“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 (firstname.lastname@example.org), 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.
We posed questions to the owner of the newly launched Le Tabouret D’Or which currently stocks three (3) African designers on its e-retail store. Below is what Serwaa had to say. We think it will be interesting for Serwaa and her company to revisit her responses in this interview after 6-12months in business. Be sure to visit ltdo.co and congratulations to the new business owner.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: First, tell us your full name?
Serwaa:My name is Yaa Serwaa Adjei-Pellé.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What does your name mean?
Serwaa:Yaa means Thursday born but I am also named after Yaa Asantewaa who led the Ashanti people in battle against the British because they asked the Ashantis to relinquish their Golden Stool. I like to refer to her as our very own warrior princess although she was technically a queen mother.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: (Interesting. Let’s get into Fashion Business talk shall we?!) We have seen the UK and South Africa launch successful e- commerce sites. Why did you decide it was time for America to launch an e-commerce platform for African fashion?
Serwaa:The idea for Le Tabouret D’Or initially arose from personal need. When I got married, I wanted my bridesmaids to wear ghanaian print in modern cuts. It was a bit of an ordeal to get the items made especially since I had to reach out to my aunt in Ghana to coordinate everything and ship it back to the US.
Also, going to school and church in the US, whenever I wore any African print, people would always ask where I got it from. They were genuinely interested in African fashion but it wasn’t accessible to them. The emergence of African fashion on the mainstream runways was the final confirmation I needed that the US was ready for an outlet the would make African Fashion more accessible to them.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: (Indeed accessibility remains a major issue for Westerners to really see what African fashion is about). Tell us, briefly, how and why you decided to strike out on your own as a fashion entrepreneur?
Serwaa: I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. After seeing there was a way I could make an impact, I jumped at it.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: Describe what you were doing prior to this launch?
Serwaa:Prior to the launch, I spent a lot of time researching our potential market and planning out how we would execute the launch of Le Tabouret D’Or. I also spent several sessions with my business mentor crunching numbers. It all sounds quite dry but it’s so necessary to lay a good foundation for any business.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What kind of market survey and benchmarking did you undertake before you decided to take the plunger?
Serwaa: We took a top down approach. We looked at fashion e-commerce industry as whole to see how it was performing then narrowed our view to African fashion in key US hubs. The numbers needed to make sense before I could take the plunge.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: (Clearly it made sense for you. You have now taken the plunge. Let’s talk about naming your business.) It is said that your name is everything. As an African you certainly understand this. But from a business angle, why and how did you choose your name?
Serwaa: From a business perspective, we needed a name that would stand out and leave our audience asking for more. Because it is so unique, people don’t always stop at ‘it’s just a fashion brand’ but rather ask what it means and why we chose it. That’s always a great conversation starter and a great way to draw people in.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: Describe the exact goods and services you provide?
Serwaa:Le Tabouret D’Or is an online retailer of African fashion (clothing and accessories). Beyond that, we see ourselves emerging as a marketing vehicle for African designers. Our market is broader than the African market. As we continue to draw in people that are simply fashion lovers, we will serve as the initial link between new audiences and the designers we carry.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What is the core mission of your business?
Serwaa: Our tag line is African Fashion Unleashed! because our core mission is to unleash African fashion out into the world. Not in the way the world has traditionally seen but in a way that introduces the world to the depth of the culture and the people behind the trend. As a luxury brand, we are also invested in showcasing African fashion as a luxury product.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: (We love to hear about about African fashion luxury brands.) What clearly defined business goals do you have for your brand within the next two years?
Serwaa: For the next two years, the most I can say is we are focused on continued growth. We would like to become a household name. More than that, we would like to have a positive and lasting impact on the African Fashion industry.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What is the distribution system you have in place to make sure customers get what your products when and where they want it?
Serwaa: Decline to respond.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: How are you curating the designers you are stocking for sale?
Serwaa:When we first started on this journey, we made a list of all the designers we wanted to engage. Even though we continue to work from this list, other designers continue to pleasantly surprise us with their creativity and maturity. The first step in our process is to speak to the designers to hear their story. Throughout our communication with them, we like to understand their operations and see the quality of their work. After running through some of the points on our checklist, we then decide which designer relationship would make sense for everyone involved.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: As a new business, what would you say has been your biggest business success to date?
Serwaa:Our biggest success so far has been how well we have been received by everyone from the media/blogs to our customer base.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: In starting your fashion business, what has been your biggest fashion business mistake so far?
Serwaa: When it comes to embarking on any project, I’m a planner…almost to a fault. I wouldn’t say we have made any mistakes so far. Time is the best teacher and as it passes, I’m sure we will come across ways to improve our process and approach. I’m always asking my team and mentor for their feedback. I know we are still a young company and as a result, I’m open to receiving feedback. It’s the only way I see to grow successfully.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: As a business, what is the customer experience you want each customer to take away every time they experience your fashion brand?
Serwaa: From a customer experience perspective, we are mainly focused on creating an aesthetically pleasing environment for our shoppers, ensuring smooth logistics from order to delivery and providing timely customer support.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What are your plans for expansion?
Serwaa: At this point in time my main focus is growing this company and perfecting our craft.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What do you believe are the key qualities of a brilliant (Ladybrille) entrepreneur?
Serwaa:Tenacity, ingenuity and humility. With these 3 qualities as a foundation, I believe you will have at least part of the recipe for success.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: Can you share with our audience some few tips on financial management of a fashion business?
Serwaa:I’m by no means a financial guru but I will say that I’ve learned that planning is paramount. Know your market and know how much capital it will take to succeed in it.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: E-commerce depends heavily on the right technologies to process online transactions. What new technologies do you have in your business, specifically, from a privacy and safety concern that ensures customers can shop without any concerns?
Serwaa: We’ve invested time and effort in selecting the right platform for our e-boutique’s back end. Our platform provides all the features today’s shoppers need in order to feel comfortable and safe shopping online.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: You are a Texas based company. Dallas is now the third largest fashion market in the USA. Describe the fashion culture where you are, especially among the modern/progressive African women you meet?
Serwaa: Dallas has more shopping centers per capita than any other city in the US. People seem to go everywhere dressed to impress! I love that the African women I meet are so fashion conscious.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: Tell us the three ways you have used social media (facebook, twitter,tumblr etc.) to increase brand awareness and gain recognition for your brand?
Serwaa: Decline to respond
LADYBRILLEmag.com: In your opinion, why do fashion businesses, especially African fashion businesses, fail?
Serwaa: Decline to respond
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What do you look for when you hire employees?
Serwaa: As we have just launched, we are not currently looking for new employees.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What drives you as a business owner?
Serwaa: As a business owner, I have great drive to succeed and make a lasting impact the African fashion industry.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What makes you get up to do what you do everyday instead of throwing in the towel and getting a 9-5?
Serwaa: I currently work in finance. In many ways, I have two ‘9-5’ jobs. One of my dreams has always been to own my own business and now I’m finally able to realize that dream.