Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Naija Fashionistas: Meet Michele Obi the Pop-up Boutique Queen

Last year I wrote about the growing trend of the pop-up shop; which is basically a brand which sets up shop temporarily at a venue. This can take place anywhere from a nightclub, exhibition or on a high street. Over the last year I have been lucky to see fantastic pop-ups such as Wanderland Boutique in Manchester, Sketchbook magazine on Carnaby Street, The Satorialist at Libertys and Maybelline in Covent Garden. So when Michele Obi told me that she was launching pop-up shops in Nigeria, I was intrigued and quite excited. Us Nigerians love our fashion and we also love a bit of glitter and glamour and there is nothing more glittery and glamorous than going to a pop-up shop for some fun and shopping. Michele Obi is the founder of myfashionlife so she knows a hell of a lot about fashion so she took five minutes to tell me about her new baby, Verve!.

How did you get into the fashion industry?
I started a blog in 2003 called myfashionlife.com and the rest is history as they say. From 2005, myfashionlife started to get quite a bit of press attention and as a result it provided me with lots of opportunity to carve out a career in the industry. In the beginning I did all the writing and covered fashion week, however as the business has grown my role has evolved and now I’m always looking at ways that we can expand and grow. Now I’m currently in Abuja, Nigeria and working on introducing the concept of pop-up boutiques. I’ve set up a company called Verve! which is basically a luxury sample sale and we source unique fashion and lifestyle pieces from top designer brands including, Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen, Hermes, Lanvin, Christian Louboutin, Valentino, and more. Our events are held at various venues in key central locations within Abuja.

What made you decide that creating fashion pop up stores was for you?
When I visited Abuja, I realised there was a lack of retail therapy. There are boutiques but they are overpriced because the rent and other expenses are so high. I’d always loved the concept of pop up stores...and I had a vision of providing women with a two day sale at which they could network and really enjoy the shopping experience. I held the first sale at a beautiful spa called B-Natural and we had a great response. We treated our customers to cocktails and cupcakes and paid attention to what they wanted. It’s been a success and has allowed me to gain a stronger understanding of the market. 

Tell me what your job consists of.
Networking! Through holding the sales I’ve gained many clients who are more friends than customers and I spend quite a bit of time, finding out what they like and ensuring we stock what they want. We hold the sales every two months. So a month prior to each sale I’m also doing the buying etc. It’s a varied role which I love.

How does the fashion scene in Nigeria compare to London?
It’s totally different. A lot more flamboyant and colourful. Women in Nigeria love to standout whereas in London fashion is more about comfort. It’s a very exciting time for fashion in Nigeria.

What sort of changes have you seen in the Nigerian fashion industry over the last few years?
I’d say that women here are becoming more aware of the more underground designers. They have a real healthy appetite for fashion and the internet has allowed them to feed their addiction.

Describe a day in the life of Michele Obi.
No two days are the same and I love that. I check my emails every morning and have a to-do list that I make sure I get through every day otherwise the work tends to pile up. Sometimes I could be out visiting clients while other days I could be chained to my desk.

You can check out Michele's website here and you can read myfashionlife here.

You can follow her on Twitter here.

Tomorrow I will be featuring PR guru, Arieta Mujay.

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