Nigerian born, Washington DC based, Estella Ogbonna, owner and Senior Fashion Designer for Estella Couture, LLC, is the Ladybrille Woman of the Month! A fresh face both in the Nigerian and American fashion scene, Ogbonna is steadily winning fans over with her charm, personality and design skills.
Her signature is the ability to cut richly textured African fabrics into sexy wearable chic silhouettes perfect for the very cosmopolitan African and/or Western woman. While she began designing at six years old, it was only in 2005 Ogbonna decided to pursue a career as a full time fashion designer. Within a year of her official arrival on the fashion scene, Ogbonna, in 2006, snagged the Nigerian Entertainment Awards as the Fashion Designer of the Year. Since then, Ogbonna has shown her collections at DC Fashion Week and was also the only African, this year, to show at New York’s Couture Fashion Week. She is currently a cast member for the upcoming Nigerian reality TV show, Green Passport— a show which showcases the lives of Nigerians in America as they straddle and reconcile two distinct cultures.
Random Questions with Estella Ogbonna
LADYBRILLE.com: Do you have a middle name?
Estella: Yes, I do. My middle name is Ijeoma. Only my immediate family, childhood friends and very close friends call me that.
LADYBRILLE.com: Do you know why your parents called you Estella? It sounds Spanish.
Estella: Truth is, my parents named me “Stella” at birth, but I changed it to “Estella” when I was in high school, after I read Charles Dickens’s “Great Expectation.”
LADYBRILLE.com: How long have you been a designer?
Estella: I have been design[ing] since I was six  years old. I still remember the first skirt I made with needle and thread when I was six . I wore it for a long time. . . [laughs]. Ever since I can remember, I have been interested in clothes, in sketching clothes and mentally changing styles in my head. I took it up as a business three years ago.
LADYBRILLE.com: What is the most challenging aspect of your job? Estella: Hmmm……I would say money. There is so much to do in this business, there are so many ideas I have on paper that I know that if all my [ideas][were] implemented, [it] would explode African Fashion globally. Therefore, for now, I pick on things that are of utmost priority, but there are still a whole lot to be done.
LADYBRILLE.com: What is the most exciting part of your job? Estella: The most exciting part of my job is seeing a happy and satisfied client. It makes it worth it. [It] makes me proud that I have helped boost someone’s feeling for the day, because [a] well-dressed and confident woman is a happy.
LADYBRILLE.com: If you had a choice to pick two African celebrities to dress for an award show in the USA & or Europe, who will they be and why?
Estella: In our [Nigeria/Africa] fashion and entertainment world, I would pick Super Model Oluchi. From the MNet Face of Africa to the present, she did not lose focus! She did not embarrass or disappoint her people. [S]he stayed on course, followed her dream, her career and even got a husband and a baby as well. And she has continued to remain on top! I am proud of her.
And I will pick you [Uduak] too. Because you have provided a link African fashion designers are in so much need of. Most people may not know it now, but they will soon enough. As a fashion designer in the international scene, we are not only competing with the already established Western designers, but we are also faced with penetrating the other races and cultures; to let them know that there are beautiful fashions from Africa. To get other races to like our exotic fabrics, and styles.
LADYBRILLE is in a class of its own because you give so much information that every African Fashion designer should be soaking up. I stay in my sewing studio almost all day and when I get on the Internet, I may not have to surf all over the place searching for information related to the fashion industry. As we all have to be abreast of latest trends. But I know that if I log onto your blog, the important and up-to-date news and information would be lined up for me to read. Thanks for creating Ladybrille. It is a good resource for me.
LADYBRILLE.com: [Thank you]
LADYBRILLE.com: Who is your favorite African musician and why? Estella: Honestly, I have no favorite African Musician because I am more into Gospel/Christian songs. So, anyone that sings a song of praise or worship that ministers to me is my favorite.
LADYBRILLE.com: What African country would you love to visit most and why?
Estella: I would love to visit Kenya. And this is because of my love for Massai beads! I love those beads!! And have so much African couture I want to create with them. Kenya is on my mind, and I am looking forward to also visiting all their beautiful tourist attractions.
LADYBRILLE.com: What’s the craziest thing you have ever done? Estella: Hmmm . . . I honestly can’t say, but I have been told that it was very crazy of me to chuck my job, with practically no capital and [s]tart ESTELLA COUTURE! When I quit my bank job [and] went [into] full-time into fashion designing, I didn’t know where the next pay check was going to come from . . . [laughs]. Yes, people tell me that was very crazy! They [say] I should have saved a lot of money first before starting, or just done it as a part-time hobby/business.
LADYBRILLE.com: Give us two favorite quotes you live by? Estella: God grant me the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change; the COURAGE to change the things I can; and WISDOM to know the difference….”
“Do as you would be done by, or you will be done as you did” – read it up somewhere when I was about 9 years and it stuck since then and I live by it…
LADYBRILLE.com:Do you have any favorite African food? Estella:I love Edi-ka-ikong soup [spicy green vegetable soup originating from the Cross River & Akwa-Ibom people of Nigeria] and pounded yam. Anytime, any day.
Congratulations Estella Ogbonna for being our Ladybrille Woman of the Month. Ladybrille salutes and celebrates you!
~Article by Uduak Oduok
**NOTE: Estella Couture was our First Ladybrille Woman of the Month.
UPDATED 2010: Comments on physique of Ms. Oduok relates to image on the www.ladybrilleblogazine.com header where this article was first published and the Ladybrille journey began.
WOMAN OF THE MONTH: OBY NWAOGBE
A running feature for 10 years, The ‘Ladybrille Woman of the Month’ celebrates women in business and leadership, who empower themselves and others through their contributions and actions in their local and international communities. In 2014, the feature expanded to include a podcast show. If you would like to nominate a woman to be celebrated, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.