This is an interview with Factory45’er Toyin Ajayi about the launch of her brand Ife Medow. With the help of a Kickstarter campaign, Toyin is raising money for the production run of her first collection.
Please give us a brief overview of your brand and the pieces you’re pre-selling.
Ife Medow is where made in the USA meets the African touch. The Elements Collection is based on the four elements, so I created 4 unique color schemes for the exteriors of each piece using sustainable materials.
I complemented the exterior color schemes with lining each piece with African prints, this allowed me to incorporate my culture. I’m half Nigerian and half Ghanaian so that’s where the name comes from. Ife means “love” in Yoruba my language and Medow means “my love” in Fanti my Ghanaian language. I like to say each piece is made with love. Ife Medow provides gender neutral pieces with RFID protection. We have wallets, clutches, totes, and travel duffles.
Why did you choose to launch your brand through Kickstarter?
There are a few reasons. I didn’t want to start a fashion brand and have to give away equity in my company just to make it. So many people (except Shannon) encourage you to go through venture capitalists or get a bunch of loans, but I didn’t want to give my business away in pieces just to get started or start with a bunch of debt. I also wanted to be able to offer pieces at a discount to early adopters and Kickstarter is a great way to do both.
What was the most challenging aspect of creating your campaign?
I wanted to make sure I was giving people enough information about the unique layers of my brand, but I didn’t want to overwhelm them. Ife Medow has the layer of sustainability, culture, RFID protection and unisex pieces. So the key was to find a way to share this with everyone without bombarding them with information.
You’ve done months of prep. What helped you keep up your momentum and motivation?
While I was doing prep, it’s a rollercoaster but every time I finished a new sample I was refreshed. Positive feedback, meditation, reminding yourself why you set out to do this is really important. It’s also important to practice self-care so you don’t get burned out.
Can you give us a little insight into your campaign strategy? What has been working and what hasn’t worked as well?
Truthfully, I had a full PR strategy and interns up until two weeks before my campaign. Due to unforeseen circumstances, my publicist had to step away and so did two interns. I was really distraught but I knew I had to pull my big girl panties up and get to it.
I wrote a press release to get the campaign in front of more eyeballs than I would be able to personally pitch. And then I had a master media list that I’ve been emailing, this stuff can take time so only time will tell about how successful that will be. I would say the best thing I’ve done was create excitement leading up to the launch; showing the pieces, answering questions and counting down.
What do you do when self-doubt starts to creep up?
Light candles and pray, talk to positive friends and family, have a glass of wine and relax my brain and anxiety.
What’s your favorite reward being offered in your campaign?
Tough question! But if I had to choose it would be the Air Clutch or Water and Earth Duffles. Those are my 3 favorite separate pieces. I offer sets and capsules for each Element as a reward too so I do love having those options.
If you had one piece advice for someone considering launching a Kickstarter, what would it be?
Take your time, do lots of research, be adaptable and go for it!