While some of her physically challenged contemporaries are worried sick and depends on relatives, especially the sighted for survival, Olubunmi Dada has gone past that, as she carves a niche for herself in music and now beads making and jewelries.
The multi-talented blind gospel artiste, who has performed in different cities in the United Kingdom, the United States and Nigeria, is adding beads making to her portfolio. According to her, she is going into beads making to be fully engaged each time she is not playing or writing songs.
The National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), English language graduate, believes as a performing artiste, she needs to use the right accessories on her attire to look good and doing this entails selecting fashion items like jewelries she wants and how she wants them on her. And the best way to achieve this is by doing it herself. Moving from choosing her colours and jewelries, even though blind, Olubunmi dress sense soon began to be admired by others. Knowing this, she enrolled in beads making outfit where she honed her skills.
Becoming blind at the age of three as a result of measles attack, Olubunmi has a strong inner strength that drives her to excel in anything she lays her hands on. And she hopes to make in the business.
How do you combine performance and songwriting with beads making, as each is demanding? “No one can say he/she can combine the three at the same time because of their complex nature, but I am able to do so because of my inner strength and passion. The passion is the driving force; it makes me restless, while the inner strength gives me the confidence, the tenacity to see a piece of work to the end. They both work for me,” she said.
Certain that her work is comparable, if not better than any, found in the country, the Gbemisola crooner first began to flaunt her products in her shows and the Internet before packaging and selling them to her clients within Nigeria and outside the country alongside her CDs.“I first started by selling them in my shows and later through the Internet, but as of today, I have people place orders,” she revealed.
Since you are visually impaired, how do you choose your colours and also get the materials for the beads? “For the materials, my younger sister does that; she gets them from markets in Lagos and some times, a few from abroad.
“My younger sister has been of tremendous help in my business; in fact, she is one of those I am training in the business. She took interest in it when she saw how people are demanding the products and also how passionate I am about the project.
“And for the colours, I have a box where I mark the different colours to use. I use my imagination to choose the colours and also design the shape a jewellery will take, including the pendent to follow. I was trained to make beads, but designing comes with imaginations; so, I depend heavily on the power of imagination to bring out the alluring products on my stand,” she said.
Could it not be that your clients are patronising you on sympathy grounds? “No, it is not true,” she continued, “I disagree with you because I do no believe in self pity. I told myself that I have to do my work in such a way that it would compete favourably with the products of the sighted, if not even better. And since I said that to myself, I have learnt to be hardworking, looking for ways to make my work standout. It is this quality in my work that is creating the market for me. It is not sympathy, but quality and beautiful product; just knowing how to use the colours, as far the beads is of high quality.
“Initially, people never knew I made my jewelleries by myself; they though I get them in the open market and would want me to describe where I got them from, but were astonished each time I say I made them by myself.
“At an event in the UK, a Nigerian lady who was also into beads making was so amazed at my products that she asked me to take her to the school, where I learnt designing, saying she wants to make hers to be as good as mine,” she revealed.
Olubunmi, whose major challenge is fund to expand her business, which is current for the womenfolk, said she is not through with music. According to her, music runs in her blood, but for now she just has to open another vista to showcase her talent, express other aspect of her art form and, of course, make money.
“I cannot give up gospel music. It is my calling and I can do it in any form — reggae, rap, R‘n’B and others. I love music, but I need to go into beads making; so that, when I am not performing I would depend on the proceeds from the business,” she said.With the acceptance she is currently receiving on her beads, the blind gospel artiste and songwriter looks forward to seeing her products go global, be a sought after fashion item for all women.