I truly believe that Brand is the answer to what sets most successful ecommerce companies apart from the ones who are starting to falter– not cheap pricing and not celebrity endorsements. Brand.
When I started Fashpa, I wanted to disrupt the industry, mostly because I didn’t feel connected to a lot of “fashion” or ecommerce brands, they were either too high fashion or me or just so far disconnected that I didn’t want to shop there. There were no brands that evoked passion or that people were really proud to be associated with, so we set about to change that. ( more on that journey later)
To succeed at that you must truly know your customer, be laser focused on always giving them what they want, when they want it, before they even know they want it. You must be able to step into their shoes at anytime and know exactly where the shoe hurts.
I frequently meet Fashpa customers and am quite retiring and self deprecating so I tend to quietly whisper I work at Fashpa.com if we get to that part of the conversation where you are asked what you do. Most times that not, ll get someone who probes further and then ll answer , oh I am the CEO/ the founder and I typically get a hug and an accompanying big smile as they fire 1o questions about what why are you guys doing this and why dont you have this?, usually in naija style rapid fire style.
The reason they hug me, is because the brand Fashpa resonates with them. They feel connected.
But great brands take time to build, you need to be focused, consistent and stay true to the brand. In many ways in 2-0-1-5 we didn’t always stay true to the brand, but am changing that this year. A renewed focus on brand is already helping us make some tough calls too. I am super excited about 2016 already, can you tell?
What is your brand and what does it start for?
In spite of what was my toughest year, Fashpa made the list of YNAIJA list of Influential startups of the year. I have to say I agree with this one, we definitely set the pace with fashion online ( with all modesty)! Read below and you can read more about the whole cohorts here. Thank you for this Ynaija means a lot to all of us at Fashpa HQ!
The start-ups on this list have been the most visible in terms of outdoor advertising, solving a need and raising much needed funding to boost the tech system.
You may have used them, you must have heard of them.
Our top 10 list is presented in alphabetical order.
Founded by Honey Ogundeyi, a former industry manager at Google,Fashpa.com is a retail e-commerce start up whose main focus is to provide on trend clothing at affordable prices, with the use of technology and a focus on key areas like sourcing, logistics, customer service and user experience. The leading fashion online retailer based in Nigeria, Fashpa retails a mix of high street fashion from international and local brands. Fashpa’s own designs have been spotted on celebrities like Kelly Rowland and Angela Simmons.
Happy New ~Year! 2016 already seems brighter.
My Mum’s nickname for me was “survivor” you could throw me the biggest curveballs and I would always find a way to stand back up. Famously I moved to Brussels to work for Mckinsey in my early twenties without a) having been there before except for my interview b) Speaking french or dutch c) Knowing anyone. It was my second job . It definitely was not the path commonly tread ( a job in Lagos or London anyone) but I threw myself into it and had a fantastic 3 years travelling the world and learning tonnes at the firm.
2015 my was a tough year, with so many curve balls thrown my way, after a while it felt like an avalanche. One Term sheet signed that never became an investment, Well Funded ( read overly funded) ecommerce companies poaching fashpa staff for 2x salary , fashion online reduced a game of pricing, ( 1k fashion anyone), an acquisition offer ( big corp wants to buy fashpa eek but its early), a slow economy, SME killing CBN policies, bad hires, ebola, heck everything that could go wrong seemed to happen in 2015. You can read more about my travails and whats like to run a startup in Nigeria in this FT article here, happy to have provided the title 😉
I made some mistakes as well, the most devastating was hiring and not firing quick enough. The right team is KEY.
It was a tough year but I made it, my startup made it and I had I learnt a whole LOT, so as we go into 2016 I am more rugged, pragmatic and a little roughed up CEO. For me this year is about 3 year things–
- The Power of Focus
- Team is everything
- Start small dream BIG
I will expand on the following three things in future posts. I also hope to write more in 2016. So happy new year to you too and here is to a fashtastic 2016!
Thank you to Tolu Ogunlesi for reaching out to me on the economist SME piece.