Tell us a little about yourself and your business, African Unique Expressions
My name is Belinda T. known to many as Lady “”B”, I’m originally from Nigeria, West Africa. I am a graduate of the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia with concentrating in Accounting and Business. I did my Master’s at La Salle University majoring in Information Systems. I have several years of experience in Accounting and Taxation. I am also a registered tax preparer and an enrolled agent, able to provide representation to my clients before the IRS all over the US.
How did you get started?
African Unique Expressions was born as a result of my Passion for Fashion. My taste in clothing is very different. Not everyone can wear the same thing. I like unique outfits and they are not readily available in the stores. AE came into existence in the year 1998. My creativity and desire to be unique made me to start making my own outfits. When others saw them on me, they desired them as well and before you knew it, I was making dresses for others after work. I worked at PHMC from 1985-2004. I left as the Senior Accountant/Offsite Comptroller before I decided going full time into fashion designing. Custom-made clothes means not seeing yourself all over the place with someone else wearing what you have on.
What women/men do you dress? Who are your clienteles?
African Expressions does not discriminate. Our clients range from new born to the seasoned adults. We dress the best dressed kings and queens, princes and princesses. We make you look your best at all times; as long as you want to stand out, African Unique Expressions is the place for you. No matter the size, xs, small, medium, large, x-large, XXXL, different shapes and makes, male and female, you can count on African Expressions to get fitted.
What does your everyday look like?
Every day at Unique Expressions is never the same. We all know that running and growing a business takes a lot of hard work. It is not for lazy people. I have days that I don’t even bother to go home in other to finish an outfit. Aside from long hours, I have to compromise with a lot of things and sacrifice social activities with a lot of stress. Each day brings new obstacles to overcome.
What would you say is the highlight of being a fashion entrepreneur?
I cannot say this without giving glory to God for the creative mind He has given me. I had a very strong creative skills and fine eye for details. My sense of visualization is very unique. I can see a client and picture an outfit on them. To this degree I have been 99.9% accurate…not to say that I don’t have a displeased customer but that’s relatively low. My business background has also contributed to my sharp business sense. I am also able to adapt to new trends as well as keep my old favorites.
I have an amazing taste and a great eye for all the delicate intricacies. Combining Jewelries and outfits with matching shoes and bags to go in my delight.
I see myself as a remarkable trendsetter not just a follower. I remain motivated to give form to the most original and creative designs to be able to cater for newer taste and choices that people have.
Love to provide good customer service, show them that they are important to us. Treat them with courtesy, respect and interest. They in turn tell of their experiences. I have gained many long times friends from this establishment. Small business thrive on word of mouth more than anything else. A good customer will always refer another. To this I am very grateful.
What is the most challenging aspect of what you do?
Whoa … at times you just have a lot of others things at the same time and not enough help. I end up working too much…..always in never ending sales mode. This is very exhausting. There is always one thing or the other to be done. I cannot afford to fail because I have a reputation to protect. And thank God, I have not failed anyone over 20 years and counting.
What do you love must about what you do?
Everything….from creation to delivery. Meeting different classes of people.
I love that I have great degree of control and freedom with my work. I love the smile on my clients when they come for their fittings. It is a great thing to please people and deliver excellence.
I love what I do, because it is my passion; it is in-built for me not just ability to do…it is in- born and that’s what makes the difference; it is an endowment, an essential part of me. I just cannot describe it.