From clinical psychology, Tuke finds love in needle and thread

Tuke design

Tuke Ojebuovboh is a fashion designer and the owner of Tkinnuda. Her journey into the needle and thread world began at an early age, when she started playing with colours and designs. Over the years, what has remained most remarkable aspect of the label is the willingness to never let-up and nothing has changed on this score, even with the latest collection. Tuke’s desire to conquer new frontiers remains as strong as ever.

Recently, the womenswear brand unveiled its latest feminity-inspired collection tagged, The Belle Collection. The collection embodies feminity, sultriness, grace and boldness. It serves a range of properly tailored fabrics ranging from a mix of crêpe, sheer lace, monochrome and ankara prints to floral embellishments, while taking the African woman behind the desk to an evening night-out on a reserved, yet stylish note, displaying a perfect mix of ease and effort.

“The collection is for the woman who is not afraid and also unapologetic about her freedom and desires to look sultry and outstanding without fear of judgment,” she says.

Tuke adds, “the collection also features virtually all the leading fashion trends making waves at the moment. From stylish ruffles and wide legged pants to turbans and wrapped off shoulder dresses.”

Joking about her work, she quips, “Tkinnuda is going places, you’ll see. I have a few more collections I’m working on after The Belle Collection. I’m hoping on organising a show for the collections. But nothing is certain and I’m prepared for anything life will bring my way. Look out world, I’m ready for you.”

She admits, “fashion has always been more than flair. As a practicing psychologist, who finished from the University of Lagos, I couldn’t help but notice I had a certain fascination with colours and clothing designs.”

She says, “when I see a dress or top, I can’t help but wonder ‘can I make this? Or can I make it better?’ I loved looking good and making others look good and to be honest, I felt more at home surrounded by fabric that could be transformed into the most stylish of clothes than in my professional working environment.”

The psychologist-tuned dressmaker says her natural aptitude has contributed immensely to her romance with the needle and thread business. She however, adds, “but I did take time to embellish my skills with specialised training. In addition, I follow closely all the world’s top designers —- Elie Saab, Moofa Designs, Tiffany Amber, Lanre Dasilva and many others for inspiration and new ideas.”

How does she get inspired to create and play with colours?
She pauses, as if looking for the right mix of words, suddenly snorts, “I know for a fact that colour is a form of expression and that has always been the foundation for what I create. For me, it was a trial and error of sorts at first, though. Based on what I wanted to express, I’d try on a combination of colours and if I didn’t like it and it didn’t give the message I wanted it to send for the occasion for which I dressed, I’d simply try again. For example, if I wanted to dress up for a party with no particular colour code and I wanted to y’know… ‘show them say mowambe’ or let them know that “I have come to slay,” I’d try on different variations of combinations till I felt like, I truly was going to make heads turn at that party. Over time, I didn’t need that anymore. I simply put it together in my mind’s eye and I found that I just always knew what matched and what looked good.”

Her attitude to fabrics and how it influences her creations, reveals a lot about Tkinnuda. The lady says, “not any design suits every fabric. There are designs that ankara can pull off, that chiffon cannot. Similarly, there are some designs that chiffon can make look classy, but crepe would make look tacky. I’m very particular about the type of material or fabric I use for a design, because ultimately the beauty of any design is brought out by the type of fabric.”

A big factor that comes to play in the design she picks is what is currently trending at home and abroad, but she’s not afraid to start trends, which is why many consider her collection as bold.

“I also select my designs based on the statements that people would want to make or the message that wants to be passed across,” she explains.

Her target market for now is the women of all shapes and sizes. And this cuts across women of all ages. She has this to say: “My designs are targeted at every woman, who wants to look classy, bold and unique. The working class woman, the business woman, home builders… Tkinnuda targets her designs to women everywhere who have a flair for making their statements in the way they dress, subtle or loud.”

Made-in-Naija fascinates Tuke greatly, but she sometimes feel there is still some level of inadequacy by the brand at the global market. “I do feel challenged, but I don’t allow myself to feel intimidated or afraid to take risks in that line. What should the government not do? There’s the erratic supply of power. Seriously though, there’s so much they should stop doing. I don’t see why we are so dependent on imports. Some of the imported goods can’t compare to the quality of made in Nigeria, but yet we continue to patronise such, even in this recession,” she remarks.

Tuke adds, “financial and infrastructural support is poor and that’s too bad because many firms including Tkinnuda would go far with adequate support.”

“Personally, I believe that if we want to sell our products, we need to advertise it and let the world know our products exist and can measure up to our contemporaries,” she says. “Of course, the marketing required to do that will be as intense as that of the likes of Coca-Cola and MTN. Advertising our existence requires the APCON’s endorsement and huge funds to finance such a great project, which just brings us back so square one… but I am not discouraged. I make do with what I have because I believe my success story will be mine to tell and the struggle to make that story should be mine as well and not the government or any other stakeholder.”

Tuke, who grew up in a Catholic home with two sisters and strict parents, attended Federal Government Girls College Sagamu and graduated from UNILAG with a B.Sc and M.Sc in Psychology with a leaning towards Clinical Psychology. She is happily married to Ijemai Ojebuovboh, and the marriage is blessed with three children.

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