She looks radiant in her pink wrapper and blouse as she pulls her black SUV to a stop in front of her Ikeja office.
“I like your fabric,” I said as we exchanged pleasantries.
“Thank you. It is one of the old patterns of Vlisco rendered on chiffon,” she explained to me. She is right. The horse pattern is one of the very old Vlisco iconic designs that is staging a comeback as Ankara fabric is gaining popularity again.
Ayokunmi Motunrayo Abdul got the exclusive franchise to open boutiques for the sale of Vlisco wax in November 2012. Since then, she has five stores one in Abuja and four in Lagos. Recently, the Lekki branch was opened at the Centro Mall, Lekki.
She is the CEO of LKA Fabrics Limited. Married to Olalekan Abdul, her union is blessed with two beautiful children, Oluwatise and OluwaTofunmi.
Her love for rare Ankara fabrics led her to selling Vlisco wax. “I have always seen beautiful advertisement of the fabrics on TV/billboards,” she explains. “I had dreams of owing a Vlisco boutique, when the opportunity came I didn’t hesitate that year, at all.”
She says Nigerians are in love with Vlisco fabric which has led to an increase in the demand for the brand. “Yes. they are several Nigerians that like representing our indigenous African culture at every point they get to, which is wearing quality Ankara fabrics. Vlisco is associated with African culture so when you think of quality and African culture you think of Vlisco. Vlisco products are widely accepted by Nigerians especially the Northerners because of the authenticity.”
The Vlisco fabrics come in different forms. There are fabrics with extra embellishment like stones, sequins, petals, lace, embroidery which comes with extra cost. Embellished fabrics go as high as N200, 000 or more. You can get some others for as low as N16,000.
Vlisco has been a darling of lovers of quality fabrics since 1846 because of its durability and quality. Pieces made with Vlisco have graced international runways.
“It has been in existence since 1846, even before my grandparents were born. Representing them is a tremendous opportunity that has affected our business positively, everybody that loves quality want the original Vlisco fabrics and if you want original you think of nowhere else but LKA Fabrics. I think it’s a good image for African Culture that Ankara is on the runway. They are representing our heritage so people appreciate your outfits when you visit international countries all dressed in your Ankara.”
Fashionable and dedicated to her business, Abdul wears most times as more than 90 percent of her dresses are made with Ankara. “I have different wears for everyday office duties, school runs, special occasions and events. The occasion dictates my dress most times and also my desires. I try to stay very natural with little or no makeup, using natural products as my everyday toiletries. I try to rest my nerves as much as possible.”
In the next five years, Abdul hopes to be running more exclusive Vlisco boutiques in other major cities in the country.