Happy Monday Everyone. I woke up today imagining a future where African Fashion has global dominance, like in the way H&M currently operates, or even Zara with all their outfits that we all love buying even if they are as plain as can be. Of course, it all comes down to quality, and with the belief that any fashion item you buy from these brands will last for a long time never mind the price. I believe that an African Fashion brand can achieve this sort of dominance, but it will take this grand idea of starting small. See such achievement of global dominance has long evaded many African fashion brands despite decades of work and some support to move African fashion into the limelight that it deserves. I call it a grand idea, because it’s the path least followed. Most people who start an African Fashion brand often want to scale up as fast as they can, especially after walking down the runway of some fashion show. Yes, their fashion maybe forward moving and yes they got a standing ovation for their splendid performance. But a successful outing on a fashion show never really translates into sales. Hence the suggestion to start small. Start with a small team of people. Liken your company’s culture to that of Motown Records in its heyday. Motown founder Berry Gordy’s aim was to create a safe atmosphere for ideas and thoughts–without losing sight of the business goal: convincing consumers to buy the record, even if it was with their last dollar. I am not suggesting that you have mantras on your walls or big words on what your African fashion brand is all about. Instead, my suggestion is to start small by focusing on what really matters, your African Fashion outfit or collection itself.
Here are six reasons why starting small is important. It’s based on Supercell’s cultural values. Supercell by the way is an Helsinki-based, $1.7 billion gaming company and the creative entity behind Clash of Clans, the top-grossing iPad game in 122 countries last year. It’s also a place where 160 employees work happily in small, independent teams. Supercell’s six cultural values adapted for African Fashion:
1. Small is beautiful.
With the right people and team chemistry, we believe small teams can produce the best African fashion items and the biggest results.
2. Full transparency.
Make all your numbers, data, and plans about the business–good and bad–transparent and share them with everyone. The free flow of information improves communication, decision-making, trust, and morale.
3. Zero bureaucracy.
Small, independent teams are nimble and move very fast, so it’s important to remove any obstacles that might get in their way and slow them down.
4. Extreme independence.
Small teams alone aren’t enough. These teams must have the freedom to make quick decisions and take risks.
5. Pride in craft.
Never compromise on creativity or quality.
6. Take care of our own.
Top pay, benefits, work-life balance, and a commitment to the whole human being is the secret to happy, high-performing people. And should be your commitment.
Overall, I think if your goal is to be the best there is with African Fashion, be a leader whose goal is to lead a team that is collectively creating one of the world’s best-performing African fashion companies. This goal can only be achieved if your start small.
Credit: Ilan Mochari for INC