Spotlighting Creatives (Episode 3): Yinky the Machine

I’m always in awe of two categories of creatives; the first are people who do what I can do in a much better way, and the second, people that can do what seems like magic to me, and do it effortlessly too. Now, the first category aren’t as intimidating because I can always dose myself with an incredible amount of hopium that I can learn to do what I do in a better way. But that second category? Quite a bit. They make me come to terms with the fact that I might not be able to learn some things – the reason they appear so magical to me.

As a child growing up and learning to do things independently, I struggled to use the needle and thread on my clothes but was content watching my mother happily ride the wheels of a sewing machine. The needle would periodically move in a vertical plane as pieces of fabrics were joined together.

My mother did this during her leisure but I was aware that people made money from it full-time. The shock was seeing students create beautiful apparels with sewing machines while studying time-consuming and burdensome (permit me) courses. I came across one recently and I made up my mind to have a fun chat with her.

Oyinkansola Awoniyi is a 600-level medical student of the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan. She is a fairly tall and brown-skinned fashion designer who has left people open-mouthed with the work of her hands. She is a passionate lover of music and she’s very inclusive with the genres she listens to although Indie music is her favourite. Oyinkansola also loves pounded yam. Medicine, as a course, is known to take the entirety of the twenties of students who find themselves studying it but on days when Oyinkansola is not a medical student, she is a fashion designer. She even sees herself more of the latter than the former.

L: A birthday shoot in a dress made by Yinky; R: Game of Thrones-themed UADS Dinner 2022

Where it started from…

I visited a hospital when I was 10 and the way I saw doctors and nurses dressed in their scrubs, I knew there and then that I wanted to be a doctor is a popular phrase from medical students. While Oyinkan did not have an entirely similar childhood with fashion designing, she had a cousin who had dolls and they would get scraps from a familiar tailor, sew dresses for these dolls from the inspiration they get on the internet with celebrities. It wasn’t really serious for them and they, in fact, considered it an adventure. She was a menace at the time, lol.

For a long time after the doll ‘era’, she didn’t do much with fashion until she had a free year between secondary school and university education. It was then that she picked up fashion again and consequently started making money from sewing bags for people. Guess we all want to get the bag anyway.

Two sides of a coin

Oyinkansola, the medical student, started out as a bright-eyed and quite naive lady who just wanted to do well, ace tests, and satisfy examiners. She feels ‘bright-eyed’ is not a perfect description again acknowledging the shege COMUI is dishing out to her – and many others. Oyinkansola, the fashion designer, is a minimalist who doesn’t like too many colours but also loves to be edgy with her craft. She is innovative, loves to tweak the ordinary into extraordinary, makes something that stands out, that also makes people whisper ‘Oyinkan made that!’

Not trying to push the ‘hardest course’ rhetoric, but studying medicine is a lot on its own. And you know what’s a lot more? Combining that with extracurriculars that also serve as paid jobs. Even much more difficult when you want to be very productive in both worlds. When I asked Oyinkansola how she manages to combine both, she reaffirmed her constant rants and complaints but admitted to be hardworking whenever her head is in the game. She works at night because school takes most of the day and times when there are forthcoming exams or postings, she tries to squeeze out 2 hours in a day to do something on the machine. With heavy doses of words of affirmation, proper planning, not-so-adequate rest, and bottles of Coca Cola, she’s able to fire on!

While Oyinkansola has had both male and female clients in the past, she admitted focusing on female clothes alone for now as she looks to perfect her skills on the male clothes. On days when Yinky is not on the machine, she is either flexing her vocals with the ABH Symphonia, dancing to her favourite music, or writing for the Quill’s club.

To the regular twitter users in the UI twitter community, @beyond_oyinkan is not a strange handle. The name started out as a brand identity because she wanted to portray herself as someone that is more than meets the eye, hence the ‘beyond.’ Opening a twitter account, she incorporated that idea into her name although beyondoyinkan is just who Oyinkansola is now, her brand name is ‘99 clothing‘.

99 clothing has served clients beyond the shores of Nigeria, extending to the US and UK. UIMSAites and Dental students are also regular beholders of the beauty Oyinkan makes. Many admitted that she was in her bag with the dresses she made for students during the UIMSA and UADS dinners in 2022. Like every other creative, she has moments where her work messes up her day, maybe due to difficulty in getting a particular fabric or engaging a difficult client. But she tries to push herself back to work by reassuring herself of her expertise and acknowledging that the tough phase would pass – like they always say.

Yinky considers music and partying an escape mechanism from school and work stress. Many things become very easy for her to execute once her ears are plugged. She also uses Twitter as an outlet to rant, talk about life, and the randomest things. Just like I’m in awe of the work ethic of fashion designers, she’s in awe of public speakers and creative writers. It’s something she considers very cool.

L: Coperni-inspired dress for a girls night out; R: Induction thanksgiving shoot in a dress by Yinky

A day in the life of Oyinkansola the fashion designer

Oyinkansola gets up early to list her agenda for the day (if she didn’t pen them down the previous night), balance her imaginary cash book, send out invoices to people with pending requests, then head out to the market. She either goes to Aleshinloye or Gbagi market to buy fabrics and painstakingly search for what she wants. When she gets back to her hall, she takes a bottle of Coca Cola or cooks/gets food from Prestige. She could also take a nap if need be or draft patterns for dresses. She cuts the material for the outfits and gets to the machine to sew. She could either take a break to see a movie or not. It takes Oyinkansola about 2 hours to sew a normal dress.

As a fashion designer, Yinky the machine looks up to Fisayo Longe, the CEO of Kai Collective, a London-based contemporary fashion and lifestyle brand for women. For Yinky, it’s more than the brand; she loves Fisayo’s personality, what she stands for, her social life, and her independence. She also loves Knanfe Fashion, a Lagos-based minimalist womenswear brand. She hopes to niche down to minimalistic gigs as time goes on. Alexander McQueens is another fashion brand that catches Yinky’s eyes. She loves the fact their pieces are inspiring.

PS: Oyinkansola has a word for UIMSaites

Hii creatives, I know you are going through a lot and it’s almost impossible to balance academics and work. I want you to know that you are not alone and I encourage you to do your best at every point in time. Don’t deceive yourself and when you are tired, take a break and rest. Y’all are the brightest minds in UI, keep it up and don’t relent on your dreams – sounds cliche though. Make the best of your time here!

Peter Adeyemo.

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1 thought on “Spotlighting Creatives (Episode 3): Yinky the Machine”

  1. Wow!! So she’s the one… I usually hear someone on the machine at the dead of the night, singing so beautifully, just above my room on A block. I must say she has a really beautiful voice, damn! I envy her vocals as a vocalist myself ????????…. Welldone Yinky. By the way, been looking for a creative fashion designer. I intend to bring to life an idea for a piece of clothing I have, you catch my fancy as one to interprète what I have in my head… Would seek you out on that soon ????

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