We are back with a spanking new Friday Column. This week’s column is on Omobowale Biobaku, the founder of Mobos; a Fashion and Accessories store with multiple locations in Nigeria. Mobos has blazed triumphant in the Nigerian retail and fashion scene, constantly evolving and re-inventing itself.
This week’s column sees us learning from the brains behind Mobos, Omobowale Biobaku. She has a wealth of knowledge in the business of Fashion. Her answers are filled with insightful, inspirational and informative content. An absolute must read!
Ezinne Chinkata: How did a career in Fashion retail find you?
Omobowale Biobaku: My fashion career started way back from my university/ college days. I didn’t start with in-depth research or a business plan. It started as a passion, I just liked the art of making people look good and I believe we owe it to ourselves to look fabulous.
Ezinne Chinkata: Is your start-up story a far cry from where you are now?
Omobowale Biobaku: I started out very small and I’ve grown beyond where I started from. I started from home in my study turned boutique 16 years ago. So you see our beginning was small but we kept ploughing back into the business. Now we have five stores all in strategic locations and also a warehouse and administrative office. We were a multi-brand store but now we carry our own brand exclusively, VR by Mobos. A lot has happened in the last 16 years.
Ezinne Chinkata: Mobos Fashion has stores in quite major locations. What do you look out for in retail spaces?
Omobowale Biobaku:For me location! Location!! Location!!! Is key in fashion retail, after working from home for close to two years, the right location for your target market is very key in business.
E.C: “Customers debts”, how do you get around this? Especially at the initial start-up phase.
O.B:Initially, we gave credits and received post-dated cheques. It was a major challenge because people never kept to their own side of the bargain.I realise that you have to set your standards and stick to it. We are a fashion retail store and a retail store is there to meet the needs of their customers, not a microfinance bank. You define how you want your business to run and stick to it.
E.C: How would you describe the “Mobos” fashion DNA.
O.B: Style, quality, affordability
E.C:What are your thoughts on the increased demand for “Made in Nigeria” goods?
O.B:Made in Nigeria or designed in Nigeria has really grown and unlike in the past when Nigerians weren’t interested in Nigerian made, I find that people now wear made in Nigeria pieces proudly. I reckon people now trust the quality of our products.
E.C: Has this affected your business in any way?
O.B:In a way, yes it did affect us when we were a multibrand store. People want to patronize Nigerian brands. Now that we have designed our brand, people are happy to keep shopping.
E.C: Did you take on any special mitigation measures as a result of the de-valuation of the naira?
O.B: We absorbed it and our profit was affected. We realize we had to keep our customers happy and coming. We also produced the items that we are certain would fly off the shelf, putting every dollar to good use We ensured return on every dollar spent.
E.C: What is the driving principle behind VR by Mobos?
O.B: We wanted to produce specifically for the African market, especially Nigerians. Some products we sourced for as a multi-brand store were either too short, too tight or too revealing and we wanted our customers to dress decently and still look fabulous/ stylish.
E.C: In your retail journey so far, what has been your biggest triumph?
O.B: Starting our own brand, VR by Mobos. It’s a major feat and we are still so excited about it.
E.C:Do you think Nigeria is quite ready for massive e-retail consumption?
O.B:We are not quite there yet but it’s getting better but people still want to feel and fit the products before purchase. Once they are satisfied with the quality and fit, then online purchase is definite.
E.C:What has been your staying power over the years? Asides the Grace of God.
O.B:First and foremost, my story can never be told without the mention of the favour of God. My walk is a walk of faith, every other thing is secondary. He’s the one leading and directing it all and HE gives grace to know and do what is essential at every given point. I don’t give up easily, I learn daily and do things differently until I find what works for us. And I know that life is a journey and as I journey I will get closer and closer to our goal and then set new ones. We keep pushing ourselves to be better.
E.C: Who is your ultimate style crush?
O.B:I’m really not into style crushes but depending on my mood I follow various people. Having said that, I like Victoria Beckham’s style and also I do like Lisa Folawiyo, I like the way she plays with prints and colours.
E.C:Any nifty organizational skills? For those trying to juggle motherhood, family life and business.
O.B:Been mindful at every given time of what needs your attention most and prioritising your time between been a mother, family life and business.
E.C: What’s new with Mobos?
O.B:We keep innovating, thinking creatively and tweaking our strategies as required. We always try to meet the needs of our customers as they keep changing in order to ensure we are relevant to the markets. Also we have recently launched our diffusion line, VR basic to meet the need of customers. And we still have more in the pipeline. We keep innovating to keep our customers happy and satisfied.
E.C: Thank you!! Any parting words to share with us?
O.B:Keep going, never give up. Life is a journey. Enjoy His GRACE!!!!!
Mobos : @mobosfashion.lagos
Omobowale Biobaku: @mobobiobaku