Virtuoso turned ‘Yemisii’ is a fashion accessory brand owned by Yemisi Makinde. She creates exotic hand-made leather bags and jewelry; she enjoys the freedom of telling stories with her artistic creation. Her recent collection titled L’AVENIR which in French means ‘The Future’, truly defines arts and fashion at its best which truly depicts ‘Timeless sophistication’. This is the interview that occurred between Yemisi and Mayreejay on behalf of 360nobs.com bringing you an insight to the brand YEMISII.
Mayreejay(M): How did you come into fashion?
Yemisii (Y): Purely by chance. My love for customizing clothes and fashion accessories became a side business when I was in my 3rd year studying Real Estate Management at the University of Lagos. I designed a pair of leather slippers for a friend as a birthday gift and got so many requests from other people for those slippers that it soon became a side business. I decided when I graduated from University to go with accessories design as a full time job, the innovative brand YEMISII has grown and evolved steadily since then.
M: Define your personal style?
Y: Experimental and edgy with a classic elegant twist.
M: Why the love for Ankara made bags?
Y: I wouldn’t limit it to a love for Ankara made bags. I would call it a love for expressing different views through unconventional design. I love innovation in design and enjoy the freedom in being able to tell a story, much like an artist, using various mediums of expression at every point in time.
M: What inspires your collections?
Y: My work is inspired largely by people, their history and amazing cultural differences. While I find people fascinating, my collections are also sometimes inspired by my own personal journey and life experiences. I am unusually aware of my environment, seeking to be influenced and inspired by everything I experience. Recently, I got married and had to do a lot of traveling within the first two years. You can see elements of this experience in my recent collection titled L’avenir (The Future).
M: Who are your clientele?
Y: My accessories are sold in the U.S, UK, Nigeria and South Africa. The Yemisii woman is strong, confident, speaks in her own fashion voice and is not afraid to stand out from the crowd. Albeit, in a very sophisticated and elegant way.
M: Have there been any form of limitations since you started?
Y: For a very long time when I produced only in Nigeria, I found we were very limited with tools, adequate technology and capable hands. Now, with production centers in three different parts of the world, my new limitation is being able to handle distribution in the various parts of the world we are trying to explore.
M: If you were not making bags what would you rather have done?
Y: If I wasn’t designing fashion accessories (of which handbags are a part), I would be a ballet dancer……… I have always loved structured elegance and thought of ballerinas as mystical magical creatures, much like the fairies we read about in those Enid Blyton books when we were growing up! LOL
M: What exhibitions or shows have you been involved in?
Y: Apart from various solo and joint exhibitions participated in over the years, YEMISII pieces have been featured in fashion shows and exhibitions in Nigeria, South Africa, Europe, England and America. Some of these are listed below:
* ST. MORITZ Style selection in Lagos (2005)
* THIS DAY style weekend (2006)
* DESIGN INDABA, Cape Town south Africa (2006 & 2007)
* NEW AFRICA design exhibition, launched in Denmark and touring other European countries (2007) and;
* L’AVENIR Collection, launched & exhibited in Lagos, Abuja and London (Dec 2010- March 2011)
M: How do we identify a “YEMISII” bag?
Y: I personally like to think that the Innovative designs and the depth of thought given to creating each unique piece is what sets the YEMISII bag apart. Over the years however, elements such as the high quality of materials used, the strict attention we give to details, our self taught and developed style of construction and the iconic edge stitching have formed the Spirit and character of the YEMISII bag. These qualities have helped set us uniquely apart.
M: What are your future plans for your brand?
Y: YEMISII is an authentic African brand with a global perspective. The very near future sees us set towards steady, growth, maturity and distribution in various parts of the world.
To get Yemisii’s beautiful creations visit any of these