- Tell us about you.
My name is Bukola Atunbi, CEO of Lahmielesho. I am from Oyo State and a graduate of the University of Ibadan. I’m quite a hard worker and I try to ensure the success of anything I lay my hands on. It’s definitely not by my power but God’s Grace. Growing up I always had a strong flair for fashion. I was quite different from my siblings and even at a tender age looking good was a big thing for me. While in school I started a handmade jewelry line which was called Lahmi’s Creation. I gave it a break when I went for NYSC. After getting my first job, I thought to pick up the business again as a side hustle but then Footwear became of interest to me. I started off with the jewelry and female footwear, but as time went by it became a unisex brand, and in January this year I added female handbags.
- How did you learn how to design and make female handbags?
I learned the basics back when I was in school from a friend I met while buying materials for my jewelry line. There’s no end to learning, so I’m still in the process of learning to keep up all the skills needed.
- When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career as a Female Handbag Designer?
The interest in Female Bags came up earlier this year in January precisely and it hasn’t been a smooth journey but all the same, there’s no giving up. When you are running a business based on passion, then you know there’s no room to be weak as the race is for only the swift. I’m hoping to expand to a unisex brand in terms of the bags soon by God’s Grace.
- If you weren’t a designer, what career path would you have chosen?
A career as a TV Host/Newscaster most definitely. I would have pursued a career in the entertainment industry or a TV station. The banking sector is another field I have considered. All the same, I’m still hoping to build a career outside of my business. All in due time.
- How did you come up with the name “Lahmielesho“?
I came up with the name Lahmièléshò from my old business name which was Lahmi’s Creation. Lahmi is a nickname coined from my middle name Olamide and èléshò is a Yoruba word that depicts jewelry and body adornments. I wanted a name that has African roots and that people can relate with.
6. Why Female Handbags?
I started with female handbags because I understand the dynamics of a woman. I can picture myself in any other lady’s shoes and be able to think about her fashion needs. I want to make available solutions to women’s needs and for it to be done uniquely.
7. Did you have any fears while starting your handbag line and how did you face them?
I had fears and I still have, my major fear was acceptance. I was skeptical because I knew there were other brands dominating the market already and the majority are high end. For me, I was coming into the sector to make a difference by being a very affordable brand. My first set of sales didn’t bring in an income trust me but then I learned how to balance things. I had to increase prices and that was a major issue as people had seen the old prices and were wondering why the increase. I did my best at explaining things and with time people understood. My Fear was heightened initially because I wasn’t sure people would buy at an increased rate. Luckily for me, things didn’t turn out so bad at the end.
8. How have female handbags evolved over the years?
Fashion keeps changing as new trends come and go but one thing that has remained the same is the way we dress and the types of bags we carry. There’s no way you will step out of your house without a bag! Be it a Wallet or Waist Bag while jogging. There’s always a need for a bag as a means of carriage for your daily needs. Bags can never go out of style, even old styles are being recreated to fit modern standards. We have bag styles that have been from time immemorial but no-matter the fashion trend, it’s still in use.
Lahmièléshò seeks to help every woman achieve her fashion style or goals which have made us create different designs to fit when needed.
9. What is the most challenging thing about being a designer?
The most challenging thing is sourcing materials. We have certain limitations in Nigeria and as a result, you only get to work with what you can find in the market. The only other option that allows you have all you need and want is importing them yourself. With this you get to spend more which will affect the price of products. Trying to maintain being affordable is quite challenging because you still have to produce top-notch quality nevertheless.
10. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I draw my inspiration from top designers like Hermes, Zara, Charles and Keith, Gucci and two Nigerian Brands I admire Femi bags and TTdalk. I also draw inspiration from my environment, I have an eye for details and once I see a good idea, I buy into it.
11. How do you want women to feel when carrying a bag from Lahmielesho?
I want every Lahmielesho woman to feel like a million dollars, lol. You don’t have to break the bank to get a good quality bag, I want them to have a feeling of class and luxury when carrying my bags. To look at themselves in the mirror and feel good, to walk into a place with people giving nice compliments about their bag. Most importantly, putting a smile on their face, that gives me joy. I want to see them happy and confident in their outfits.
- Do you follow trends much as a person and designer?
Oh yes! I follow trends as a person and designer. But I definitely don’t jump on all trends, not everything works for me. You have to be able to sieve through content. Fashion is a statement and it speaks even before you utter a word. Your style can be told from your look, so I carefully select my trends and go in line with what’s important.
- How would you define your style?
My style is very simple but unique. If you take a look at my designs, you’ll understand. Focus is on the core essence, value for your money, quality and a unique style to tell your story. I like it simple and short like it’s said in journalism, keep it simple and short (KISS). Let me show off my skills small, lol, my school fees weren’t a waste.
- What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion to me is knowing what works for you and sticking to it. For instance, I’m a slim person and I know what kind of clothing fits perfectly for my body type. Fashion will always change but what remains constant is your style. Your style is what works best for you, what you’re comfortable in regardless of fashion trends, you are guided by it with your fashion picks. Fashion is a statement you create for yourself as I stated before. Fashion to me also is when you are able to identify with particular things that help create your identity. Your Fashion choices tell your personality.