Friday, January 20, 2012


Hello blogville! Hope you all had a fab Christmas and a memorable New Year too.
So here I am with another post about a discussion I started last week on Twitter.

Our discussion was on Talk Africa Fashion hashtag #talkafricafashion and it featured contributions from designers, bloggers, publications, online store owners, marketers and PR gurus from within the fashion industry.

Our topic was “challenges that designers face”. A lot of interesting points came up during the discussion, such as financing issues to branding and marketing, to lack of knowledge of the industry including quality control, pricing, business plan writing and lack of local infrastructures and artisans.

I wanted to share with you some of the solutions/points that came out of the discussion.
  • We talked about the importance of mentor schemes. How valuable it was to gain firsthand experience and maintain a partnership with an experienced designer which could help the designer as they grow their brand.
  •  We also looked at how important it was to have an impartial governing fashion council/body within the African fashion industry to financially assist and maintain some standards and regulations. The one challenge with this was how it would represent the different countries within Africa – having local bodies that report to a main one perhaps is the way forward?  Who knows! We are already seeing assistance from government funds and private investors contributing to the development of fashion in Nigeria and South Africa so this could be a path to explore in building the African fashion industry.
  • Networking and building relationships is imperative. It does not matter which business field you are in, in fact this could be the biggest factor that moves your brand forwards. It is not what you know but who you know that counts so never forget this saying! Through your networks you can then build up a valuable collaboration/partnership which can help your brand grow.
  •  For all those who think that fashion is in, yes it is but remember that fashion is not a picnic as someone pointed out in the discussion. It is very challenging but it can also be very rewarding. Nevertheless, you have to invest in it to profit and that is the simple truth!
  •  Also remember that Rome was not built in a day so start small and build momentum as you go along. You cannot be everything for your brand so don’t forget to delegate as you grow. Where your skills end, get someone to assist you. Ensure you maximise all available resources at your disposal too.
  • Be able to think creatively. Create a signature; something unique for your brand – workmanship/craftsmanship is what makes you memorable – this leads to innovation?
  •  Find the right avenues to reach your target market. Use social media and online blog sites and magazines that target your desired crowd. To generate sales, say no to fashion shows and yes to trade shows. Remember these shows are not cheap!
  •  Good quality and stylish designs is the feedback we got from a potential customer. So do your homework about what your target market needs before embarking on your business journey.
  •  Finally, throughout the discussion the point that kept cropping up was that of education. Education, education, education was the key to unlock most of the challenges that designers face. Gather knowledge about your target market and their needs, find out about how to write a business plan and raise funds for your business (most still forget that fashion = business), find out about branding, marketing, communication (press relations), positioning, quality control (detailing/finishing) etc

We all know the African fashion industry has the potential to become very big even Franca Sozzani of Vogue Italia has already recognised this potential so do whatever it takes to make your business a success!


A big thank you to all those who took part in the discussion, Lisa Folawiyo of Jewel by Lisa, Asake Agoro of Asakeoge, bloggers Ciaafrique and Afrosocialite, marketing and communications gurus BiosuPR, K Connection, VAG and Olivia Asiedu-Ntow.

Catch the discussion again Sunday from 2pm UK time. The topic is "media relations: how designers should relate to bloggers and publications" #talkafricafashion!

Until the next post, bye for now.


adeline @ fabafriq said...

Good initiative. I so missed it...*sigh* I hope to join in the next one and thanks again for the initiative, it sounds like magic to my ear...just thinking, maybe we could...n the next issue?

Enyinne O. said...

Great tweetup idea! Mazuba Kapambwe put me on to this...I'm excited to join the conversation this weekend! Thanks for pushing this dialogue! Cheers, Enyinne

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