Jadesola Rawa is the founder of Melia by Jade. She designs and markets stylish, contemporary and yet affordable pieces with a global appeal for women using ethnic fabrics such as batik and adire. The entrepreneur, who also empowers local artists and artisans with her business, sat with The Spark Team to shed more light on her life as a custodian of wearable African art.
By Ayandola Ayanleke
The need for financial independence and passion for art and beautiful clothes started Jadesola on this current career path.
“I started from a need to attain financial independence and to marry all of the things I love and am passionate about. I love art; I could spend hours in an art gallery just being lost in the works. I love clothes, I genuinely LOVE beautiful clothes.”
“And I think Batik, Adire is art on clothes. The fabrics and patterns fascinate me. And they also remind me of culture. Our history. Our heritage.
Understanding that I could combine all of these different elements into the pieces that I make AND make money from it is something that gives me great pleasure.”
Speaking further on why she decided to focus on Batik and Adire, she says, “It’s pretty much a case of wanting to infuse my heritage/roots into the things I wear.
It’s art. It’s beautiful. It’s NOT Ankara. It’s ours. It’s indigenous. It’s handmade. Someone on this earth centuries ago wore this and felt beautiful, powerful, felt connected to their roots and heritage. So why not?”
“I want to be on holiday abroad with my adire/batik shorts and KNOW that you can’t get it from a high street shop. I want to know that it’s MINE; a handmade piece that’s unique to me.
Maybe 50 of us in the world would own a piece made from similar but never the same fabric. That’s my why.”
The fashionpreneur, however, admitted to facing challenges in her resolve to stand out and be different.
“Understanding the dynamics of what I am doing and how to make it profitable is a challenge. The day to day act of running a business is a challenge.
Posting a picture of your piece on social media and having 5 people inquire to buy but 50 people clicking “save” in order to go copy the style, later on, is a challenge.”
But she remains undeterred, pushing on and drawing inspiration from everyday things.
“I draw inspiration from what I see, what I wear and the degree of comfort it gives.
How functional is it? I could be looking at pictures from a party and imagine being at that party and what I would wear to stand out and be different. That is key to me.
I like being different. I want to come into a room and you have to notice … the clothes, the aura … something has to stand out to you.
Additionally, she also prioritizes advertising and trying to achieve total recall for her unique products.
“At Melia by Jade, we achieve total recall through uploading quality pictures, relatability, more pictures, affordability, quality, sincerity, and great customer service.”
“These are the things I wrap into my work and project via my social media pages. My pages are personal. You are treated like a part of the Melia family. You are not just a statistic.”
“I have found that the best advertisements even with the biggest brands have to make you feel something.
And that’s what I try to do with my page … connect. When people connect, they will support.”
“That translates into sales. And even if it doesn’t, it translates into people who support your business and vision and would refer potential clients to you.”
Giving her opinion on youth empowerment as a young entrepreneur in Nigeria, she revealed that the thought of youth empowerment in the country gives her a pause.
“I don’t think it’s a one size fits all. I think it starts with us as parents. Do we encourage our kids to think for themselves and ask questions?
Are we trying to raise the next generation that wants to do things differently or do they just follow the things we do, which isn’t probably the best examples to set for them?”
“Let’s start from the basics and then we can worry about a national empowerment issue. I could say “the government needs to provide schools, vocational training centers, etc, but are we raising kids that understand that cheating isn’t an option.
Are we raising kids that value integrity and hard work? Empowerment starts from us … the mummies and daddies and the nuclear units.”
Connect with her via
Website – www.meliabyjade.com
Instagram – @meliabyjade
Facebook – meliabyjade
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in The Spark Magazine. Find the magazine here to read other articles.