By Samuel Okike
Hosting a fashion show in Ajegunle, a community in Lagos known for notoriety and vices, would have been a stuff of ridicule among entrepreneurs in Lagos, but not for Prince Ogaga and Stanley Akpomejeme, the duo who dared to organize the Ajegunle Fashion and Design Week and succeeded.
“We’ve always tried to come up with ideas that are not common. What no one has done before,” said Prince, organizer of Ajegunle Fashion and Design Week.
They call themselves the Idea Finishers, and they want to change the way you see Ajegunle through fashion.
Despite contrary belief, Ajegunle which translates ‘a land of wealth’ has been known to be a treasure cove of hidden talents. The discovery ground of icons such as Daddy Showkey, Taribo West, KCee, Oritsefemi, to mention but a few, Ajegunle has produced some of the biggest names in Nigeria and around the world.
The Ajegunle Fashion and Design Week (AJFDW) was born out necessity when co-founders Prince Ogaga and Stanley Akpomejeme saw a need to promote local talents and bring international attention to their community.
As professional photographers/cinematographers with extensive experience covering fashion shows like the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria, MBGN, the idea to start a hyperlocal (community) fashion show only came naturally to them. So in March 2015 they created the company Idea Finishers which partnered other stakeholders to host the 3-days fashion event.
“We were brainstorming one evening last year March when the idea dropped on us,” Prince told InsideMainland. “Our goal is to effectively capture, engage and connect with a diverse demographic of industry players, contributors, stakeholders, fashion connoisseurs, policy makers and potential investors, and beyond the runway, provide a physical platform that will gradually reposition fashion as a useful tool for commerce and creativity in Ajegunle and Nigeria at large”, he added.
Ajegunle Fashion and Design Week successfully debuted in September 2015 with such notable designers as Stephen Raymond Assim, the CEO of Steveray Couture, in attendance; and an impressive guest turnout of over 500 people.
This year, Ajegunle Fashion and Design Week took it to the street, literally, in a never-before-seen street-style fashion show. The runway was creatively set up on the street, leaving ample room to accommodate guests and onlookers who turned out en-mass.
The event tagged AJFDW 2.0 spanned three days, between 24th and 26th November 2016, featuring runway exhibition, fashion workshops, fashion master-classes, seminars, and networking sessions.
Although faced with financial hurdles during the planning phase, the organizers managed to scale through when an Ajegunle-born London resident and other Ajegunle philanthropists granted them major financial support.
A PASSION FOR COMMUNITY – ‘I AM MADE IN AJEGUNLE’
Born and bred in Ajegunge, Prince Ogaga Wowo and Stanley Akpomejeme Oghenerukevwe have developed a burning passion for the growth and betterment of their community. With close to fifteen years working together, organizing free skill acquisition training and seminars in Ajegunle through their offline and online Idea Finishers Academy, they boast superior knowledge of the community and its needs.
Besides running Idea Finishers, Prince Ogaga manages his own business, Blast Media, a digital solutions company, and Stanley Apkomejeme owns photography brand, Brainbox Images. Nonetheless, their common passion for their community has knitted them tightly and helped them overcome several hurdles.
Married for five years with three kids, Prince explained that long before his marriage he had chosen a life devoted to the development of talents in his community, Ajegunle.
Best described as a pure-bred entrepreneur, Prince Ogaga told InsideMainland how growing up in Ajegunle influenced his life and those of countless others. He proudly describes himself as ‘Made of Ajegunle.’
“I have never written a CV before,” Prince Ogaga revealed to InsideMainland. “Just say I was born to be a Cameraman … my great grandfather, grandfather, and my dad were photographers.”
Ajegunle Fashion and Design Week has come to stay. Prince hopes that the Ajegunle Fashion and Design Week achieves its goals of painting a new, progressive picture of Ajegunle, and repositioning fashion as a useful tool for commerce and creativity in Ajegunle and Nigeria at large.
Talking about the 2017 edition of Ajegunle Fashion and Design Week, he said the world should expect “something bigger and better than” what was offered this year.
PHOTO CREDIT: AJFDW ORGANISERS