Zori Makama is a fashion consultant, stylist, and entrepreneur who has had successes in fashion, modelling, wardrobe management, and fashion design with top brands like Steve Madden and EGO UK to mention a few. Her design was recently worn and displayed on the runway by top models during the 2019 Arab Fashion Week in Dubai.
She granted this Interview with Punch ahead of the official launch of her clothing line and style consultancy brand and she really is a girl and a half! Meet Zori Makama, the founder of Zori Makama Inc.”
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where you’re from, your educational background and more.
I am Zori Promise Yankat Makama; a fashion consultant, stylist and entrepreneur with a love for modelling. I was born in Nasarawa State, Nigeria. I am the second of three children. I attended Saint Kizito Girls Secondary School and then the University of Houdegbe North American University (HNAUB) where I studied law.
You studied law?! How did you move from law to fashion?
ZORI: (laughs) I always get that question. Yes, I studied law and graduated with a second class upper but even before I got into the university, I had always been interested in fashion. In fact, I started out as a model by playfully modelling and styling myself in outfits by the brands I love and taking pictures in them as a hobby.
So tell us, how did you start out in the fashion industry? How long have you been in this space?
I can say formally, I’ve been here for 8 years.
Interviewer: We’d like to hear more about how you started and how the journey has been.
I started out with family and friends who saw my dress sense and wanted me to change their look or give an opinion as to what they should wear to certain occasions in order to achieve an edge according to their taste.
It was good you know, I mean even while at the university, I’d get calls from Abuja (where my family is) and people who knew me would consult or just ask my opinion as regards styling for a particular look. Sometimes it all happened via FaceTime. I didn’t take it seriously until one day, a friend of mine said: “you know you can be making money out of this right?”. I felt a bit encouraged and then started to charge little money from strangers just so I could get comfortable earning from doing what I already loved.
I was modelling way before I got into the university and also making some money from that. In 2016, I decided to start my first blog, Glam n’ Glimmer. It was a blog about fashion and lifestyle.
At the end of 2016, I did a couple of modelling gigs for restaurants such as Blu cabana in Abuja and Nordic Suite which is one of the most respected hotels in Abuja. These two were my first real modelling gigs and they were pretty big at that time.
I did a gig for Thought Art Gallery, an art gallery in Abuja and also for some other local brands. After a year, Glam n’ Glimmer (the fashion blog I used to also stack my portfolio), crashed and I had to start all over again.
I had no results to show for all my previous work, so, I put all the energy into fashion consultancy and wardrobe organisation to build things up again. I started afresh with my friends cause you know, that’s always the best place to start if you must build from the ground up. I organised and styled them and charged them “family price” per transaction.
I honestly expected more growth on the modelling side of things but you know, in Nigeria, models are not appreciated so they get paid next to nothing which is pretty sad. I kept going, however. I handled my own shoots as well as organised professional shoots to sell myself and this got me a deal with a UK brand, EGO UK-majorly because I love their products and tagged them in most of my posts. I also got another brand called Simmi and these brands wanted me to model their shoes in a bid to create awareness and sales from the Nigerian audience.
The campaigns went quite well and although the client paid me in shoes, it was an amazing thing to see how much success came from that international affiliation. I eventually moved over to Dubai in 2015 and started my fashion schooling at the FAD Institute of Luxury & Style, Dubai.
What a ride it must have been for you! So tell me, as an individual, what is Zori Makama really about? What would it be like if a reader were to meet you in person?
(Laughs) First off, I don’t have a strand of arrogance about me. I’m not difficult to approach and the first thing you’ll be able to tell within the first few minutes of talking to me is how blunt I can be. Sometimes, this isn’t very good and other times, it’s refreshing for those who fancy honesty and openness. I’m generally trying to curb that a bit. It’s a work in progress. (Laughs). I think that pretty much says enough about what to expect if anyone were to meet me in person.
Tell us about Zori Makama, the brand. What should we expect from the brand?
Thank you for that question. First, Zori Makama is a feminine brand. I strongly believe all women should be confident about themselves and not second-guess their self expression. Especially in what they wear. We should not be afraid to wear what we truly want to wear because of what “people will say”.
In Africa in general, women cower and fear being shamed and criticized for wearing what they would love to wear because it might be daring and maybe shows some skin. The Zori Makama brand is about being yourself – being edgy – and not being bothered about what anyone thinks but you.
I embody what a Zori Makama woman should look like. I wear what I love and I don’t feel sorry about that for anything. It’s not about social pressure or the need to keep up with the Joneses, it’s about you and your personal self expression. I don’t want women to feel guilty or sorry about their style, what they choose to wear or even any decisions at all they have to make in their lives.
I hope this communicates the character of the Zori Makama brand? It is an edgy, diverse brand. It’s all about diversity and inclusion in fashion for women. We are all for you wearing what you feel comfortable and confident in, to look different and happy walking into any room in the world like a whole Queen because that is what you are.. a Queen!
I love the opportunity to help a woman communicate herself with power, originality and freedom. This is what Zori Makama is about and if that’s what you’re about, then we’re your people.