Fashion is an integral part of culture in Africa with each nation having its traditional garments which tell a story. Jendaya is a business that aims to deliver luxury fashion to Africa and beyond. They are building a platform that will bring a next generation experience where you can “discover exciting brands, digest the latest, and shop the best.”
We spoke to CEO Ayotunde Rufai to find out more about the business and his vision for it going forward.
What was the motivation for starting Jendaya? And how did you get things off and running?
The start is actually quite anecdotal, as my auntie who comes here often (at least 6-7 times a year for business and to see my cousins at boarding school) would always send me to Harrods and the like, often to exchange and/or buy gifts and so one Summer I asked why she doesn't just do it from Nigeria. The answer wasn't satisfactory and that started the idea for a solution for luxury ecommerce for Africa first, that provided the same level of service, online experience and choice like the countless platforms we have here in the West.
I started brainstorming in the Summer of 2017 with 3 friends, we delegated tasks and it wasn't until we entered a competition with the university of Monaco in January 2018 that we really started to take the idea seriously (we had only officially named it Jendaya in December 2017). We reached the semi-final of their annual luxury startup competition and the rest up to this point has been history. We aim to launch our invite only e-commerce pilot at the end of Q1 and go from there, sign up and follow us in the meantime.
What are the most significant challenges you have faced?
I would say initially understanding the "how" around our logistics and then going out to find the expertise and the talent to join us on this journey to put it together. We spent a whole year learning and unlearning so much about the landscape, how and why an idea like this can and can't work and understanding exactly who our customer is and what we would need to do in order to solve their problem(s). I would say the other challenge we faced was onboarding and confirming brands and boutiques to join us as partners on the platform. However, once we secured our first one and were able to convince certain individuals to join our advisory board it has become an easier conversation.
What is your vision for Jendaya?
My vision is that Jendaya is the number one go-to for luxury e-commerce on the continent of Africa and serves as a discovery platform for shoppers from the West. Empowering a network for commerce in Africa and beyond through inventory management software and our high fidelity understanding and trusting relationships with African luxury fashion consumers, brands and organisations alike developed through content which inspires, informs, educates, influences, and taste-makes. An acquisition down the line by the likes of NET-a-Porter wouldn't hurt either.