In today’s feature, we have the pleasure of interviewing Shariff Ishaq Abba CEO of SIA Attires, who has achieved remarkable success with his clothing brand. With a wealth of experience and insights to share, he provides a fascinating glimpse into his world.
How would you introduce yourself?
I’m Sharif Ishaq Abba. I’m an entrepreneur. I own SIA Attires.
When did you establish SIA Attires?
Sharif: I started sometime around 2015-2016. I was just doing my thing lowkey. But I started fully in 2017.
What would you say the motivation to become an entrepreneur was?
Sharif: I’ll say the motivation was Nigeria. When this new administration came in, I was in uni then. Lots of things weren’t going well. I come from a family where almost everyone is an entrepreneur. I’ll say entrepreneurship is in-built in me.
Describe the inspiration behind what brand you produce.
Sharif: When I started there were lots of people doing almost the same thing as I’m doing, I love being different so what I did was study the market and figured there was something missing which was wool. When I wanted to open my store. I sat with Farida Kabir, I have known her for a very long time. We talked about my ideas. I have always wanted to make vintage wears. I studied Italian brands and I realised its different from the common wears we have here in Nigeria. I get my inspiration from the likes of Kabir Abu, Ebewele Brown, Africanna, Demanche.
What would you say gives you advantage over your competition?
Sharif: Like I said. I like to be different. 60-70 percent of my clients are from referrals. I don’t push to get people. Rather, I focus on customer satisfaction.
Where do you get most of your support from?
Sharif: I’ll give most of the credit to my family members because they have been there since the initial stage. Social media has been really beneficial as it is a powerful means of reaching out to my clients. I stopped using sponsored ads on Twitter and Instagram because it gathered unwanted traffic. We were targeting the wrong audience.
Any memorable experience you’d like to share?
Sharif: There is this Nigerian stylist who I respect a lot; Ugo Mozie. He has styled the likes of Jay-Z, P Diddy, Chris Brown etc.. He came to do a project in Kano in 2019 and reached out to me via Instagram that he wants to make a Caftan and that he wants me to come over and take his measurements. He was just 3 minutes away from my store. I hurriedly picked up one of the tailors from my shop and headed to the place. Took his measurements, got the clothes done in no time and he loved it so much. We still communicate up till today. Its interesting to have someone you look up to become your friend.
Take us through the production process
Sharif: 90 percent of the clothes I make are plain. Most of my clients including myself, don’t like elaborate designs. Simplicity is the face of my brand.
How do you handle competition in your line of business?
Sharif: I am a very open mined person: I don’t see others in my field of business as competitors, rather as potential business partners.
Do you ever get stressed? How do you manage stress?
Sharif: I am a Human being; I get stressed sometimes. Lots of people tell me that I stress myself a lot while in work but I consider my job as fun. I unwind with snooker(pool) and sleep.
What advice would you give anyone who wants to start a clothing/fabric business in Nigeria?
Sharif: My advice would be to be yourself and be focused. There is no harm in learning from someone but don’t copy them. Be different and don’t try to compete with anyone.
Thank you for reading through our interview with Shariff Abba. Through his hard work, dedication, and innovative thinking, he has achieved considerable success and has added his own flair to Nigerian fashion. We are grateful to him for sharing his experiences and insights with us, and we hope that this interview has provided valuable inspiration and motivation for our readers. We look forward to bringing you more interviews with exceptional individuals on our blog, so stay tuned!!
You can see more of Sharif Abba and his work here.
Personal IG : @shariff_ia
Business IG : @sia_attire