Somkele Idhlama stole all our hearts at the 2015 Lagos Fashion and Design Week when she closed out her sister Dumebi Iyama’s Andrea Iyamah swimsuit showcase. Since then, she has been revealed to be the brand’s manager and presence in Nigeria. We tracked her down at the Nigerian Entertainment Conference and asked a few questions about her work and her family.
Until LFDW 2015, no one really knew that the Andrea Iyamah brand had an actual physical presence in Nigeria, and the brand made quite an entrance with you on the runway and Dumebi taking her first bow. You’re first and foremost known as an actress, but you also are the brand manager for Andrea Iyamah. How do you juggle managing such a successful brand and your career?
First off, you have to learn to drive (laughs). Jokes aside, It’s really just planning. You have to have a vision, and whatever our goals and vision is, we take small steps to working towards it. We somehow are able to cohesively work together to make it all come alive. Personally, as a company and as a business, we understand our goals and believe in our goals. If we didn’t believe in our goals, we wouldn’t work this hard towards achieving it.
I could focus one of the careers I’m juggling and let the other suffer, but somehow, things have worked out so well, and I’m grateful I can do both.
Andrea Iyamah is a family business, and everyone says family and business don’t work. How do you make it work?
We all have mutual respect for what we do, and that’s the first thing. Dumebi Iyamah is my younger sister and she is also my boss, so there has to be respect for both relationships. That respect is there, it has to be there, otherwise we wouldn’t work as a unit. The number one person in our line of business is the client. As long as we are satisfying our clients, everyone is happy.
It also helps that we have support, we always have supported each other, even when we were kids. Starting a business as family, a lot of people say dont do it, but it has worked well for us.
And it really has worked for you. Your elder sister Oby Iyamah Osifo is the CEO of Switch Cosmetics, you’re an actress acclaimed for your work on Gidi Up and Dumebi of course is Andrea Iyamah.
You’re the only one of your siblings who has chosen to work behind the scenes in the fashion industry even though you’ve done extensive fashion and editorial work and you were a model in Canada. What informed this decision?
Because I’m not a designer (laughs).
I love clothes, love wearing them, love finding people the right ones. My love for the art of creating clothes drives me to be in the industry but not necessarily be in the forefront of it. I can model and endorse brands I believe in. I didn’t take a back seat per se, I simply let myself fit where my skills and talents are required.
Finally, a lot of young people feel if they’re not a designer, stylist, model, photographer or make up artist, they’re really not a part of the industry. What advice do you have for them?
Your instagram is your public resume, there is so much you can do, so much you can achieve on your own. Not everyone gets that big reveal, but it doesn’t make what you do any less valid. Don’t necessarily look for the title, just keep working, and it will come to you. That’s what we did.