A couple of years ago, Senami Maugbe aka Style Senami, made a grand entry into the Nigerian fashion industry as a stylist and fashion consultant. Her debut was phenomenal because she brought a fresh, unique perspective to styling, thrifting, and recycling clothes. Inspired by her passion for thrifting, she started her own thrift store and is passionate about showing the world the power and importance of sustainable fashion. In this interview, Senami takes us through her journey as a stylist, fashion designer/consultant, and her innate belief in divine alignment.
Can you tell me a bit about what you do?
I like to say that I’m a fashion creative because I think saying I’m a stylist and fashion designer doesn’t fully capture what I do. I also oversee the creative direction of shoots and manage brands as well.
That’s a full plate! Can you share how you got started with styling?
Funny how I always thought I’d be a fashion designer because I started sketching and designing at a young age. But in 2017, I wanted to start a styling blog and my friend encouraged me to start styling officially. At first, I had a lot of doubts, but it materialized into an awakening for me, and I just went for it. Turns out, I even enjoy styling more than fashion designing.
Now, look at that! What would you say inspired you to start thrifting and how has the experience been so far?
I started thrifting when I struggled to find clothes that fit my style in conventional stores. My style is unique and edgy, so it was an extreme sport. Thrifting became my other option. Also, the exorbitant prices were another reason.
Contrary to popular opinion, thrifting doesn’t fully represent what I’m trying to do. I’m an advocate of sustainable fashion, so thrifting is only one aspect of that. So far, the experience has been bittersweet. On some days, you get quality deals and you get the outfits you want and on other days; you don’t. I haven’t really thrifted a lot this year, but so far it’s been cool.
What are your thoughts on Nigerians and sustainable fashion?
Nigerians love hopping on trends, but with sustainable fashion, many people haven’t exactly caught up yet. To be honest, a lot of them don’t fully understand the significance of sustainable fashion, but I believe we’ll get there. I’m a big fan of upcycling, recycling, and reworking outfits, so I really can’t wait for us to catch up.
Interesting. I have always wondered how you decide your pricing strategies and negotiate pay in such an unconventional business. Can you share that?
It really depends on the type of styling and what I’ll be needing. If I need to source extra outfits, I’d have to charge higher. That’s how I have fixed my strategy, and it has worked for me.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve encountered so far?
Whew! It has to be pulling outfits. Pulling in styling means loaning outfits from fashion brands instead of making them from scratch. Now, the problem is most Nigerian brands don’t want to be affiliated with you if you aren’t really big. Basically, that makes trying to source outfits for shoots really difficult, but I’m getting a hang of it.
Go Senami! Are there any projects you’re currently working on that you’re excited about?
Yes, I have a few projects that I’m currently very excited about. But, I can’t really share right now because it’s a surprise. Hint: It’s on fashion sustainability and recycling.
Fingers crossed on that. What has been the biggest shocker for you as a professional stylist?
People don’t think stylists do anything, and that has shocked me the most! Before I joined the industry, I always thought stylists were highly respected people. But, to my utmost surprise, many people don’t see the value in what stylists do. They just think, “Okay, she’s putting clothes together,” and they automatically want to underpay you.
That’s wild. What’s the one piece of advice you wish you had when you started?
I wish I focused more on undertaking personal projects, rather than on how to make money through styling. Personal projects are really important. They make up your portfolio and you get to learn better. I really wished I focused more on self-development before fully immersing myself in the business of styling.
That’s quite interesting. Any advice for anyone trying to convert their passion into a job?
Go for it! Only a fraction of people get the opportunity to actually fall in love with their jobs. So, if you want to convert your passion into a job, that’s already a gift. Now, taking a step further and actualizing that is another gift. It’s very interesting that you can get paid for doing something that comes so naturally to you. I think it’ll be very satisfying.
Finally, what’s the Style Senami dream going forward?
I don’t have any dreams. Lol, it sounds unrealistic, but I believe it’s God who steers my life in the direction I’m going in. I just try to be positive and do my best. I’d definitely love to be a global brand, but most importantly, I’ll be living out God’s plan.
Keep up with Style Senami here