Consumer/retail Panels

Luxury Fashion in the Diaspora

The emerging and established designers of the African diaspora deserve access to the same resources as those given to creatives elsewhere. Why? Because remarkable design aesthetic that can inspire knows no bounds. In many ways, globalization and the democratization of digital tools have improved the playing field for brands promoting an African identity. However, there is still plenty of work to be done to strengthen the industry overall. Times are certainly changing for today's diaspora creative. Join us for a lively discussion on how to build a luxury brand from the ground-up, how to navigate the role of digital, and what the future holds for the fashion industry on the continent.

Julien Labat, CEO, EDUN

Julien Labat started his career with the French fashion brand Paule Ka, where he held a variety of roles from marketing to distribution. Here, he met Guillaume Henry, whom he followed to the French fashion house Carven. Together with Henry and Carven CEO, Henri Sebaoun, they set the vision and put Carven on the map as a global brand. As Commercial Director, Labat was responsible for the business plan and strategic distribution of the company for both womenswear and menswear, including both ready-to-wear and accessories. Throughout his tenure, he grew the business from zero to 550 points of sale in over 50 countries. On 1 May 2015, EDUN announced Labat as their newly appointed Chief Executive Officer. Julien is responsible for all aspects of the business, including further developing EDUN’s global distribution in key international markets, managing production in Africa and overseeing the design and production team in New York. He works closely with EDUN’s funder, Ali Hewson, who launched the brand in 2005.

Niyi Okuboyejo, President, Post-Imperial

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Niyi is the founder of Post-Imperial. Born in Lagos and raised in Texas, he studied Fashion Design at Parsons School of Design. Before establishing Post- Imperial in 2012, Niyi worked in both menswear and womenswear for Oscar de laRenta, Patrik Ervell and Yigal Azrouël. He is based in Harlem New York. Post-Imperial is a lifestyle brand with a colorful and vibrant reassessment of cultural standards within fashion. It carries a strong sense of optimism for the future. It always feels familiar, even when the concepts aren’t. Our goal is to
always design for now by shaping cultural concepts through a modern perspective. All of our products are treated in Nigeria using adyeing process called Adire and then constructed in the New York, USA. Adire is a rare hand dyeing process developed by the Yorubas in the Southwest region of Nigeria. Prior to dyeing, the artist hand paints patterns using a cassava starch paste that acts as the resist dye. Our focus was to transform an old world technique into a new form of design. Each season we experiment with various fabrications including imported silks and domestic cotton voiles. Due to the nature of the process, each product varies in uniqueness and individuality, giving them a one of kind artisanal feel.

Akin Adebowale, Co-Founder, Kwesi Blair

Adebowale was introduced to Bryan Calhoun and Sean Glover (major music industry consultants and software strategists) as a second year undergraduate student at the University Of Georgia. Under the mentorship and guidance of both and realizing the key strength in Akin’s ability to deliver on both the creative and technical ends of projects, he was given the unique opportunity to design and develop record and album art, official websites, CRM systems, content management systems (CMS), and merchandise e-commerce platforms for major recording artists, talent management groups, and the campaigns that lead to some of their greatest successes: Kanye West (KanyeWest.com), Drake (DrakeOfficial.com, October’s Very Own, So Far Gone, Thank Me Later), Keri Hilson (KeriHilson.com), Common (ThinkCommon Inc.), Jill Scott (MissJillScott.com, The Light Of The Sun). By his last year of college and first year into the wild, Adebowale had successfully transitioned from majority music industry projects to consumer startups (such Oppsplace, Kliq) and luxury hospitality (such Thompson Hotels, Hilton), particularly charging their various creative campaigns to reach certain demographics and designing / developing / managing platforms for their retail partnerships. Originally formed while Adebowale was in college, he and business partner Kolade Adeyemo led a boutique creative agency, in New York City prior to the launch of OXOSI. The duo boasted a dynamic set of clients across industries and establishments. The expertise were primarily centered around design, technology, and creative marketing — and the aim was to leverage these skills in the immediate future to establish an iconic African brand. OXOSI was conceived with co-founder Kolade Adeyemo in August 2011, after working with various design clients from Africa and realizing the huge void and opportunity in creating a brand and e-commerce platform specifically geared towards the new, energetic, unique, rapidly growing, high quality, and heavy in-demand African design market. After four years of active research, development, and fundraising, in 2015 Adebowale and Adeyemo partnered with Kupanda Capital as official co-founders to officially launch OXOSI — a multi-brand platform for premium African design and creative culture. 

 

ABRIMA ERWIAH, CEO, STUDIO 189

 

Abrima Erwiah is a luxury fashion and international development.  Erwiah is the former Global Associate Communications and Marketing Director for Bottega Veneta, a luxury-goods company under Kering (a former PPR/Gucci Group) where she stayed for nearly a decade. In addition, she has held positions at Hermes/John Lobb, Bureau Betak and Cesare Paciotti. Erwiah is now the Co-founder and President of Studio One Eighty Nine, a social enterprise launched in February 2013 with actress and activist, Rosario Dawson. Studio One Eighty Nine aims to provide a platform to help promote and curate African and African-inspired content and brands through worldwide distribution and manufacturing of a private artisan-produced collection, as well as through their support of other brands. They focus on empowerment, creating jobs and supporting education and skills training. Their hope is to see fashion in Ghana and Africa grow and be recognized as a multi-billion-dollar industry as it is in the UK, the US

 

Erwiah has been named a top ethical fashion and Ghanaian designer to know by Vogue, and currently operates two directly owned stores based in New York City and Accra. In addition, Studio One Eighty Nine is sold in stores such as Opening Ceremony, Yoox, Biffi, Atrium, Donna Karen’s Urban Zen and The Surf Lodge. Studio One Eighty Nine partners with brands including H&M, Fendi and Lexus, and has been featured in the New York Times, ABC News, Vogue, FT How to Spend It and WWD (to name a few). Erwiah is also the Co-founder of Fashion Rising Foundation and a founding member of the Ethical Ghana Fashion Foundation, an organization established through the United Nations International Trade Center Ethical Fashion Initiative, the Swiss Government and the Ghana Ministry of Trade and Industries. Erwiah has built a factory in Accra, Ghana in partnership with the UN ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative, and acts as an operations advisor under the project with the objective of establishing market linkages for marginalized communities and supporting the growth of the young design talent in Ghana. Erwiah manages approximately ten artisanal communities preserving traditional techniques such as Indigo, Weaving and Batiking across Ghana, Mali and Burkina Faso. Erwiah works in partnership with New York University - Stern School of Business as part of an undergraduate course supporting a remote fishing village in the Eastern Region of Ghana, where they have established a locally owned artisanal craft community business which generates a sustainable income for the village. Additionally, Erwiah works in partnership with the United Nations International Trade Center Alliance 4 Action Women in Trade Program, the Ghana Exporters and the Ghana Ministry of Trade & Industry where she has launched an Ethical Food Initiative campaign aimed at supporting rural farmers in Ghana, and helping to alleviate food insecurity. Erwiah also works in partnership with the 14 Plus Foundation, a non-profit organization that builds and operates schools in Zambia. Erwiah volunteers with the Lower East Side Girls Cub of New York, Vday, Shine on Sierra Leone and has served as a mentor for Afripads in Uganda where she was appointed by the Kering Foundation (former PPR/Gucci Group) for Women’s Dignity rights. 

 

Erwiah is the recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr Social Justice Award from the University of Pennsylvania, the MoCADA Museum Social Justice Award, the Taormina (Italy) Film Festival Humanitarian Award and the Big Apple Entrepreneur Award. Her work has been selected and exhibited at the Design Indaba “We Are Africa” and “Africa is Now” exhibit in South Africa, at Vogue Fashion Dubai Experience in Dubai, at Vogue Talents in Italy, New York Fashion Week and Lagos Fashion Week among others. She has been invited to guest speak at TBWA Ad Agency, INC Magazine Women’s Summit, the Other Festival Women’s Conference, FIT, NYU Stern School of Business, Wagner School of Public Policy, Radford University in Ghana, the University of Ghana in East Legon, and at the Summer of Fashion Exhibit with Diane Von Furstenberg in Belgium.Additionally, Erwiah has been published by Dossier Journal, has been an editorial contributor to Booth Moore’s “Where The Stylist Shop” and has recently written the forward by the highly acclaimed book ‘Fashion Tribes’ by Daniele Tamagni (author of the Gentleman of Bacongo).  Erwiah has vast experience in all areas of fashion and luxury marketing and is passionate about her work exploring the Economic and Social implications of luxury goods in Africa. Erwiah was born and raised in New York City, attended the Lycee Francais and is fluent in English, French and Italian. Erwiah holds a degree in Finance & International Business from NYU Stern School of Business and currently lives between The United States and Ghana, having previously lived in Italy and Uganda.

Olamide Oladipo, US marketing manager, Stella McCartney

 

Olamide Oladipo is a passionate advocate for the development of the fashion industry on the African continent. A writer and strategist, Olamide has organized a series of conversations focused on leveling the playing field for designers and entrepreneurs within the diaspora. Olamide is currently the US marketing manager for luxury brand Stella McCartney. She is responsible for client engagement and marketing initiatives for the brand across wholesale and retail in the US, Canada, and Mexico. Prior to joining Stella McCartney, Olamide received her MBA from Harvard Business School and an AB in Economics and Social Anthropology from Harvard University. She has extensive industry experiences in luxury goods and retail, working as a strategic consultant for Saks Fifth Avenue, Ermenegildo Zegna, and Charlotte Tilbury in the US and Europe. Olamide began her career with Morgan Stanley in the Institutional Equities Division, supporting emerging and established hedge funds in business development. Formerly a board member of the national Harvard Black Alumni Society, she serves as a partner at creative agency FLRS Global and is chief editor of style magazine PROTOChic.


SERVING THE AFRICAN CONSUMER: CREATING WINNING SOLUTIONS TO SERVE THE CONTINENT

Africa’s market has significant potential for both local and foreign consumer goods companies. To take advantage of this opportunity requires an understanding of how others failures and successes in In the face of several challenges – political instability, poor data quality / availability, poor infrastructure, linguistic and cultural diversity etc. What lessons have been learned through this process? What innovative approaches in terms of product design, marketing and distribution have been developed to overcome these barriers? What is the outlook for the future?

Kevin Ashley, Founder, Javahouse Africa

 

Kevin Ashley grew up in the small town of Perris, California and later attended Pepperdine University. After graduation in 1988, he embarked on a nine-month backpacking trip, where he spent several months in Africa (Kenya and Uganda). His interest in Africa brought him back in 1991 where he spent six months working as a volunteer teacher in an upcountry Kenyan school. His love of the continent brought him back again in 1993, where he was fortunate to get a job as a relief worker in the United Nations World Food Programme in war-torn Southern Sudan (now the country of South Sudan). After 5 years in emergency relief and development work in Southern Sudan, he co-founded his first business in 1998, 748 Air Services (an air cargo business based in Kenya). The following year, desperate for a decent cup of coffee in Kenya, he co-founded Java House with an investment of $60,000. It began with a single restaurant/coffee shop in a Nairobi strip mall that has grown today into a company with 55 stores and annual turnover of more than $40,000,000. Java House employs nearly 2000 staff across three East African countries (Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda). As a result of its deep commitment to building leadership from within, 100% of Java House staff, including the CEO, are African citizens (no expatriate staff required!). Over the first ten years of the business Java House grew at a modest rate of one store per year. Since 2010 the business has accelerated its growth and is now opening 15 stores per year in cities across East Africa. Java House’s success is rooted in a “win- win-win” approach where ownership embraces the belief that for the business to succeed, no one needs to “lose.” Employees enjoy industry leading salary and benefit packages (pension, paid leave, company paid medical insurance, career growth); customers enjoy a high quality experience at reasonable prices (Java House has been awarded “best value for money” in recent consumer awards), and shareholders enjoy the fruits of a profitable and growing business (28% CAGR over the past six years). Kevin Ashley co-owns Java House with Emerging Capital Partners, a Pan-African private equity firm based in Washington DC. ECP bought a majority stake in Java House in 2012. Kevin recently retired as CEO of Java House and is now Executive Chairman of the business. Kevin and his wife Caroline recently moved back to the US with their two wonderful children, Kieran and Eliana.

Patrick Gaincko, Business strategist , gainxperience.com

Patrick Gaincko is a business strategist who does research and writes about African consumers. In just a few years his website gainxperience.com has become the leading resource for on-the- ground insights and in-depth analyses on consumers across geographies, ethnicities, cultures, and social status. He fills the knowledge gap between companies, brands, entrepreneurs on one hand, and consumers on the other hand, highlighting the great opportunities across sectors from consumer goods, mobile to banking, transport, apparel; and
capitalizing on his unique ability to both navigate the immensity, diversity and complexity of the African continent; and translate consumer trends, needs, behaviours, aspirations into actionable insights. He advises established companies, recognizable names, SME’s on market entry, growth strategy, consumer trends monitoring, market opportunity identification at three trade levels – world-to- Africa, intra-Africa, national. His clients include Makari de Suisse, Mall Of Africa, China-Congo Bank of Africa, Ewala, etc. From crisscrossing Africa to touring Europe In 2016, Patrick embarked on a three-month tour of Europe for conferences and workshops. Among the topics, he addresses are “The Diversification of African Economies”, “The Industries Poised for Growth”, “Doing Business in Africa Not For Sissies”. He has been a main speaker at select high-level conferences such as Connect Africa (Belgium) and The Swiss Africa Business Day (Switzerland).

Sandra Idehen, Principal, BCG Lagos Office

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Sandra Idehen is a Principal in the BCG Lagos office working for our clients across Africa. Sandra has been instrumental to BCG's "Grow Africa" efforts, leading engagements with our Consumer Goods clients in Nigeria and supporting our emerging markets team on Go To Market Strategy. Sandra joined the Johannesburg office in September 2012 after receiving her MBA from Yale School of Management. Sandra also holds a Masters in Sports Industry Management from Georgetown University and a Bachelors degree in Ethics & Philosophy, and Africana Studies from Brown University. Sandra is Nigerian-American and grew up in NYC.

Doug de Villiers, Chairman, Intergroup Holdings & CEO, Intergroup Brand Science

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With over 25 years local and international business & branding experience, Doug is a passionate & globally respected branding professional. Having  returned to Africa after many years in Asia and Europe, Doug joined, what was then, Interbrand Africa in 2006, with the responsibility of delivering all  Interbrand services in sub-Saharan Africa. Leveraging the experience & capabilities of the 34 offices around the world, and running offices in Johannesburg, Lagos, Nairobi and Port Louis, Doug is driven by the role that brands play in delivering direct business results. Doug has a broad academic background in Industrial Psychology, Economics, Marketing and Business (Rhodes, UNISA, UNISA SBL, WBS, HBS), and is a Chartered Marketer. He also holds multiple academic and advisory positions including an Executive Fellowship and Visiting Professorship at Strathmore Business School, a guest lecturer at MBS, UNW and UJ Masters level, and a member of the Henley Business School Africa advisory board. A member of the Marketing Association SA board (MASA), and a founding member of the Brand Council South Africa and the only African Advisory Director on the board of directors of INTA (International Trademark Association). Doug is a regular media commentator and presenter and contributed to the ‘Business in Africa’. Doug’s clients include several governments in Africa, many global brands present in Africa, and of course a huge selection of Africa’s leading brands.


Creating & delivering capability for brand led organisations in Africa

Africa’s markets have a wide mixture of international, continental and local brands, all competing for share of market and wallet, but increasingly competing for scarce high capability marketing professionals. It is becoming increasingly apparent that leading brands need to play a role in identifying and investing in marketing talent in order to ensure a stronger continental base of capable experts. What are the success stories? How did these organizations drive and deliver on the brand promise whilst growing capability simultaneously? What lessons have been learned through this process? What has been the impact on the business, consumers and the market as a whole?

Doug de Villiers, Chairman, Intergroup Holdings & CEO, Intergroup Brand Science

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With over 25 years local and international business & branding experience, Doug is a passionate & globally respected branding professional. Having  returned to Africa after many years in Asia and Europe, Doug joined, what was then, Interbrand Africa in 2006, with the responsibility of delivering all  Interbrand services in sub-Saharan Africa. Leveraging the experience & capabilities of the 34 offices around the world, and running offices in Johannesburg, Lagos, Nairobi and Port Louis, Doug is driven by the role that brands play in delivering direct business results. Doug has a broad academic background in Industrial Psychology, Economics, Marketing and Business (Rhodes, UNISA, UNISA SBL, WBS, HBS), and is a Chartered Marketer. He also holds multiple academic and advisory positions including an Executive Fellowship and Visiting Professorship at Strathmore Business School, a guest lecturer at MBS, UNW and UJ Masters level, and a member of the Henley Business School Africa advisory board. A member of the Marketing Association SA board (MASA), and a founding member of the Brand Council South Africa and the only African Advisory Director on the board of directors of INTA (International Trademark Association). Doug is a regular media commentator and presenter and contributed to the ‘Business in Africa’. Doug’s clients include several governments in Africa, many global brands present in Africa, and of course a huge selection of Africa’s leading brands.

Mohale Ralebitso, Founder & CEO, Itataise Investments

Mohale has excelled as an entrepreneur and is a seasoned transformational business leader. He is the founder and CEO of Itataise Investments. He was the Group Chairman of FCB South Africa and C-Squared Group. He previously worked at Old Mutual Emerging markets as Marketing Communications and Corporate Affairs Director on the Old Mutual Emerging Markets Exco. He was responsible for brand, marketing, customer segmentation and value propositions design [CVPs] and market engagement across SA, Africa, Colombia, Mexico and India and China. Before then He was the Managing Executive for Absa Private Bank and served as a member of the Absa Retail Bank Exco and Absa Wealth Steering Committee. He joined the ABSA group in 2008 as the Group Executive responsible for group marketing and was a member of the Absa Business Bank and Absa Retail Bank Exco’s [ARCB].  He also served as Chairman for the Absa Rewards Co, director for AIFA (Absa Insurance and Financial Advisers) and Absa Trusts.

Mohale was formerly an investor in and the Executive Chairman of The Jupiter Drawing Room (Jhb) as well as the CEO of MSG Rimani the shareholder of reference in Jupiter and DDB SA. As executive chairman, he was pivotal to the transformation of Jupiter into a large agency breaking new business records that more than doubled the business winning an unprecedented R 1,1billion in new business during 2006. He was part of the team that concluded a deal with WPP in 2008 to take Jupiter global. During this time, he also co-founded and co-funded Metropolitan-Republic and co-led Jupiter’s acquisition of DDB-SA. He had joined the Jupiter Drawing Room from the Liberty Group where he was the Group Executive: Marketing, where he served on the Liberty Marketing and Distribution Exco and Liberty Group Executive Forum. He had joined the Liberty Group from TBWA\ South Africa, a diversified globally aligned marketing communications group, where he served as Group Development Director TBWA\South Africa Group and before then as Deputy MD of TBWA\HUNT\LASCARIS Johannesburg.

An 18-year career in Financial Services, advertising and marketing rescued him from a promising career in academia and research which started in the US in 1991 and ended at UCT in 1995 where he was studying towards a Masters in Industrial Sociology [industrial strategy]. Mohale is a seasoned strategic marketer and has worked on and driven strategy development for a number of leading international and local brands in the Beverages, FMCG, Financial Services, ICT, Tourism, social marketing and Broadcasting sectors including numerous product and company launches. He worked for 2 years as a researcher with the Ford Foundation Diversity Initiative at the Queens College of the City University of New York (CUNY) where he graduated with a BA Hons in Political Science and BA Hons in Sociology with a Psychology Minor. He Completed the Harvard Senior Executive Program (SEP) in 1999.

Kim Thipe, Vice President, Marketing, South African Airways

Kim Thipe is V.P/Head of Marketing & Product Development for South African Airways (SAA) and is backed by more than 20 years of media, digital & marketing experience over several industries. Her responsibilities include the development, management and leadership of both South African domestic & global marketing efforts across the SAA global network.  With new product & business innovation at the heart of her role, her responsibility is to ensure a unique, significant and memorable experience for its passengers.  She forms part of Star Alliance Marketing Strategy Committee which leads strategic marketing output for the alliance and its 28 member airlines.  Passionate about mentoring upcoming marketing professionals, she is an experienced thought leader with a proven track record of marketing excellence that has resulted in successful projects and strategies implemented across multiple organizations which include MNet/DSTV pay TV network, YFM (coolest Youth Radio station ever!) and First National Bank (Most Innovative Bank).  She holds an MBA from the University of Cape Town (Graduate School of Business) and Bachelor of Arts from Simmons College.

Amanda Denton, Chief Marketing Officer, Telesure Investment Holdings

Mandy is Telesure Investment Holdings' Chief Marketing  Officer.  She is responsible for Telesure's marketing, advertising and corporate affairs including public relations,  CSI and executive communication activities.  Amanda joined Telesure in  2015 and has over a decade of experience in planning and executing high impact marketing strategies for the financial  services sector. Amanda holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of the Witwatersrand and an LLB degree from UNISA.