For one who discovered her creative flair and strong drive for business early in life, daughter of Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Yeside Laguda’s passion over the the years has metamorphosed into a thriving enterprise with different outlets across the State. The young entrepreneur who added another feather to her growing business with the launch of her GRA Ikeja, MyQ and Blush by MyQ store, tells us the journey from the beginning.
At what point in life did you discover your creative flair?
I have always loved to draw. I started sketching right from childhood and later, I became a buyer even when I was in university in England. What I used to do then was that I would go to different towns and trade fairs and then to every company that has a factory store. I had to register to be in the trade so that I could buy things for cheap prices. So I would buy products from foreign companies at cheap prices and send them to Nigeria for people who own boutiques atother times, I come to Nigeria, take my goods to University of Lagos and other places for buyers.
So how did that business sense come in?
Business is a second nature for me, because even as a child, I used to buy lollypops and sell in class at higher prices than I bought them. It has always been my nature, to seize every opportunity that came my way. Even though I would sell my lollypops and spend the whole money that same day except for a token I will leave to buy another pack for sale the next day, there was always this satisfaction in me of being able to do something, to multiply my money and also knowing that I could stand on my own.
At what point did you decide to go into business fully?
When I graduated, I wanted to go into the workforce but, when I did my NYSC, I still was buying shirts to sell at the camp. But there were buyers who always asked for skirts. Then, I had one tailor at Iponri and another at Akerele and I used to jump gutters to Akerele to go look for these tailors so they can sew for me after which I will pay them #2,000 from the #5,000 I had charged my clients. That was how my journey into full time business started. But then, I started in the kitchen because I realized that one person will not finish everything at the time they were needed. So I got one tailor who worked with me in my mother’s kitchen. and so I started from mother’s kitchen and then moved into a canopy and gradually it grew.
What exactly is MyQ all about?
It is called MyQ Lifestyle Concept. MyQ Lifestyle Concept, is made up of two arms: One arm is called Blush By MyQ. Blush By MyQ represents most of the European and Middle Eastern luxury designers for bridal and occasional dresses. So we have full licenses to bring their products into Nigeria and also represent them. And then there is MyQ. MyQ is an indigenous Nigerian company where we produce Nigerian products like dresses with Ankara, Batik, Linen, Laces and so on and then we have another arm that produces garment steamers and so on.
When did you start your first shop?
I stated my first shop in 2007 at Victoria Island. That is over 10 years now. And it has been a journey because I have left some things along the line, like I used to sew for people but I don’t do that any more. I only design now. It has been a learning process and I have tried to work a balance between my job and my family.
Do you design?
Yes, I design all of MyQ but Blush By MyQ is just a representative of foreign designers.
What inspires your designs?
Once you have a passion for something, you live and breathe it and then it comes naturally to you and every thing around you inspires you. And I think that is the only thing I know how to do – design. That is my bread and butter.
How do you source for materials for the indigenous ready to wear clothes you do?
A lot of materials are imported but for my Adire, Batik and Ankara, I buy some raw materials in Nigeria and I also have somebody buy them for me. Sometimes I go to Oshogbo and other places, where I could get the indigenous Nigerian materials. And as regards the foreign collections and designs, I can go to anywhere in the world to get the designs and collections that suit my clients.
What did you study at school?
I read Environmental Chemistry for my BSc at the University of Reading, England and then got an MBA in Advanced Strategic Management from the University of Wales, also in the United Kingdom.
Your field of study does no tally with what you are doing now, so how do you marry both?
There are no connections at all but like I said, designing comes naturally to me.
So how did your parents take this sudden diversion of interest?
My daddy was cool with it but my mummy was troubled. But after a while, everybody got used to it.
How do you overcome challenges you face in running your business?
We need God! Because some days things would be rosy but on other days, things would be totally down, and if you don’t have God, your business may not survive and you may even die. So we really need God.
You have been marketing products from foreign companies for over a decade now; do you also have intention of promoting indigenous companies?
Definitely! We have a huge population, so even if we do not go outside Nigeria, we can do sustainable production and then, there would be no need for importation or second hand cloths. I mean, if we can do this and then employ global best standard in production, then, we can take our products abroad for people to buy.