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EXCLUSIVE: 19-year-old undergrad crafts stunning artificial nails from recycled plastics

In a world burdened by plastic waste, one exceptional teenager is revolutionizing the beauty industry with her creative prowess.

Vivian Uzoma Okeke, a 19-year-old 100 Level student of Fine Arts at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK), Awka, has unlocked the secrets to transforming discarded plastics into artificial nails.

Her stunning creations not only redefine fashion but also ignite a global movement towards eco-friendly beauty.

I do not plan on working for anybody after school. My goal is to expand my innovative works

Through her remarkable creativity, Vivian is proving that beauty can arise from the ashes of waste, inspiring a generation to rethink, recycle, and embrace a more sustainable future.

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Plastic pollution is a global problem. According to United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), approximately seven billion of the 9.2 billion tonnes of plastic produced from 1950-2017 became plastic waste, ending up in landfills or dumped indiscriminately.

The eco-champion, however, serves as an environmental alchemist, skilfully transforming these environmental hazards into exquisite beauty products.

In an interview with Iya Magazine, Vivian expressed her passion about life and exploring new interests and activities.

She said, “I have a lot of enthusiasm for life and I am always looking out for new opportunities to learn and grow with a creative mind.

“I am able to think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions such as drawing with wools and making artificial nails from plastic bottles and make it more unique by beautifying them with pieces from Ankara fabrics.

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How she started?

Vivian being a curious individual gets idea through imagination and thoughts. The teenager started the innovation of transforming plastic bottles into artificial nails since she was in secondary school.

For her, coming up with unique and strange ideas is aimed at putting the records straight that females capable of innovations.

The accessibility of plastic bottles makes sourcing for raw material easy since plastics are everywhere; making cost of production low for Vivian. “I don’t spend much on production, so, I make more profit,” she said.

She described the business as very lucrative as she sells her products to her fellow students. Her nails sells for N2,000 upward, while she is yet to fix a price for her ankara phone pouch.

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Academic/innovation

Her knowledge of Fine Art, she said, is tremendously helping her creativity.

“Imagine adding creativity to creativity. With the help of my course, I started making phone pouch with Ankara fabric. Though, having to take out time meant for my projects or practical is challenging,” she confesses.

Challenges

According to Vivian, the process of transforming the plastic bottles into nails is a bit complicated, particularly, getting the particular measurement to fit the shape of the nail. Also, beautifying the nails with Ankara fabric requires patience as it is time-consuming.

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More so, the fact that it is a new idea that many do not know about is quite challenging, just as pushing new products to a market where lots of already-made nails exists is challenging.

Future plan/aspiration

“I do not plan on working for anybody after school. My goal is to expand my innovative works. I want to be of great benefit to not only Nigeria but other countries of the world,” states.

Advice to young people

The talented teenager advised young people like herself to never fear starting small and strive to be unique in everything they do.

Christiana Alabi-Akande
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