APiF: Please introduce your business.
Minne Atairu (Mimi): It is all about accessibility. VERSE 20 aims to introduce consumers to fashion designers from Africa through a curated shopping experience. I feel African designers are missing out on the opportunity to drive visibility and profitable growth through the digital universe. I think VERSE 20 is an opportunity to represent them and give them a platform to test the global waters and be introduced to new consumers.
APiF: So what differentiates Verse 20 from other stores?
Mimi: VERSE 20 is largely about giving consumers an engaging experience via curated shops month after month. Each shop has a unique theme and offers limited quantities of items. It lives for about four weeks, then it’s gone and a new shop is introduced. This pop-up concept is built around content with shoppable products.
I feel bringing in that, “this designer is offbeat, here is stuff we love in his collection and this is how you can wear them” is really important, especially for the consumer who is not necessarily intrigued by African fashion. Also, I know that there are a couple of websites that sell items from African designers, but you don’t go there to get inspired about how you’re going to wear a dress. You don’t necessarily look at these websites the way you look at Instagram or Pinterest. I want to create a shopping experience that’s part inspiring and something that you can buy.
APiF: Which brands will your store offer?
Mimi: VERSE 20 will offer clothing and jewelry from a mix of emerging and advanced designers including Rich Mnisi, Studio 1981 and Omilua.
APiF: What inspired you to start VERSE 20?
Mimi: I want to empower talented designers to do what they love, and survive while doing it. After working with some young fashion designers in Nigeria, I got to understand the hurdles they face like: low income, electricity shortage, lack of materials and access to certain facilities that would otherwise be available in stable environments.
APiF: What are you trying to express with the name VERSE 20?
Mimi: Currently, I believe Africa is experiencing a design renaissance, with fashion designers reviving elements of our tradition and fusing it with contemporary ideas. The name represents the mission set for VERSE 20: to break the mold for such designers.
APiF: You just launched a KickStarter campaign – tell us about that.
Mimi: The KickStarter funding is meant to build the platform and integrate an interface that allows content with shoppable products on the platform. This will allow us to create stories around designers and present immersive content to inspire consumers. You can find the link to our campaign here: KickStarter campaign.
Find out more:
Support VERSE 20 and check-out their KickStarter funding campaign.