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Very well adorned

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Very well adorned



Ornamentation has become very fashionable in this era. KEMI OJUTAWO, creative director, JS Blings, is one of the very few Nigerian artisans who are specialists in this field. In this interview, she tells FUNKE OSAE-BROWN about the uniqueness of her craft.

Kemi Ojutawo is seated behind her desk this sunny Thursday afternoon. Myriads of colourful beads placed on flat plates are neatly arranged on the large table. She is busy adorning a bright coloured T-shirt with ornaments.

She is one of the few women who have taken the art of ornamentation to a new level. Her art may look simple, but the craft is not. It requires a new level of uncommon creativity, patience and diligence.

Her journey into ornamentation began a few years ago when she asked her tailors to add a touch of stones to her fabric. “Their response was that they do not know how to embellish with stones,” she tells me, as soon as our interview began. “They are not willing to add any other activity to their sewing.”

It was the dearth of the interaction between tailors and the stones that led Ojutawo to establish JS Blings. “My interaction with friends and some other people also revealed that they were also facing the same situation, and immediately I knew there is a gap which must be filled,” she explains.

And so, Ojutawo went in search of knowledge by browsing the internet for information on how to accessorise fabrics. Her creative process began with embellishing her own dresses, which became centre of attraction for her friends and relations.

“I started embellishing my clothes and they came out beautiful,” she says, as “I also created some designs for my children by writing their name on their T-shirts. So, when my friends were seeing these designs, they liked what they were seeing. From there, they started bringing their clothes and also referred their friends. We also started T-shirts for occasions such as birthday parties, religious events – like the Redeemed Christian Church of God Holyghost congress tagged ‘The Overflow,’ ‘The Holy spirit.’ We also do cartoon characters for children, for example, Ben 10, Dora The Explorer, Barney, among others.”

Ojutawo has taken her craft to a new level by accessorising not only shoes, bag, but also stationery such as invitation cards and writing pads. “We have recently ventured into embellishment of throw pillows. We have been partnering with organisations when it comes to interior designs. We do designs for throw pillows using rhinestones, rhine studs and sequins. We have different types and grade of rhinestones such as the Swarovski, which is the most expensive; preciosa, and DMC.”

This creative artist enjoys working with rhinestones because in her words, they are timeless. “I chose to work with rhinestones because they are precious stones and timeless. Some fabrics such as Swiss laces are embellished with stones. Such fabric becomes more beautiful and they command high value and demand. Also, beyond that, we want the Nigerian community to explore the world of rhinestones like the developed world because it is beautiful, elegant, affordable and durable.”

She says blings, as embellishment is otherwise known, is enjoying wide acceptance as consumers are demanding for unique designs. “Hardly will you see an average person/youth in Nigeria without blings. It enhances the designs or style of the fabric. People who are trendy love to wear blings.


“We have also branded T-shirt, apart from the usual screen prints and monogramming for some individuals for birthday parties, religious bodies, events managers, make-up artists, to mention but few.”

She says some of her clients do not feel comfortable without blings on their clothes such as Swiss lace, Ankara, Voile, Guinea brocade, Senegalese flowing dresses, chiffon, and velvet, even ready-to-wear lines. This is simply because bling enhances the fabric and makes it beautiful to behold.”

Ojutawo creates her designs through the inspiration of God, imagination, picture and nature. Some of her designs include the Nigerian map, Nigerian flag with the Proudly Naija label, petal shapes, spirals, and peacock.

Clients can also bring their artwork, logo for her to work with. “Think of any design, we will give it to you in JS Blings. Seeing people in beautifully adorned fabrics inspire me to do more; knowledge of the gap that exists in the fashion and branding industry, creativity and innovation.”

In addition, JS Blings also offers personal image design using a person’s picture. “This is specifically good for political campaigns because it is more beautiful and many people would love to wear, thereby creating more awareness.”


Ojutawo has worked with people who have passion for beauty, elegance and class, and these are the three words underlying her dexterity. “We have worked for and still target people and organisations who love creativity and innovation. These are people who are mindful of their appearance. We also work for fashion designers who cannot adorn the dresses they have made. We work with them to retain their customers. We also work for schools, financial institutions, telecoms, political parties, advertising agencies, among others.

“Our designs are affordable, depending on what a client can afford. We make provision for everyone. No one is turned back. For affordability, we have different grades of designs and services. Basically, we give value for your money and we try to make everybody shine.”

In the next five years, she hopes JS Blings will be able to empower a great number of people, especially the women and young people, to impact themselves and the larger society positively. “I see JS Blings transforming the fashion industry to be more fashionable using rhinestone and other forms of ornamentation. I see a great number of people wearing our designs. I see us building a place where passion is met and where a number of people get their source of livelihood. I see a sustainable proudly Nigerian brand with global acceptance,” she says.


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