When other students basked in the euphoria of a forced holiday when universities went on strike, Nkese used the opportunity to learn how to make hats.
More than 15 years later, and having learned from many renowned milliners across the world on and offline, Nkese Akinwunmi has mastered her craft and grown to become one of Nigeria’s leading milliners.
She makes contemporary Fascinators, Hatinators, Pill Boxes, Percher Hats, Turbans, Wand fans, and Bridal Millinery through her outfit, Hattabelles Couture.
Even though the art of millinery has evolved and many aspects of the production could be mass produced, Nkese believes traditional millinery production techniques must be retained.
According to her, “Every woman is unique and should be styled accordingly. When you make every piece of the hat from scratch, you add a special design DNA to every case. No two individuals are the same, so when I make every hat, even if they look similar, they are designed to reflect the personality of the wearer”.
She sells her hats online on www.hattabelles.com in addition to an elaborate Millinery From Scratch online course which has served as a valuable mode of transferring her expertise to many other milliners across Nigeria, Cameroun Ghana & Zambia.
She is passionate about her craft and constantly takes courses across the world to improve the quality of her work.
Nkese lives in Lagos. She read computer science at the University of Calabar.
She is married and has two children.