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Being an entrepreneur isn’t fancy – Udoh

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Ebele Udoh is the young creative and genius at the helm of affairs at African designer’s Mall, an online retail giant committed to ensuring that African fashion brands and merchandise are accessible to the world. The youngest ambassador for origin Africa UPSCALE, who was a speaker at the EU-Africa Partnership on cotton 2017 Summit held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, spoke with MILLICENT AREBUN ONUOHA on her drive, the challenges of branding in the African business space and her bid to create more opportunities for micro businesses

Synopsis of your journey so far (early days)

It’s been a learning path for a young, creative and female entrepreneur. From quitting a well-paid IT job to following a dream which so many believed was too big to achieve considering the woes that come with earning monthly salary to making your own money and then paying staffs from your pocket too. Consistency and passion has been my motivation and seeing women all over the world who are breaking boundaries.

What led to the creation of ADM?

A weekend that year, I was still busy with work that I carried over from Friday. I got frustrated searching online for a lovely ready –to- wear African outfit for an event the next day.  I ended up wearing something from my wardrobe. This day changed everything. It awoken my dream of not just having a channel to retail/promote Nigerian brands but premium African brands and creative fashion to customers across the world hence the name African Designers Mall

As an ambassador for origin Africa upscale, what current initiatives to drive trade in with Africa have you pioneered?

We are currently working with NEPC and the minister of Trade to create more opportunities for micro businesses in Nigeria to upscale their brands by exposing and attending the master classes pioneered at the Origin Africa Trade Shows done yearly. Top international experts in the Global Fashion Industry host these classes.

Inspiration?

Any young person who is taking actions, not afraid and making a change in their environment inspire me

Challenges?

Having a business in Africa is amazing but the challenges come when lots of businesses do not understand that branding is the number one key of retailing products in the global market.

How has the #MadeInNigeria movement impacted on your brand in the country, Africa and beyond?

#MadeinNigeria has become a movement which has opened our eyes to acceptance of our own. Before now, people were more focused on international brands. Lately, we have both local and international customers who shop only made in Nigeria brands. We are keeping the flag flying by promoting more and more promising Nigerian brands.

The Online business space is teeming with millions of global competitions, how do you keep your edge amidst global online fashion giants?

Africa still has a long way to go in the ecommerce space. But keeping our platform simple and easy to work through is our forte while we continually upload quality products with good retail and shipping rates.

Word for the budding fashion-prenuers or stylists out there?

Being an entrepreneur isn’t fancy but stay fancy while you dig in the dirty mud to find that diamond. Stay true to making your dreams work than getting famous.

What is fashion to you?

Fashion is a statement and an art of personal self-expression.

Signature accessory

Big sunglasses

Favourite wardrobe piece

A vintage dress

Beauty regime

I never step out without sunscreen, always mask to remove dead skin, and oh monthly body polish to make my skin glow

Style advice

Say who you are without speaking

Fashion inspiration

Victoria Beckham



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