Teyei’s Couture is a unique Nigerian fashion label founded by Faith Teyei Afan. It focuses on creating unique and high-quality fashion items. She founded Teyei’s Couture to help women express themselves through fashion but she’s also empowering and educating upcoming fashion designers at her Fashion Academy.
Faith Teyei agreed to talk to our NFH Contributing writer Linda Wairegi to share more details about her inspiring fashion design journey and what other African designers can learn from her journey.
LW: Can you tell me about yourself?
FT: I am a Nigerian fashion designer, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and Founder of Teyei’s Couture born and raised in Jos, Nigeria.
I completed my secondary education at the Girls’ High School Gindiri, Plateau State, where my interest in designing was first conceived. After secondary education, my drive for fashion increased, and I learnt how to sew for two years.
My drive for designs grew astronomically higher when I started designing and sewing for myself, my siblings, and my close friends. In early 2016, I moved from sewing in my bedroom to an empty room in my family house, where I started my entrepreneurial adventure with two sewing machines. In the same month, about four ladies showed interest in wanting to learn under me, but only two eventually got enrolled.
With the increase in demand for designs, ladies’ interest in wanting to learn, my passion to create high-quality African clothes, put my home city of Jos on the world fashion map, and to use fashion as a tool to change the world for a better tomorrow, I launched my label Teyei’s Couture.
LW: When did you know that fashion was your passion in life?
FT: I got to understand that fashion is my passion when I discovered that even if I was tired, I’d still want to draw, design, and think of creative ideas. It became a big part of my life. Anytime I succeed with a design, I feel so happy and satisfied.
LW: Who inspired you to start your fashion journey?
FT: My inspiration comes from several people, but most especially my husband. He has been my strongest strength and supporter, pushing me right from the onset. He is not into fashion, but he opened my eyes a lot.
LW: How long has Teyei’s Couture been open?
FT: Teyei’s Couture will be 6 years this year.
LW: Where is your fashion business Teyei’s Couture located?
FT: Jos, Plateau State, and Abuja, both in Nigeria
LW: What’s the mantra for Teyei’s Couture?
FT: Believe in yourself, for there’s always this one multibillion-naira idea in you.
LW: What’s your ideal customer?
FT: I have fallen in love with creating designs for women who want to feel confident in who they are women who love to reinvent themselves, and women who love innovation. This set of people is my ideal customer.
LW: What’s your favourite fashion piece or pieces from Teyei’s Couture?
FT: My favourite piece has always been the free gowns. I love comfort so everything I find myself comfortable in is always my best. That aside, I also love skirts and blouses made from Ankara or any native African print fabric. They make me appreciate the African woman in me.
LW: Why do you love them so much?
FT: I love them so much, especially the Ankara prints, because they make me come alive, feel fulfilled, and be proud of my African self.
LW: What sets you apart from other African labels?
FT: What set us apart from other fashion labels is that we are not just a brand aimed at producing unique and quality garments. We also run an academy that trains young African women in fashion and entrepreneurship, empowering them with the right skill sets, mentorship to build their confidence, networking opportunities, and access to African fashion-related information.
Our dedication to our students and clients is driven by our promise to deliver Excellence, Value, and Quality. We aim to be at the forefront of exploring the innovative path that combines fashion, education, and technology.
LW: Have you encountered difficult moments in your fashion journey?
FT: One of the most difficult parts of my journey has always been insufficient funds for the company. I struggle with the little at hand to see that I give my students a comfortable place to learn and provide an appealing place for my customers.
We’re also challenged by an inadequate workforce, which is a result of a lack of resources. This has been a major setback as it has made us several times unable to take disadvantaged ladies on scholarship.
In a nutshell, lack of funds has been a major challenge to me in the journey, and that has made us keep our doors open to anyone ready to bring more value to us.
LW: What’s the best moment that made you feel alive as a fashion designer?
FT: There’s no greater joy compared to the immense joy and big smile from my customers.
This is because I put myself wholeheartedly into each of my designs. Therefore, anytime I get complimentary reviews and comments, it makes me alive to know that at least my work is paying off. This always encourages and pushes me to do more.
LW: I noticed that you also offer training to fashion students… So, can you tell us more about imparting and empowering the next fashion designers?
FT: Teaching has always been my dream. It’s something I enjoy doing. As an entrepreneur empowering the next generation of fashion designers, therefore, I try as much as I can to provide special scholarships for young girls and disadvantaged women who are very passionate about learning fashion. Occasionally, I employ the best students to work with me for some time so that they get to learn the administrative aspect to aid them to have a better approach when they start their own business of fashion.
LW: How do you balance the creative & the business side in fashion?
FT: I’ve always seen these two as having a meeting point at the end of each of my thoughts because my creativity has a way of intertwining itself with business.
One thing I usually say to my team is, “there’s always this one multibillion idea in you.” I always say to my team that as a brand and in our tradition, to apply creative thinking to business decisions and business shrewdness to our creative processes.
LW: What’s one thing that you wish you knew before you started on your fashion journey?
FT: I wished I knew that I could learn fashion with the little I had by simply watching videos on YouTube before learning the basics of sewing and pattern making.
LW: What’s your dream collaboration?
FT: My number one dream collaboration is to work with Hollywood to design costumes that portray an African woman in her native attire.
LW: Recently, you launched a fashion webinar, what’s the inspiration behind this?
FT: Teyei’s Couture became the first fashion brand/academy in the whole of Northern Nigeria to organize a fashion webinar. It took place on December 11th, 2021. The webinar themed “Fashion as a Way of Communication” explored fashion as an important aspect of culture, forming part of the non-verbal aspect of communication and shaping relations in society.
This was inspired by my desire to educate the public, especially my immediate community, about fashion and other fashion-related issues. I want to create a groundbreaking mindset that triggers ladies into embracing fashion as a tool to plunge them into their entrepreneurial journey and create awareness around it. We plan to make the webinar a series.
LW: What’s your vision behind this?
FT: My vision is to bring together speakers (women) from different walks of life to discuss fashion-related topics and trigger a change in mindset.
LW: What’s your personal style like?
FT: My personal style can be described as simple but classic. I love wearing easy clothes to be able to move around comfortably. I also love clothes that don’t go out of time easily.
LW: Do you have an inspiring quote for other designers?
FT: When you have a dream do not let it die. Keep watering it and nurturing it until it grows, and the results will be amazing. Never let your passion go away because of life challenges. Keep the light burning, having it at the back of your mind that one day it will all pay off.
LW: We’d love to connect with Teyei’s Couture online. Can you share the links with us?