by Demi Rosseau
When we came across Esteni Signature in Instagram, we never thought we would be surprised to see that the designer of such bespoken sophistication and class were actually designed by a 19-year-old girl named Phoebe Eniola Toluwani- whom we mistakenly thought as the brand’s model with her statuesque frame and savoir faire. We were looking at an orange lace bodice with silhouette sleeves with velvet mermaid cut bottom gown, accented with a handmade velvet rosette sewn on one side of the shoulder. Another piece we saw that attracted us was a ribbed silk polka dot top with an angled loose sleeve with a ruched detail on one side, and a tie sash on the waist. They were of admirable panache that compelled us to know more about this young girl behind the brand’s designs.
Phoebe grew up in a household of fashion afficionado, with a mom who was a fashion designer. Being seen with potential to be a designer too, she was sent to a fashion design in Nigeria to study basic techniques. At age 16, Phoebe was already designing clothes. Although they share the same passion, her mom was not able to establish a brand successfully as Phoebe did with Esteni Signature.
When her mom died three years ago, Phoebe realized that she had to do something. When she was teaching in a school, she used her passion for designing clothes by making them for free sometimes. Some of those people whom she made the dresses for encouraged her to build a boutique and take fashion designing seriously. And so she did.
In 2017, Esteni Signature was established. The brand’s name is very significant, now that we know, because it is a combination of both their first name- her mom’s name and hers.
Esteni Signature’s style is an embodiment of a fine lady. According to her, a simple yet classy and timeless clothing is a mark of modesty. She sticks to classic cuts, quality choice of fabrics and harmonizing colours in her designs. When she customizes dresses, she takes into consideration the body shape of her clients, the occasion where the dress is worn and the current trends.
But being talented and very young is not always an advantage for Phoebe. At some instances, especially with the first- time clients, they have hard time digesting that she could do (the designs she talks about) because of her age. Or they are not eager enough to pay her the right due because they see a little girl in front of them. Perhaps some people think she is only doing it for fun and luxury. But Phoebe always satisfies her clients with her workmanship and news about her brand spread around. From giving away free clothes, to building her businesses with her brand’s parishioners, she is now catering to orders nationwide, and soon enough Esteni Signature will become an international brand shipping worldwide.
Phoebe aims to bring Esteni Signature internationally, and make herself known into the world along with other designers she looked up to. She believes that her brand should have that Nigerian culture feel for the world to experience. And surely with her determination, tenacity, talent, and kind heart, this beautiful young lady has a bright future ahead of her.
“So in 10 years from now, I’ve made a name for myself and my brand is blooming, and my family and I are living a comfortable life and I’m being privileged to bless other lives too .”, Phoebe told us.