With social networks, it is easier and faster to meet so many new people. One of the new people I met is Nena Kalu Ogba. She is an international milliner based in Lagos, Nigeria with a genuine spirit. A hatter is a person who designs, adorns, and sells hats. Her hats are unique and you can’t help but turn heads if you wear one of her designs. She has been featured in various magazines including Royal Ascot and Vogue. She is currently featured in the October issue of Vogue. Aside from her designs, I admire her kind spirit and her ability to summon kindness through her social network. Enjoy my inspiring interview with internationally renowned milliner Nena Kalu Ogba.
When and why did you become a hat designer?
Nena Kalu Ogba – I decided to become a milliner out of curiosity. Even after graduating from fashion school, hats still seemed like a puzzle to me. I could barely see any stitches or joins and it made me wonder how they were made so I started looking for a teacher. The teacher I found turned out to be quite well known: she was the official royal milliner to the late Queen Mother of England. I did not learn to grind with the intention of making hats for others. I just wanted to be able to bring some crazy ideas I had in my head to life so that I could use some awesome creations at events. But when I got back to Nigeria, a family friend was getting married and my dad asked me to make him a hat and accompany him to the wedding as my mom was on vacation in the UK. I made a simple and striking hat, which I wore to the wedding and noticed people coming up to me and asking me where I got my hat from. Every time I gladly mentioned that I did it myself, they were surprised and asked for my number.
Thus my hat business was born and spread mainly by word of mouth before I had my first major exposure and the media fell in love with my designs.
Where did you study fashion and design?
Nena Kalu Ogba – I studied fashion at De Montfort University, Leicester, UK. I specialized in contour fashion, incorporating bridal and evening wear, lingerie design, children’s wear, sportswear, swimwear. Later I took short courses privately and also at Central Saint Martins College, London learning how to make bags.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Nena Kalu Ogba – I get inspired by anything: lines, shapes, nature, animals, birds, flowers, sometimes it could even be a plate or teacup design.
How have you been able to succeed in this industry?
Nena Kalu Ogba – Creating unique and original products, a strong belief in myself and God, the determination to reach the top no matter what, and constantly promoting myself through different media outlets.
What advice can you give someone who is interested in a career in design?
Nena Kalu Ogba – A career in design is not a roller coaster ride. You need to be focused, believe in yourself, well grounded and super strong within yourself, determined to come out on top. Whatever happens, work day and night developing your imagination and creativity, pray a lot for the revelations of design, you must love design deeply and be clear about the reason why you want to be a designer, make sure you have the talent and strength to excel yourself . your competitors, be original and not an imitator and be prepared to persevere. Lastly, you must have a strong marketing team.
Where can people find your products?
Nena Kalu Ogba – My products are sold on my website – www.NenaKalHunter.com.
I have independent marketers and wholesale buyers who own shops or boutiques who also buy from me. My hats are purchased from customers all over the world and we ship them to almost every country.
What are your next goals for you and your company?
Nena Kalu Ogba: I hope to establish my full clothing line, which is what I originally intended to do. This would be a line that would incorporate all aspects of men’s and women’s clothing and accessories and would be sold in stores around the world.
Nnenna Pastor – Thank you Mrs. Nena Kalu Ogba.