In Nigeria’s harsh economic climate, operating an independent store as a fashion designer can seem like a daunting and unsurmountable task. Notwithstanding, many designers have taken the task head on and set up their own retail spaces where their pieces are sold exclusively. One of these designers is Wana Sambo. The eponymous designer opened the doors to her store in February 2015 after five years in the industry and has continued to build a loyal clientele who trust her brand for wearable, accessible pieces. Her brand’s success lies largely with the way it has affixed itself in the ‘sweet spot’ between high street and luxury.
In this exclusive chat with TheStyleHQ, we get an in-depth look into the process of setting up her flagship store, how the reality of owning a store challenged her pre-existing expectations, how she manages her value chain, and much more.
On the journey so far as an independent retailer in Nigeria.
I would say it’s been a sensational journey. The Wana Sambo brand is a ready-to-wear womenswear brand that launched in December 2010 and the doors to the independent store were opened in February 2015. In all, it took four years and two months to find the right location, source funds, and attain an adept understanding of the Nigerian woman’s preference(s). Although we sold out of multi-retail outlets and our studio space before opening the flagship store, I would say that the Wana Sambo brand officially came alive when we set up the store.
As an indigenous brand, Wana Sambo thrives on creating pieces best suited to the African woman. This is embedded in the brand’s DNA, and perhaps, is one of the driving forces behind the success of the brand. We constantly strive to be better regardless of what the economic situation is or what people say “works” or “will work” for the African woman. This has helped us with target marketing which enables us reach new demographics and attract new clientele.
On managing her value chain.
I’ve done this by using Michael Porter’s three strategies namely: cost leadership, differentiation, and focus. The Wana Sambo brand has successfully managed our value chain by being innovators and trailblazers in the Nigerian fashion industry.
We are the first Nigerian brand to come up with a monthly campaign featuring influencers and also the first brand to offer the Nigerian woman a new style in store every week in various sizes. We have also been able to deliver products which are different from what’s offered by our competitors as our’s are: targeted to a specific market i.e. not for everyone. Also, our products come in at prices suited to their quality, design and purpose; a factor we believe allows us outperform our competitors.