ENTERPRISE54 – Earlier this year, She Leads Africa organised a pitch competition to empower emerging women entrepreneurs who will lead Africa business world. That was my first contact with Oyindamola Honey Ogundeyi, a tech consultant turn fashionpreneur who had an anonymous donor invest a thousand dollar ($1,000) into her business on hearing her pitch. After
ENTERPRISE54 – Earlier this year, She Leads Africa organised a pitch competition to empower emerging women entrepreneurs who will lead Africa business world.
That was my first contact with Oyindamola Honey Ogundeyi, a tech consultant turn fashionpreneur who had an anonymous donor invest a thousand dollar ($1,000) into her business on hearing her pitch.
After gaining over 10 years experience in Technology & Consulting from Global Companies such as McKinsey &; Co, Ericsson and Google, Oyindamola created Fashpa.com, an online- fashion company that sell high-street fashion from local, international brands as well as its own private label to customers in Nigeria and parts of Africa.
Although her company is just over a year, Oyindamola with the help of her team, has been able to grow Fashpa.com from supplying her customers from her apartment in Lagos, Nigeria to other parts of Africa.
In this Q&A interview, Oyindamola talks shop with Busayo Sotunde. She also discussed how social media is helping her business, the essence of team work in coordinating a business, and not forgetting, her recipe for a successful online business.
E54 -What is the story behind Fashpa.com? What inspired you to start this business?
OO – Fashpa.com is an online fashion retailer based in Nigeria. I started Fashpa.com in my apartment in late 2013 as a result of my frustration at not being able to access latest fashion in one place and at a good price in Nigeria. The African customer today finds it difficult to access fashion in an extremely fragmented retail market and I started the Fashpa.com to change that.
E54 – What need(s) does fashpa.com fill in the local business market and do you serve only the Nigerian market?
OO – Fashpa.com is filling the gap that exists in Africa for a one-stop shop for fashion. Our immediate focus is Nigeria, however we do serve customers across Africa. We are changing the way that consumers access fashion and lifestyle brands which today is not readily available to offline shoppers. We provide affordable high street fashion (clothing, footwear, accessories) from a combination of local, international, as well as our own brands giving customers access to the latest in trends and fashion at great value. Our typical customer is young at heart, follows popular culture, contemporary in mindset, aspirational, and fashion forward.
E54 – The name of your business “Fashpa” resonate the word “fashion parade”. In your opinion, how important has using a familiar brand name help in positioning your business better?
OO – Fashpa is a colloquial term in Nigeria which means Fashion Parade. When I was thinking of a name for the site, I wanted a name that was both related to Fashion and Nigeria and Fashpa.com was both.
E54 – I notice you kept using the word ‘We” in your conversation. What role does team work play in your line of business?
OO – It is all about the team and getting a great team together that works! We have been very conscious about building an all star team of people who are not only passionate about our vision but are also competent and self driven. Teamwork is key at Fashpa.com, we have a young and dynamic team, there is no such thing as “that is not my job” we are very much a collective working in tandem to get results.
E54 – So, who or what is your greatest competition?
OO – The retail space in Nigeria is very fragmented and modern retail formats are at their infancy. Over 90 percent of our target audience still shop offline in open-air markets, so that is the competition. However the great thing about Fashpa.com is we outperform those formats on convenience, product variety and on season merchandise. The key step is to increase both awareness and trust levels of Fashpa.com amongst that target audience.
E54 – From your experience, what are the key things one needs to establish an online fashion business and how long does it take to earn a living from it?
OO – From my experience, at the start of the business it is important to have a clear focus on problem you are trying to solve and also to quickly be able to differentiate your fashion business from the plethora of sites that are launching every day. Shopping for fashion is different from general merchandise, its very much about understanding the psychology of the customer and creating an online experience that they want to immense in and discover exciting Fashion. For us at Fashpa.com, we want to be the No1 fashion online destination in Africa and that translates to creating a platform that not only gives you an opportunity to shop but also acts as your fashion adviser by providing style advice, celebrity fashion stories and keeping you updated on latest fashion brands.
In terms of earning revenues, if you have built a site and have a great product fit you will be able to attract customers who are willing to pay for your items and so you should be earning revenues in no time.
E54 – What would you say is the most important thing in running an online business and what is the greatest lesson you have learnt?
OO – Running an online business is about building a great customer base and execution. If you win across those two areas that you are well on the way to success. In Nigeria, we also have infrastructural challenges that you will also need to overcome especially in the area of payments and logistics.
The greatest lesson for me has really been on focus, as a startup it’s important to be able to find a great product – market fit and earn your customers love. I imbibe this quote from my Google Days, “focus on the customer and all else will follow”.
E54 – Amidst prevalent challenges, what is your recipe for a successful online business?
OO – Earn your customers’ love
You operate an online business. What role does social media play in growing a business?
Social Media is at the heart of Fashpa.com. We are one of the first e commerce businesses in Nigeria to put social media at the core of the business, for us its is not an extension of marketing but a key part of our brand DNA.
We have an active presence on Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram and Twitter with over 100k fans and growing. Our customers play an active role on these social platforms and have helped us build what we see as the online Fashpa community. Regular interaction with them provides us with a better understanding of what they want and it has also been a great way to gather real time feedback.
We also use social media to keep our community updated with all the latest happenings at Fashpa, this can anything from new- in products, behind the scenes footage from our shoots or crowdsource ideas for future collections or sometimes what music is on our office ipod!
All our content is based around our customers wants and needs and all our social channels have a clear direction and personality that is consistent across the board. We ensure that our messages are aimed at the target audience and always reflect our brand.
We have done a great job in converting likes to sales and built a really strong community of Fashpa lovers who love the brand. We have found that the online Fashpa community brings in new customers and encourages repeat purchases proving that it is a powerful tool for business success and a key differentiator for us.
E54 – Where do you see fashpa.com at the end of this decade and how do you intend to expand your business to meet your projection?
OO – I see Fashpa as the leading destination for Fashion in Africa. To really deliver on our vision, we will have continue to deliver an amazing shopping experience, be known for exceptional customer service, have a wider assortment of brands and categories and provide a platform for emerging African brands to grow and distribute. We would have a solid team of fashion and tech entrepreneurs and establish the business as one the best workplaces to work in Africa.
Success for us means that we would have changed the way African Consumers access Fashion and be a key contributor in the growth of the African Fashion and Tech Industry.
E54 – What advise will you give budding fashion online entrepreneurs?
OO – Start small, dream big and FOCUS!