Paul Otoibhi is a graduate of Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma, Edo State, where he got his degree in Computer Science after completing his secondary education at Word of Faith Secondary School, Benin City. He now runs Tribal Mark Fashion, a leading outfitting house in Benin City, Edo State, and talks to Joy Ehonwa about his passion and entrepreneurship.
CN: When did you start Tribal Mark and what services do you offer?
I started Tribal Mark Fashion in 2004, but I was in the business long before then. Tribal Mark is a fashion outlet making clothes ranging from local (native) outfits to urban clothes like suits, etc.
CN: What’s the story behind the business? What inspired you to start it?
As a young boy, I always had love for fashion. My major interest then was in the embroidery designs on native outfits. I always used to sketch my embroidery designs on any plain clothes I saw in magazines. I wanted something different from the regular native embroidery designs I saw. So I collected any magazine I saw then and just kept sketching on them. I would say the inspiration was my personal interest in fashion and the desire to create and bring my ideas to life.
CN: Who are your target customers, is it just men, or everyone?
At a time my target market was both male and female but I’m focused on men for now.
CN: What challenges did you face when you first started your business?
Well, the initial challenge was the funds to set up. Back then I had to go to different tailors’ shops to supervise my work and this was very stressful. I knew I wanted all my workers to be under my direct supervision. So I needed cash to get my own place with all the machines and workers I wanted. Thankfully it was not long before I got my place.
CN: What makes Tribal Mark unique?
Our uniqueness is in our cuts, our uncompromised handpicked fabric quality, and most of all the African touch we put into our pieces. Our creative and artistic embroidery is second to none, and 100% attention to detail sure makes us stand out.
CN: Which other line of work do you admire, and why?
Well, I admire interior designing. I have so much love for it because it’s creative art. I personally have love for anything that has to do with creating and bringing imaginations to life, creating beauty. To me, it’s relative to fashion and it’s something I will like to do in the nearest future.
CN: What’s the best business advice you have ever received?
The best advice I have ever gotten is never to let money be the focus of my business.
CN: What is your long–term vision for Tribal Mark?
My long term vision for Tribal Mark is to have different branches all over Nigeria, and abroad. We hope to make our own textiles too.