Promise Ubanatu started off like most Nigerian youths, having her life planned out for her by her parents. As fate may have it, a stray interest in fashion started peeking up randomly, pointing her to a different path. A pragmatic lady, she invested in learning fashion during her service year. Now, years after school, she is chiselling that stray interest into a fast-rising fashion brand.

Let’s hear her story.

Tell us a little about yourself

My name is Promise Nzubechukwu Ubanatu. I hail from Anambra state but I’m currently based in Abuja. I am a graduate of the Federal University of Technology Owerri where I studied Biotechnology. However, I work as a Beauty Advisor at a cosmetics company, and also a Fashionpreneur.

Let's talk about your childhood. What was it like?

Childhood was bitter-sweet.  My dad died before I was born. So it was sort of tough growing up.  But I had my good days. Being raised by a single mother is not all Roses in the park that’s for sure

At what point did you decide that your current career/business is what you want to do?

I never decided on what I wanted to do. Or should I say, I never decided the job I am doing now is what I would want to do. I was looking for a job, and this was available. So, I took it. It’s not really what I want to do.

But, as for my business, I have always loved fashion. I knew I was going to do it someday. So, after graduation, before NYSC, when I was waiting for NYSC callup letter, I learnt how to sew from a street tailor. During NYSC, I continued learning how to sew, but I went to a fashion school this time around. So, I was serving and using my ‘allawee’ to pay for my training.

Since you say you are a beauty advisor and a fashion entrepreneur, how did you make a switch from biotechnology, to the beauty and fashion world? What triggered the transition?

The economic situation of the country.  Kinda difficult to land the right jobs

That’s 100% true. So, are you a beautician for the money or do you have future plans for it?

For the money. But it’s an industry I see myself going into in the future. It’s lucrative

What inspired you to start a fashion business? Tell us the story

Promise Ubanatu in white and blackI’ve always loved to play dress-up. I always like to be myself and look good. I mean, dress up, look good, look beautiful. Uhm… I like to walk into a place and, you know, get everyone’s attention with what I am wearing.


How I knew it was something I wanted to do is, there is this love I just have for fabric, clothes, fashion. When I’m less busy or I can’t sleep, or I just want to be happy, what I do is surf the internet going through styles, clothing, fabrics, looking at fashion brands, and then screenshotting a bunch and a ton of these pictures. I’ve been doing that for years even though I didn’t even know how to make clothes or sew.

During my early days in the university, my gallery was filled up with pictures of different styles, clothes, fabrics, and in my mind, I was like, one day, I am going to make all of these by myself. So, it was something that kept me happy.

Back then, you’ll see my mates going online, looking for blogs, gossip blogs, Instagram, Facebook, and all of that. But for me, I just go online to surf through clothes, fashion, styles, and all of that, even though I didn’t have the means to actually dress the way I wanted to dress (I was a student), or I didn’t even know how to sew. I just kept screenshotting pictures with the hope that one day I will actually learn to sew and make these clothes for myself.

Also, I am plus-sized. So, it’s kinda difficult to find… actually, it wasn’t difficult finding my size, but it was difficult finding a perfect fit. Uhm, and then also when it comes to making clothes with tailors, they don’t actually…. I didn’t see anyone that actually get my style and get what I really want. There was always one issue or the other. So I felt this is another reason to just do this for myself. And so that was the initial plan, and that was how the whole thing started.

So, after university, while I was waiting for callup letter, I decided to start, and then when I went for NYSC, I decided to continue from there. And I bought my first sewing machine with my ‘allawee’, and now I have two sewing machines; an industrial one and the first one I bought, the manual one. It was a sacrifice; it was not easy. I was receiving N19,800, but I was still able to take out N5,000 every month to pay for my training and was still able to save up to buy myself a sewing machine. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.

What's your brand name?

Pehn_couture but this is subject to change. I’ll be doing a major rebranding.

Who does your fashion business tailor to?

Women.  For now.  Major audience, plus size but not limited to them.

And what are your plans for the business in the nearest future?

From tailoring to designs to styling to shoes and accessories to fashion school to textile production to cosmetics by God’s grace

Does your brand have a major theme or style?

Yes. Afrocentric giving off modest vibes

What do you think has been instrumental to your level of success?

Fear of failure, consistency, constant learning and practice and God. Though I don’t consider myself successful yet. Still have a long way to go

What bias have you had to deal with in your career/business and how did you overcome them?

When I started out in my company I had a whole lot of competition to deal with and being someone who doesn’t care for such it was a problem. Also, I had issues warming up to the clients because of the girl syndrome

I am still overcoming and learning but the trick Is to just be humble and first warm-up with your colleagues and let them help you out with the clients.  Also, study your colleagues’ approach and look for ways to stand out on your own

What do you see yourself doing in the next ten years?

Owning my fashion brand and textile factory. Also, maybe starting out my own skincare brand. I’m also looking forward to having my PhD.

What is the one thing you want everyone to know about you?

I have fears. I’m not a superhuman. And I don’t have it all figured out

Thank you for chatting with me.

The story of Promise Ubanatu proves that life is really what you make out of it, and destiny is what we make out of what we are given. She could have continued to wander the street of Nigeria searching for the ever-scarce white-collar job, but she rather chose to capitalize on her burgeoning interest in fashion and later turned it into a business.

Her business also gave her the platform to affect the lives of girls in her community. She partnered with DO to carry out a Pad project where she taught 30 girls how to make reusable pads. Those girls will never again experience period poverty in their lifetime.

What have you been given?

What are you making out of it?

Be like Promise.

Turn your passion into a business, and impact lives in the process.


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