Whoever thought that pronouncing the word ‘Pretty’ with an American accent could land someone a business name!
Priddi International, founded by fashion enthusiast, Elvis Omokhegbele, is a made-in-Nigeria fashion brand that deals on customized T-Shirts. Born out of his desire to look good and powered by the need to create self-employment, Elvis started Priddi International by making clothes for people who loved the wares he had made for himself. “I started making clothes myself since it was difficult to see good ones that fit my slim stature,” Elvis recounts. “People liked what I wore and asked if I could make for them. Some people even bought my clothes off me.”
Moving to Lagos from Benin City, Elvis hoped that his clothing business would kick off in earnest, only to realize that there was no space to fit in his sewing machine in the one room apartment he shared with his sisters. “I had to find another source of income, so I struck a commission deal with a friend who made T-shirts for every client I brought,” he said. “I called everybody I knew in Benin to tell them I make T-shirts. Within the first week, I had about three orders and made N500 on each. The next week – over ten orders and they just kept coming and increasing every other week.” Weeks rolled into months, and feeling confident about his business, Elvis borrowed money from friends and family to add to his savings and rented a shop.
With enough space to lay his sewing machine and entertain clients, Elvis set about building his business brand. He learnt how to make and customize T-shirts himself (previously, he could only sew regular wares), and as his most profitable venture, it also became the focus of his business, even as he continued to make well-designed casual and African outfits.
Getting Priddi International off the ground posed much more challenges than Elvis had envisaged. “Everything was very challenging,” he said. “Getting the basic supplies—fabrics was tough as was finding the right printing materials and machinery.” Of course, Elvis didn’t give up. “During those times, I kept telling myself that I was a Nigerian Hustler, and was never going to give up,” he enthused. “I was determined to keep building my business, against the counsel of some of my friends and family members who wanted me to seek employment and, at most ‘do my tailor work’ on the side.” Now, Elvis runs Priddi International as a full time job and does other things, such as stage and screen acting on the side.
For Elvis, Priddi International was always the means to an end. “The mission has always been to earn a living, create jobs and inspire others to do the same. I wanted to build a business, with the hope that if I succeed, it could inspire our generation and the next that there is dignity in hard work and entrepreneurship.” Now those values are paying off. From its humble beginnings of selling 10 T-shirts per week, Priddi now retails, on the average, 30 T-shirts per day. The company has also upgraded its machinery from their first equipment purchased at N180, 000 [paid in 8 installments] to owning a one-off purchase of a 2 million naira machine. The company presently has more than one outlet, seven paid employees and three apprentice learning graphic design and tailoring.
In May 2017, Priddi International recorded its 10,000th successful sales, a feat attributed to the commercializing of its production processes, selling on E-commerce platforms, social media publicity and the increasing patronage of made in Nigeria goods. “We are working towards becoming a big and remarkable Fashion company out of Africa in the near future,” Elvis said. “Our next big step is to take advantage of more E Commerce platforms, such as the SME MarketHub to expand our brand visibility and increase our sales. They have really helped businesses out of the little circle of neighborhood/city to a bigger stage,” he hinted about the GTBank-powered E-commerce platform. “It is amazing that the platform is free, and I am already making plans to put Priddi on the Hub very soon.”
Having gone through many of the motions and hurdles of a Nigerian hustle, Elvis also has his two cents worth; “Don’t wait till tomorrow, start today. It may not be easy but if you believe in it and see it through, you will almost never regret it.”
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