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SME Spotlight: Datina Designs

 

The fashion industry, like most other segments of Nigeria’s economy, rewards staying power. The longer a brand remains relevant, the better known it gets, and the greater its reach in the market that it targets.


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But developing this staying power is no mean feat; only a small fraction of small businesses are able to hang on over the long term to become a celebrated name in their niche. This is probably pronounced in the world of fashion, where players appear and cease to exist by the thousands every day.

One entrepreneur, Tinu Smith, has managed to steer her fashion business for almost 27 years. The company, Datina Designs, has evolved over that time to become one of the leading fashion houses in Nigeria.

It’s probably doubly impressive that Datina Designs has been able to solidify its stake in the industry given the fact that it’s located in Ibadan. The city does have a strong commercial sector, but it’s not as big as you’ll find in Lagos, where a majority of the big fashion establishments are based. Yet Datina has succeeded in carving up space for itself in an often unforgiving segment of the Nigerian economy.

The company makes wears for all sexes and age groups. This way, it’s able to target a broad base of potential customers. It doesn’t appear to have any issues with this, as reviews from its disparate buyers remain largely positive.

Some of the items available from Datina Designs include women’s tops, skirts, jackets, jumpsuits, shirts, dresses, and menswear. Casual and corporate blouses are on sale too, as are kaftans, ethnic dresses, men’s tops, and men’s agbada.


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The brand does lean quite obviously towards women’s wear. This isn’t surprising; it may be a reaction to the market for fashion items, which tends to be dominated by women. However, the menswear from Datina Designs is decent enough to attract male buyers who want quality clothing.

These wears can be ordered from the Datina Designs website, which functions as the company’s online store. Customers can also purchase them from its physical store.

Besides its stores, there’s also the Datina Designs Fashion School, where aspiring fashion designers are trained. Thus far, the school has trained well over 300 people, equipping them with the skills they need to start their own business.

Tinu, Datina’s founder, says she’s committed to mentoring these intending fashion designers. She’s also benefitted from training herself—she’s an alumnus of the Lagos Business School, where she gained skills in entrepreneurial management and business administration. She’s leveraged that learning in building and running her business.

Other factors remaining constant, Datina Designs should carry on serving its Nigerian customer base for years to come. The company does have plans to extend its operations beyond the country’s borders, a project that’s made easier by its online presence and attendance of international fashion shows.

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Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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