Abby Ikomi and her three daughters are the genius quad behind the young fast raising Nigerian fashion label House of Irawo. In this chat with MILLICENT AREBUN ONUOHA AND NKECHI NWOKOBIA, the chief marketing advisor of the brand, Dora Ikomi, speaks on the aspirations, challenges and competitive edge of the brand
About House of Irawo
House of Irawo (HOI) is a fast-growing fashion retailer based in Lagos, Nigeria. Irawo translates to “stars” in Yoruba, it is our mission to make every customer shine with elegance and class. CEO, Abby Ikomi launched House of Irawo in July 2017 along with her first-born daughter Dola, equipped with nothing but a burning desire to make ready to wear clothes with her unique and stylish stamp.
Since the official launch, House of Irawo’s clientele has grown both locally and internationally. House of Irawo’s focus is on trendy traditional and western attires for all ages, tribes and sex. House of Irawo aspires to become a leader in the fashion world in Africa and beyond. House of Irawo is co-owned by Abby’s three daughters, Dola, Ama and Anire Ikomi.
Dola who is a passionate digital marketer, is the Chief Marketing Advisor. She oversees the planning, development and execution of all House of Irawo’s marketing and advertising initiatives. Ama who is a trained accountant, is the Chief Financial Advisor. She oversees financial planning and record-keeping, as well as financial reporting to higher management. Anire who is currently a student at Parsons School of Design is the Brand Consultant. She works alongside Dola to enhance the public image of House of Irawo as a brand.
Abby Ikomi is a woman with many layers and this is reflected in her multifaceted designs. Uncompromised in style and quality, she draws on her artistic eye to deliver pieces of striking value. She is also the CEO and owner of the Interior Design and Furnishing Brand, Homes and Fabrics.
Early days and reception so far
House of Irawo was established last year July and it’s really been a great experience. We have learned a lot and have been recipient to amazing receptions from the fashion lovers from Nigeria and beyond even though we are less than a year old. In the eight months of business, our clientele has grown but we still want all the A-list fashionistas who would normally gravitate to more known names to also give us the chance. We are working on ensuring House of Irawo becomes a household name. We will keep on growing and raising the bar while ensuring great quality standards that will on par with international standards.
About your latest collection tagged ‘Star Girl Autumn’.
We were inspired by the season and decided to create a collection featuring flowy pieces that celebrate the feminine silhouette with its roots in Africa. We named this collection ‘the star girl’ because Irawo is a Yoruba word that translates to Star in the English language and this is our first collection on the catwalk. The collection is for the woman who is easy on the eye and wants to look chic yet purchase something affordable. Featuring the embellished mesh maxi dresses with cape, sheers, tailored gowns, to the embroidery, the collection is a mix of both the traditional and classy while still retaining its modish edge. The thing that you have to recognize with House of Irawo is that, even though we do traditional wear, we like to always have a little bit of a mix or mesh between the traditional and the modern.
We are a very stylish family so I would say fashion and style runs in the family. My mom has always been very stylish and I learnt a lot of my style tips from her. House of Irawo is built on our passion and love for style while encompassing our individual styles with room for more. We all love and interpret fashion through our various individualistic styles and ways. My mom’s style appeals to a target market, while I am youthful so I have that target market, including my sisters and their style market niches; combined together we are a good force.
I would say that the biggest challenge we have faced as a fashion brand may be awareness and acceptability. The Arise Fashion Show has helped to grow more brand awareness for us as presently we have more awareness and acceptability than prior to the show. Aside from that, I would say, it is sticking and staying true to our brand aesthetics, the fashion scene is a saturating market, it could be easy to just try and copy others or whatever but you have to stay very true to your brand and what you represent. If people like the clothes they will buy.
How do you handle the competition?
We handle our competitors by our specialization to the ready to wear market and the premium quality customer service we provide when you visit our stores. When you come to the store we communicate or interact with you. We are not just there to take your money and give you clothes, we like to have conversation as one of our aims is to build a community tagged the Irawo tribe with the irawo women.
As part our major upcoming projects we want to focus on our men’s wear line but for now we really just want to expand on our woman’s wear collection maybe have another collection solely based for the youth or strictly the millennials.
Advice to the budding fashion-prenur and designer out there
Figure out where your true passion lies or what your passion is and then go for it with focus and determination. The fashion industry is a saturated market so figure out exactly what you are interested in, do your research because you need to do your research so that your clients in the future will understand and be able to identify what you are trying to bring to the table. Have fun with it because there are going to be challenges, there will be ups and downs, but stay strong.
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