While doing other businesses some years ago, the managing director of Eva Creations, Chisom Ohakwe, was restless till she discovered her passion, which is designing beads.
After she mastered the craft, having gone through an intensive training, she delegated some of her workers to handle her other businesses including selling of babies’ things and devotes her time in making wire work and fishing beads. She revealed that her works are of high quality which determines its price.
In this interview with ADA DIKE, she divulged how she became one of the top creative beads designers in Nigeria.
You have exotic beads on display in your showroom, what informed your decision to become a bead maker?
I love working with my fingers. For a long time, I was nursing it on my mind to be designing beads. Though, I have another business I am doing, the urge to learn beads making couldn’t allow me to rest till I went for training.
Apart from being the General Manager of Don King Unique Productions, I also sell babies’ stuffs. So I delegated my workers in my businesses and registered for beads making. When they asked me the kind of beads I wanted to learn, I told them everything about beads, they laughed and explained to me the steps and types of beads, so I settled for wire work and fishing beads. I also make bead-bags and bead-shoes.
Between fishing line and wire works, which one do your customers prefer?
They prefer wire work.
Are you saying they don’t complain about the price of wire work?
No, they don’t because a good market sells itself. The quality and the design I make with it are durable, so my customers prefer it.
Many people believe that good quality jewellery lasts long, how long will the kinds of beads you design last?
The durability of my beads depends on how a customer uses it. I use quality materials to design the beads I sell, and my customers like it. There are different types and grades of raw materials for making beads, depending on the grade you want, but I always buy expensive raw material so that it will last long for many years. If you wear N100, 000.00 worth of gold jewellery to an event, people won’t know the value but N10, 000.00 beads will fit you more and make you to stand out of the crowd at all occasions.
How expensive are your beads?
The market is quite competitive, so despite the fact that I use good quality and durable materials to design beads, I sell them at moderate prices. Also, prices of my beads depend on the style. The simple ones cost less while the expensive ones cost higher.
Considering the time and money you invested in buying raw materials, is bead making a lucrative venture?
Somehow, but the truth is that I love making it. Fishing line pays, but it takes more time. I am not really bothered about the profits. It is my passion and hobby.
Sometimes, I will be sleeping and a design will flash in my subconscious and I will jump out of my bed, draw and design it afterwards. Initially, my husband was angry with me each time I jump out from my bed to draw but he is now used to it. I do my work even while cooking food or feeding my baby. I am glad that my work is selling itself and expanding through my customers who bring their friends and relations because of the quality of my work. One woman saw me at an event recently and complimented my beads; she was shocked when I told her that I made it myself. She took my address and phone number. She later brought money and I made it for her. Since then, she has brought a lot of customers to me.
What are the challenges you face in the course of designing beads?
For one to succeed in this business, you must invest heavily in buying raw materials and ensure you beautifully make the beads. Initially, it was difficult for me to penetrate into the market and convince customers to patronise me, I am happy where I am today. My challenge now is getting right spots to establish branches and setting up an institute for beads-making.
Has there been a time you regretted doing this business?
I feel happy doing beads.
Does it run in your family?
I don’t think so, but I was good in arts courses in secondary school, though I studied Public Administration in Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Anambra State, and graduated in 2004.
Due to the love I have for arts, sometimes, I will bring clothes cut, join and design it. My husband saw it and suggested I should learn fashion design, but I chose to make beads because I am very creative.
I am from Imo State. I am married and blessed with three children –two boys and a girl.
I am into beads making due to the passion I have for it. The kinds of beads I make include wire work and fishing line. Fishing line is the regular beads, just like the kind of beads our mothers wore during their time. The beads are stringed with much design. In wire work, you can always create something of your own and bring a beautiful design that is not seen elsewhere.
Instead of buying jewellery that may soon fade, my customers prefer beads because my designs are unique and more beautiful than gold or silver jewellery.
In terms of fashion, which accessory do you cherish more?
I love beads and costumes. My friends in school know that. There was a time one of them advised me to go into beads-making when she saw all the beads I had.
What is your favourite colour?
My favourite colour is purple. Sometimes I ask myself whether I really love purple, but I would end up wearing it. When I go shopping, I may have other colours in mind but change my mind immediately I see purple
Are you a fashion freak?
To me, fashion is in-born. It has been in me right from my childhood days. When I was in the university, a lot of people knew me due to my style of dressing and appearance. Looking good is a good business. I like fashion. I once visited my uncle before I got married. Each time he sees me he would say I am too flashy, always looking good at home. He wondered whether I would know how to cook since all I am interested in is fashion. He then teased me and asked me whether I tasted the food while cooking it and I would answer in affirmation.
He asked me how I tasted it with the lipstick on my lips. I laughed because I knew that cooking well has nothing to do with how fashionable one is. I had to convince him that I knew what I was doing even if I applied the whole lipstick in the market on my lips.
What kind of meal do you like most?
I like jollof rice.
How do you rest when you are not working?
I don’t rest at all because I am a workaholic. My dream is to market my beads all over the world so I will rest when I achieve my aim.