In this riveting interview, one of the most influential African fashion designers, Mai Atafo, sits with Blanck Magazine’s Editor in Chief Franka Chiedu as she sought to unravel the man behind the eponymous fashion brand. They delve deep into conversations surrounding dealing with loss and infertility, surviving a house fire and much more as he features in not one but two covers for the magazine’s 12th issue.
This feature is not about fashion but about Ohimai –An exceptional man, husband, father and originator as he shares his core truths in a bare-it-all interview that reveals the joys of family, the rewards of teamwork and the extraordinary lessons that come with attaining success. When the issue of infertility is discussed, a lot of the attention is on the woman- the blame, the struggle, the sympathy and all. In this conversation, we explore the psychological effects of this insufferable issue from a man’s perspective.
It will be great to take some credits, but no! My wife deserves all the credits and much more. In our culture, no one sees infertility as a man and a woman’s problem. It’s always the woman’s problem when there are no kids in the house because to them, birthing a child is the woman’s responsibility. Nobody ever spoke with me about our situation, although I could be a bit of a bully in my family, so, people knew to stay away.
Mai is undoubtedly one of the famed African fashion moguls with an industry cult-like following, they talk about how he has remained relevant for nearly a decade and he spares some words of wisdom:
Staying relevant is beyond making clothes – you must also be consistent and not sit on your laurels. In fashion, it is one thing for you to create amazing work but it’s another for people to applaud the work that you have done. It is not about you but always about them; the customers -the people that you need to satisfy as you’re only as good as the people that buy into you.
Ohimai is the very epitome of doggedness and perseverance. His challenging journey and uncanny ability to soldier on in the face of incredible odds makes him the perfect muse in this season of reflection, hope and gratitude.
Also, in this issue they interview other fashion pundits Arieta Mujay and Joan Reidy as they dish powerful insights about their experience working in the Nigerian fashion industry, brilliant fashion editorials and season top trends that inspire you to do and be more and of course an ultimate Christmas shopping guide with ideas for gifting you and your loved ones.
Interview & Story by Franka Chiedu
Photography by Kola Oshalusi
Styled by Franka Chiedu