MUSIC, DESIGNING, ALL ABOUT CREATIVITY – BLOSSOM GABRIEL

Filed in Entertainment by on July 11, 2010

Music, designing, all about creativity – Blossom Gabriel
By OGE OKONKWO
Sunday, July 11, 2010

Blossom Gabriel

Blossom Chioma Gabriel is a gospel artiste as well as an award-winning fashion designer. She runs a craft business known as Kraftitude. She’s married to Henry Gabriel and blessed with two children. Blossom recently released an album titled Never Let Go. Since 1997 when she began , Blossom has been honing her skills.

In 2001, she opened her fashion outfit and in 2008, Blossom won the Best Accessories Designer award at the Nigeria Television Fashion Show. She also runs a ministry that distributes bibles to drug addicts and is quite pleased that God is touching lives through her interaction with youths. In this interview, she talks about her life and work.

Starting out
I started my fashion career in 1997 and I have kept up with my crafts, developing my skills and abilities. In 2001, I opened my fashion outfit and began commercial production. I started with bead-making and production of unisex outfits, then I ventured into making hats and bags. As an adventurous person, I was going for shows, and took part in the Nigerian Television Authority Fashion Show organized in conjunction with Nollywood. I won  the Best Accessories Designer award. Accessories include beads, hats and handbags.

I hope to win many more.For me, it comes naturally. I began using my hands during my teenage years to make things. Though I didn’t go to any school to learn the craft, there was a bit of formal training. I discovered that I love to create and design things and with my ten fingers I kept busy looking for things to create.
First, I make a skirt with a fabric and if I notice that the fabric is not suitable , because it is a typical African fabric and especially if I look at it and feel that a hat will match it, I will design a hat. I may also discover that a handbag will make the attire complete, so I’ll make a bag. It is what comes to the mind that I consider when creating a design.

Uniqueness
What makes me unique is that I create my designs and I don’t copy them from other people’s ideas. I feel it is more time consuming trying to copy other people’s designs. Mine is in me and I can readily release it. What it entails is for me to be focussed and get into the mood of creativity. Fashion is all about creativity and colour. With the wisdom God gives me , my standard makes me unique in my music and designing. Blossom is unique and there is no other Blossom, so I am unique in my own way.

Cost of making accessories
The cost of making a bag depends on the material I use and it’s availability but good enough there is a leather market with readily available leather. Making a bag is a combination of lining leather and African fabric. The time I spend in making them is also important. I don’t have a standard price because that depends on the cost of the leather I use.

You have Italian leather that is of high grade and therefore costs more, so it depends on what the client wants.
The market is very large. It is as large as I can imagine and I have designed accessories for a lot of people. I am currently making customized gift bags for the daughter of one of the sitting governors who will soon be tying the nuptial knots. My clients come from s every stratum of society.
Rewards
If I compare what goes into the production with what comes in financially, I am not making much,but I know that with time things will improve. We face this challenge because people in this country don’t value natural creativity. They prefer imported materials. For instance our local shoemakers make beautiful designs, but people prefer to travel out of the country to buy shoes. This amounts to inferiority complex – people are not proud of what they have.

We need to know where we come from and what we have so that we can appreciate our creativity.  We patronize foreign goods because their people are proud of what they have and they put in everything to make sure that their economy is thriving. That’s why our people go there to pick their products but here, we don’t value what we have and it is really affecting our designers. Some of our designers have seen it and are making efforts by organizing shows to promote our works. That is a journey that has just started and with time it will make an impact.

Gospel music
I actually started writing songs at the age of 16 and I remember being asked to write songs for teachers during send forth events. That gave me a lot of recognition and I channeled all my writing to what will make me a person and so I didn’t want to go secular. I kept on writing till 2008, because I wanted to be matured and I waited for my husband’s approval to go ahead and work on my music. When I got the necessary backing, I came out with a single and right now, my first album is complete and I’m trying to get a marketer.

The album is titled Never Let Go and it contains seven tracks featuring a wedding song called Kole Ti Ka. It’s a Yoruba song. It also features ohun ti Oluwa se and my cry. In communicating my message, I used a mixture of Yoruba, Igbo, English and pidgin. I speak a little Yoruba unlike my husband. The fifth track E wa bolobo is a concept I created to make a rhythm. There is also African groove at the end of the track to promote culture (because I’m an African) and a rendition of some of God’s names in six different languages.

The reception is okay because it’s a track that people love. Sometimes, when I move around or even at events, I hear people say I will never let you go and this goes on to show that they received the song well.Depending on the situation, when I introduce myself , I tell people that we should understand love, be passionate about it and express it with the heart just the same way we love God, then we will be able to do the same to our fellow man.

Never Let Go is a message for anyone; no matter the situation; be it a relationship where either a spouse is saying “I don’t want you anymore” for whatever reason. All one has to do is say “I will never let you go” and when you say it, express it and stay with the situation giving it your best and the other person does likewise, then things will get better. That is what God is expecting from us.

The lyrics of my song address God in His names and ask for the grace to overcome temptation which is an indication that it is basically spiritual. As a gospel singer, I want to ensure that people are blessed from within and outside and I believe that there should be something in the song that must make you remember that there is God no matter how far you have strayed. It will bring you back to God. I didn’t actually quote scriptures in the songs not because I don’t love them but they are implied in the songs. I believe that as long the lyrics don’t corrupt listeners but make them better and morally sound, it is gospel.

Sometimes, it is good to be spiritual but when you get over-spiritual, you will miss the mark. Even Paul said “let your moderation be known to all men,” so it is better to live the best kind of life and let what God is leading in your heart be given to the masses to hear and be blessed and that is what I am doing.  I would say that the audience includes everyone that is ready to embrace God and loves gospel rhythms . Everyone who wants to be better in life irrespective of status, those that are ignorant and don’t value God, those who depend on others when they can look within themselves to become someone and for those seeking wisdom and understanding.

Juggling family and career
My family knew that I loved music while growing up, so it wasn’t a surprise to them when I veered into music. It is a dream come true for me and an expectation met when I released the album. And when I won the award, they were happy that my efforts had been rewarded. At least I can rest , but for me it is more work now as more accessories will be demanded for.

Music and design is all about creativity and it comes from the heart that is always merry, and because I enjoy what I am doing, it becomes easier balancing the home front and the business by applying wisdom. When it seemed as if it was getting tough, I built a workshop at home, so I could wake up in the morning and see to my family’s needs and also attend to my customers in the workshop. Now that the children are getting older, it becomes much easier.

Imparting skills to young people
I used to have many workers, but now I want to spend more time on music than fashion designing for a while because it was the reverse before I decided to reduce the number of workers and also structured it in a way that I won’t have to disappoint people. So, I only take the number of jobs I can do and later I can pick up more workers when the need arises. I also train individuals and workers to my standard.

I usually don’t train people in bag making because it is sensitive and only mature minds can learn it. Teenagers are not interested in learning it. They don’t value it and so misuse it. Probably because most of these children in fashion schools are from poor backgrounds and so do not have the exposure and intelligence, they see it as high class fashion and prefer to learn dressing making.

Childhood
My childhood was wonderful and moderate. I was not born with a silver spoon.

Challenges
My major challenge is capital. Promoting music in Nigeria is not easy because you will almost pay through your nose, but if you have the money then it becomes easier. It is only through the print media that you can be granted free interviews to promote your music, but for airtime on television stations , it is prohibitive. Thank God for my supportive husband, otherwise I couldn’t have achieved my current level of success in my endeavours.

Hobbies
I love reading and I have a ministry for the poor. I have been ministering to drug addicts, distributing bibles and also giving motivational talks to youths and I am seeing God touching their lives since 1997.

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