We are happy to announce that recently, a world-wide demand for African-inspired clothing has led to the success of several African designers, most of whom have gotten the support of well-known public figures including, Michelle Obama, Rihanna, and Beyonce.
However, the fact is that the fashion e-commerce industry in Nigeria is still underserved, given the amount of those who use the internet regularly in Nigeria. As such, Nigerian company Fashpa.com has done its role in filling this gap by using technology to “create an online platform that would be a one-stop shop for fashion“.
Fashpa founder, Honey Ogundeyi, recently did an incredible interview with Forbes about her success as well as the challenges she faced. We have reproduced our favourite parts here, in order to share with you the viewpoints of someone very influential in fashion at the moment.
What was the original inspiration/thought process behind Fashpa?
I started Fashpa (meaning Fashion Parade), out of frustration of not being able to access quality fashion following my move back to Nigeria after several years living abroad. Africans have the same modern sophisticated fashion tastes and love for fashion when compared to consumers elsewhere in the world. The only difference between us and a consumer in London is access to that fashion. I wanted to bridge that gap using technology, by creating an online fashion platform targeted at style conscious consumers who wanted quality, variety and convenience, at affordable prices.
What are the major challenges you have encountered while building a business in Nigeria and how have you overcome them?
One of the major challenges is access to capital. Technology investments are seen as quite bold and the wild card option for many Nigerian investors, because just 10 years ago, we did not have mobile phone technology in Nigeria, so it is quite a leap to be able to say to someone- I am going to revolutionise fashion commerce in Nigeria and Africa using the internet. Mostly because no one has built an online fashion brand at scale before in Nigeria or even Africa. We do not have a well developed angel investor ecosystem or venture capitalists with a history of investing in technology in Nigeria.
There are also no incentives to encourage more investment in technology. So whilst there is a growing interest in Nigeria’s technology scene, it remains very difficult to access funding for technology startups especially for companies like Fashpa, who need growth funds to scale.
Another one is poor physical infrastructure. Strong Infrastructure is necessary for the growth of e-commerce in Africa. In Nigeria and across most of Africa, infrastructural challenges such as lack of power, high cost of internet and quality of internet, lack of good road network/access, low penetration of online payments and lack of logistics network makes it more expensive for ecommerce companies to operate and compete with global counterparts.
How’s the Fashpa brand being perceived by the international audience? What measures do you use to track the success of your brand, and what cities have shown the highest demand for your products?
Our primary focus as a business is Nigeria, and secondary Africa. However I believe it is extremely important to build your business as a global one from the start, so we have been international from day one. Our international business, by revenues, site visitor number and social followership is growing well, especially since we now focus on our own brand. There is clearly a global market that appreciates the beauty and detail that goes into quality fashion regardless of its design location.
What’s unique about Fashpa?
As a company we are disrupting one of the largest and most profitable markets in Africa and indeed in the world, fast fashion. Fashpa has a super clear vision on how to solve the problem, using data and vertical integration, we are building the fashion retail company of the future right here from Africa.
Our fashion products, designed in house are adapted to better serve local market needs and we are using data in transformative ways, from gathering data on real women’s measurements to develop better fitting clothes for all body types, to using data to understand consumer demands and making clothes suited to local trends, we are able to deliver a much more personalised shopping experience than they get offline.
Finally due to our vertical integration and location, we are able to offer the customer fast fashion turnaround times and a unique shopping experience.
Thank you, Honey Ogundeyi, for driving the fashion industry, and thank you, Forbes, for giving such inspirational people the spotlight they deserve.