What do you do if you cannot find what you are looking for? You create a business and start offering it! APIF talked to Stephanie Mensah, owner of the new online-platform StylesAfrik that will launch in March 2012.
APiF: What is your motivation behind the project?
Stephanie Mensah: It all started when I was searching for a ready-made Africa-inspired outfit for my birthday. I couldn’t find any high-end fashion via Google. After that experience I went to a show, where African designs were exhibited. I was surprised at the quality and creativeness of the designs as well as disappointed, that I was not able to find such designs readily available using a simple online search. When I came across Helen Jenning’s book “New African Fashion“, I decided to use my work experience in Marketing and Business to start an online retail outlet that focuses on trendy Africa-inspired designs.
Stephanie: Since I started my project, I have had the opportunity to interview various designers and there are a number of reasons: The websites do not represent the mission and value of their product lines; they tend to only make one-off designs and don’t focus on off the rail clothing; other websites fail to attract audiences to their website, therefore not enough sales are created using the online medium.APiF: What is the advantage for designers to be part of StylesAfrik?
Stephanie: StylesAfrik’s aim is to showcase a wide selection of designers worldwide, who offer quality and creative Africa-influenced designs. StylesAfrik.com is another outlet for designers to sell and promote their designs on a larger scale and to a mainstream audience. We will spend time and money on promotions, advertising, Search Engine Optimization, PR, Networking and thus drive more users to our site. Designers can spend their time focusing on creating new collections without having to worry about promoting their products.
APiF: Can you already mention some designers that will sell via your platform?
Stephanie: We are actively recruiting for designers who meet our criteria. Some of the designers that have already signed up include: Yaa Ataa Couture Bags, Tina Lobondi, Jezreel Designs, Oeclat designs, Yaa Ohenewa Textiles, Agnes Mira Rose. In total we have over 30 designers we are talking to, and we are still seeking more designers!
APiF: Will fashion lovers be able to make purchases no matter where they are located?
Stephanie: The site will offer products in 3 different currencies – Euro, GBP and Dollar – and we will ship to England, Wales, Ireland, Europe, and the US. We are working on expanding the site for usage in some African countries and accepting local currencies.