Victoria James, popularly known as Veekee James, is an award-winning Nigerian fashion designer known for her design and style of work.
In an interview, she lets us into her world by explaining the motivation behind her fashion brand, how her religion has helped her designs, how she deals with people’s comments online, other designers copying her designs and her intimate life.
The inspiring designer revealed she grew up at Ajegunle in Lagos and learnt sewing from her mum, who was a tailor. Victoria admitted that she never thought sewing was going to be how she earned a living as she didn’t have as much passion as she did for other skills she had.
She prides herself on knowing and being skilled at many things, including makeup and hair styling, which was what she did in school. The Akwa Ibom-born entrepreneur confessed she thought makeup and hair would be her major business but changed her mind after graduation.
Veekee confessed that one of the reasons she didn’t think of fashion in that light was because her mum wasn’t earning so much from the venture. In her words, she thought fashion designing to be a ‘poor man’s job’.
She disclosed that her school passion was already everyone’s business when she went back to Lagos, so, she had to think of something else. Victoria revealed she had a passion for fashion design but, not to the point of pursuing a career in it.
She emphasised that she didn’t see herself designing clothes for money but was willing to give it a try, and that was how it all started.
When asked what values her mum instilled in her that still ring in her head to date, she admits her mum’s introduction to Christianity helped her tremendously. She continued that her mum never remarried since her dad died at 5, and her mother vowed to give her whole life to raising them alone.
Veekee emphasised that her mum raised her and her brothers well. She added that she constantly reminds her brothers that her life and everything she does is for them, even after she gets married. She emphasised that even the VeeKee James brand is for her family, and she would love to hand it over to future generations.
When asked what were some of her fears on entering the design world as it was over-saturated with designers, she replied, ‘The truth is I didn’t have any fears because I’m multitalented’. She bragged that whatever can be done with her hands, she can do if only she puts her mind to it.
The waist-snatching goddess admitted she had other talents to fall back on if fashion didn’t work for her.
She says, “If everyone in this world decides they aren’t going to make clothes anymore, I will be fine because there’s just so much God has blessed me with and that is why I don’t joke with God”.
When probed further, she reflected and admitted that business in Lagos was challenging. She mentioned having location struggles with clients, so sourcing quality fabrics and accessories at affordable rates was problematic.
When asked how she feels about people recreating her designs, she said, “It’s not a problem if you copy me, especially if I was referenced directly to the post; I feel very good that someone found my design inspiring…
“… but when you copy me and want to act like you don’t know that you copied me as per it’s my own, it can be really painful”.
However, she concluded after a long time of reflection that “These people have copied you over the years, but they’ve still not been able to surpass you.
“If I start something and people are replicating it, I will move on so they can keep following me.”
Speaking on her pricing and if the outfits she makes do cost that much, she admits that because she has successfully created a niche for herself in the fashion industry, she knows the value and it’s worth. Now, when people see her dress on her clients, they don’t have to be told it is Veekee James, they know because the dress has her signature.
She admitted that she didn’t just start calling prices, the value grew as she added value to her brand over the years. She revealed that designs take mental energy, time to detail and sometimes worship so God gives her inspiration on how to go about a requested design.
When asked how she balances fashion and spirituality, she replied “My goal is to make heaven. So, whatever I do, I do intentionally.” She disclosed that one of her assignments is to preach the gospel to as many people as possible.
She added that people think what she does is associated with the devil but the devil owns nothing. Veekee strongly believes everything belongs to God and urges believers to not let the devil mess up their mind. She said what she wants is for people to hear and see Christ through her work.
When asked how she deals with online trolls and insults, she replied it increased when she came out as a daughter of Zion. She confessed that she often rests in the solace that if Jesus could be persecuted, who is she to not be persecuted?
She disclosed that negative things online get to her but she keeps trusting God to give her patience and peace to keep ignoring them. She added that she realised people will always talk so she doesn’t care what anyone says. She emphasised that she is living life to please herself, God and her family.
When probed if she has a relationship and if she may wed soon, she confessed that yes, she’s in a relationship but she can’t guess that a marriage will be happening soon.
When asked to advise the young girl that wants to go into fashion, she said “Make sure that you love it because it can get really frustrating. Make sure that you have passion for it”. She explained that one doesn’t even really have to have so much passion for it because money will make you grow passion for something.
She confessed that when she started designing, she wasn’t so much in love but when the cash kept flowing, the love she had doubled for it.
She also encouraged young designers to be consistent at designing. She explained that fashion is like a babe, it needs to be nurtured, it needs to be given 100% attention to grow well.
She implored upcoming fashionistas to involve God in everything and to put him first. She confesses that most of her amazing designs came from her telling God to show her. She added that fashion enthusiasts should build meaningful relationships with their clients and not send them away.