Living Your Passion – Interview with International Fashion Designer – Nena Kalu Ogba

Living Your Passion – Interview with International Fashion Designer – Nena Kalu Ogba

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 fashion designer based in Lagos, Nigeria with a true spirit. A Milliner is a person who designs, cuts and sells hats. Her hats are one-of-a-kind and you can’t help but get noticed wearing one of her designs. She has been featured in several magazines such as Royal Ascot and Vogue. She is currently featured in the October issue of Vogue. Besides her design, I admire her friendly spirit and her ability to inspire kindness through her social network. Please enjoy my inspiring interview with Nena Kalu Ogba, an internationally renowned fashion designer.

When and why did you become a hat designer?

Nena Kalu Ogba – I decided to become a fashion designer out of curiosity. Even after graduating from fashion school, I still found hats a puzzle. I could barely see any seams or joins and it just made me wonder how they were made, so I started looking for a teacher. The teacher I found turned out to be well known – she was the official royal dressmaker to the late Queen Mother of England. I didn’t study womenswear with the intention of making hats for others. I just wanted to be able to execute some crazy ideas I had in my head so I could wear some stunning creations to events. But when I came back to Nigeria, a family friend was getting married and my father asked me to make a hat and accompany him to the wedding as my mother was on holiday in the UK. I made a simple, dramatic hat that I wore to the wedding and noticed people coming up to me and asking me where I got my hat from. Every time I happily mentioned that I had done it, they were surprised and asked for the number.

That’s how my hat business was born and spread mostly by word of mouth before I had my first big exhibition 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 which includes evening and bridal wear, lingerie design, children’s wear, sportswear, swimwear. I later took private short courses 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 everything really – lines, shapes, nature, animals, birds, flowers, sometimes it can even be a plate design or a teacup design.

How did you find success in this industry?

Nena Kalu Ogba – By creating unique and original products, strong belief in myself and God, determination to reach the top no matter what and constantly promoting myself through various media.

What advice can you give to someone interested in a design career?

Nena Kalu Ogba – A career in design is not a roller coaster ride. You have to be focused, believe in yourself, be well grounded and super strong within yourself, determined to reach the top. No matter what happens, work around the clock developing your imagination and creativity, pray a lot for design revelations, you must deeply love design and be aware of the reason why you want to be a designer, be sure you have the talent and strength to rise above your competitors, be original, not imitative and ready to persevere. Finally, you must have a strong marketing team.

Where can people find your products?

Nena Kalu Ogba – My products are sold on my website –

I have independent retailers and wholesalers who own shops or boutiques who also buy from me. My hats are bought by customers all over the world and we ship to almost all countries.

What are your next goals for you and your company?

Nena Kalu Ogba – I hope to create my full clothing line, which is what I originally intended to do. It will be a line that will include all aspects of clothing and accessories for men and women and will be sold in stores worldwide.

Nnenna Pastor – Thank you ma’am. Nena Kalu Ogba.

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