Living Your Passion – Interview With International Milliner – Nena Kalu Ogba

With Social Networking, it is easier and quicker to met so many new people. One of the new people that I met is Nena Kalu Ogba. She is an International Milliner based in Lagos, Nigeria with a genuine spirit. A Milliner is a person who designs, trims and sells hats. Her hats are one of a kind and you cannot help but be noticed if you are wearing one of her designs. She has been featured in several magazines such as Royal Ascot and Vogue. She is currently featured in the Vogue October Edition. Apart from her designs, I admire her friendly spirit and her ability to convene kindness through her social network. Please enjoy my inspiring interview with Nena Kalu Ogba, International Renowned Milliner.

When and Why did you become a Hat Designer?

Nena Kalu Ogba – I decided to become a milliner out of curiosity. Even after graduating from fashion school, I still found hats a puzzle. I could hardly see any stitches or joins and it just made me wonder how they were made so I started to look for a teacher. The teacher I found happened to be well known – she was the official Royal milliner to the Late Queen Mother of England. I didn’t learn millinery with the intention to make hats for others. I just wanted to be able to make some crazy ideas I had in my head come to reality so I could wear some stunning creations to events. But when I returned to Nigeria, a family friend was getting married and my dad asked me to make a hat and accompany him to the wedding since my mum was on holiday in the UK. I made a simple, striking hat, which I wore to the wedding and noticed people walking up to me and asking where I got my hat. Each time I gladly mentioned that I made it myself, they were amazed and asked me for my number.

That’s how my hat business was born and spread mostly by word of mouth before I had my first major exhibition and the media fell in love with my designs.

Where did you study fashion and design?

Nena Kalu Ogba – I studied fashion at De Montfort University, Leicester, UK. I specialized in contour fashion, which incorporates evening and bridal wear, lingerie design, children’s wear, sportswear, swimwear. I later took short courses privately and also at Central Saint Martins College, London learning how to make handbags.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Nena Kalu Ogba – I get inspired by anything really – lines, shapes, nature, animals, birds, flowers, sometimes it could even be a plate design or tea cup design.

How have you been able to be successful in this industry?

Nena Kalu Ogba – By creating unique and original products, strongly believing in myself and in God, determination to get to the top no matter what and constantly marketing myself through different media outlets.

What advice can you give someone who is interested in a designing career?

Nena Kalu Ogba – A career in design is not a ride on a roller coaster. You need to be focused, believe in yourself, be well grounded and super strong inside of you, determined to get to the top. No Matter What happens, work round the clock developing your imagination and creativity, pray a lot for design revelations, must deeply love design and be clear about the reason you want to be a designer, be sure you have the talent and strength to rise above your competitors, be original and not a copy cat and ready to persevere. Finally, you must have a strong marketing team.

Where can people find your products?

Nena Kalu Ogba – My products are sold on my website –

I have independent marketers and wholesale buyers who own shops or boutiques who purchase from me too. My hats are purchased from customers all over the world and we ship to almost all countries.

What are your next goals for you and your company?

Nena Kalu Ogba- I am hoping to set up my full clothing line, which was what I originally, intended to do. This would be a line that would incorporate all aspects of clothing and accessories for men and women and sold in stores worldwide.

Nnenna Pastor – Thank you Ms. Nena Kalu Ogba.

Satria Permadi

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