Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Interview with Twenty-five years old founder of Slick-City Apparel

Slick City Apparel was founded by twenty-five years old Malik Afegbua. The business idea started out as a nickname while he was pursuing a diploma in Engineering at the University of Lagos in 2003.  After his Diploma, he relocated to the UK where he attended the University of Surrey and bagged a degree in Business.

While in the UK, like the proverbial smoke that cannot be hidden for too long, Slick City resurfaced; not as a nickname this time but as a brand name. Malik loved to look a little different from others and so he customized his own clothes. He got complimented a lot on his style and people found it hard to believe he designed his own clothes. He then started getting orders from friends, and friends of friends.

Today, Slick City Apparel has expanded into a company that is committed to designing stylish and up-to-the-minute t-shirts, belts and bags. Slick City Apparel’s designs are modern, trendy and unique. In Malik’s words, “its not just an outfit, its poetry in motion”.

In this interview with Jennifer Ehidiamen,’s Features Editor, the founder of Slick-City Apparel, Malik Afegbua, shares his passion and vision for his enterprise with tips for young entrepreneurs in Nigeria.

When people hear Slick-City, what do you want them to always remember?
Malik: In my own term I like to describe it as a different way of looking different because of the uniqueness in every outfit made. Surely everyone would like to have an outfit that only he or she owns in the world. Plus this is not just an outfit, its poetry in motion.

So we learn your company has been in existence since 2004? When was it officially launched?
Malik: Yes it has been in existence since then and was pretty much just a name back then. But it was launched 2009 in the UK.

Tell us more about Slick City's origin
Malik: Like I said at first it was just a name, before I started customizing some of my own clothes just for fun and this raised questions from friends because most of them didn't actually believe I customized the clothes. Then I started getting orders from friends and friends of friends and this is how it kicked off.

Why the name Slick City?
Malik: I have had the nickname slick for a while now because I'm a very fashion conscious person and apparently I have a slick way of handling things (not my words). And because of my love for fashion, something just kept on drawing me towards that direction of exploring more in that field. I later on added the city at the end, which gives me a sense of being in my own world "slick-city" where people can come and experience my work.

As a student venturing into Business back then, where did you get your start-up capital?
Malik: I had a part-time job while I was studying in the university, so that and also support from my dad helped.

How are your designs different from other brands/company?
Malik: Uniqueness, innovation, quality, and untapped creativity is what I feel makes us different.

Who is/are your target market?
Malik: We produce for anyone and everyone that embraces quality and innovation.

Has it been a profiting business so far? How many people/Staff work in your organisation?
 Malik: Yes it has been profiting but also demanding. But a fashion label is demanding everywhere in the world and also competitive so I wouldn't say it is uncommon for this to happen. At the moment I have two colleagues that I work with.

From your experience as a young entrepreneur, what are the challenges entrepreneurs are facing today in Nigeria?
Malik: Some of the problems are access to funding, free trade between countries and availability of materials.

What structures should be put in place to further encourage entrepreneurship right from college?
Malik: Support from the Government and other bodies, sponsorship and various leadership trainings because in Nigeria today they’re so many talented young boys and girls but don't have the right resources to move forward. And this is the painful part because the funds are available but are sometimes not invested in the right things.

What more should we expect from Slick-City?
Malik: More quality products from the company will be available and more projects coming soon like the slick-city suave house (smart and casual) and the slick-city retro tour project soon.

Any advice for budding entrepreneurs in Nigeria and Africa?
Malik: If you are passionate about something, just believe and be focused because people could only limit you for sometime but nobody can stop your shine when your time is right.

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