I have been a fabric collector since I have known and when I decide to make a fashion piece, I look for how to create the best even from the least.
In 2006, I was part of a group, Eden in University of Lagos, Nigeria and the head of our team had just announced his brother’s wedding ceremony in Ibadan with the ‘Wine and Gold’ colors and the group decided to attend in a fabric with those colors. The onus fell on me to present something we could all wear. I got on this assignment with my mother who took me to Lagos Island textile market, one of the popular fabric markets in Lagos, Nigeria. We found the solution to this quest with the Ankara Textile. It was an instant sell out with the group but there was a problem, when everyone received the yardage they wanted, I was left with two yards! I made up my mind to create the best dress from what was left from the lot. I wore that dress until the dress refused me and it tore…lol
As a youth corps member serving in Jigawa state, Nigeria, I resumed collecting fabrics right from the doors of a Nigerian bank after my request to work my placement there failed and turned into an emotional breakdown. The interviewer felt it was appropriate to console me by helping with my transport fare, even though that was not my problem, I wanted to fight the boredom that was coming throughout my one-year service because I was required to resume only twice a week at the government school I had been posted to earlier. The entrepreneur in me rose up as I walked out in disappointment from the bank but instead of going back to my base, I entered the fabric market and bought two lovely fabric pieces before leaving. Back at the corpers’ lodge, my friends saw the fabrics and were stunned, they asked if I would sell and I did so instantly even to my own amazement, and that’s how I saved up on my two-month allowance to stock up… the cycle continued until I completed my service year.
Capital and funding is important for every business no matter how small. Over the years I have continued to plough back the earnings from fabric sales into the business, especially in cases where clients wanted fabric supplies and my unique selling point was that they did not need to tie down their funds or in the case where some did not have the required funds available at the time, we would go ahead with their projects, especially the uniform category referred to as Aso Ebi in Nigerian parlance. I have continually used cash generated from the business of Bolakoka to facilitate several fabric projects and initiatives.
With all that came in 2020, I gradually came to the conclusion that I needed to expand my product and service offerings by jumping right in. Oh boy! I just did not believe I was doing this in the economy that had now hit the world and in a pandemic too! I kept on being reminded to remain grateful and thankful.
I am having to look deep within in planning, selecting, sorting, documenting, and all the many steps required in ensuring the stock is right. It has not been as easy as one would expect but one may say, is it not to buy fabric and sell. No! We are not going to do this anyhow, the Bolakoka brand has come a long way and will take no prisoners. Everything has got to be as purposeful and respectful before we get to your doorstep. I am still pinching myself to be sure I am still awake wondering how I will handle this fear but this time I faced it and this much I am completely grateful for.
I am here looking at all these fabric pieces from celebrant-worthy fabrics to iridescent pieces and the rush of Ankara fabric on a mesh base, I am stoked with gratitude that I am truly able to do this…No…God did it and Yes, what God cannot do does not exist! If you see me dancing on your timeline please know that it is this gratitude collection that tickles me and I am so happy I can spread the love, kindness and courage I have received one fabric at a time.
We look forward to you shopping this collection and as you do, watch out for excerpts of our Gratitude state of mind when you receive your packages.
Bolatito Puddicombe (Founder, Bolakoka)