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  Ngozi Udoh says she’s always loved making things. She remembers styling members of her family at age nine and being her friend’s go-to makeup person while in university. A multi-talented individual, Ngozi has also been a model and musician at various points in her life. And at every turn in her colourful journey of purpose, she’s been commended for her creative flair.
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But it’s still a surprise to many that she’s wound up as a fashion entrepreneur—something she’s also succeeding at. As founder and boss at Zateemee, one of Nigeria’s top emerging fashion brands, she’s building a business that’s reaching a large and growing customer base. And even here, her love of great art and perfect patterns shine through. “Growing up in our country, you don’t exactly know what you’re supposed to do in life,” Ngozi said, in an interview with Connect Nigeria. “I had to figure out which of my preferences I kept falling back to, the one I had the most ease at doing.” For her, this ultimate preference—her passion –was fashion.

An Unlikely Beginning

Zateemee operates out of Port Harcourt, where it makes the casual women’s wear and bridal regalia that it sells. These items are either ready-made and available for immediate purchase, or bespoke, designed to fit the customer’s order specifications. The company has grown significantly, given that it’s been around for just under seven years. It has an interesting beginning too, as Ngozi recalls. She had been making clothes for herself and her children, and getting a lot of compliments for how nice they looked. But she didn’t think too much of the positive reviews. “I had been fighting the idea of going into the fashion business for a long time,” she admits. “I didn’t like to sew, but I enjoyed designing new pieces.” Then someone offered her a slot at a fashion show. She jumped at the opportunity. “I had to send in a profile, and told tailors to make wears for the show,” Ngozi says. “I started getting orders right after the event.”
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Things unfolded fairly quickly. Ngozi had to come up with a name for the brand in a short time. Thankfully, she could draw from some past creativity. She reworked her stage name from her days as a singer, eventually arriving at the name ‘Zateemee’.

Reaching For The Stars

The Zateemee brand has recorded major successes. It’s been worn by several celebrities, including Juliet Ibrahim, Ini Dima-Okojie, CeeC, and Onobello. The brand has also been showcased at several fashion shows, including the Port Harcourt fashion and design week, the International Style Festival, the Metropolitan Fashion Show, and the Tinny Fashion Show, among others. In 2019, Zateemee was named one of Nigeria’s Top 100 Emerging SMEs by Connect Nigeria. It came on the list after scaling a screening process and receiving votes from its fans. Ngozi says the award has given her a confidence boost. “It’s a big one. It gives me a lot of confidence. It also says I have to do more; I’m not allowed to play small.” In response, she’s carried on with building a “global brand.” She points out that Zateemee isn’t just a Nigeria-focused business. It’s designed to stand toe-to-toe with the best in the world. For her, this journey is continuous. Ngozi places a premium on persistence. Her advice to new entrepreneurs reveals this. “Never settle,” she admonishes. “Always aspire to be the best you can be. Don’t put a lid on yourself.” If you would like to hear more success stories from entrepreneurs in Nigeria, tune in to Business Connect. It goes live every Friday on the Connect Nigeria Instagram page. Featured Image Source: Zateemee
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This article was first published on 27th April 2021


Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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