If you are in the fashion retail space, or you have ever thought of ordering fashion pieces online from an African designer, no doubt you would have heard of Fashpa.com.
Fashpa.com is an online fashion retailer. But they are different from most fashion retailers with cute Instagram pages and fancy domain names. This is more than just an online boutique; as Mfonobong Nsehe puts it, “it designs, manufactures and distributes its line of clothing. It retails the clothing online and offers delivery throughout Africa and the World.”
The brain behind this is Honey Ogundeyi, a woman who is using technology to disrupt the fashion space in Africa. In an interview on Forbes.com, she talks about her inspiration for the brand, the challenges with doing business in Nigeria, and her plans for Fashpa.com. Below are excerpts from the interview:
On the original inspiration and 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.
On their rebranding, sales and key strategies:
Fasha’s design ethos all about rich textures, fabulous fabrics and modern femininity; each collection is inspired by the everyday woman with a global outlook, she’s the working Mum, the bosschick, the graduate in her first job, the high powered executive. Our key strategy is to focus on the customer, our obsession is to make sure that we provide and cater to her fashion need. We don’t publicly share our sales data. However since the Fashpa rebrand and by focusing exclusively on our own brand, we have continued to see double digit growth month on month and an increase in our international orders.
On the challenges of doing business in Nigeria and how they’ve 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.