Thursday, March 27, 2008

Questions, Questions, Questions

I get a lot of emails asking me similar questions and I just answered one tonight and decided to share the Q&A with you.

Owning a boutique has helped me understand what retailers want from a product and a designer. Fashion and retail is a much harder field to be involved in than it looks. ESPECIALLY in Nigeria as the retail industry is still very under-developed.

Why not open a new boutique in Mega or the Palms?
I haven't been seduced by the idea of a mall. They sound great but think about it. The rent is really high and they're not full of my target market. Just so you know shop space in a mall tends to run around the same price or more than a stand alone building. Yes really.

From my observation not that many shoppers in Nigeria go to malls to shop. Its more of a recreational habit. At best they'll spend money on food (Shoprite/cafes/food court) or electronics (1st floor Mega/Game). Its not like the US or Europe where everyone has a card and every shop accepts every card so opportunist shopping doesn't really exist. So bearing in mind the malls aren't likely to be full of your target market...just how exactly do you intend to feed yourself after you pay your rent?

I've asked around and not many of my shoppers spend much time in Malls and as long as you're in an accessible location, if people like your product, they'll find you. (hopefully!).

How Can one break into European, American or generally the Western Market?
As far as I can see, that is the million dollar question. I'ms till trying to answer that myself. Breaking into the market covers a wide range of exposure and success. But the starting point is to get your product carried by foreign retailers and I'd say a number of things are needed first.

1. Is your product really ready to be side by side with what you see in shops abroad? be objective here...not optimistic. If it isn't wait.

2. If it is, what type of shops can you realistically see your product in? Target those. The big department stores sound great but come with A LOT of pressure on costs, delivery times and large quantities.

3. Is your production ready to cope with the demand? If you are successful and have an order placed by one shop, mess up delivery times and they'll probably never order from you again.

So on that one, I'd definitely say take your time to perfect your product. The stronger your product, the stronger your chances. Slow and steady wins the race.

How did you get featured in Vogue (or which mag was it)? Was it because of your stint at Conde Nast or is there a proper formula or code to break?
I get asked this one a lot. Conde Nast is a HUGE building and the Vogue floor is the only floor with a if you don't work there, you ain't getting in. Seriously.

I'd left Conde Nast about 3/4 years before I started Tiger Tem. (so a lot of the women I was friends with had moved to other publications by then anyway). Fresh out of uni, I worked in the Contract Publishing Department which was great fun(and to be honest, WAY more relaxed). That's the department that does magazines for other companies like Harrods, The Savoy etc. I worked mainly on the Harrods magazine, fashion assistant so helped all aspects of the photo shoots which require more preparation than you think.

I got the mention through a bigass stroke of luck and timing. A friend works for Glamour, she was talking to a girl that works at Vogue. Girl at Vogue was researching her piece on Global Hotspots and asked my friend about that little Boutique & Tea Room in Lagos my friend had mentioned a few weeks ago. Said Boutique & Tea Room was Tiger Tem so the girl from Vogue emailed me to ask a few questions.

Now with magazines, they research a gazillion things and a lot of that never makes the page. So I assumed Tiger Tem wouldn't make the page...but lucky me, it did!

Here it is.

A real blink and you missed it moment but people are STILL coming in on the basis of reading this. Amazing. (and FYI Roberts only got mentioned as they asked me to name another Boutique/Tea Room, I told them there wasn't one but figured Roberts was the closest thing to a Tea Room).

How did Valentine Leung break into the market as a new entrant? Is it also because she was(is) an insider?
I don't really know. But in life everyone gets further faster by knowing the right people in the right places. Knowing people can open doors but its up to you to do your little dance to get the job once you get in. So while she might have known people, she'd still need to have a good product.

Temi, do you have a formula? Could you be a sort of mentor to me since it seems to me that u have been successful at being a 'start-up'. I really admire your determination and dedication to getting it right.
There is no magic formula unfortunately. Work hard, work on your product, work on the package. Tiger Tem is a product and a package (the boutique) so I need to work on both. Stay one step of ahead as people will most definitely copy you in Nigeria. But that's no biggie as it makes you work harder on what you do. Hire and fire until you find the right team and when you do, keep them happy. Stay focused and keep going. Most people fail when they stop trying.

Use opportunities well and they will continue to open more and more doors for you. e.g. I got my column in ThisDay because Ruth Osime had been told that I harboured a fantasy to write a column (like Carrie Bradshaw in Sex & The City). I was young, I'd just opened Tiger Tem and she was looking for a young, new writer to inject some youth into ThisDay Style. She called, I jumped and nearly 3 years on...I'm still writing. ThisDay has garnered me acres and acres of free press, keeps the name Tiger Tem in people's minds and has given me a secondary career that I love.

BUT...I must add, everything about what I do is way harder than it seems and no, its not always fun. But I do love what I do and wouldn't trade it.

I need a lot of tutorials with blogging itself before I try to acquire new knowledge about e-commerce, e-payment etc which seems like is the way forward to the next level.
If you want to get into e-commerce the easiest form of payment is Paypal. Either take a look at a lot of start up websites or speak to a web designer about the best way for you to set up a retail website. But if you're based in Nigeria, bear your shipping costs and delivery times in mind.


Uzo said...

Fab Temi...These tips are great...So i must be slow on the uptake cos i didnt know you got featured in Vogue? Well done...

2hot4fendi said...

Nice piece lady,
everything u said was spot on.
(ur take on Nigerian shopping malls & recreation in particular)...

Tiger Tem said...

@uzo...yes we did. Just updated the blog to include my snippet of a mention.

@2hot4fendi...been doing my research and I noticed most shoppers weren't shopping. No carrier bags, no sense of all looked very leisurely to me.

Renaissance Man said...

Fabulous coverage in Vogue. well done darl. So proud!

january said...

hello temi, loved the article. my issue is i'm in the process of launching my business website but i observed that paying for hosting on Yahoo and other hosting sites is a bit difficult, based on the fact that Nigeria is not included on the list of countries where paypla operates. so how do i resolve this issue. i even tried using my mastercard debit card-it was the same problem. how do i go about this cos i'm not even thinkin gof using local web designers cos the fees are siply outrageous (N300,000+) so, pls help me out here.

Tiger Tem said...

@january...not too clear on what you mean. Are yous etting up a website with shopping/payment facilities? Or are you just trying to pay a server to host your site?

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