Starting a business is hard work, and can also be scary. Especially if it’s in an industry that’s different to your 9-5. However, that didn’t stop our founder, Chiazor Ejekam, from setting up and launching Buifabrics in 2015. Fast forward to 5 years later, she has built a successful luxury fabric brand with customers all over the world. We catch up with Chiazor to give you an insight into her typical day, what advice she would give to her younger self, and what her guilty pleasures are.
Q: How did Buifabrics come about? And can you tell us where the name came from?
A: Buifabrics came into being because of my desire to create something of my own and I have always had a passion for fashion and clothing. The inspiration came in a moment when I was in between jobs. I just ran with it and never looked back. Growing up my mum always had such an amazing fashion sense, so I got that from her. Bui was the name my mum gave me as a child so “Buifabrics” is an ode to my Mum.
Q: Can you share any memorable moments from when you first launched Buifabrics?
A: Seems like ages ago now, but in the beginning, I used to sell fabrics as well as make dresses for clients. I didn’t make the dresses myself, but I would outsource them to tailors. I remember one of my first client’s would trust me to make all her dresses. She is a close friend but having someone trust you with making an entire outfit from fabric selection to styling, gave me all the confidence I needed to push harder.
My mum gave me my first investment of N100,000 (Hundred thousand Naira) when I launched Buifabrics. Then my siblings and in-laws subsequently invested emotionally and financially in the business. It hits differently when your family supports you. I am so thankful for them.
I remember the first time my Dad asked me “Kee maka ahia?” (How is market in Igbo) I smiled.
There are soo many memorable moments.
Q: What does a typical workday look like for you?
A: I start my day updating the website and developing content. Then proceeding to my 9-5. Later in the evening I get updates from the Buifabrics team regarding orders/ inventory and any related issues. We then proceed to prepare marketing plans.
Q: What challenges do you face as the founder of a fabric business in Nigeria?
A: To be frank, my major issue now is the high rate of inflation and accepting foreign payments on our website. That’s my main headache right now.
However, everything about running a business in Nigeria is a struggle (Electricity, Staffing, Logistics, Government Monetary policies, the list goes on). But the key is to constantly innovate how we do business.
Q: What principles, would you say, you need to be a successful entrepreneur?
A: God’s grace is paramount. Hard work and consistency as well. I think you must have a desire to learn and grow in your chosen field.
Q: How do you typically source fabrics?
A: We have a select group of factories where we order fabric from. We are also able to make exclusive designs and opportuned to take trips to meet fabric suppliers from around the world (pre-covid). We are constantly searching for new designs and factories we can partner with. We need to keep things fresh…. You get.
Q: What are your top tips when it comes to choosing the best fabric for your occasion or event?
A: I think the most important tip is to ask yourself “what am I in the mood for? i.e what are you most comfortable wearing? There is no point wearing sequins if you don’t want to sparkle. What’s your style inspiration? What’s the significance of the event? I think all these points are important in selecting any fabric.
Q: What’s the best way to care for your outfit once it’s been made?
A: I prefer to have it dry cleaned and placed in garment bags. This keeps it fresh and clean for when you are ready to wear it. I prefer not to hang clothes on hangers, so as not to stress the seams, but to lay flat in a box/suitcase. That’s how my mum taught me to keep fancy dresses.
Q: What advice would you give to your younger self, just about to launch your business?
A: Don’t worry boo, you got this. Do not listen to anyone that says you don’t have the skills to make a business work, they know nothing. You are creative and innovative, your ways may be different, but there is a method to your madness. Just keep pushing and be true to yourself always.
OK, quick-fire questions
Q: What is your must-have fashion item?
A: Right now it’s a headband and mules, They are tres chic.
Q: Do you prefer sweet or savoury?
Q: Do you have any guilty pleasures?
A: Watching movies I like 100 times. It sounds crazy but I can watch the same movie on repeat. lol
Q: What are you currently watching on Netflix?
A: Malcolm & Marie, that movie was a rollercoaster, but a window into how TOXIC relationships can be. Also watched the entire season of Bridgerton 8 times now.. lol
Q: Perfect holiday destination?
A: ohh, I haven’t been to enough places, but I loved Iceland, South Africa and Ghana. Dubai is always a good idea but just for a few days, it can be overwhelming.
Q: Who’s your celeb style icon?
A: I love abit of Beyonce, A sprinkle Blair Eadie (love her)
Q: Are you single?
A: As a pringle…. lol