You probably hate your tailor. If you don’t, at least you approach him with great trepidation. This is because, most times, he holds your clothes for an eternity. He makes promises he never fulfills. You’ve missed many outings because the gentleman just can’t keep an appointment. But wait, do things have to be this way? No, the guys at EthnikCity don’t think so.
They’d like to get rid of your pain. See, the common tailor tardiness is an “experience that can be mitigated,” says Daniel Emeka, founder of EthnikCity. He’s also the creative director at Surkreo, a Lagos ad agency with lofty dreams for the future of communication. But something shifted inside him after a tailor held on to his fiancee’s fabric for more than 10 days without so much as opening the bag it came in. That’s when he decided to start a site that would simplify the way tailors deal with their customers.
But, beyond solving a problem that was close to his heart, Emeka thought a company like EthnikCity would spur a much needed change in the informal sector of the economy. It will help improve the distribution of opportunity and management as well as wealth creation. As for tailors, it will open a new “channel” for many of them to reach their customers.
The process is quite simple. Users can select or upload a design on the site, input their measurements, and select fabric and style. EthnikCity also accepts orders on social media and, for customers who live within Lagos, the team offers to do home consultation. “That’s the cool thing, we try not to disrupt people’s organic way of sewing,” Emeka says.
Also, EthnikCity will stick to making tribal attires only. According to Emeka, this is how to win. “Africa is great at being African. Nigeria is great at being Nigerian. Once we deviate, we would only be second best,” he says.
However, being an online business will require to live be better than traditional tailors. There’s an additional burden on web based startups to prove their worth again and again. This is why quality control has to be baked into the company’s system.
For Emeka’s company, each leg in the sewing process has to be “micro-managed so that quality is not sacrificed at the alter of speed.
But looking at this startup, you may wonder how come it took so long for someone to bring this obvious solution to market. We may never know but the idea was so popular in the testing stage that it only took about a month from the time the idea hit Emeka to when the company launched in August 2016.
Besides, he likes to move fast. “People waste too much time trying to be perfect,” he says. “Me, I just get going and build as I move. As long as the idea had passed a viability stage, I move on.”
So, quickly, he formed a team with three others who now double as co-founders. Ibukun Sobande – CTO; Olakunbi Adebisi – Fashion Designer; and Osaze Amadasun – Fashion Illustrator/Designer. Also, the company stared with a founder who provided the “setup capital and operational costs”.
As if to validate Emeka’s theory about pace, Nigerians have taken to EthnikCity like ants to sugar. Within the first three weeks, the company reportedly fulfilled 15 orders. Now, for a CEO whose dream is to make good made-to-measure clothes at a pace unmatched in the industry, it’s time to deal with the attendant pressure.
It’s been intense. We are currently short-staffed and we would need to recruit to soak the pressure,” Emeka says. For him, having to combine EthnikCity with advertising, which is his first love, isn’t easy either. But the startup road is a route he’s so deliberately chosen.
“I’ve always loved solving problems, and amongst many that I have given to clients, this is the one I decided to execute myself,” he says. As the pressure mounts every day, he adds, “I just treat EthnikCity as another client.”