She is a popular society woman in Lagos. She is also a successful Lagos businesswoman. For very many years, she was into kiddies stuff.
She had a whole building in the Omole area of town stocked with children stuff.
Somehow, many don’t know that this beautiful woman called Princess Toyin Atobatele is into the business of selling Ankara. She sells high quality, choice Ankara fabric. Call her the queen of Ankara and you won’t be wrong. For the past few years, she has always being a big-time Ankara dealer. She owns a big Ankara store called Wendy Ankara Place at the Omole area of Ikeja in Lagos, Housing Estate where she stocks all the latest designs of Ankara, from DaViva to Excellence to all brands of Ankara & Aso Ebi.
Why did she go into the Fashion business, we asked her. Has that always been her line of business? “Fashion has always been part and parcel of every human being”. She says. “It now depends on how you want to express it. I love fashion. I dress well. I admire good materials, good fabrics, good clothing. By and large, I ventured into fashion business from the beginning.
I started with children salon and adult salons. We are one of the pioneers of children salon in Nigeria, Lagos to be precise. We specifically opened a whole house for children. We were doing well. So, from there, we diversified. I am an Ijesha woman, so I love money. So, whatever brings money, I do. I won’t be a thief. I won’t steal. But I will work.
But how did I get into fabric business? One day I was talking with one of my friends. I actually wanted to open Amala joint. She looked at me and said what's that? Why would you open an Amala joint with your clout, with your education? I listened to her. She said DaViva decided to expand and widen their horizon and they are looking for dealers. She was the 1st dealer in Lagos. Followed by another lady in Lagos Island. So, I was the 3rd person to take the authorised dealership of DaViva. That was how she took me to DaViva and we concluded. That was it.
We’ve been in this DaViva business for 6 to 7 years now, selling Ankara. We started with DaViva. Later on, we started selling excellence. The 2 are been managed by the same company but they just called them different names. You have to register individually for them. As time went on, we expanded our stock. We diversified into every kind of Ankara. There is no type of Ankara we don’t sell now. We divided the shop into 2. This side here is for DaViva and Excellence. The other side is for every other Ankara like Vilisco you get to see as low as Ankara of N2,000 in this store and you get to see as high as N150,000” We asked her to tell us about the beauty of Ankara. What has she found out about Ankara? Why has it become a fabric that has refused to go off the scene easily?
Many people are surprised that Ankara that many people perceive to be cheap now goes for as high as N70,000 to N100,000. “Yes, you are right. I think the person who made Ankara popular is former President Olusegun Obasanjo. He banned the importation of fabrics. And he made it compulsory for workers in the Ministry to wear Ankara to work on Friday then. That was what made Ankara popular and the ban on all the importation of lace into the country. Before people used to take lace as Aso-Ebi but now few people take lace. Almost everyone who wants to have a party will now take Ankara for so many reasons.
Number one it is affordable. Number two, it is durable. Number 3, it is washable. Number 4, it is versatile. You can use it to create any style. Do you know that, abroad, on Broadway, as their fashion show they now use Ankara; they still infuse Ankara into their fashion shows. Somehow I use to wonder how do they get this Ankara? They love our Ankara”.
Has selling Ankara changed or affected her own style? Of course, it affected my style because now, most of the clothes in my wardrobe are Ankara, because there is no style that you can’t use Ankara to create. You can use Ankara for top, for trouser, anything. I have so many Ankara outfits in my wardrobe.
You can locate Wendy’s Ankara Place at 24, Gbemisola House, by CLAM junction, Omole Phase 1, Lagos.