Umo Ofili: Making a case for pregnant women through fashion and charity

When a woman is pregnant its usually a time filled with excitement. However for some expecting women its also a time  filled with trepidation as they wonder how they will take care of their precious gifts from God. Apart from the cost of purchasing a newborns basic needs another worry some pregnant women face is finding nice maternity clothes, in both cases Umo Ofili of Mumhood has provided succor for many.   This lawyer and mother of three is passionate about not only dressing pregnant women but helping those of them in need through her annual outreach  to needy pregnant women in the FCT. Please read about this phenomenal lady who is passionately pursuing passion and  fulfilling purpose in the process.

 

Please tell us about yourself

Well my name is Umo Ofili and I am the Founder of Mumhood. I was raised in the beautiful town called Calabar where I also hail from . I am a Lawyer with an LLM in Business and Commercial Law. I have done various courses and trainings on entrepreneurship, customer service and business management. I have had opportunities to train and mentor owners of new startup companies. In recent times I have concluded an online course on ‘managing a fashion and luxury brand’ at Bocconi University. Growing up, I have always had an interest in fashion, creativity, arts and trading. Trading is somewhat strange in my family as most of my family members are career minded and almost no one has delved into running or owning a business. I am also a mother  of three beautiful children and a wife to a very supportive man.

Why Mumhood, what inspired the business choice?

Mumhood was birthed out of my frustration of not finding nice maternity clothes to wear when I was pregnant. Back in 2004 when I was pregnant I found it difficult to get maternity clothes. Then you had to send someone travelling abroad to help you buy. As a lawyer, I wanted to dress smart while pregnant and not have to wear a boubou as I felt this was a bit too informal for work. When I got pregnant with my second child two years later I tried using a tailor to sow some maternity clothes for me but he  did not finish the clothes on time which meant I had to keep going back and forth to get my clothes. This was a really frustrating process for me and it was at that moment that the idea of Mumhood was conceived.The name Mumhood aims to capture the whole maternity experience. It encompasses maternity fashion and lifestyle.

How has it been catering for a niche clientele of mostly pregnant women?

A niche business like mine fills a void and also solves a need; and running Mumhood has been really interesting. Over the last ten years we have met a lot of women from different walks of life and its always a joy to close a sale and see the pregnant women who purchase the items relieved and happy with well fitting and comfortable clothing. Catering for a niche business has helped me over the years to strengthen my brand and remain focused in business. The fact that our business simply focuses on maternity fashion has endeared us to our customers.  Catering for a niche business has a lot of advantages one of which is keeping your vision clear and helping you become an expert or authority in your field of choice. Stocking for inventory is also easier due to the focus on just specific items. Running  Mumhood has taught me a lot and as a result  I have been able to speak to others on the benefit of establishing and running a niche business. Catering for pregnant women requires patience as sometimes they can be irritable  but we have learnt to follow them jeje (laughs).

What’s would you say are your most challenging issues running a business as well as your must rewarding ?

Placing orders for our items can be tough as having to source trendy maternity clothing is not as easy as shopping for general clothing. Also buying with foreign currency has its disadvantages as it affects the cost of the clothing. Additionally, having to pay multiple taxes/charges to various agencies can be extremely tiresome .What is most satisfying for me is when we have customers who shop with us, love our items, get confused on what to pick and what not to pick (they get confused because we provide them with ample choices). These customers refer their friends and we appreciate such referrals. We have customers who have shopped with us for all of their pregnancies over the years and that gives us great joy. It is extremely rewarding for us to see pregnant women dress well to work or for events wearing our pieces which provide them comfort, style and confidence when they are pregnant.

Now apart from your business you hold an annual outreach on Valentines Day . Can you tell us about it?

This is something that I am really passionate about and I see it as “Mumhoods”  Corporate social responsibility. What we do is  give back to the less privileged pregnant women within the FCT  with the assistance of friends, family and well meaning Nigerians. We collect donations in kind and cash and give out maternity packs full of items useful to both mothers and baby. These packs contain a lot of maternity essentials such as diapers, wipes, baby clothes, toiletries, mosquitoes nets, sanitary towels, manicure sets, disinfectant, wrappers etc. Most of the women who receive our packs are overwhelmed with joy and gratitude as its some thing they do not expect at all. Depending on donations we receive we give those packs to all women present on that day in the postnatal ward, labour room and antenatal ward. In recent times we have focused on hospitals further away from town as they are more need in such hospitals. Through our outreach, we have paid off hospital bills and generally assisted those who need help at such a vulnerable time in their life. We are very passionate about our outreach and though it’s just annual  we help with other similar activities during the year.

Pregnant mothers excited during a visit from Mumhood

Amazing, that must be so fulfilling

It is, we just love doing it. My mother was with us when we visited Gwagwalada Teaching Hospital. She helped us pack the donations late into the night the day before and after the visit, she spoke about it for days. After that she became a constant sponsor and she always calls me to find out how outreach plans are coming up once Valentines Day is approaching.

 

So how do you juggle your busy life and make out time for family?

I try not to be too busy for my home and ensure it never gets to the point where  I am clueless about what goes on. Having efficient and good domestic staff has been helpful and generally learning how to schedule my time well. My husband is also very supportive and available for the family. To an extent I can say that I try to organize myself and activities or else it would have been a disaster for every aspect of my life.

How you do you unwind and relax?

I love listening to music, I watch TV with my family. Sometimes we rent movies or go to the cinema. I try out new recipes with my children and generally take things easy on the days that I wish to unwind.

Thanks so much for your time and all that you do!

Thanks Chiomahs blog for the feature. I think you are doing an awesome job with your blog. Mumhood wishes you the best!

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