoulders!!!!! Love love

    • Damilola

      September 15, 2015 at 12:44 pm

      Well, china, Asia is the next big economy. You go with what you is more convenient. They will probably get the work done for you in a way that naijas won’t. Nigerians are lazy, do shakara and unreliable when working for ourselves. When working for oyibo, we kiss a*s.

    • Mz Titilitious

      September 15, 2015 at 2:19 pm

      very sad 🙁

    • Just Sayin'

      September 15, 2015 at 7:04 pm

      Hmmmh! I thought my eyes were deceiving me.
      Deola Sagoe is definitely NOT a Nigerian story if all her employees are Asian.

    • iCrossMyHeart

      September 16, 2015 at 5:57 am

      You are so right. I was studying the economy of Cote D’ivoire and guess who runs the country? LEBANESE AND FRENCH people. Why? Because when Cote D’ivoire gained independence, the political and economic African elites wanted to maintain power and so instead of investing in their populace, they rather dealt with foreigners. What is the end result? Ivoirians are not as economically empowered even in their OWN country. Hell, many of them get treated like shit compared to their French and Lebanese colleagues.

      I appreciate Deola Sagoe, but it is very important to TRANSFER KNOWLEDGE or EXCHANGE KNOWLEDGE. Yes, SOME Nigerians are difficult to work with. Work ethic, and co. But not ALL. International does not connote ASIAN. It is INTERNATIONAL for a reason.

      This is how before we open our eyes, CHINA will OCCUPY Nigeria and Nigeria in the next 50 to 100 years will cease to exist.

      In China, do Chinese designers employ Nigerian tailors? We have some crafts unique to Nigeria, but do they employ us? NO. Why, BECAUSE THEY SEND THEIR PEOPLE TO LEARN THE CRAFT AND THEN COME BACK AND MAKE SUBPAR, MEDIOCRE (very generous with this word) products.

      Hell, see how European brands are GOING TO, not IMPORTING them to do their products. But Europeans can afford to BECAUSE THEY ARE ALREADY INDUSTRIALIZED. Nigeria is STILL in the process of industrialization.

      While I applaud her business acumen and her designs, this direction of only employing ASIANS to do this particular skill work is not encouraging for the future of Nigeria.

    • Damilola

      September 16, 2015 at 11:34 am

      @icrossmyheart

      I understand, where you are coming from about building your people and country. It’s easier said than done. It’s unfortunate, nigerian and many African countries who allow foreigners to take over.

      But in this case, cheap labor and convenience also matters. And, Nigerians are difficult people to work with especially in this area of work. If it’s banking or where big money is, they will try to corporate. But, when you are starting your clothing line, a private owned business, save yourself some severe headaches by mixing it up .

  2. Prince

    September 15, 2015 at 10:07 am

    amazing woman. well done.

  3. Nabila

    September 15, 2015 at 10:14 am

    She is an icon for sure.

  4. presh

    September 15, 2015 at 10:36 am

    wow, i am very impressed. i hope to build this kind of empire for my self soon. well done Maam

  5. bruno

    September 15, 2015 at 11:08 am

    ” My Nigeria is filled with beautiful things as
    well as things that may be perceived as ugly.
    It is a land with potential . – Deola Sagoe”

    I just hate it when rich,over privileged people open their mouth and say sh!t about nigeria.
    stop trying to sugar coat the horrors of this useless country called nigeria.

    nigeria is a nightmare.

    many of u rich people are not in touch with reality thats why u can open ur mouth and talk sh!t.
    many of u rich people dont know what is happening in nigeria at all. u drive air conditioned car, u live in air conditioned houses and u work in air conditioned offices.

    pls CNN can u stop this series. stop lying to the world about what nigeria is. u are sugar coating nigeria.

    go to the streets and meet real nigerians who live in the real nigeria not this over privileged people.

  6. ka

    September 15, 2015 at 11:27 am

    There is nothing wrong in bringing foreigners to sew. If you have professionals who understand their jobs, it doesn’t matter which country they are from. I am sure she will only employ the best that will maintain the international standard the brand portrays. From other fashion designers luring your tailors, to tailors that only come to serve personal interest and leave, to tailors who are very unreliable with no work ethic, to tailors who are not professionally trained, to tailors who have no excellence to what they do, the list goes on. If I were in her shoes, I will spend the money and get the work done. I heard Mo Abudu say that there is only one standard, that’s the international standard. Thank you madam for maintaining that standard and I like it when you said that that there are others like you. I am one of them and we will make this country proud.

  7. lovin moi

    September 15, 2015 at 11:41 am

    @ first I read it without checking d avatar/ I’D of the poster,but when d message reeked of negativity/bile,i guessed it was Bruno and alas my guess was so right! Bruno why are u so bitter?,I really pity ur family and d people u spend a huge chunk of your time with cos this meanness of yours will eventually rub off on them,cheer up pls cos the whole world sees us as a lost cause and a positive message of a focused designer who stays true to herself and craft is enough to project us in a positive light! On a side note I admire her looks and she sticks to what’s comfortable and nice on her as against what’s in vogue…toodles!

  8. Tife

    September 15, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    @Ka……so u mean to tell me that not even one single Nigerian can sew professionally??

  9. flip23

    September 15, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    the fact that not one Nigerian can be seen in her atelier is a little bit off putting for me. not even one apprentice….NOT ONE…. so what happens when she wants to expand and hire more people, she’ll “import” more people.
    I have no problem with bringing in people that are more experienced in doing a craft, but it is extremely important that there is a transfer of knowledge. very important. Invest in Nigerians, there are so many people in this f- Lagos who will die to learn a skill and lift their family from extreme poverty.
    This her “my nigeria” leaves a very bitter after taste in my mouth.

    • Iris

      September 15, 2015 at 2:30 pm

      You hit it right on the head. I get that she’s looking for the best (I noticed she mentioned how her tailors can almost predict what she wants) but if people think big they will realise transfer of knowledge to local talent is essential. That’s how other countries think. It isn’t as if it is the case of western countries hiring foreigners instead of locals so they can pay them less. That’s how her tailors will go to Chocalat Royale during their break and treat some Nigerian nanny like shit because they feel like they’re better.
      I’m not saying that’s what they actually did O, to those commenters who can read but not understand English. I’m saying it is things like this that continue to perpetuate an imperialist mentality and air of superiority on the part of foreigners who live in Nigeria.

  10. Iris

    September 15, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    I actually watched half of this yesterday and I saw only Asian women in the store. If there are black ones, they didn’t show them in the first fifteen minutes but I will finish it today and see. And if anyone is going to crucify me and say it doesn’t matter, I disagree. It does matter, because in Nigeria many people are talented and unemployed, and coming from such a country it is your duty (for now) if you find yourself in a state of privilege to train your country people where you can. In the long run, what works out for the country works out for you.

    • Natu

      September 15, 2015 at 2:32 pm

      I understand your disappointment but we have to be honest with ourselves. Some West Africans are very lazy and unprofessional when it comes to work. I am in the process of launching my hair care line and I am already tired of my people. I want to create employment but our people have no work ethics. The Chinese are efficient and effective. From a business perspective, I respect her decision.

    • Iris

      September 15, 2015 at 3:17 pm

      That’s fair, but later down the line I think if the foreigners supervised and trained them for a while and created a positive work environment, they’d leave a legacy behind that Nigerians would adopt. I complain about terrible service in Nigeria all the time so I can appreciate your frustration. I have a friend who is also a business owner and her people drive her nuts. The thing is Nigerians today are a product of the history and attitude we’ve grown up in. It isnt like we woke up and became exceptionally stupid or wicked or dishonest. It sucks but there’s a need for reorientation of mindsets and it will benefit all of us in the long run. Now I know it is easy for me to talk since it is you not me who is the business owner 🙂 but perhaps after you’ve hired your foreign workers (or maybe one or two supervisors) you can maybe get them to train Nigerians and have the Nigerians work their way up? It sounds like looking after someone else’s wahala, but otherwise this bitter cycle of incompetence will continue and we as a nation will continue to have inferior skills which still limits the potential of growth for businesses in the country.

    • iCrossMyHeart

      September 16, 2015 at 6:04 am

      I have been reading your comments on BN and you make GROSS generalizations and it is very SAD. Your hair care line, I pray it is not for African women with no ambitions, for Africans with no work ethic, who are lazy, chauvinisitic etc.

      You seem to worship whiteness so much that your comments are reeked with self-hatred. How about make a comment that does not lump a group of people together. It is very disconcerting, discouraging, and borderline negative to have to read your comment each time on BN.

      Some West Africans, Some Europeans. SOME in the English language exists for a particular reason. It is not formulated in the abstract for decorative purposes. TRY it sometime.

      I have lived outside of Nigeria for most of my life and the types you see in Nigeria exists in every country, every culture, every ethnic group. There are lazy people everywhere even in the great China.

      Taking that into consideration, then contextualize it in a particular milieu. How do Nigerian employers treat their employees. There is a reason why companies in Europe or in North America CREATE incentives to encourage people to work LONGER HOURS and MORE EFFICIENTLY. It is called conditioning people to work, to be active labour force participants. Nigeria does not have that. Rather you have employers that rather than lead, ABUSE their employees in ways that will be considered inhuman in other countries.

      So as you launch this your so called line, I pray it is only for Europeans….the ones you seem to regard so highly at your detriment. Because lets face it, you look more African than the African itself.

  11. somebody

    September 15, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    The only thing i want to talk about is the Police man driving her in the first scene, Dear God please help Nigeria. I would talk about the Asian workers later.

  12. missappleberry

    September 15, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    Just took 24+mins of my life watching the video. Very inspiring! On a second thought, all these high class Nigerian designers should also make an affordable line for regular Nigerians. At least a little bit expensive but affordable. 36oo dollars dress is not beans o!

  13. Koffie

    September 15, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    I was actually very excited to watch this but I noticed even from pictures that there were only Asian women working for her. You may argue she doesn’t owe the country but it’s just a normal CSR requirement and her brand owes the country that much. I get that she’d only want the best tailors working for her but surely, there are very good ones in Nigeria. She doesn’t have to turn her business into a charity but she can still employ some Nigerians and base her selection solely on merit rather than sympathy. Our labour law is too favourable for businesses in Nigeria. It’s why some organisations get away with ridiculous recruitment requirements (aka 2m naira Access bank et al) but I digress.
    She seems passionate about her work no doubt but this is sadly just another creme Nigerian with a fairytale-view of the reality of her country.

  14. missappleberry

    September 15, 2015 at 3:27 pm

    Everyone complaining about her tailors being foreign forget that the people who do the tie and dye work for her are Nigerians. I guess she applied good sense of division of labour. Foreigners to sew, cos maybe she (can’t shout lol) for Nigerians handling that part. The tie and dye part is the side she feels Nigerians can handle. Shikena!
    Meanwhile her shop looks like a somewhere a workshop can be organised for upcoming designers to pay a visit, learn one or two things and be inspired. Would love to learn from her if only i had the time. Sigh.

  15. missappleberry

    September 15, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    somewhere*

  16. laila

    September 15, 2015 at 11:52 pm

    Why so mad y’all? This thing is not hard now. When you start your own clothing line, hire only Nigerians biko and let’s see how far you’ll go

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