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Susie Bubble’s insights on the business of fashion, the internet, and corporate style

Susie Bubble’s insights on the business of fashion, the internet, and corporate style
Millions of Ghanaians fled to the internet when the pandemic began, resulting in the meteoric rise of Zionfelix, GhKwaku, RonnieIsEverywhere, thousands of Instagram shops, and tens of thousands of social media influencers.

The internet was unavoidable during the lockdown.

In the short term, the impact on retailers has been divided. Those selling necessities such as food and cleaning supplies were in high demand. Non-essential retailers, such as those selling clothing and accessories, were forced to close or saw a significant drop in sales.

Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Minister of Communications and Digitalisation, shut down certain offices in May 2020 for failing to follow proper COVID protocols. Since then, the government and other stakeholders have been consistent in their call for retailers to implement adequate hygiene measures in stores across the country.

So, after witnessing some pretty significant pent-up demand for regular outdoor activities, I expected the focus of the next 12 months to be on clean shopping, contactless technology, and improved hygiene measures becoming the norm.

Ghana, for the most part, did not disappoint. The rise of Zeepay and other local tech companies, Twitter’s choice of Ghana as its first African base, Mobile Money integration everywhere, and the consistent embrace of venture capitalism are all positive signs.

However, during an election year in a developing economy, COVID protocols become more difficult to enforce, and the pandemic continues to have an economic impact.

All of this means that customers, whether indoors or outdoors, will be cautious about purchasing in the fashion industry. For the time being, I believe people will remain cautious and value-conscious when it comes to fashion.

The Why?

Many Ghanaians spent more time online buying essential items such as groceries to avoid long lines at supermarkets and the possibility of contracting the virus through contact with others during the brief period of lockdown.

Other companies selling non-essential items, such as clothing, saw an increase in online sales, but this was insufficient to offset the decline as consumers began prioritizing and limiting their spending in the medium term.

Online sales have since increased, but the emphasis will continue to be on necessities. People have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic, and many are concerned about the future. So don’t be misled by trending Instagram photos into thinking that people aren’t spending responsibly.

Many Ghanaian brands are shifting their focus, either entirely or primarily, to e-commerce innovation, and technological advancements will make online shopping more exciting.

The immediate goal for the local fashion industry has been to provide consumers with competitive prices and quick, efficient delivery. Aside from that, they must consider how to best translate the in-store experience online and provide additional forms of convenience such as contactless delivery and curbside pickups.

Curbside pickup is as simple as its name implies: your customers pick up their orders from a convenient location other than inside the store, such as the literal curb or a nearby warehouse. As innovative as that sounds, I am aware that leaving your customers’ orders on the curb for them to pick up later will be more difficult.

But isn’t that why we have these weekly discussions? Is it not to deliberate, brainstorm, and talk through our ideas in order to effect meaningful change wherever and whenever we can? It is. Susie Bubble is one person I know who has done a lot of fashion trailblazing.

Susanna Lau, better known as Susie Bubble, is a writer and editor based in London. Susie began her fashion blog, ‘Style Bubble,’ in March 2006, and it is now one of the most popular blogs of its kind.

Susie’s thoughts, personal experiences, and observations on fashion are featured on Style Bubble, with an emphasis on highlighting young and unknown talent. Susie was previously the editor of Dazed Digital, the website of Dazed & Confused magazine, from 2008 to 2010.

She now works full-time as a freelance content creator for brands like Prada and Gucci, as well as writing for publications like Elle, Grazia, and the Guardian. She also serves on the LVMH Prize expert panel.

She has recently been actively involved in the #StopAsianHate campaign, spreading awareness online alongside other prominent Asian American designers and fashion professionals.

She is currently working on a project to assist ESEA women in the United Kingdom. During the lockdown, she co-founded Dot Dot, a bubble tea and bubble waffle shop in Stoke Newington, North London, to explore her Hong Kong roots.

Susie Bubble is the author of the following.

On how important one’s fashion is to one’s business success.

My personal style has been crucial in establishing both my USP in writing and, I believe, in personal branding projects. I’m a fan of young designers and experimental design, and I’m not afraid of color or print. I believe my style is open-minded, which translates to the projects I work on and the type of writing I do for publications. I’ve always wanted to promote fashion as a means of self-expression – not to please others, but to please yourself!

On where to find and keep up with the latest in business attire.

I don’t have a set idea of what “business attire” should be. Dress codes are definitely fading, especially in the aftermath of a pandemic. I believe it is more important to be at ease in your own skin and style, whatever that may be. I feel most “powerful” when I’m dressed in pieces that are uniquely me, such as vintage Comme des Garcons or Simone Rocha or Molly Goddard dresses. They aren’t traditional business attire, but that’s the beauty of working for yourself – there is no dress code!

On providing some advice on how to dress for that important meeting.

As I previously stated, dress for yourself rather than for others. You should convey the essence of your personality. If you don’t like wearing suits or other traditional power-dressing attire, wearing them will make you feel like an imposter. Not that I’m suggesting you dress as casually as possible. I suppose I value individuality more than a jacket with power shoulders.

On quitting her job to pursue full-time blogging/influencer work and succeeding. Also on clear signs, someone should look out for if they ever wonder “is the fashion business for me”.

Are you insatiably curious? Are you a person who thrives on creativity? This is a difficult business to stay in, and maintaining longevity is also difficult. The main thing is to maintain your enthusiasm and love for the industry, whether you’re a designer, photographer, stylist, writer, or anything else, and to let the machinations of an ever-changing industry inspire you. You’ll know it’s not for you when you lose interest and your curiosity begins to wane.

Her thoughts on influencer work and how to become an influencer.

I don’t believe there is a single, hard and fast way to “become” an influencer, and even that term has many different interpretations. The more important thing is to figure out exactly what you want to project on Instagram – is it great imagery, great tastemaking, writing, photography, art direction, or video content? What is your specialty? What’s your point of view? It is more important to hone those skills before attempting to monetize them. Prioritize content over voice.

On the advantages of the fast fashion business model and how businesspeople can profit from it in the same way that the big fashion corporations do.

In terms of who it is uplifting, the fast fashion model needs to be reconsidered. If you can produce a large quantity in a responsible manner, there is nothing inherently wrong with fast fashion. The issue is that the definition of “responsible production” is very broad. And if you’re thinking about profit over responsibility, I’m not sure that’s a good angle to take. Perhaps it is about creating/producing on the fly and not ordering large quantities in advance, but rather meeting the demands of the market at the time. Perhaps it is a matter of onshoring production to local factories that can still provide quantity. There are numerous approaches to the business model, but I believe we can all agree that it is currently ineffective!

On Women’s corporate dress code.

Whatever field you work in, your persona/personality is crucial in your attire. I understand that some workplaces have strict dress codes, but I believe the pandemic has changed everything.

On fashion dropshipping and advice for Ghana’s fashion entrepreneurs.

It’s a business model that I believe works well for smaller and independent designers, as long as you have a good wholesaler/supplier who can fill ad hoc orders. I’m not very familiar with it because I don’t work in design, but if you can make it work for your brand or online ecommerce, I’d just make sure you have good contracts and agreements with your suppliers. It’s also a great way to see what works for your audience and leave more room for creativity.

On how to dress casually for work.

You’re speaking to the wrong person because I’m not a big fan of tracksuits. This WFH [work from home] attire does not appeal to me. I look great in dresses and ornate fabrics. I enjoy a good contrast. Trainers and tomboy shoes with girly dresses. I’m happy as long as my feet are comfortable!

On working with Ghana’s High Fashion advocates such as Nana Akua Addo and promising talents such as Lharley Lartey and Cindy Lita Adio.

I’d love to learn more about the work of Ghanaian fashion designers! I wish there were more opportunities to go physically, as that has been my experience when attending globalized fashion weeks to see what’s going on on the ground. Hopefully after the pandemic!


On how to contact her.

You can follow me on Instagram @susiebubble, and I occasionally appear in Clubhouse on a variety of fashion-related chats.


Source: 3news

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