How a Northern Nigerian woman built a Beyonce-approved luxury brand at 17 with her pocket money

Abu Mubarik August 03, 2022
Photo: Twitter/@FatimaBabakura

Fatima Babakura grew up in Northern Nigeria but lives in Lagos. According to her, living in Lagos gave her a different perspective about life, which is markedly different from what her age mates experienced in Northern Nigeria.

She told Forbes Africa that “Living in Lagos gave me a different perspective because I was living around people whose mindset was ‘make your own money and then go to school’ so it’s not like you are waiting for someone to come and take care of you. And because I was privileged enough to experience that, I am not your average Northern Nigerian girl.”

Babakura discovered her passion for sketching designs while growing up, resulting in the creation of the luxury accessory brand Timabee, where she serves as creative director besides being the founder.

Babakura started her brand during her first year at Canada’s prestigious Mcmaster University. Her goal was to promote the creations of African-based designers to a global audience.

With no business or entrepreneurial background, the then 17-year-old sketched a handbag. Curious to see it come to life, she found a company on Alibaba that agreed to be her manufacturer but it turned out that she was dealing with fraudsters. Babakura lost her pocket money of $150 that she intended to spend on making a sample of the handbag but that did not break her resolve to be her own boss.

“I was determined to find someone else to make my bag, but this time I was a lot more careful and I did my due diligence researching the company,” she told Forbes Africa.

In 2021, American artiste and entrepreneur Beyoncé added her brand to her list of Black-owned businesses. “Last year, when Beyoncé’s team compiled a list of black-owned businesses, we were honoured to make the list. It shows that as a small, growing brand, the work we put in every day does not go unnoticed,” said Babakura.

Recalling her formative years, the Northern Nigerian woman noted that she grew up loving accessories and handbags. It even earned her the nickname “mummy’s handbag” because she was always holding her mother’s handbag anytime they were out together. Eventually, she would sketch her own handbag.

Babakura is originally from the northern state of Borno but lives in Lagos. Her father is a businessman and an owner of a farm in Lagos. She holds a Bsc honors Commerce degree from Mcmaster University.

She has also won many awards for her industry. She was listed as Nigeria’s top 100 most inspiring women and the Women Economic Forum’s Iconic Woman in 2017.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: August 4, 2022


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