Student fashion designer finds success

Undergraduate student Esther Otasanya combines business and style


courtesy Esther Otasanya's facebook

“I like to design pieces that I know I would love to wear,” said Otasanya.

“Do what you love” is a piece of advice young people hear often. We are each faced with the challenge of finding a passion to pursue—something that we enjoy and can make a career out of. But for some, it is no challenge at all. A friend and fellow first-year student, Esther Otasanya, recently sat down with me to share her passion for design and how she plans to make a career out of something she loves.

Otasanya’s love of fashion started when she was young. Her earliest sketches of outfits are from when she was 12 years old. But she didn’t get serious about bringing them to life until her junior year of high school. She started with basics, like sewing bow ties and headbands, and gradually worked her way up to more complex pieces like skirts and tops.

For Otasanya, design inspiration comes from a variety of sources, the biggest being her culture. As a Nigerian-American, Otasanya loves to use her Nigerian ancestry as her fashion influence. She specializes in using authentic Nigerian fabric for her work as well. “It’s convenient,” says Otasanya with a smile, “because my mom sells the fabric.” Many of her outfits are creations made out of material from her mom’s store.

Otasanya’s design aesthetic is unique because she combines her ethnic culture with American culture. “I like to design pieces that I know I would love to wear,” she laughs, noting that she is currently drawn to looks that are sophisticated and business-like

Her vibrant personality shows in her designs. “Bolder colors have more to say for themselves,” says Otasanya.

In addition to using bright fabrics, she is also drawn to pieces with gold and sparkle. Her exemplary work has been featured in two fashion shows so far, and will be featured in another show put on by the African Students Association on campus this weekend.

One day she plans to merge her interest in design with her degree in marketing. Otasanya sees herself in a position where she can help market other designers’ lines. “Fashion is something that I love,” she says. “I design for fun, but it is still a hobby.” She sees her own design experiences as a way to understand and work with other designers in the realm of marketing later on.

In the next year, Otasanya hopes to launch a blog which will feature an inside look at her designs and lifestyle. She is excited for this summer, when she will be making five new pieces to add to her personal collection, as well as a couple of special pieces for a wedding.