When it comes to textile, fabrics, and fashion, very few brands, can boast of firmly established roots and staying power in the African continent like Vlisco. The premium textile brand has thrived based on its relationship with African consumers, particularly African women, since the late nineteenth century and continues to do so.
Seeing how important the role of women is for the brand and its relevance, in 2013 Vlisco decided that it would dedicate the month of March to celebrate women in line with the global commemoration of International Women’s Day which is also in March. And so each year for the past five years, the premium textile brand has selected some of Africa’s most inspiring and successful women to be its ambassador, unveiling them across Central and West Africa in the month of March.
“If you look at how long Vlisco has been here, 172 years, you can say that we are part of the culture of Nigeria and this is made possible by African women who bring our fabrics to life in deciding to use our fabrics for traditional occasions and in recent times, corporate events. Vlisco creates the fabrics, but the fabrics come to life when women wear them.” – Yvonne Chioke, Business Strategy Manager, Vlisco Nigeria.
On Thursday, March 15, Vlisco unveiled its 2018 Nigerian ambassador in the person of Dr. Yolanda George-David in a brilliant event held at its store at the Ikeja City Mall, Lagos. A neurosurgeon, businesswoman, public speaker, radio personality, and philanthropist, Dr. Yolanda is a literal example of the phrase, ‘Jack of all trade, master of all’. Her achievements and impacts in the lives of people, especially women, exceeds her. Through her charity organization, the Aunt Landa Bethel Foundation (ALBF), Dr. Yolanda has empowered over 25,000 sexually abused teenagers via counselling, and vocational and life skills training. With over a million registered and non-registered members in over 200 centres, ALBF serves as shelter and rehabilitation centre for commercial sex workers, abused children, widows, and the less privileged.
Being made an ambassador of Vlisco came as quite a surprise for Dr. Yolanda, who is a self-professed tomboy and a staunch advocate for female decency. “I said I will not take the ambassadorial role if they want me to show my lines and all of my skin. And they said “No, Vlisco stands for decency and that’s the message we want you to carry with the fabric. And so I accepted it”, she said of her initial reaction on being asked to represent the brand.
Dr. Yolanda is everything the premium textile brand stands for and more; she is a dreamer, a fighter, an achiever, an emancipator and empowerer of women. As Yvonne Chioke, Vlisco’s business strategy manager, Nigeria, aptly puts it in her speech, the brand does not subscribe to the narrative of only uplifting women when they are down, “Yes, in their lows we lift them high, and in reaching their goals, we lift them even higher”, she said.
As an ambassador, Dr. Yolanda hopes to continue inspiring and empowering women by keying Vlisco into her already existing charities, and push forward with serious intensity the need for modesty and originality in women’s fashion while encouraging girls across the board. “We are targeting girls from age six to 60. So even if you’re 60, you can be young and beautiful. If you’re 12, you can be decent and beautiful”, she said at the event.
In attendance at the event were distinguished guests including the former first lady of Lagos State, Dame Abimbola Fashola, renowned comedian Atunyota Alleluya Akporobome (Alibaba) and his wife Mrs. Mary Akpobome, executive director, Heritage bank, all of whom are mentors to Dr. Yolanda.