Catherine Omoerah, a graduate of International Studies and Diplomacy graduate of the prestigious University of Benin, Nigeria is the Chief Excecutive Officer of Katerah Couture and Head Instructor at Katerah’s Institute of Fashion and Style. In this article, she reveals how being taught fashion designing as a teenager positively changed the course of her life.
My career choice as a Fashion Designer was born not just out of an innate flair for Fashion or an intrinsic desire to create beautiful fashion items but by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the foresight of a wise mother. I grew up in the hustle and bustle city of Lagos, in Surulere to be precise. My mother however, grew up in the rather quiet city of Ilorin, Kwara state where my grandmother also lived at the time. I remember going to spend the long holiday at my grandmother’s after I finished my primary school in Lagos and I just fell in love with the State of Harmony, as Kwara is called. After the holidays, my mum arrived to take my brother and I back to Lagos to continue our schooling but I begged her to let me stay back in Ilorin. After due consideration, she consented and my life took a new turn.
My grandmother’s house was very close to the University of Ilorin. So, throughout my secondary education I dreamt about attending the University. After my SSCE, I wrote all the required examinations passed in flying colours and applied to the University of Ilorin with very high hopes of gaining admission immediately. Unfortunately, as it seemed then, I waited for two lists and a final provisional list but I didn’t get the admission. I returned home to Lagos with my expectations severely dashed.
Seeing I was going to be home a whole academic year, my mum asked me the question that changed my life forever. She asked, “What do you want to do now?” I believe now that I answered that question by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit because at that time it was extremely unfashionable for a girl my age to learn fashion and design. All of my friends were either working at business centres, learning computer or staying at home. My mother accepted and enrolled me in a fashion school at the age of 16. I finished from fashion school and gained admission into the University of Benin the following year.
My learning experience exposed me to a lot of life lessons that not only developed my vocational skills but built up my character. I learnt patience, humility, dedication and determination on a new level. Such that, throughout my University Education, I was able to combine academic work, fellowship activities and sewing effectively. I graduated as one of the best in my department having partly funded my schooling with the proceeds from my sewing. Indeed, I can say it was a richly rewarding experience.
Today, I run a highly successful fashion business and I have trained over eighty students in professional fashion and design courses. And the success story is still unfolding. I urge parents to equip their teenagers early with not just academic skills but vocational and life development skills. In this way, their teenagers grow into more balanced adults well equipped to face the challenges of the times we now live. More so, I believe that the future belongs to entrepreneurs! I have trained a lot of University graduates whose expectations of white-collar jobs have been dashed. Give your teenager a quick start today and they will call you blessed sometime soon!
I am Catherine Omoerah and I support the #TeachATeen Campaign