Mr. Ifebunso Harrison Chidubem popularly known as Clyde Harris is a Pharmacist and a fashion designer. He is an award winning entrepreneur and the CEO/ Creative director of Clyde Harris Enterprises Fashion Brand.
He shares with us how he conceived the idea and got the courage to start up his own empire on the sick bed.
Read to the end to find out his timeless advice for young entrepreneurs going into fashion and how you can set yourself ahead of the competition (That is if you even think they exist!)
DA: What is the inspiration behind Clyde Harris Clothing Company?
Clyde Harris: Ever since I was young, I always loved fashion and I was concerned about looks, what people were wearing and why they were wearing it, even though it was not what I studied in university, I knew I had to go into fashion because I loved it and I even remember having a drawing book in primary school, my parents tore a lot of them and burnt some, but that propelled me to do more and expand my knowledge.
DA: What was your parents’ reaction when you started Clyde Harris Clothing Company?
Clyde Harris: When I started the brand, I didn’t inform my parents immediately, because I was formerly into music and my parents didn’t support my music career, because I was entering into the university to study a medical related course. I knew their response would not be favourable so I didn’t inform them.
I started officially in 2015 and I didn’t tell them until December 2016, I told my mum first and my siblings were already aware from the onset.
DA: When you started in 2015, what steps did you take?
Clyde Harris: I started the dream on a sick bed with zero capital, I was broke and injured (I was suffering from chronic ankle sprain and I was on clutches, couldn’t move for 6 weeks and I was on bed rest; that was where I conceived the idea).
My friend designed a logo for me and we put it on a sweater, I put the picture of the sweater on my BBM DP and people started placing orders, that was how we started.
DA: When you started, what were the major challenges that you faced and how were you able to overcome them?
Clyde Harris: The major challenges were Logistics and Freedom. When I started, I was in the university (Madonna University) and being a private school, it had a lot of restrictions that made it hard to do business there. We had to create a logistics channel that enabled our products to be transported from Benin City, into the school premises.
After a while, we started getting orders from Benin and other states, and we had to look for a way to deliver the goods to these places and the major challenge was that I was not present because I had to be in school, and then third parties had to handle these logistics for me.
DA: What are you most proud of about Clyde Harris?
Clyde Harris: I am proud of how efficient we can work now because of our decentralization, from March to April 2019 I spent a lot of time to decentralize the company, which is the ability for the team to function efficiently and effectively in a well structured way.
I am also proud of the fact that we have been able to triple our production capacity; we have a powerful website (www.clydeharrisng.com ) that helps us handle most of the logistics and that has eased distribution and marketing.
DA: How were you able to assemble your team members?
Clyde Harris: There were some of my friends that shared the vision from the start and they had skills that would prove vital to the company, it took about one year and a few months to assemble my team members. We started with a lot of staff and we had to retrench and we ended up with fewer more efficient staff.
We worked effectively together because we created a bond in the company that allows us to see each other as family and we can comfortable trust and depend on each other, this increases productivity.
DA: What is the future of the fashion industry and how do you intend to plunge into it?
Clyde Harris: The future of fashion is beyond our imagination, because fashion is the new oil and gas. If you check statistics, after petroleum, the second venture generating huge revenue is fashion and retail. Fashion is broad and a lot still has to be done, people have to know that fashion is not just about what you wear, fashion is a lifestyle.
Furniture, interior and Art are all aspects of fashion. Most brands create a niche and they camp their tents there even though they are capable of doing more. At Clyde Harris, we do not just aim for a mediocre and easy way out, we go all in, we create males and female wears and accessories, in the future we would work on our premium underwear collection, bags, eyeglasses and other accessories.
We are also plunging into the future by introducing artificial intelligence into how we do fashion, last year we introduced BONNY, an AI assistant that enabled us to reach our customers within nano-seconds.
DA: What are the major mistakes that brands make when they are trying to start out in the fashion industry?
Clyde Harris: Young entrepreneurs make a lot of mistakes and I even made a few mistakes myself, one of the major mistakes is mismanagement of finances. In as much as there is passion for a business, you have to realise that your business is a separate living entity on its own that would require a lot of care daily.
Entrepreneurs make the mistake of not giving their businesses time to grow and scale before expecting a huge dividend from it, and this sometimes kills their passion and drive, even before the business scales.
Another major mistake is comparing your business with others, fashion entrepreneurs have to realize that they are unique in their own way and need to focus more on themselves than on the competition. Most people forget the importance of test running (taking surveys, looking at revenue as against expenditures) and learn when to scale and when to remain lean.
DA: What is your advice to young entrepreneurs?
Clyde Harris: Young entrepreneurs should plan long term and stop being blinded by short term foresights. When I say long term, I mean plan for 20, 30 years from now. Always innovate and ensure that there is a lot of value in your innovation.
Do not spend money on big ventures that would yield you low revenue, instead spend on small ventures that would yield you higher revenue. If you are facing challenges, it shows that you are doing something, because all businesses come with their fair share of challenges. So, keep pushing and do not look back.
DA: How can we reach you?
Clyde Harris: You can reach us via
IG: @Clydeharrisng and my personal page is @igwe_clydeharris