Exclusive Interview: How JOONAFRICA is Catering to the Afropolitan Experience

Posted on November 06 2018

Exclusive Interview: How JOONAFRICA is Catering to the Afropolitan Experience

Written by Fashionomics Africa

Chinonye D. Egbulem and Sarah-June Benjamin met during their senior year of high-school and immediately clicked over their entrepreneurial mindsets. With more than ten years of friendship under their belts, the ambitious duo dabbled with four different business ventures before finally settling on JOONAFRICA – a culmination of their love for art, digital design, fashion, events, marketing and social entrepreneurship.  Fashionomics Africa caught up with Chinonye and Sarah-June to discuss how JOONAFRICA is catering to the Afropolitan experience.

Frustrated with the lack of functional household goods reflecting their Afropolitan experience, Chinonye and Sarah-June took it upon themselves to create an online platform and community that offers the Afrocentric goods so many African millennials desire but lack access to.

“There are a million and one platforms brilliantly showcasing African fashion, and very few showcasing African home decor. As an on-demand digital printing platform, we cultivate the on-going demand for new inventions and creations that reflect or improve the Black experience. We take popular designs from Afrocentric artists and influencers and transform them into home essentials and gifts such as wallpaper, posters, wall art, mugs, journals. Our aim is for this online global community to be classified as the go-to site for inventors and creators looking to market their ideas for what we define as the “classic AFROPOLITAN household,” Chinonye told Fashionomics Africa.

“There is so much diversity on the African continent and in the diaspora. As the middle-class population continues to grow, people on the continent and in the diaspora are investing in interior design and home decor. Most supermarket retailers do not curate brands that prioritize “Afrocentric” culture-specific needs for cooking, decorating, and organizing their homes. Our site caters to people who have a deep appreciation for the Afropolitan aesthetic. The Afropolitan aesthetic represents a diverse cultural experience with people who appreciate the African aesthetic yet require a modern approach that represents the mobility of the African millennial.”

Since JOONAFRICA’s launch on National Dashiki Day, the platform has received an overwhelmingly positive response, which only goes to show how important it is for African millennials to have access to goods that reflect their love for Afropolitan aesthetics.

“Our products are a reflection of WHO we are and WHAT we stand for. Generational research recently conducted by the Alliance Data businesses indicates that 41% of consumers are loyal to brands that offer them the opportunity to personalize products to create something that is bespoke to them. Currently, there is no mainstream online home department store that curates and creates a collection of brands that prioritizes one's culture-specific needs as it relates to African home goods. That’s where we come in!”

“When social media influencers started taking over Instagram, we fell in love over and over again with all the Afrocentric digital artists and creators making waves with their designs. As marketing gurus, we knew that influencer marketing could positively impact how people felt about the JOONAFRICA brand and the brand of the artists themselves. As personalization and customization in products and services have become mainstream over time, we wanted to offer these services to artists that already have a wide reach but are not able to capture low hanging fruit due to lack of time and personnel. Every artist that we have collaborated with thus far has acknowledged the immense need for such a service. We look forward to scaling and expanding our services to connect more artists to digital printing services.”

Chinonye and Sarah-June are clearly passionate about JOONAFRICA and all the work that goes into curating such an innovative platform. Naturally, entrepreneurship does not come without its challenges, but the pair are quick to encourage others to follow their dream.

 “JUST DO IT! Our journey to launching JOONAFRICA started when we were on a mission to develop the first peel-and-stick removable fabric wallpaper. We had $0 and the manufacturer that we wanted to work with sent us a quote of $5,000. After much negotiation and convincing of our grand vision, the door was opened immediately and we were able to launch with just under $500 of Capital. Any entrepreneur can attest to the fact that there are so many ups and downs, but the reward is found in the exhilarating experience of creating, developing, and executing. Even when we experience losses, we feel so much more empowered with knowledge and understanding. Women are excellent multi-taskers and we rule the world! Take your many talents, ask questions, seek out mentors and JUST DO IT!,” Chinonye emphasizes energetically, before referring to our own Fashionomics Africa platform as a useful tool for entrepreneurs within the world of fashion.

“Fashionomics Africa is SPOT ON. There is a HUGE need to help talented creatives tap in the huge marketing potential. The one thing that Joonafrica struggles with as a small business is obtaining access to marketing dollars. Fashion is not just about design or inspiration, it’s also about job creation and capitalization. We hope to learn more about how we can translate our hard work into capital in this huge global market through the Fashionomics Africa platform.”

The original post of this African Development Bank Initiative can be found here.

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