Creator Spotlight is a weekly series celebrating young Nigerians in the creative industry doing unique things. Everyone has a story, and Zikoko wants to tell it.

Hi, I’m Zonna. I’m a creative director, content creator, Interior artist, and photographer sometimes. I create tufted wall and rug art.  I watch videos of puppies before I go to bed because it calms me and helps me sleep well. I can dance, but people think I can’t for some reason. 

Wow, you do a lot. How did it all begin? Did you just start doing everything at once?

 I started fashion blogging in 2017 but stopped blogging around 2019 and focused on content creation. 

I got into creative directing two years ago when my previous boss saw my Instagram page, liked what I was doing and asked me to be the creative director for his agency. Now, I have my own with my clients I work with and I don’t work at the agency anymore. 

My interest in interior design is relatively new, and the comments I receive whenever people come to my house inspired it. They’d mention that my space was aesthetic and ask me to help them recreate it in theirs. Eventually, I decided to start a career creating furniture or anything you’d need for interior decorating.

How do you find the time to pursue these many interests?

I won’t lie, it’s tasking. I just organise everything I do so it doesn’t feel overwhelming. I have an account for my fashion influencing, one for my studio and another for my interior design. It helps me focus on each of them. I also have a journal where I plan out my day, so I don’t lose track. 

It’s hard, but I’m passionate about these things, and when I like something, I give it my all and just get it done.

Did you get professional discipline in any of these?

No, I didn’t. Even with photography, I sit with my camera until I get what I want, I didn’t study photography professionally either. I studied marketing in school, and after school, I wanted to work in an ad agency, but fashion in all its forms took over my life, and I can never go back to that depressing corporate world. I had to work at an office once, and being in a confined space with office chairs made me depressed. It was my first day. 

As a creative person, I enjoy my freedom. 

So how did you get into tufting? Where does it come in with all your passions?

That will be interior design. I make tufted rugs by myself from scratch.

How did you even decide that it’s something you’d like to do? I’ve only ever seen it on TikTok

Exactly, I saw a video randomly on Instagram, and it just looked so unique and exciting, so I watched thousands of YouTube videos and I was obsessed. I started searching for where I could get the equipment and materials too. I saw it as a unique addition to my interior brand because I can count the number of people in Nigeria that do what I do.

It’s an untapped opportunity to have the first creator advantage because even the few people I know that tuft just use it to make traditional rugs. I make art. I’ve always admired artists, but I didn’t know how to paint or draw, so tufting was my opportunity to be an artist. I didn’t even think twice. For me, it’s not about making rugs. It’s touchable art that can be in an exhibition someday. 

How easy was it to get the material you needed?

Sourcing my materials was a struggle. Because very few people do it here, I only had one person I could ask for help or advice. But everything is fine now. 

I like that you don’t second guess anything you want to do

I don’t waste time. I’m staring at my tufting canvas because it’s just beside my bed since I don’t have a workshop yet. In the morning, I just shift my bed aside and start working. When I first got my tufting gun and just got fabric to practise, I was like, “What is this?” The gun is very heavy. Your hand will be weak, but I can tuft for hours straight now.

What’s the longest time it has taken you to finish a rug

Four days. I took time because I was feeling lazy. I haven’t had as many tasking design requests as I’d like yet. 

So do you draw the pattern or just use a projector?

Since I started, I’ve been drawing by myself, but then I realised that I’m not an artist, so I caved and got a projector. So far, the most unique thing I’ve done is a CD rug inspired by the work of an interior designer, Sean Brown. For the CD rug I started off using my hand, but I realised I needed to use a projector so it could be much neater. 

So is it paying off? What’s been your most expensive and least expensive order? 

Because it’s a business where you can customise anything. Prices differ based on the design, size and how detailed it is. So far, I’ve only made custom rugs. I haven’t made the actual art I want to do. I’m still treading slowly, and people are still trying to understand what I do but, it’s been a decent start. I plan to introduce more unique designs, so they just don’t think it’s customised rugs or mirrors.   

What about the tuft mirrors? Ever broken any?

I haven’t. The challenge with the mirror tuft is that I don’t have enough equipment to carve hardwood yet, so I use ply boards and use scissors to cut it. The wood is just supposed to back it up, so it works. To be honest, the mirror is easier to make since it takes up all the space, but rugs sometimes have complicated designs and can be more challenging. 

What’s your favourite design so far?

The CD rug for sure, but I also have this “Stay weird” wall hanging art, and I love the colour plus, it was freehanded and look how good it came out!

Speaking of the CD rug, are you a big Michael Jackson fan? 

I am obsessed. I listen to MJ every day. My YouTube is just full of him. 

It’s cool that he inspired that rug. Who inspires everything you do?

The answer is me. I was trying not to be proud. I never need a push to do anything. I go for everything I want. I inspire myself. 

Bold, I love it! What do you do when you’re not busy creating art?

I love watching movies. I’m a big movie person, and it helps me zone out. I’m obsessed with horror movies, and they make me laugh. It’s not real, so it‘s hard to take it serious. I like mystery and suspense, and horror movies always have that. 

What goes in your head when you’re creating content outside? Do you get shy?

I don’t. It doesn’t bother me. I’m very shameless when I need to create content. When you can tell that you’re about to create magic, you have to drop your shame. Just try not to care about who is watching you and take advantage of those precious moments. 

As someone that gets shy taking pictures or documenting memories, I need your tips for more confidence

For me, I don’t care; I just do what I have to do. If I had to give someone advice, I’d say no one is really looking at you. Just pretend they are admiring you, and you’ll get all the confidence you need. 

Do you have a favourite career moment so far?

No, I don’t. But, I’m proud of myself for what I’m currently doing. I do so much at once, and I’m happy with how much I’ve improved my skills. I take myself seriously and always follow through when I set my heart on a project. I don’t have a favourite career moment yet, but I hope I get it soon.

Where do you not want to be in the next five years?

I don’t want to send email pitches about my work. I want to be requested. It’s normal to always sell yourself in life, but I don’t want to keep introducing myself. I want to be big enough by then. I’m doing what I can to ensure that happens—seizing opportunities and doing more than my best. 

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