Since making her debut in the Yoruba section of Nollywood more than eight years ago, Tayo Sobola’s career has continued to be on the rise. The Ogun State indigene, who studied Public Administration at Olabisi Onabanjo University, even added a studio and fashion label to her list of business concerns. Better known as Sotayo, the young woman who also has a Diploma in Law from Lagos State University, speaks with ADEDAYO ODULAJA on life, her business acumen and marriage.
You seem to have a flair for fashion, not just as a way of life but also as a business side on account of the many things you are involved with. How did that start?
I started at a very tender age. I just usually play with fabrics then because my elder sister used to make clothes then. I did not really want to do it or planned to do it.
What would you then say inspire your kind of design and collections?
Most times I just want to try new things and see how best it can work. My collections are out of the box. The brand will be a year in a couple of months.
Why did it take so long for you to officially unveil it to the public?
There is this saying that, for you to throw something out to people, you should be able to test run it. You should be sure of what you are putting out to the public and that’s what I tried to do.
I decided I wanted to run a proper clothing line and also decided that, I want to see how it will go, I wanted to see if I will be able to maintain it, I wanted to see if I will be able to go public, I wanted to see, if I will be able to sustain it. And that’s what I did.
So, so far so good, I have done a proper running and have seen that, I can maintain it and it’s almost a year. So, why don’t I let the people know this is what I do?
As the one responsible for the design of most of these clothes, did you train as a tailor at any point?
I was never a tailor. I never learnt tailoring. It’s not because I do not have money to pay people who make clothes that I decided I want to start sewing what I wear but the truth about this is that most times I dress out, people look at me and say ‘Oh! I like what you are wearing and at the end of the day, it’s me doing the buying. It’s me doing the stitches. It’s me bringing the material.
It’s me deciding I want you to do this thing for me and I am the one paying you. Then what am I using my brain for? And at the end of the day, you take my glory. So, why can’t I sit down, sketch myself, make it and make money?
I don’t know how to sew. I stitch, I design. I have people who sew. So, ‘in Clean Stitches’, we sew what we sell but I don’t know how to press machine.
How do you source for fabrics? Do you go to market yourself or you order for them?
The truth is, most designers won’t tell you this is where I get my fabrics from. It is a trade secret. But the truth about it is that when I see something that I like, I will buy it wherever I go but the most important thing is that it should bring out the style that I want to achieve with it. I buy fabrics outside Nigeria. I buy in Turkey. I buy in Dubai at times I even buy in Lagos. And obviously, what we buy in Lagos is quite different from Turkey and some other places so, the nature or design I am making will determine where I will buy the fabrics from.
How affordable are your products and who are your clients?
To be honest with you, it is extremely affordable. Even to the common man for as low as five thousand naira (N5000) because we make things from different fabrics, African fabrics and the rest. I make clothes for lots of people, I might just don’t want to mention names. I make clothes for a lot of people. I make clothes for wealthy people.
What makes your outfit unique?
For females, we buy make up even if we don’t want to wear them and they are trying to buy four different products, you get different feels from them. The difference between my product and others is that, mine are mild. I don’t know anything about others. There are some lipsticks you wear and your lips get dark. I’ve tried my products. Some of them even have ingredients that won’t make your lips darker. Whatever kind or shade of lips you have. You just have to choose which one to go for.
How much are the lip sticks?
It’s very affordable. It’s just a meagre, as low as N4,000. You are into fashion aside acting. What more should we expect from the brand? I’m a graduate of Olabisi Onabanjo University and here I am as an actress, a movie producer, a former dancer. I’ve done almost everything in the entertainment industry. I read Public Administration in the university.
I have a Diploma in Law so someday I am going to use my certificate. So don’t be surprised one day when you hear I’m going into politics. I can venture into a whole lot.
How does your man cope with your busy schedule?
He understands. And the good thing is that he is a flexible person too. He can be anywhere at any time. By the way, my husband is not in the entertainment industry.
So, you can’t marry an entertainer?
No way! I can’t marry an entertainer. It was not even an option.