27-year old Busola Akomolede and 25-year old Bola Anibaba met while studying at Babcock University in Nigeria. As their friendship grew, they realized that they shared a mutual love for wristwatches and dreamt of one day owning their own wrist-watch design company. That dream recently came true as the duo pulled together their savings and resources and launched D@AC, which stands for “That Akomolede Chic,” named after the CEO and lead designer of the brand. Anibaba, the CFO of the company is in charge of marketing and finance.
According to Akomolede and Anibaba, D@AC timepieces are watches that say how the wearer sees his/her self…a manifestation of their persona. The male and female watches are made to suit different personalities with a wide range of colors and designs.
Each watch produced embodies the definition of the brand – confident, eccentric, and assertive. They wanted to manufacture luxury yet affordable, high-quality watches so they reached out to the Mecca of wristwatches. They developed a relationship with the Federal Horology of Switzerland and were linked with top manufacturers. Today, D@AC watches are manufactured in Switzerland using the Swiss time movement by a certified FHS factory and come with 2-year warranty.
Akomodele also has a Masters degree in Corporate Brand Management from Brunel Business School while Anibaba graduated with an MBA from Lagos Business School. The duo are brand-stars for lack of a better word. Along with their wrist-watch business, Anibaba works as an Assistant Brand Manager at Procter and Gamble while Akomolede is a Brand Manager at Vitafoam Nigeria PLC. The two friends have a dynamic synergy that has so far influenced the success of their brand.
Ladybrille caught up with the dynamic duo to discuss the business of fashion. Enjoy.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: Tell us, briefly, how and why you decided to strike out on your own as a fashion entrepreneur?
Busola A.: Well, Bola and I have been obsessed with watches for years and we always dreamt of owning our own brand. But it wasn’t until late last year, that I realized that I needed to do something that will bring me joy. That’s how I decided it was time to start my watch business and make my dream a reality. I didn’t have the capital so I asked Bola and she said we should go into a partnership business together and that’s how D@AC was born.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: Describe the exact products and services you provide?
Busola A.: D@AC offers top quality watches designed by us but made in Switzerland by a factory that has been manufacturing Swiss engine watches for years. The designs are based on personalities of friends and family, so in essence they are more than watches but rather the expression of oneself, a persona… hence our naming pattern.
Bola A.: One value added service we offer to our customers is the ability to go further than identifying their personality with the watches by customizing each watch by engraving their names. One can also give a D@AC watch to a loved one with a personal message engraved. This ability to customize is what makes us different, it is more than what most watch brands offer.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: (That’s really ingenious) What is the core mission of your business?
Busola A.: To be the watch brand of first choice for Africa; respected worldwide.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: ( How exactly do you plan on getting there?) What clearly defined business goals do you have for your brand within the next two years?
Bola A.: Firstly, to grow our sales by 300%; secondly, to increase rate of personalization and thirdly, to develop 15 identities in the line.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: (Very ambitious.) For your product line, what is the distribution system you have in place to make sure customers get your (watches) when and where they want it?
Busola A.: Currently we operate from Lagos, Nigeria. Bola manages Mainland orders and I, the (Victoria) Island. We service Abuja orders from here and are working on partnering with some stores in Port Harcourt and Calabar. We mainly try to reach our audience and customers online for now.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What has been your biggest business success to date?
Bola A.: Meeting our targeted sales per order. Not to toot my horn but the products are just wow…. Every time we show customers, they see the value instantly. For people to be able to see our products and associate value and quality to it instantly is our biggest success.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: (It’s totally okay to toot your horn, you are allowed to sell your brand.) What has been your biggest business mistake so far?
Busola A.: Hmm, we got some measurement wrong for the diameter of some watches which made them too small, and difficult to sell…. But these have been rectified.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What have you learnt from that mistake?
Busola A.: Big faced watches seem to be preferred by guys. So we need to find a balance between size and classic, classy watches.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: (Laughs. Indeed.) As a business, what is the customer experience you want each customer to take away every time they experience your fashion brand?
Busola A.: We want them to take away the pride of being with part of the D@AC. We want them to know that they have just purchased a masterpiece that will serve them, for many years (to come).
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What kind of challenges do you face when it comes to sourcing of materials for your fashion business?
Busola A.: Since our manufacturer handles that aspect, we don’s have many problems are in sourcing materials; major problem is importation. It is very costly.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What do you believe are the key qualities of a brilliant (Ladybrille) entrepreneur?
Busola A.: Determination! One needs to never give up, to keep at it. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint-hearted.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: (You can say that again. Speaking of entrepreneurship not being for the faint hearted,) can you share with our audience some few tips on financial management of a fashion business?
Bola A.: Financial management for a lifestyle business should be no different from any other business; same principles should apply. First, get the basic accounting down pat by keeping track of you inflow & outflow, assets & liabilities. The rest is based on the business structure and preference of the business owners, for example, ensuring funding and money management is in line with shareholders risk acceptance levels etc.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: How have you been able to integrate new technologies into your business to make it successful?
Busola A.: Well the watches are designed using some graphic designs software. I have taken my obsession further though, I now design using my tablet. One never wants a design to leave their head and you forget. Best to put it down as soon as you get the vision.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: Tell us the three ways you have used social media to increase brand awareness and gain recognition for your brand?
Bola A.: We are currently riding on our Facebook page and our website. Our marketing strategy is gradual, to build audience bit by bit so we are always on a set of peoples mind at every point of the year. To achieve this, social media is key.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: In your opinion, why do fashion businesses, especially African fashion businesses, fail?
Bola A.: Strictly our opinion – and not as experts – I think the business failure can be linked to numerous reasons:
1. Business built on fashion fads – which pass as quickly as they become trends.
2. Lack of solid business goals, and plans to achieve them.
3. Minimal to inadequate loan/funding facilities
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What do you look for when you hire employees?
Busola A.: Passion, intelligence, and PR quality.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What drives you as a business owner?
Busola A.: Apart from myself, many things! When people ask me what my aim in life is, I say it is to build an empire, and ensure that even after my passing I am talked about. It may sound a tad vain but that is what drives me. I don’t want to be forgotten.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What makes you get up to do what you do everyday instead of throwing in the towel and getting a 9-5?
Busola A. & Bola A.: We actually still have full-time jobs and still do because our capital and reach is not where we want it to be yet. Once it is…..the answer to your last question will not make us throw in the towel.
To view D@AC website, click here.
The “Ladybrille® Fashion Business With . . .” is a feature on Ladybrille® Magazine that is focused on entrepreneurs in Africa’s fashion industry, with a heavy emphasis on fashion designers. This feature highlights business principles, business practices, follows the money, discusses the challenges faced by fashion startups as well as offers pragmatic tips that should help stir the Ladybrille fashion entrepreneur towards success. If you would like to be featured, send an email to our Associate Editor at ([email protected]), indicate the kind of fashion business you operate and what you intend to share with our audience that you feel will be beneficial to them.
~Copyright 2012 Ladybrille Magazine. All Rights Reserved.
Elfonnie Inokon Anusionwu is a Ladybrille Woman Alumna. She is also an engineer and fashion entrepreneur. Elfonnie cites her passion for Africa and particularly her country Nigeria as the basis for why she writes. She believes that it is only through journalism that Africans can change the world’s perspective about who they really are. Follow Elfonnie on twitter at @elfonnie.