Gillian Eigbobo

4 minute read

By Fumni Moronfolu Ibironke

There is inspiration all around us, if we only open our eyes and minds to it. ~Liani

Nigeria is a country of diverse people with an incredible ability to produce talent inspired by her surroundings and culture. We are proud to shine the light on one of our resourceful, creative and inspiring sisters; Gillian Eigbobo, the founder and creative director of LIANIS CREATIONS.

Meet Gillian, alumna of the set of 1990 from Irrua in Edo State. Gillian obtained her LL.B degree before proceeding to the Nigerian Law School, Abuja for her BL. Gillian worked as a law professional for a number of years before embarking on birthing her childhood dream of developing and using her creative gift to make beautiful accessories for women and children using locally sourced fabrics.

Gillian tells us “My motivation is really a desire to create something not just beautiful, but useful and durable. I always try to make my next work an improvement on the previous one, so I am always seeking out new methods, ideas and ways to do better. My ideas come from everything around me. I could see a dress on a person and immediately have an image of how to create a bag to complement their outfit. I ask myself, chic, classic or fun? Clutch, satchel, messenger or hobo bag? I always have my little sketch pad and pen/pencil on me, sketching ideas to develop later. There is inspiration all around us, if we only open our eyes and minds to it.”

“My late mum was a cosmetologist, so it was inevitable that she introduced us at an early age to beauty and fashion. As a result, all her kids became qualified hairdressers. That was how I discovered I enjoyed working with my hands. I learned the art of beading which opened my eyes to the possibility of creating my own designs from scratch. Even as I ventured into my first real business, baking and supplying cookies, I continued to explore other creative outlets. One day, I got curious about how bags were made, I took a cardboard and pins and that’s how my first bag was created. I was quite pleased with myself and thoroughly enjoyed the process. I went on to do some training and now here I am, determined to use the materials around me to create beautiful accessories for women, men and children.”

On starting her business in Nigeria, Gillian tells us “Like every new venture, there were a lot of challenges, it is how we handle them that matters. It was a slow start, the Nigerian economic environment is an interesting one and I had to decide which market to target. Whilst the majority of my designs are targeted at the middle class, I also create bespoke and individualized pieces for customers that request that service. I have also started a service primarily for refurbishing clients’ tired looking accessories and giving them a new lease of life. This is achieved by covering and infusing them with locally sourced fabrics and accessories.”

LIANI loves to use African prints to express the richness, creativity and style of our culture. This offers her clients the unique opportunity to stand out. The lunch boxes/cool bag line is very popular and creates a way for children to appreciate and be proud of their heritage. LIANI handmade fans are a beautiful add-on creating the complete chic look ladies love.

“The brand name LIANI was suggested by my set girls of the class of 1990. They have been with me from inception. I really want to thank and appreciate these ladies. They are true sisters. In the beginning I got a lot of criticism and was discouraged but as I began to reflect on the critiques, I realized that I could use them as my sounding board to improve my ideas and products. I learnt to be patient and not discouraged.”

The founder of LIANI is passionate about motivating young creative Nigerians to achieve their dreams. Her hope is to help develop local talent and harness available skills and materials to create employment opportunities in her country.

Finally she advises “Starting a business on your own no matter how small can be challenging. There will be periods of setbacks but the important thing is to remember the reason you started and the lives that will be impacted because you dared to begin. Be ready to start small. Trust God to help you grow. You will make mistakes, just don’t allow yourself get discouraged. Pick yourself up, learn from your mistakes and move on.

Trust in the Lord, He is never late, He is ALWAYS on time.”

Federal Government Girls’ College Onitsha Alumnae Association USA/Canada Chapter is very proud of our Gillian Eigbobo, who inspires us to work hard, pursue our passions and persevere in the face of obstacles; to turn every challenge into an opportunity for growth; to celebrate our culture and in our journey towards achieving our dreams, to remain ever concious of how we can give back to our community and beloved nation.

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