Emmanuel Goodnews, a stylist, creative designer and entrepreneur, is the founder of Just Icon. He tells FAITH AJAYI about his journey into the fashion business
What are your educational qualifications?
I have a degree in Political Science from Estam University, Cotonou, Republic of Benin.
Tell us about what you do.
My job includes creating, designing, monitoring production, styling, and documenting fashion. I went into this line of business, because I had always had a passion for fashion, so I felt the best thing was to learn the relevant skills after my secondary school education, while many of my peers were trying to get into the university.
How did you start the business?
The COVID-19 pandemic marked the beginning of my journey as a stylist and fashion designer. Having worked and interned at some fashion houses, I thought it was time I started making good use of my skills, and that led to my full exploration of the fashion space.
What are the major challenges you face in the business?
As a fashion entrepreneur, I have faced a lot of challenges. They include the country not having a well-structured fashion education system, to government policies that place restrictions on how people express themselves (in terms of what they wear). It has been challenging standing out against all odds.
Can you throw more light on how you overcome these challenges?
I have tried to overcome the challenges by constantly learning about fashion.
How do you advertise your brand and get customers?
People get to know about my work by virtue of the efforts I put into the creative production process. Sometimes, I also work with influencers and celebrities, such as Enioluwa Adeoluwa, Priscilla Ojo, Soft made it, Susan Pwajok, Allysny Audu, Badboytimz, Dikeh, and others, who connect more with my niche and help to put me on the map.
What are some of the notable achievements you’ve had?
Some of my notable achievements include being featured in American Vogue Magazine, GQ South Africa Magazine, Paper Magazine, and Malvie Magazine.
How do you handle difficult customers?
I don’t think I have had any bad experiences. It has been a journey of growth and lessons.
It is important to always be polite and professional. One should also respond to customers in a timely manner.
Did you undergo any form of training before getting into the business?
Yes, I underwent a couple of training before I dived fully into the fashion space. I learnt how to sew at a fashion school called, House of Benvicson. After that, I interned with Olajide Adedeji, aka Jide Reason, where I learnt more about corset and bust styling, and that helped me to better understand corsetry garments.
Have you ever thought of quitting?
No. Fashion is my way of expressing myself. It helps to tell who I am, and what I represent in the fashion space.
Do you have employees?
Yes, I have a creative team made up of talented individuals. I have four amazing and hard-working tailors, two assistants, and two project managers.
What are your other areas of interest?
I also have interest in travel and tourism.
How do you manage your business and still get the time to do other things?
For me, fashion is a way of life. It is a part of me. However, it is one thing to run a business, and it’s another to manage and structure it well, even while being creative and seeing it as a passion. I grew up in a family where business management was taken seriously. My mum is a businesswoman, and I grew up watching her handle her business. That has really helped me in positioning my brand for success.
What are some of the things that make your business stand out?
Some of the unique selling points of my brand are luxurious elegance, attention to detail, use of a range of boldly-toned colours, patterns, iconic silhouettes and garments, patterns and well-detailed pieces.
How old were you when you became a fashion designer?
After secondary school, I did not want to rush into the university, so I decided to learn fashion designing after secondary school. It took me one year and six months to learn about sewing and creating designs. However, I am still learning every day, and looking forward to gaining more knowledge about the industry.
Where do you see yourself and your brand in the next five years?
I see my brand growing and spreading globally.
As a fashion designer, what is your area of specialisation?
I design both male and female wears.
How do you like to dress?
I like to dress comfortably in clothes that express my personal style.
How do you unwind?
I do that by travelling and going on vacations.