Jide Sipe studied law at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun State. During his university days, he attended the Michael Williams Fashion Institute where he obtained a certificate in sewing and designing before he got his LlB; he actually became a designer/tailor before he became a lawyer. Today, he runs L&P Clothing, following his longtime passion. He talks to Joy Ehonwa about his entrepreneurship, and turning passion into value.
CN: How would you describe your business and the services you offer?
Our clothes were first referred to as ‘wearable art’ by clients. We adopted same after a while. So we now describe our clothes and shoes as wearable art we all love. Our distinctive hallmark is that our work is art. When you see an L&P product, even if you weren’t told it’s L&P, you would know because you see the art. I keep mentioning art because that’s just the word that describes it.
At the moment, we offer four services:
- We design and produce clothes and shoes for both males and females: suits, polo tees, shirts, and native attires that we call African pride.
- We are colour combination and dressing consultants. We train people and organizations on how to combine colours, and how to develop or draw up dress codes. We also train them on how to dress. For every professional, combining colours properly and dressing up properly is very key. You will never get a second chance at making a first impression.
- Wardrobe selection; we help our busy clients pick out their wardrobe. We can help you select what you will wear a week ahead or a month ahead, or we help you create your wardrobe and purchase the right outfits.
- We produce beautifully and skilfully handcrafted African fabric interiors like ankara/kente sofas, ankara/kampala throw pillows, lampstands and customized logo mirrors.
CN: Who is your ideal client?
Our ideal client is someone that likes style. Someone that steps into a room and exudes confidence because they are sure they are ‘on point’. If you’re someone that likes to be well dressed, or you like to make heads turn, you are the kind of client we were born to work for.
CN: What inspired you to start L&P Clothing and how did you come by the name?
Hmm. Inspiration. Even in Law School, I was always designing and making my clothes. I enjoy looking good and different, with something you can’t buy off the rack. One day, a friend said to me, ‘Jide, I want you to make me five shirts. How much will you collect?’ Now, I had been thinking about doing it as a business but it just always ended in thinking. Immediately he asked, he kick-started the process. That’s how business started.
Before I tell you the full meaning of L&P, you will promise two things: One, you will not open your mouth in shock, and two, you will wait for the explanation. Since you promised, the full meaning of L&P is Lazy & Proud. You promised, remember? Lazy & Proud stems from the fabric, NOT the people. When a fabric is in its plain state, untouched, we call the fabric lazy. When we turn it into wearable art, we call it proud. Hence the name Lazy & Proud.
CN: What challenges did you face in starting up your business?
Ah! Challenges! Every challenge there was to face: money, electricity, work space, everything was challenging. The only thing that wasn’t challenging was acceptability. We were accepted. That, and the love for the business, gave us the required strength.
CN: What is your unique selling point and why should Nigerians choose you over competitors?
Our unique selling point is we are not just cloth makers, we are wearable art makers. This is our hallmark and pride. You would notice that even our sofas are not everyday sofas. What we mostly do is patched ankara sofas. We are art and art is us.
CN: What kinds of books do you enjoy reading?
My books are seasonal. At every point, I have a theme. Currently, I’m reading on leadership and management.
CN: Where do you see L & P Clothing in five years?
CN: What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to set up small/medium enterprises in Nigeria?
Once you can, go to a business school. Any business school. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but get educated in the art of business. Doing a thing for passion is totally different from turning it into value.