The MD/CEO of House of Maya Concepts, Zainab Ibrahim, delved into fashion accidentally – no interest, no push. All she did was follow her parent’s lead and brush up her sewing skills. Now, the 23-year-old graduate of computer science is an employer of labour. Starting up… It was stressful at first. I didn’t have any plan of getting into fashion, because I was totally fixated on working in a bank. After graduation in 2014, seeing that I was already learning how to sew and I was getting impatient as a result of the delay in processing our NYSC papers, my parents urged me to set up a fashion house, because of my interest in fabrics. Challenges… Citing my shop in the right place was a major challenge. Most of the shops I saw were in the interior and their sizes were not good enough for me. After much persistence, I got somewhere. I didn’t know of any good tailor, besides my teacher and mentor; she was the only person I knew who could help me deliver the kind of clothes I wanted. So, with her assistance, we were able to get some great hands. The next hurdle was getting clients to come around. The first six months were so tough that, in a month we could not boast of sewing 10 dresses. That couldn’t pay our utility bills, let alone pay staff salaries. Somehow, we got through all of that and are bursting forth on every side. Standing out… I will like to say that excellence has made us stand out. We pay great attention to details, ensuring that any client who patronises us doesn’t have a bad experience. Out of every 10 dresses we make, nine are perfect. When I mean perfect, we don’t have the issue of a client coming back to complain about one thing or the other. That, I will say, has earned us the trust of customers. One sad thing about tailors in Zaria is their inability to pay attention to details. They make great clothes, but the finishing is poor; maybe, because they are too lazy to trim them. I had some awful experiences with some of them, so I know what I am saying. I could not wear a particular dress for more than two months. If I add a little weight, I have to dump the cloth, because they trim away all the extra and there is nothing to expand. As a result, throughout my days in the university, I just wore English dresses – at least, I could wear them for the next two years. I thought it was a gap to fill and I think we are not doing badly. The Next Step... In the years ahead, we should have expanded our reach to the major cities in Nigeria and, possibly, West Africa. The future is very bright, because people will always wear cloths, irrespective of the state of the economy. There will always be one function or the other that will warrant you making new dresses. So, for the clothing need of man, we will always fill in the gap. Words for aspiring entrepreneurs… It is safer to be an employer of labour than an employee. With the way the world is going, there are more graduates than the jobs available. If the youths pick up some trade after or before they finish school, it will help them when they settle down in life. I have a youth corps member who is learning under me. She comes around three times a week and I’m positive, that by the time she rounds up her service, she would have learnt enough to be an entrepreneur and, eventually, become an employer of labour.