When you talk about the fashion industry in Nigeria, what comes to mind is, designers making outfits of different designs/styles, which people in turn purchase. When these buyers purchase these attires, it’s left to them to decide what they wear with it, how they match it with accessories and where they wear it to.
Many times, the role of fashion designers stop at just making designs, either from scratch – out of their own creativity, according to clients’ needs or based on what’s in vogue.
For Kobi Mbagwu, AKA Mr. Kobi, he is taking it a step further by providing personal styling services for Nigerian men. So, it goes more than providing the finest of men’s clothing, but also coaching on how to get dressed.
Interesting, right? Dive into this interview with Mr. Kobi, where he reveals more about his company, KOBI KOACHMAN, and how it all got started.
Tell us a little about yourself
My name is Kobi O. Mbagwu, popularly known as Mr. Kobi and I am the founder of KOBI KOACHMAN brand. I’m a Fashion Entrepreneur, Image Consultant, and a Men’s Fashion & Lifestyle Blogger. I enjoy helping men dress better and teaching them how to upgrade their personal style to become stylish gentlemen.
My personal goal is to help men dress well, live well, do well and develop a unique personal style that matches their lifestyle and goals.
Tell us about KOBI KOACHMAN and the services you’re offering
KOBI KOACHMAN FASHION is a men’s image consulting, lifestyle and fashion brand I founded in April 2014. The brand is all about true style. It’s more than what you wear, it’s about how you live.
At KOBI KOACHMAN we dress men from the ground up focusing on style and we teach men how to upgrade their personal style and become stylish gentlemen.
We offer products and services all geared towards helping men realize their full potential. We do this by offering style advice, grooming guidance and wardrobe management in order to help men maintain an attractive and positive image, change how other people view them and ultimately empower them with a more confident personal style.
Services we offer include:
– Men’s Style Consulting & Wardrobe Makeover
– Personal Shopping – Clothing & Gifts
– Event Styling – Weddings, Dinners & Other Events
– Personal and Corporate Wardrobe Styling for Men
What inspired going into this line of business?
I have always had an interest in Fashion and Style since my high school years which reflected in my sense of dressing. I’ve always known also, that our success is always a function of the impressions we make on others throughout our lives.
KOBI KOACHMAN brand was born when I realized style and clothing could be a key ingredient in helping people become more confident, and live a more fulfilling and successful life – something I have always wanted to be a part of.
I believe that Success can be built through Style. I strongly believe that if you dress well, you look good, and when you look good, you feel good and when you feel good, you worry less, and the less you worry the more you are able to stay motivated and focused in your goals pursuit and by so doing you are able to live a more fulfilling and successful life.
This mindset and thought inspired me to start my company – an image consulting firm instead of just a fashion retail company.
So far, how has the response been from Nigerians?
It’s been a mixture of good and great. Most men are aware of the value of looking their best, the challenge usually is finding the time and energy. So these ones engage us for our Styling services.
We also have a lot of men who are interested in looking good, but have no idea how to do it. Through the blog – www.MRKOACHMAN.com I teach and educate them on how to develop a new style and how to become a better version of themselves. And they always give positive feedback how the blog articles have changed their lives.
But the truth is, some men just can’t be bothered with their looks and appearance no matter what Style Sermons I preach every week through the blog and our Facebook page. These ones would require that extra push and influence in order to reach their style potential. So we keep preaching the Style Gospel in hopes they would one day live a life, free from any form of fashion sin.
What challenges did you face starting out and how did you overcome them?
Lack of Awareness and Sensitization.
Engaging in marketing and advertisement in a bid to create the awareness and get people to come on in and see what we are offering can be quite challenging some times and expensive.
Today we run Ad Campaigns, Marketing campaigns and PR services in order to create the awareness and we do get positive result. But it is still work in progress and we are taking it one step at a time.
How do you market your business
First of all through my blog, www.MRKOACHMAN.com. I have a lot of gentlemen that read my blog and they contact me through Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter for me to style them.
Then, through word of mouth. I believe that looking good is good business. When I dress well, it provokes conversations even with strangers and there and then, I have the opportunity to sell my service offering to the guy in a bid to convert him to my customer. We also do Social Media Promotions and Advertisements.
Referrals also gets use clients. When we do a good job for a customer, he is satisfied. He refers us to other friends and colleagues of his and it goes on and on.
How would you describe the fashion industry in Nigeria?
There is still lots of potentials in the Fashion Industry in Nigeria for passionate individuals. However, in my opinion I feel everyone wants to be either a Fashion Designer, a Fashion Blogger or a Stylist.
There are several other business opportunities available in the fashion industry such as Fashion Photography, Fashion Consulting, Fashion Event Planning, Manufacturing etc … and I think anyone who has a bit of style and fashion knowledge can explore these other opportunities and conquer it rather than stick to what everyone else does. Then again, it depends on what one is passionate about.
Tell us the story behind your foray into entrepreneurship.
Okay. So in 2001, while still studying in the University I started running a clothing retail business for both men and women under the name Kobi’s Place. I would usually assist the buyers – mostly undergraduate students, in choosing clothes for their wardrobes and styling them for events. They all knew me by my nickname Koachman.
One thing that set my store brand apart was that whenever any guy or lady walked in I would instantly know what kind of clothes would fit them more and what color of cloth they shouldn’t pick.
I usually would politely refuse a customer’s choice of t-shirt and chinos or jeans combination just because I know the color won’t go well when paired. I would then assist them in choosing appropriate clothes to make the right fashion statement.
Over time I’ve also acquired some certificates to enhance my skills and equip me with enough knowledge as I continue in my entrepreneurship journey in this area of Fashion and Image Consulting which is my passion.
Describe your most entrepreneurial exciting moment
It was in early 2017, when I got recognized by REMY MARTIN and bagged an endorsement deal with the brand, becoming a Brand Influencer for the One Life/Live Them® campaign which encourages people to chase all your various dreams, follow their passions and never give up on them.
From your experience as an entrepreneur, what advice would you give aspiring Nigerian entrepreneurs?
To those thinking of when to start, I would say stop thinking just start now. Have a plan and start small.
To those who are just starting I would say First Learn and then Start Earning later. Never put money first.
We all know most entrepreneurship ventures starts off a hobby – so it comes natural to you, but don’t keep it as a hobby for so long, learn how to turn it into a business and start getting paid for what you love doing.
On a final note, I would also like to add that – to run a business in Nigeria is tough, to do it without passion is tougher. Like every other business it’s never easy in the beginning but one thing that should keep you going is the passion and love for what you are doing.