‘5 Minutes with…’ is a series of short interviews with some of the esteemed vendors listed on our directory. We get to know the brilliant people behind the brands we love. Today, we meet the amazing Yemi Osunkoya of Kosibah, who we were delighted to meet in person at the National African & Caribbean Wedding Show, London in November 2015.
Yemi Osunkoya is the designer behind the brand – Kosibah. He is based in Camden, North London, but he regularly sees clients in Lagos and New York. Yemi has been running Kosibah – a couture Bridal and Evening wear label since 1991. His design ethos is to create flattering, figure-enhancing gowns for each client regardless of body shape/size. He achieves this through pattern drafting and dressmaking techniques honed with over 24 years experience. Yemi also considers himself a Social Media guru.
Your Brand In Three Words… Timeless,Elegant, Flattering.
The Part of My Job I Enjoy The Most? Seeing the look of amazement on the faces of my bride, her family and friends when they finally see her hour glass silhouette emerge after putting on her Kosibah bridal gown. Knowing I made that happen makes all the hours of labour intensive work worthwhile.
My Biggest Accomplishment To Date… Creating the bridal gowns for 2 of the daughters of Lord and Lady Boateng, both of whom got married within the grounds of the Palace of Westminster, the home of the British Parliament and the House of Lords. Lady Janet Boateng has been a client for many years and had always said her daughters would be married in Kosibah and she kept her word.
The Best Vendor You’ve Worked With… It has to be Seyi Olusanya of Once Upon a Destination. Aside from personally organising a flawless event to mark Kosibah’s 20th year in business at the Institute of Directors, 116 Pall Mall, London, she has organised and styled several boundary pushing photo shoots with a timeline of military precision. Seeing her work close up leaves me in no doubt about her abilities.
One Quality Every Nigerian Wedding Vendor Must Have and Why? The ability to produce work of the highest standard, especially if you market yourself as a luxury brand. Nigerian brides, and their families, are very discerning and expect the very best, especially when they are paying a high price point.
Most Embarrassing/Awkward Experience? When a high profile client flew me to dress her at her wedding and knew I was flying back 2 days after her wedding because she paid for the ticket and then I realised she wanted me out of the hotel the day after her wedding. It was both embarrassing and humiliating and ruined what until that time had been a wonderful experience. Luckily I was able to stay with my brother for that unaccounted night. However, since then I ensure I dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s when negotiating my terms and conditions for dressing a bride abroad.
Does anything scare you? Failure scares me and constantly keeps me on my toes and continually striving to raise the bar and improve on past work.
What’s the best souvenir you’ve gone home with from a wedding you’ve attended/worked at? A travel size shoe polishing set in the most wonderful packaging that has served me very well on my travels and I still use till this day (I’ve replaced the actual shoe polish though).
Your thoughts on social media? I think it’s been a revolutionary phenomenon. It’s enabled vendors to tell their own story, manage their own PR and deal and communicate directly with their own clients. With a smart phone, there is no reason why any vendor cannot utilise this free resource to its fullest advantage, and it’s free!! My top 3 are Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest in that order for client referrals.
In my Spare Time… I read a lot and catch up with TV programmes I’ve recorded on Sky+. Also try to spend it with loved ones as I work very hard.
Interesting Fact about You? My maternal great grandfather was a returnee from Bahia, Brazil called Quirino Dos Santos. So I have traces of Brazilian blood running through my veins.
Where do you feel most at home? In London. I have been living there longer than I had lived in Nigeria. That is also where I established and grew my business.
What Songs Are Currently on Replay? Any songs by Diana Ross, Patti LaBelle and Aretha Franklin.
What Book are you currently reading, or what was the last book you read? Currently reading ‘Shopaholic To The Stars’ by Sophie Kinsella. Previously I was reading ‘Open City’ by Teju Cole but found it too pretentious and unfocused and gave up before completing it despite my resolve to see it through.
Call or Text? Text anytime. You can state clearly (and review!!) exactly what you want to say, have a record of it and not worry if it’s an inconvenient time for the recipient to receive a call at that time.
Cook or Be Cooked For? Be cooked for. I can cook, but find it impossible to follow a recipe exactly as written and derive no pleasure from cooking as some other people do.
Favorite Food? Because I hardly ever get to eat it, pounded yam and efo with everything in it.
What’s your favourite item of clothing? A black turtleneck long sleeved shirt. I’m usually dressed in black and with it you can dress up with a suit or down with jeans or smart casual with smart black flat fronted trousers.
Ideal Holiday Destination… Venice. I’ve been there 4 times. It’s got stunning historical architecture , culture (galleries, museums, opera and theatre), great Italian food, the iconic gondolas and a great beach in the Lido. I like to do a mixture of things on a holiday.
Any Pets? I don’t have any pets but if I did, I’d get a dog. I grew up always having a family dog. I love dogs because they have distinct personalities and show unconditional affection.
3 Guests For Dinner, who would they be? Diana Ross, Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama. I’ll think I’ve died and gone to heaven.
To get in touch with Kosibah, click HERE
For more from our 5 Minutes with … series, click HERE
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