ANGLE: Former chemistry student takes a surprising fashionable career path and launches a creative social media network.
WORDS: Kadia Blagrove
[LONDON, UK ] Vining, Tweeting, Facebooking, Instagramming — just when you thought we’ve discovered every way imaginable to connect with each other, a new social media network hops onto the scene. Are you “Striking?” British-Nigerian entrepreneur Angela Udemba has launched, what is is expected to be one more great networking hit, Fashion Strikes. Unlike its predecessors which have based their success on overshared personal content, Fashion Strikes is a site that allows users to view and post content worth sharing. Targeted towards designers, photographers, stylists and other creatives, Fashion Strikes is a platform for fashion artists to share their work with fashion lovers all over the world and get VIP access to industry shows and events. Based in London, the founder plans to take Fashion Strikes global, making a stop in Nigeria by February 2014.
Udemba describes her start-up as “Myspace for designers,” but we noticed there’s also a LinkedIn vibe about this new digi-space. Not only is the website a place for Strikers (aka fashion fans) to fawn over the Hayden Williams of the world, it is also a networking tool for creatives to meet and collaborate. Read on to learn more about Fashion Strikes and why we think this is the next big thing in social media.
AFRICAN STYLE DAILY: Congrats on the launch of Fashion Strikes! Explain what inspired its creation?
ANGELA UDEMBA : My love of events and production. I don’t know if you know the event called Fusion@London; it happened while I was getting my PhD in chemistry. It was a fashion show that combined fashion, music and dance. It was divided into global themes. It was express fashion for global cultures. That was my first love: production and fashion and theater, but also working with emerging designers. I realized that in the events, [emerging designers] never get to the level that they deserve to get to. The event is still there and we bring the visual platform alive .
ASD: You have quite a varied career, with a PhD in medicinal chemistry and role as President and founder of your fundraising event Fusion@London. How did the fashion and medical world collide for you?
UDEMBA :Well, I have been doing both while I was in secondary school and for college I did chemistry, biology, performing arts and media studies. Even though I did my undergraduate in chemistry, I organized fashion dance and music shows; it was my hobby for a long time. I decided that I liked it, I wanted to change my Bachelors from science to performing acts. I have now turned my hobby into my job. Fashion and media production is my job and science has now become my hobby.
ASD: What is the main objective and highest hope of Fashion Strikes?
UDEMBA: To revolutionize the fashion industry and to make fashion production entertaining are the main objectives. We want the website to have an impact on how emerging designers hit the industry; only half of designers will make it in the industry. [Many designers] do not have the money for marketing and fashion shoots. If you participate in London Fashion Week, you are expected to spend thousands on the show and your crew.
The idea for Fashion Strikes is that we allow emerging designers to work like Myspace for musicians and to get a fan base. Fashion Strikes is Myspace for designers. On top of that we want to aggregate fashion; we want to align emerging designers with established brands so that if you’re shopping with familiar brands, emerging designers will also be in that space. This, marketing-wise, is costing designers zero.
ASD: Besides access to other creative professionals, what are the other benefits of membership?
UDEMBA: Any fashion fan that loves fashion and loves to shop is a fashion striker, but on the social media site there are profiles of designers, creative fashion fans and strikers and eventually brands. We connect fashion lovers with those who create it and it is great to see loads of fashion looks from different people.We wanted to make the site interactive and fun. Eventually, the next stage of development is integrating the ability to buy. We are going to create a shopping wish list; the idea is to make shopping spontaneous and fun.
We want to do social media and networking developing first, then buying second.
ASD: With Fashion Strikes’ staff expanding, what kind of people are you looking for when it comes to building a team?
UDEMBA: It is very small. Obviously we are still in the early stage, but you can do a lot with a small group of dedicated people we managed to run a huge event attended by 1,500 people with celebrities involved. All the people on my team share the same passion.
I come from a science and production background. Science was my first love and fashion was kind of an accident. I work with Eniye [Kagbala] who is all about fashion though and though, fashion is in her background and in everything that she does. I also work with a small production crew. We are all a young group of people very passionate about getting Fashion Strikes started and to the next level. We want to get to the level where we can actually employ a business side. Right now we are only four of us working full time so it can be a bit stressful. I am also writing my thesis for my PhD!
ASD: Fashion Strikes is seems to be the “Facebook” or a “LinkedIn” for all creatives. Will this network be limited to serious professionals only or will novice artists get access too?
UDEMBA: From the beginning we are going to restrict, so anyone can have a profile as a striker, but the creative profile page for a designer,photographer, or brand has to be approved. We want to have quality and for it to be credible. Designers are looking at others designers who want to expand their business. There are a lot of people who dabble in design and then realize it is not for them because it is too difficult and then get into something else. Some people who have just recently graduated with a fashion degree and they don’t take it on any further. We really want to get a process and look at policy before approving a designers page. We hope to get to a level where we have so many people on the site where we would not need to add every single person.
Kadia Blagrove is the Managing Editor of Africa Daily Groupe. Follow her on Twitter @KazzleDazz.