Get to Know CEO Etop Ikpe
3Stiches is an innovator of e-Commerce and is committed to bringing high fashion at affordable price and with unsurpassed customer service to the people of Nigeria. The website launched four years ago with a modest seed investment of $300. The fashion powerhouse has ballooned to annual revenues topping $250,000 and stays committed by re-investing in the company to continue growing and improving. CEO Etop Ikpe explained in a FashInvest exclusive interview, “We have literally built the company brick by brick through great discipline.”
This discipline springs forth from passion and inspiration. Ikpe notes gaining inspiration for the outlet from great historical thinkers, such as Thomas Edison, to contemporary leaders like Mark Zuckerberg. He truly pours his soul into this firm detailing, “There exists a massive shortfall in quality and affordable clothing in the African market and my overall desire is to bridge that shortfall, while providing the best shopping experience to our customers.”
3Stiches is recognized as not only a fashion leader in the market, but also a model for customer service. Ikpe notes, “We encourage our staff to listen to our customer needs, offer suggestions even when it might not be directly related to our service.” In terms of the selection, he explains, “it is very important that we keep track of the runway trends, and we purchase from more affordable brands that are following these trends without losing the glamour appeal.”
3Stiches currently only serves the Nigerian market but utilizes various social media and digital marketing outlets to reach its target of men and women ages 17-35. Ikpe says, “We allocate about 70-80% of our advertising budget towards internet based advertising mediums such as Facebook ADS, Google Ads, site affiliations and tenancy. 20-30% is allocated to profile SMS’s, print editorials and local fashion and entertainment blogs that are quite popular among our target market.” Followers of 3Stiches various social accounts gain access to daily fashion quotes, celebrity news trends, and social network exclusive bargains. 3Stiches leaders also explains, “We have implemented a Blackberry marketing unit, as the blackberry messenger is very popular in Nigeria, which now accounts for 30% of our sales figures.” While that figure seems very high, Etop explains, “The modern African youth is Energetic, mobile and fashion forward” and it is clear that the firm is appealing to its mobile audience.
3Stiches supports a variety of independent brands that appeal to its urban and relatively young customer base. However, future plans for the outlet have sights set on vertical retailing. Ikpe clarifies, “There is a huge demand for African themed contemporary fashion, most especially designs that relate to local heroes and cult icons. This can only be truly interpreted and delivered to customers from within, and we are particularly interested in meeting the supply for this genre of fashion.”
Ikpe urges, “Nigeria is open for business and now is the time to come!” He explains that at the time of 3Stiches launch, the idea of a successful e-Commerce retailer was laughable. The team pressed forward with positive energy and Ikpe swears that is the key to his success. His trailblazing set the precedence for followers and he explains, “This started us on a journey breaking barriers through innovation, this informs the precept that our business is built upon: always providing a more convenient shopping experience to our customers.”
By Natalia Ignaczak