Meet the self-taught Nigerian designer making gorgeous dresses you can wear in many different ways
As a young girl, Oyinda Janet Oreoluwa Akinfenwa nurtured the dreams of being a lawyer and pursued a law degree at Afe Babalola University. Naturally an introvert, she enjoys making clothes as it is her safe space.
In 2017, she made a top out of her mom’s scarf, and three years down the line, her own clothing brand, JANORE, is best known for making clothes that can be styled in different ways.
The young Nigerian, who is currently at the Nigerian law school, is pursuing her dreams to be a designer alongside her law school. She aspires to break into the international fashion scene one day and have one of her pieces on the red carpet.
She came up with her brand name JANORE by combining her two middle names and has been sewing for the last three years with much success. She did not have a clear business plan but went with the flow and now she has sold some of her works in over five different countries.
“Well, I started with what I had, and I just went for it,” she told Face2Face Africa. “The first top I made was from my mum’s scarf and then from her other clothes. Then I went into smaller materials, eventually, I bought more as I kept going.”
The 22-year-old is from a family of six and the last of her siblings. She lives and operates her fashion brand in Ibadan without getting any formal training in sewing.
“I didn’t particularly learn how to at first, it just seemed like something I could do all of a sudden,” she said. “I tried to learn the basics of sewing and cutting from a fashion designer for about a month which further helped me understand my skills better and also helped me improve but for most part, I’m self-taught.”
Akinfenwa enjoys making clothes and modeling her works and these have helped her get more creative. Her personal style has evolved along the line, she said.
She, however, does not recollect how she came about making clothes that can be styled in different ways. “It just sort of happened”, she said, adding that inspiration pours through everything around her. To date, every single design she makes requires a certain level of attention and precision.
There have been times when she has had to abandon the designs all together because they did not come out perfectly.
To her, what people wear matter a lot because it gives them so much confidence and she wants to play a part in ensuring people feel their best when they step out every day.
Currently, Akinfenwa works on the designs alone but with the influx of orders, she has a small group of people helping her to complete her orders in time for delivery.
Her biggest setback, however, is not having the luxury of time to indulge fully in JANORE because of school and certain restrictions that come with living with your parents as an African child.
She however wants to expand her brand after law school. “In next five years, I see my brand as a top go-to brand for fashion items because I plan to branch into men’s wear and over 50 branches in different parts of the world.”
The support from family, friends and social media has been overwhelming since she posted her first work on her page.
People are always waiting for the ‘right time’ to pursue their dreams but Akinfenwa believes otherwise. “You should start from where you are no matter how little or silly your ideas seem initially. You would grow, and you would be surprised with how great you can get if you keep going.
“Also, do not be afraid to break some rules along the way especially if you are a creative because there is no one way to do anything. So do your thing and do not be discouraged. Turn a blind eye to negativity because it does not help anyone. Just do you,” she told Face2Face Africa.