“I reached out to be one of the stylists for GT Fashion Weekend, but was offered the role of a dresser. I felt bad about it and turned down the offer because I knew what I wanted. The following year, I was offered the role of a stylist on the show and I got to work with some of the great designers around the world including Julien MacDonald and Laquan Smith.”
If you’ve ever stumbled on a creative stylishly rocking an outfit with a Kufii on instagram, that’s Muftau Femi Ajose AKA @iamcutesaint. He’s a fashion/bridal stylist, and the creative director of Cute-Saint. He hails from Lagos Island in Lagos State, where he was born into a Muslim family of educationists. Femi spurs on the torch as a trained teacher who sought to pursue his fashion journey professionally in 2014. Having worked in the fashion industry for four years, he conceived his brand, Cute-Saint, which launched in 2019.
Femi, who views fashion as the ‘art of living,’ tells us about how he was able to discover his personal style. When asked to define his aesthetics, here’s what he had to say.
My aesthetic is classic with a bit of edginess and timeless. My personal style has evolved over time. I don’t make any conscious effort to present myself in a certain way. I enjoy every moment as my spirit leads and my unconscious consistency with them is what makes it my style. I don’t have to think too hard to do them; I just do them by default.
As a stylist, Femi has had experiences that should have killed his zeal, but he instead rose above them, knew what he wanted and made a name for himself. He let’s us in on some of the most significant highlights of his career so far.
Every job I’ve done as a stylist has been a highlight in one way or the other, but the major highlight was when I was employed as the Fashion Editor of Escape Magazine; a fashion and lifestyle magazine. It was an amazing year of creative thinking and challenges for me. Having to work with the editorial board and putting my ideas out there.
Another highlight was when I reached out to be one of the stylists for GT Fashion Weekend, but was offered the role of a dresser. I felt bad about it and turned down the offer because I knew what I wanted. The following year, I was offered the role of a stylist on the show and I got to work with some of the great designers around the world including Julien MacDonald and Laquan Smith.
Femi takes us through the various ways he’s incorporating global best practices in the creation of his collections. He goes further to highlight some challenges that caught him by surprise while running his business.
Cute-Saint was born out of my insatiable desire to create something different. After working in the fashion industry for four years and the pool of knowledge I’ve gained from styling designers within and outside the country, I felt there is something I can offer the fashion world more than being a stylist. I felt like I can create something that can connect people of diverse points of view with fashion, which is what Cute-Saint represents. While doing this, I also made it a thing to work with locally made fabric, which drove me to the use of Funtua cotton.
Right from the creation of Cute-Saint, sustainability and ethical practices have been the moda-operandi. We produce with locally made and sourced fabrics, to reduce the carbon footprint of our products. We also work with local artisans who have mastered their craft over time, while taking care of their welfare and paying them fair wages. We also believe in Zero waste, hence making sure that we don’t keep stocks, but place each product on pre-order. We also make use of cowrie shells in place of buttons to depict the cultural background of the brand.
The major challenge I encountered while running Cute-Saint was getting a very good production company that will give the type of quality that I want. I had to keep the search on. We still haven’t gotten the best to be honest, but we keep on improving with time, and keep on searching for ways to make the work better and monitor the process.
Another will be the problem of raw material sourcing. I love experimenting and looking for better ways to do things and there are some raw materials which were discovered during the course of our research, however getting them in the country has been a challenge as the fabric vendors have very little or no knowledge of the kinds of fabrics they sell. This also leads to the problem of determining the fiber content of the fabrics to buy in the market.
Femi concludes with pieces of wise nuggets to share with all the emerging fashionpreneurs reading this post by saying,
Stay true to yourself and your dreams, be consistent with your push and style; be ready to innovate.