Fashion Phoenix: How Temidayo Ajayi Builds The Knoddn Brand In Spite Of Advertising And Mass Production Challenges
One of the ways we believe fashion brand owners can grow their brands is if they acknowledge and learn from the mistakes of others. For startup brands, mistakes around delivery, customer service and some other aspects can be easily avoided if an expert shared tips and pieces of advice.
This column, Fashion Phoenix, is designed for fashion brand owners to learn from the mistakes and challenges other fashion entrepreneurs have faced in building their brands to avoid them. Previously, we looked at how Tosin Joshua of Reni Jaitu built her brand despite challenges surrounding rebranding and pricing.
This week, we spoke with Temidayo Ajayi, the founder and creative director of Knoddn, a womenswear fashion brand on the challenges and breakthroughs she has had in relation to advertising and mass production, and she had a lot to share with us.
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Stay with us as we take you on this Knoddn journey.
Knoddn is a womenswear fashion brand that was birthed in 2017. The brand makes bespoke designs and contemporary ready-to-wear outfits for modern women. Knoddn also has a training school to equip aspiring fashion designers with the right skills and knowledge.
The brand name was founded by Temidayo Ajayi, a Geography and Planning graduate from the University of Lagos. From a very young age, Temidayo had always been interested in the world of fashion as her mum was a fashion designer as well. She was often inspired by her mum’s creativity and had so much interest in her work.
“I started my fashion designing business in university and after graduating, I got employed at a Geographic Information Systems, GIS, firm. However much I loved being a GIS Analyst, I realised that what I truly would love to do is fashion designing. So, I quit my job and started my fashion brand.” - Temidayo Ajayi.
One thing that stands out in Temidayo Ajayi’s story and that of some others we have spoken with is their passion to follow their fashion dream. Whether it is starting the brand while still in school and having to balance both, like Tola Bakare, or balancing a full-time job and a fashion career like Simisola Sogbesan, there is always that similarity.
First Year Of Knoddn
The first year of a brand, irrespective of the industry, is rough most times. This is due to a number of reasons ranging from inexperience to poor adaptability of the market and many more.
However, for Temidayo Ajayi, the first was quite exciting as the reception and support she got from her family and friends encouraged her. There were certainly a few downs, and just like she shared,
“The first year wasn’t that profitable because I was new to the business and had a lot to learn. I remember how some people wanted things for free and some I gladly did. But I learnt better in subsequent years.”
Another thing that has helped Knoddn over the years is providing their customers with the best product quality at affordable prices. Apart from that, good customer service and relations also make the brand stands out, and this is one of the things fashion brand owners can incorporate in their brand to make it stand out.
Basically, when a fashion brand offers mass production services, they create specific designs sent to them by other fashion brands in bulk. For the proper running of brands that design ready-to-wear outfits, they have to ensure that all the outfits are available in bulk to satisfy their customers.
Knoddn also offers mass production services to other brands, which involve a number of steps.
First, the brand has to send in the front and back views of their designs, including their fabrics, and if there are no fabrics, Knoddn offers fabric sourcing services. Then after sending in the size chart and specification sheets, they move on to the pattern making process, before production is then done.
In all of these, there are bound to be challenges and just like Temidayo Ajayi shared with us, one of the major challenges she has had is issues around staffing.
Often, employees leave abruptly and considering the fashion industry, where man-hours are important, it, in turn, leads to a slower rate of production. However, in tackling this, Temidayo Ajayi shared this with us,
“Now, we do a range of employee training to help meet our standards and in the event that such problems occur again, we always have our backups ready.”
It is one thing to create amazing designs and it is another to get your target audience to see and appreciate these designs. Advertising, as you may already know, is an avenue whereby fashion entrepreneurs communicate their products and services on a larger scale to reach their target audience.
There are many forms of advertising or marketing in this digital age, and some of them include social media marketing, influencer marketing and many more. In her brand, Temidayo Ajayi makes use of different modes of marketing which have worked over the years.
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“First, I talk about my brand to potential clients everywhere I go. Then, our designs speak for us to a great extent, so we often get referrals from our existing clients. I also use Facebook/Instagram Ads.” - Temidayo Ajayi
However, one major challenge she faces in her brand with respect to online advertising is getting their Ads to the right audience, and the fact that third party ads cost so much for little returns.
As they say, challenges shouldn’t be seen as stumbling blocks, but instead lessons learnt, ao nos, in tackling this, Temidayo Ajayi is investing her time, money, and energy in learning about the workings of targeted ads and how to make use of them effectively.
As her final words, Temidayo Ajayi encourages fashion brand owners just starting out to get educated in any aspect of fashion they want to go into.
“To run a successful fashion brand, know your strengths and work with it; and as for your weaknesses, outsource them. Then, most importantly, don’t leave God out of your business.”
These are some of the challenges Temidayo Ajayi has faced over the years and how she was able to overcome them as well. In the same light, to check out how Adewunmi Olowokande had troubles sourcing good quality materials for her footwear brand, Dew Davies, click here.