We’re going to let you in on a well-known secret. There’s more than enough fashion-industry pie to go around. With The African Fashion Industry said be worth over $50bn, and how on-trend African youths are considered to be, it’s still considerably underutilised. More so, the online and technological opportunities. Honey Ogundeyi returned to Nigeria in 2004 and immediately noticed a gap in the fashion market. Despite coming from a formal employment background in Management Consultant, with experience across industries ranging from banking, brand management, internet and telecoms, to working with companies such as Google and Ericsson, she decided to branch into entrepreneurship.
After nine years since conceiving the online fashion idea, she launched Fashpa – a women’s lifestyle brand and went into fashion retail full-time. From 2013 to date, she has been improving on her original concept using tools we’ve highlighted throughout our Business Series. Here’ are a few entrepreneurial notions you can learn from Fashpa.com.
This series has continuously brought up the fact that you need to know who you are selling to. Africans have the same modern refined fashion tastes as the rest of the world. The problem is getting the access to the quality products and experiences. When Ogundeyi came back to Nigeria she encountered the frustration that comes from the informal nature of the industry which leaves several details undefined. Anything from the lack of return or exchange policies, the gap in customer service protocols, production inconsistency or the fact that it’s difficult to authenticate whether a product is original or not. She decided to tackle this problem through technology, by setting up an online fashion platform. One that targeted style-conscious shoppers who wanted variety, quality and convenience; at reasonable prices.
Ogundeyi did her homework and has multiple USP angles to lure in and maintain her customer base. With 98% of retailers still selling via traditional outlets, Nigeria’s online fashion space is still underutilised. With only a handful to retailers taking to technology to reach their clientele it’s a smart way to market her business.
Then there’s her delivery promise. She guarantees express delivery in a maximum of three days across the country. Which is an impressive customer-service to offer in a country that is known for the worst traffic on the continent; with a vast majority of roads in Nigeria are unpaved.
Thirdly, she has the Fashpa Fit Studio. As African women, it can be particularly difficult to find clothes that complement our dimensions. This studio offers complimentary style service that finds your perfect fit through one-on-one services. But she didn’t stop there. Ogundeyi calls on technology once again to make even more of this USP. She uses big data to analyse her customer’s measurements in order to manufacture garments that fit better. In an interview with Forbes, she added that, “We have a meticulous approach to ensure that the sizing reflects the customer’s body type. Once the fit test is complete, the sample heads to the studio to be photographed for our website. Once produced, we quality test, checking again for fit, fabric, and finish. Our aim is to make sure the finishing on the inside, is just as good as the outside.”
‘Beautifully Made Things’ is this brand’s foundation philosophy and Ogundeyi has a defined vision of what her brand’s fashion manual is. Visually, she opted for ‘fresh silhouettes with vibrant colours, prints and embellishments for the modern woman with a global outlook.’ Combining culture and design that’s socially and environmentally conscious, these quality crafted garments also have to be functional. A key angle of her brand style is her sale’s strategy to sell limited edition capsule collections that launch online weekly. That’s a reduced probability of running into someone with the same outfit! Instead of designing a year in advance, Fashpa designs has adopted a fast fashion model where they design and manufacture low volumes of designs in two weeks in order to capture what their customers want to wear right now.
When Ogundeyi first started Fashpa, she was carrying foreign brands such as Zara, H&M, Steve Madden, Topshop to mention a few, in addition to her Fashpa line. However, she decided to reorganise and only produce her Fashpa ready-to-wear line. That called for a refresh on her external brand assets such as her logo to reflect the choice to make her supply chain a vertically integrated one. This basically means that they design, manufacture and distribute their own clothing line in Nigeria, African and the rests of the globe. She’s managed to do this by combining with modern design, traditional techniques and African craftsmanship with technology to become proudly and completely made in Africa.
By understanding what your customers need and then implementing innovative ways to fulfil that need, your business wouldn’t just be successful, but also defined. Ogundeyi was able to establish a stable fashion tech company by taking a fresh perspective on the industry such as data analysis and creating clothes that complemented real African women’s measurements. In fact, she plans to use this scale and data information to understand what her consumers require when it comes to fit and product development, and use this to predict what they’ll need. She’s found her niche, what’s your fresh take?