Published On: Fri, Sep 1st, 2017

No need searching for a White Collaar job – Ex-Queen

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Beautiful Psychologist, former Carnival Queen and Model-turned fashion designer, Talatu Yawe in this interview with Miriam Humbe, tasks youths to get creative and shun white collar jobs, saying she is much happier and fulfilled with the work of her hands. She tells fashion designers to sell Africa to the global community through use of indigenous fabrics. Excerpts:

You reigned as Carnival Queen in your undergraduate days. How did that happen?
I have always been interested in fashion and modelling, but my first love is fashion. That was what aroused my interest in modelling. So I became Benue Carnival Queen in my third year in the University; that was in 2015. It was an amazing development for me. It was something I least expected but it happened. I was working towards it but I really didn’t think I would win because there were so many other beautiful girls also struggling to win the contest but I came out successful. That was a very interesting experience for me. I am really grateful that I was able to handle that position because it helped me develop myself as a person. I learnt a lot. I became more confident when I became carnival queen. It helped me to be more outspoken. I met more people. I was able to do a lot of things in public so it helped my self esteem. It helped me in a lot of ways. It was a good experience generally.

Who were the beneficiaries of the pet projects you embarked on?
I embarked on a lot of projects. I did a lot of charity works. I went to orphanages, visited the homeless and orphaned children. I started out on my Birthday. I celebrated my first Birthday as a queen at an orphanage in Makurdi, that’s Christ for All Children orphanage and I also went to Federal Medical Centre, Makurdi and visited sick children on Children’s Day. I also went to Makurdi Prisons and visited prisoners but my main project was on creating cancer awareness. They say charity begins at home so I went to my hometown, Mbatiam in Ukum local government and carried out breast awareness and enlightened the widows in my community about breast cancer and taught them about self examination and generally, everything there is to know about cancer, just to create awareness. This is because in the rural areas when something goes wrong, or when they have health challenges, they attribute it to spiritual things so my basic aim of going there was to tell them that, okay, if you notice this, when you wake up in the morning, examine yourself, touch here, touch there. If you notice anything unusual, go to the hospital and check so those were the kinds of information we gave them. I went there with a colleague, Most Beautiful Girl in Benue 2014, and also, my father, who is very supportive. They received my message with much gladness.

Talking about life beyond the crown and school, what have you been doing since graduating?
Life after school has been interesting even though I thought it was going to be boring. I thought I would not have anything to do but it has been very interesting. Before I graduated, my goal was to go to a fashion school and learn the basics about fashion and design and I did that for roughly six months. I went to VZ Creations by Vivian Zadok. She is a very patient and wonderful woman and she taught me step-by-step, everything I need to know and today, by God’s grace, I can say, am a fashion designer. You never stop learning it so I will say I am still learning but I can also be trusted as a tailor. I am now waiting for my NYSC posting which will be coming up very soon but life after the crown and school has been interesting. I used the experiences I learnt from being a queen and being a student. Right now, this is real life for me. I am facing reality so the lessons I learnt as a queen and as a student have been very key in my day-to-day life after school and what I am doing now so it’s been going well.

What attracted you to the fashion industry and is it capable of getting youths self employed?
Yes, I think the fashion industry in Nigeria is doing really well and that is why I am going into it. It’s not just because you make a lot of money from it, but because of self interest. I just love the fact that I can look at any piece of cloth, imagine something and create it. I think it is fun, interesting, and a wonderful thing to do. Our designers are going places. Am always proud when I see even Americans, foreigners and westerners are beginning to accept our fabrics, the Ankara and the rest. They are wearing it so it’s a push up for us to continue. We as fashion designers, especially we that are just coming up, its an encouragement for us to continue to sell our brand as Africans; not just Africans but Nigerians. Even as Africans, we are Nigerians and we have our own culture, we have our fabrics. I am from Benue state and am a Tiv person. We have our own fabrics which are very unique and very beautiful. So I did a collection after my training and I tried to also put a little bit of culture in my collection because I believe that my culture is beautiful and I shouldn’t just experience it alone; other people too should get to see what my culture has to offer. So I put it into my designs. I want to encourage all Nigerian designers to also try and put a little bit of culture in their designs. We are wearing western clothes because they’ve sold their culture to us and we have accepted it. So we too should also try to sell out our own culture to make it gain global acceptance. Let others also get to experience the beauty of Nigerian cultures. I am really impressed with the Nigerian fashion industry. For those of us going into the fashion industry, it’s looking really well for me too. I don’t have to go out and look for a monthly paid job because I already have one; I have created one for myself and it’s doing really well.

How much further do you intend to go as a model?
Modelling for now, I was into it full time back then when I was still in school but now that I am a fashion designer myself, modelling is now something I just do once in a while because I also want to put my own brand out there. Modelling other people’s works won’t give me all the time I need to concentrate on mine so I am not modelling so much now. I still do once in a while. What I am doing more now is pushing myself out there, creating my own brand and making myself reliable as a tailor and fashion designer because I design and do the tailoring myself. It’s a lot of work to do both. Some people just design and other people do the tailoring, but I do both so it’s a lot of work. I am focussing more on fashion designing because it’s what I am going to be doing in a very long time to come. It’s my long-term goal. But modelling, it passes with age. It’s a phase so I want to focus more on what will keep me going for a very long time. But I love both.

What is your advice for young graduates searching for the very elusive white collar jobs?
I will tell them that a white collar job is not the ultimate. Right now, every Nigerian especially youths have realised that a white collar job is not what will get you there or put the desired amount of money in your account. It has helped some people, yes, but it doesn’t work for everybody so I will advice, especially those serving in the NYSC now to follow their passion. Do what you are good at, what you love, because a white collar job cannot bring you happiness, because right now, am a tailor, am very happy with what am doing now even though am just starting up. I don’t have all the money in the world. I don’t have everything I need now but just for the fact that nobody tells me to do anything, I do it willingly , when I want to, and the fact that it’s a dream of mine, it’s a passion so it gives me fulfilment. I will advice them to go after their God-given talents. A white collar job will not always bring you the satisfaction you need in life or the amount of money or happiness. Find out your talent and be really good at it.

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