La Mode: Can we meet you
My name is Toyin Lawani fondly called ATMfashionista or Tiannah, I am a celebrity stylist, designer, choreographer, photographer, skincare specialist, humanitarian and more, simply you can just call me a business mogul the Chief Executive and Creative Director for Tiannah’s Place Empire having almost 30 business entities operating under one roof [TIANNAHSPLACEMPIRE) the businesses namely Tiannahstyling fashion academy, Elegante by Tiannah, Elegante Kids,Tiannah’s Beauty Parlor, Tiannah’s wellness, Tiannah’s Recording studio, Tiannah’s homes & Furnishing Ltd, Tiannah’s dance studio, Tiannah’s Photo studio, Tiannah’s Travels & tour, Tiannah’s glow products, Amala Dot Com1 to mention a few. I am a serial entrepreneur with vast interest in fashion and lifestyle along with other unfettered business terrain.
La Mode: Tell us about your background
Toyin Lawani holds a Bachelor of Science degree in English Language from the prestigious University of Lagos(in my second year in school i enrolled at Opral Benson Beauty School in Lagos i was running the two programs at the same time it wasn’t easy but my passion and drive for fashion kept me going) . In my quest for unrivaled knowledge in the lifestyle industry, i obtained further certification from Carlton Beauty Institute in the UK, John Yin Cosmetology Institute in South Korea to mention a few. Los Angeles school of fashion…A mother of two beautiful kids, I was greatly influenced by my mother who performed excellently well as a serial entrepreneur managing various businesses handed over by my grandmother, hence; creating a generational trend in business management.
La Mode: Tell us about your brand and how it all started
Started out in school when I was 16years old, I opened up a boutique/supermarket/phone /braid center at my hostel ,it got a lot of attention from students who woke me up at night to buy dresses for clubs or provisions or make a phone call or buy recharge cards, I joined Opal Benson instate for my love for making hair and taking care of the skin which my mum started ,she gives me her products to mix for her, I wanted to learn more so I took this step while I was in year 2 in unilag without letting my parents know…….when I graduated from there I opened up another shop at Akoka road besides underground, that was when I open up my Spa then few months later my business started catching the eyes of many as I began to have various customer coming in from the island to the mainland to get different service done for them. In all this I was still schooling in Unilag, while still in unilag I met my first Love I was quite young then but we got married and moved to the Uk which is where I further my Education in Beauty and Health care which I got transferred to some disability Home to work where I had to cook and care for them which is why in the process I found my passion for helping people with disability which is one the reason why I helped my Tailor Gladys who is hearing Impaired and Dumb. While in London catering, Hair and Beauty Skill I acquired was a great advantage as I started using it as a tool to make money while I was there. After few years I was able to save up enough money and I moved back to Nigeria to start my business at oyinjo olayemi besides TFC which has 8 businesses in one Building and it led to the birth of Tiannahs Place Empire which now consists of almost 30 businesses.
The Tiannah’s Place Empire Brand has an interesting twist during the evolvement stage. Tiannahstyling was birthed on the 26th of August, 1998 when I was in my teens, 19 years old to be precise. Having an uncanny knack for looking good in appearance with an “eagle” eyes for great dress sense, I started styling and selling dress accessories to friends and family members with accolades streaming in for job well done. I nurtured the Tiannahstyling brand for 12 years working with celebrities across industries within and outside the Nigeria which generated sufficient savings to invest in the setting up of a fashion house in 2011, a much needed back integration to help create special cloth designs for better market reach. Also complimentary business within the lifestyle industry were established to make the Tiannah’s Place Empire a one stop shop for modern customers with preference for convenience shopping experience. all other businesses was inspired by my Love for making people look good from my skincare department to my salon, Boutique,skin products ,directing music videos, because my love for building sets etc
Fashion and Beauty school business started due to the my love for creating master pieces and looking after my skin to glow, which got attention from a lot of clients,
all my businesses work hand to hand ,my customers shouldn’t be looking for other services outside when they can get everything at ease under one roof ,and while pampering yourself, doing a photoshoot at the studio or hair at the salon or discussing a land to buy and build from us, you will get hungry and need to eat.. Which is where amaladotcom1 comes in…. not putting my Eggs in one basket has always worked for me.
La Mode: What is the most challenging part about being a fashion designer?
Amongst the numerous challenges faced by fashion designers in this part of the world, the most prominent is the lack of adequate laws that protects the creative intellectualism of talented and hardworking designers in Nigeria like me “functional” trademark and copyright laws. Also the lack of information on agencies and procedures to report incidences of intellectual property theft is a huge discouraging factor to existing and aspiring fashion designers in the country.
La Mode: what inspired you to be a fashion designer?
Ability to create something out of nothing and Passion!Passion!Passion!.My quest to ensure that people have a good dress sense with stylish appearance in clothing that suits their respective personalities inspired my innate ability to showcase my talent through the profession
La Mode: Apart from being a fashion designer you are also into so many businesses. Do you get distracted?
Distraction, I would say is relative. If you carefully analyze my businesses within the empire, you will identify with the systematic creation of the various businesses as they are all complimentary and represents the modern lifestyle in totality. A careful analysis of customer behaviors presupposes that customers are geared towards convenience shopping experience and would be happy to pay for this along with an excellent and quality service provided. We have designed a workable business and work flow structure that enhances a seamless business operation and invested in staff to sustain the smooth running of the various business. Again, as business analyst, creating a stream of businesses that caters for this market need is a product of wealth creation worthy of emulation
La Mode:What do you understand by Fashion Entrepreneur?
Fashion entrepreneur, simply put, is the term “business of fashion”. Entrepreneur is a business owner in the real sense of the word with the aim of making adequate return on investment. A fashion entrepreneur is not necessarily a creative person but a business minded person that manages the assembling plant where garments are constructed to merchandizing for adequate return on cost element. He/she understands the business cycle of the fashion industry and applies business management to fully maximize the talent of the creative hands within the company. Manages the business of your talent” exhibited by creative persons. my brand is responsible for creating some fashion Trends in Nigeria for example; the Denim Collection, the detachable peplums and 8 in one dresses which a lot of Nigerians are imitating now, I call it the transformer, so a fashion entrepreneur must know the risk of the business and how to make major money by mass producing and distributing into major market .that is what a fashion entrepreneur is about.
La Mode: What type of Fashion designing are you specialized on?
We cater to kids, men, women and the Elderly. I don’t only design for a specific audience I design for all purposes around the world. We are also into various clothing Designs ranging from Ready-to-wear, Bridal wears, Vintage wears to corporate wears. We are also known on making masterpieces that cause Trends in Nigeria fashion Market and we also design costumes for Video Shoot and I also do styling together for the various videos I have directed.
La Mode: How do you stay up to date with Fashion?
I travel wide and far so it opens my eyes to a lot of futuristic concepts, and because I love standing out and been different I always go left when everybody goes right which my moves leads to fashion Trends.
La Mode: Which fashion blog or website are you favorite?
The truth is I barely have time to reading news or watching Tv am always Boxed up with my own creativity and everlasting love for my work and I also have costumers to attend to
La Mode: What is your view about fashion in Nigeria?
Fashion has evolved overtime in Nigeria. The era of high patronage and desire for foreign fashion wears and accessories has since given way for the fashion products of fashion designers within the country. This paradigm shift has enabled more talent youth to embrace the fashion industry as a profession operating in various segments on the value chain. The ingenuity of our fashion designer in the area using traditional material to produce comptemporary wears has created a high demand for our garment abroad which is an income earner for the country in the revenue generation not to talk of now when everybody is buying Nigeria the only Flaw that Nigeria Fashion industry has is Copyrights Law because as a designer that I am I barely post my works online due to people who are stealing your handworks and do not even care what you put in to get your work done, that is the problem we face here in almost every industry we have Copyright is still a major problem.
La Mode: What is your staff strength as an entrepreneur?
As a serial entrepreneur that I am in other to keep my company staff in other I have different skilled profession I hire to manage my staff strength in various sections of my businesses we try to teach and educate them on staff management and division of Labor so I tell you my staff strength is Excellent.
La Mode: What’s your opinion about humanitarian activities in Nigeria?
Humanitarian services, to our society are an inevitable task of every business owner/ entity. Your ability to be adjudge successful in life is a factor of how positively impactful you have been to others in your society. Successful business owner(s)/ entities are not doing enough to alleviate the suffering of the masses in a populated country like Nigeria, rather modern day exploitation for more gains dominates the space. Well-meaning individuals and successful organizations should evolve a wealth creation strategy infused in their yearly business strategy with the sole desire of empowering teeming populace, through their corporate social responsibility platform, to help start up their business in various areas of interest. If we are actively committed to this project, the living standard of the populace will improve and Government will be able to administer limited resources infrastructural development
La Mode: Tell us about your humanitarian work?
I just Love giving because I believe when you give you will receive. Everything in Life is a risk but when I help I feel fulfilled. For example one of the student I trained Her name Gladys she was deaf and dumb but she has a skill of sewing so I trained her till she became the best in what she does and also her sister Mercylyn she was deaf and dumb too so I trained her in the field she was good in which is Making of different type of wigs and braids all my colorful braids and wigs you see was done by her she was so good at it with the platform I helped them with and also don’t forget the boy I picked up from the street his name is Lekan who use to be a street boy doing minor works on the street of VI to carter for his grandma a lot of people were talking why I picked him up or try to help him and I don’t know I know what I see so I gave him a helping hand. I adopted him and took care of him trained him as a stylist so he would have a means of livelihood and am proud of him.
La Mode: What are your major achievements and awards received?
My Works is recognized home and abroad. Thanks to God and my ever stylish customers. I cannot count the number of awards on my shelve to mention a few; Best Designers Eloy Awards 2015, City people awards Stylist of the year 2013, Lagos fashion awards 2015 Designer of the year and stylist of the year, Eloy awards 2015 Entrepreneur of the year, Cynosuer Stylist of the year and designer of the year, Tush awards stylist of the year, NMVA Best costume (goodie’s video say my name) also NMVA 2016 Best Costume (Lamboginny x chidinma I am a winner) city people honorary award for the contribution to the entertainment industry, Nominee of WOW Businesswoman of the year
La Mode: any project you are working on?
I have lots of projects am working on you need to watch out for my Reality Show coming soon On Ebony Life Tv “Tiannahs Empire” it’s going to be intriguing and captivating it would blow your mind trust me watch out for this. Also am working on open my Shop in various business oriented country of the world
La Mode: What is your advice for people who want to start a career in fashion designing and those that want to be entrepreneurs in other businesses?
First of all you have to be able to work under pressure, you must be a good leader and be a good example to your followers, you must know the crafts be good in what you do, and handwork and consistency is the major Key of been successful in what you do, you have to be willing to go extra hard to get what you want and don’t let anybody talk you down from been what you want to be Yes you can pray for what you want and thank God for what you have
Outfits by: @elegantebytiannahstyling
Photography: @shadezofphotography of @tiannahsphoto Studio
La MODE Magazine: @lamodemag
To read the full interview with Toyin Lawani and to view more images visit www.lamodespot.com