Nigerian Tosin Dinah spent over a decade studying and working in France and England before deciding to ‘take the plunge’ and move home in January 2013. Dinah is an Operations Director at Cousant Technologies, a software company based in Lagos.
I studied marketing at sales at Bradford University in the UK and after graduating, did a short course in fashion buying at the London College of Fashion.
After completing the course, I worked a few jobs in retail and worked her way up – ultimately landing a role as an assistant buyer with a major jewellery company in the UK.
After three years, I felt like I had plateaued and needed broader experience. So I went back to school and studied for a Master’s Degree in Fashion Marketing and Management at Esmod ISEM (based in Paris and one of the oldest fashion institutions in the world).
Esmod is widely respected and recognised. They often partner with major fashion companies and at the end of your course you got to intern with these companies. I got an opportunity to do an internship with American Vogue (Paris office) which was THE highlight of my year in Paris.
I moved back to London after my year in Paris to continue my career in fashion and found that the market was over saturated.
My focus shifted to Nigeria and its emerging fashion industry where I knew my experience could be better utilised and I could make more of an impact. I did a little bit of research and found that the standard and image of the Nigerian fashion industry had improved so much so that a few brands were now showing at major fashion shows around the world. Although I didn’t have a job lined up, I decided to take a chance and moved home in January, 2013.
‘NETWORKING IS KEY’
The first thing I did was network. Networking in Nigeria is key if you want things to happen. My sisters had moved back a couple of years before me, so they were able to introduce me to a couple of contacts. I also met with a few designers to get more insight into the industry I was interested in. It was during one of such meetings that I got an opportunity to work at Tiffany Amber, a leading luxury fashion house based in Lagos.
These are exciting times. Nigerian fashion is gaining wider acceptance by the day – not just locally but on the global stage too. We are now able to follow trends and compete in the ever evolving and highly competitive world of fashion. Our fashion is now a hybrid of our diverse traditions and customs tinged with western influences. I predict great things happening within the next 5-10 years.
‘Opportunities far outweigh the challenges’
Life in Nigeria hasbeen interesting to say the least. I would advise anyone thinking of moving back to holiday here for a little while to acclimatise and get you used to how things are done here. There is not a very wide variety of choices where things to do for fun is concerned. The power situation, poor customer service and the headache inducing traffic can be frustrating but the opportunities far outweigh the challenges. Although, in spite of all the challenges, we are a resilient people and the sense of optimism is so addictive that you can’t help but be drawn to the place.
My advice to homecomers is save, save, save!!! I can’t emphasise this enough. If you have to live with relatives or friends until you can get on your feet, please do so. You cut costs and give yourself the soft landing the support from familiar faces can bring. Carry out appropriate research into the industry and role you are gunning for and try and make as many contacts as you can. Don’t expect things to move very quickly but they do move. Just be prepared.