It all started when a very close friend of hers told her to leave an imprint on the sands of time. And coming from a family where skills and independence are the bedrock, it didn’t seem impossible. A while later the ‘Purple Fashion Show’ was born.
Joy Eneghalu or ‘Purple’ as she’s fondly called is a final year student of Mass communication department Nnamdi University, Awka who owns her own company ‘Purple Creations’ of which the fashion show is a mere offspring. Being her own boss was a thought she nurtured while growing up she tells me.
Joy loved to watch fashion programmes; the runway, the sashays, glamour and glitterati, lights, camera, action all appealed to her heart. She felt she needed to bring something of that class (or almost) down to where it was lacking. She also realized that in Awka there wasn’t a fashion brand and the models go through extreme difficulties, from sexual harassment to extortion. She decided to do something about that. The first Purple Fashion Show or rather ‘Face of Purple’ was held on November 11 2011. It was the first ‘major’ fashion show and first show hosted on a Purple Carpet in Anambra State.
“In 2011 I began planning the first show, she says; “I had a fashion party for models and designers in May to pave way for what was to come in November. Convincing my family to back me was not that hard because they are very supportive, my mum especially. It was she who took me fund-seeking to meet a few people to help out on the project of over 600,000 naira.”
I requested clarification on the difference between beauty pageants and fashion shows because to me somehow they had the same elements; beauty models, beautiful costumes, sashays, glam, runway, lights, camera, action. And of course for many who are reading this and don’t know the difference. Joy was quick to give me a reply on this one like a lady who knows her stuff, beauty, brains, and the works.
“In a fashion show, the models are not selling themselves; they sell the costume of the designer, and perhaps the models messes up, the designers are on the receiving end”. And in beauty pageant, it’s the other way round. The idea of the ‘Purple Fashion Show’ was to create a competitive platform for these upcoming designers to show case their designs which will be adorned by well tutored and nurtured models.”
Her second show came with a higher budget of about 800,000 naira. A few features that weren’t in the first show were to be added. She needed to build a runway, get a very good venue, camp and feed the contestants, acquire resource persons, DJ e.t.c. The finalists were eventually camped for 5days so as to provide them a secluded space for concentration. She was able solicit the help of few resource people. A lady who helped prepare their mindsets; public behavior and carriage were they to become celebrities. She also got others who helped out with photo shoots, cat walking tutorials, makeup sessions e.t.c.
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Her first show had great turnout than the 2nd, a hall with maximum sit capacity of 1,000 plus had people standing. But despite the crowd, there was still poor gate taking. The admittance fee for the show was 600Naira, but due to the mentality of the people/students not wanting to pay the money in full, some causing fights in turn. I honed more on this ‘mentality’ drama.
“Some claimed the CEO was their friend and thus refused to pay the gate fee. Others felt they could actually get bargain to enter a show whose admittance fee is 1,000 for 700 naira or less, and somehow with numerous tricks and stratagems some of them did. This affects a lot of shows. Take for instance last year, a media company featured 2face in a music show but could not realize up to half the money spent, because the people of the town were like; ‘How I go take spend 1000 naira on top sey I wan see 2face, him dey feed me?”
The success of the 2nd show was also hampered by the resumption date which was postponed to the 11th of November 2012 whereas the show was schedule to hold on the 2nd. The show was heavily dependent on the students of which not many had resumed at that time.
Joy talks on the difficulties she encountered while trying to put the 2011 show together. “Firstly we wanted publicity, we needed to get the word out there and the radio stations took advantage that we were new in the game to charge us more. I also had to paste posters myself since the people I approached for assistance also billed what I couldn’t afford. And of course by the next day I would see my posters torn to shreds, and I would begin posting all over again.”
Another difficulty was in team building. I needed people who had passion and drive, I was just starting up, I didn’t have money to pay them, so I sought out peeps that would believe and drive this with me. I must say my team members did a lot to help me. I couldn’t have done it without them.
“I needed to make the 3rd show bigger. One of the advices I got was to change location to Enugu State precisely. I’d the popularity, learnt lessons and gained experience, it didn’t seem hard to startup. I’d already done an audition before ASUU went on strike and this was a big blow. My team members left town to their homes while I stayed back, so communication proper was a bit of an issue. So I had to put up a new team in Enugu.”
“For my show to run in Enugu, I sought the support of the government but was told I had to get to the Culture and Tourism Board first. On getting there, the commissioner said he wouldn’t allow my event to hold because it would affect his which was coming up in December and thus told me to postpone mine till next year and then he would grant my request. He specifically told me to tell my contestants to come and purchase his form since he had much to offer, after all he was giving out a car, but I wasn’t’. He then referred me to the GM who in turn said he would get to me through his workers. Later the workers approached me saying I had to get signed letters from my sponsors and 70,000 naira ‘board fee’. The workers were more interested in the money than in helping me out I later got to find out.”
“I’d managed to get Glo as sponsor among others that would take care of the modeling contract, free wardrobe allowance for one year, trip to Dubai for the winner amongst other things. But as the Enugu state tourism board continued to frustrate my advances, the sponsors became unsettled and in order to save face, I cancelled the event totally”, she lamented.
So Joy put the fashion show on hold and began thinking of a much bigger playing field, a better mentality and environment that didn’t depend solely on students. She says she got a call from someone to bring the event to Akwa Ibom, but says, except she gets major sponsors, she wouldn’t do it. “My next step is clothes business, I call it the ‘Purple shop’, a complete fashion house” Joy says smiling exposing all 32s and revealing sparks in her eyes as one who has been bedazzled by a starry night.
Her plan was to make beautiful clothes and sell, “if she couldn’t go on with the show now, she may as well run with the shop idea, no backing down. The clothes would be a walk in the park as she plans to team up with her younger sister who lives in Ghana and is exceptional at designing clothes. Instagram, BBM and twitter would be their market place. Her sister made good stuff, and people liked good stuff, so idea seemed feasible.
Joy says she cherished the experience garnered from her shows but in all her greatest moments was in 2012 when one of the contestants expressed thanks to her for the belief, exposure and inspiration gained through the show. She sees her failure but also her success. What she enjoys most is motivating and encouraging people to be everything they can be.
She’d always thought running and keeping a business wouldn’t be that hard but now she knows better. She understands that for her to go places she needs to keep focused and wonders why men seek to take advantage of ladies.
With a stern face she said to me; “I approached a male friend who was into business with my funding plan for over a million naira and he said he would help on a condition being that I had to sleep with him”. ‘Money for hand, back for ground’ the man had said. I vowed not to do such thing”.
Just like every entrepreneur, her greatest fear is failure, yet the travails of her fashion show wouldn’t stop her from her next venture. She knows there’s no time for tears when you’re fishing for dreams.