Online retail is rapidly changing the face of fashion in Nigeria. More and more brands are opting for online. It’s fast and brands can reach their target consumers with targeted posts and adverts. Watch out Jumia and Konga, it’s all about stylistaa.com. We met the woman behind it all, Mimi Hassan, she is a fashion designer and former fashion editor of international publication, Pride magazine and her new role as ‘fashionpreneur’ is going to change the face of fashion in Nigeria.
How did you start this fashion journey?
I studied fashion design in England, worked with a celebrity events company that used to plan fashion parties for British celebrities and brands and one thing led to another and I got funds to launch my own fashion brand called Mimi Lee Ldn (formerly known as Mimi Lee London) in 2010.
What were your challenges?
Gaining recognition in England was harder than I thought. England is a melting point of some of the best fashion talents, so it wasn’t easy.
I felt that I needed to come home to get in touch with my roots and to influence my brand. Besides, I wanted to stand out.
How did you overcome your challenges?
If you try at first and don’t succeed, you keep on trying. That’s the story of my life.
Tell us more about stylistaa.com, why is it different from other online companies springing up?
Wow!, stylistaa.com is Nigeria’s first ever trendy and cool fashion destination online. We stock multi-labels and 80% of them are either Nigerian owned or Nigerian made. I think we are different in so many ways but the platform also acts as a personal stylist, giving out personalized options. We are still building this technology, but we are very excited with where it’s going.
How have you been able to effectively manage your fashion brand and online store?
I put my fashion brands on hold for two years because I needed to re-brand into ready-to-wear clothing. Late last year, I was able to relaunch Mimi Lee Ldn exclusively onstylistaa.com for now. I’m just another brand like all the other brands selling on stylistaa.com. The plan is to expand both my brand and the online store step by step into different markets.
As a fashion editor, did you at any point have a premonition of setting up talk of town e-commerce hit?
It was my time as a fashion editor that gave birth to stylistaa.com. I got to interact with so many undiscovered fashion brands, they weren’t properly marketed. I felt they deserved visibility on a larger scale.
How does your online platform operate especially for people outside Nigeria?
Stylistaa.com has already started operations and we deliver to people across Nigeria and parts of Africa. Shoppers can make payments in naira, pounds, dollars and Euros.
How did you build your high profile clientele?
My Mimi Lee Ldn brand started off dressing celebrities from Tiwa Savage, Waje to international celebrities such as Angela Simmons. We just networked in the right circles. If you have a good product, it sells itself.
The online store cuts across to everyone, from working class, middle class to high end clientele.
What are your present and future expansion plans?
I want to focus on family while building a fashion empire.
You are undoubtedly a super gorgeous fashionista, what inspires your style?
Individual style has always been my way of life. I dress to suit my mood, break all the rules and I’m not too precious with my high fashion pieces. I mix and match high fashion with affordable brands.
How do you cope with advances from your male fans?
I’m not sure how to take that question. I’m not exactly a celebrity; I deal with it like every other woman. I don’t like the pestering or sliding into my direct messages on social media accounts I use to promote my business.
Nigeria’s fashion industry is evolving, what do you think can be done better?
We need to support made-in-Nigeria goods and Nigerian owned businesses generally. That’s the only way to grow our economy.
Who are your celebrity crushes?
I like Lynxx, the guy who plays James saint Patrick in TV series Power and I love Ryan Gosling.
How do you unwind?
I love to unwind with a bubble bath and catch up on some reading. Mainly, I read business weekly on my iPad or just browse online.
Where is your favourite holiday destination?