I'm obsessed with the business of retail and when I stumbled on the retrocode brand on twitter last year, I was super excited. It was a completely new thing in the Nigerian fashion retail space. The prices didn't make me scream, it had a super responsive founder, there was variety but it focused on one thing...There were a lot of exciting things! Eventually, I got the founder, Cohan to speak to me about the brand.
How long have you had the idea for retrocode?
Honestly, I never had the idea for "retrocode", I had the idea for a regular clothing line called "code" instead, but at some point, I think around my final year in the University, I finally decided I didn't want a regular clothing line anymore (so I sold that idea to someone else) but yeah I'd say the whole idea of retrocode still came up really spontaneously.
The name is brilliant. How did you come up with the name?
Since I already had the idea to name my regular clothing line "code" and that didn't work out anymore, I decided to go with something that had "code" in it but still represented what my new line was about, which is hugely about designating the style of an earlier time, so "Retro" just felt like a perfect prefix.
Why did you start retrocode?
Honestly, I think I'd rather say, retrocode was something I had started for myself, I just wanted to have shirts that a lot of people didn't have, it was like this very selfish idea. Lol, then one time my sister just said "how about you made this public" and basically that's how I started .
When did you start retrocode?
Retrocode started in late February. 26th of February 2015 precisely.
What did you know about your customers before you started?
My first set of customers were mostly just close family and friends and when I decided to finally go public with it, my customers were twitter followers I'd been following for a while.
Are you permanently connected to social media?
Do you run all your social media platforms yourself?
It seems like you do a lot of things yourself. The marketing,the shooting, picking prints, interacting with customers and sorting orders. How do you find the time to do everything?
I actually have a team that works with me now. When I first started out, I did all of that myself but yeah I have a team of young men and women that work me, so to an extent it's been pretty easy.
What do you think makes retrocode so popular?
Judging from the feedbacks I've gotten from customers, I think it's the uniqueness and quality of each fabric. A lot of it is also based on good word of mouth and referrals from customers.
Who is your target market?
My target market is basically everyone who loves looking good, all demographics to be honest. That's the thing, retrocode is something everyone can wear, teenagers, youths even the elderly people love retrocode. It's something they can wear anywhere, I try to make sure there are pieces for every occasion.
What are your goals for the brand over the next year?
I have a lot planned out this year, like I just recently launched a denim line (dresses, shorts), so I have a lot planned for the year,there's going to be a lot of diversity this year. I'm working on a lot of different projects this year and also plan on expanding the brand so everyone around the world can have access to the pieces
What has been the biggest highlight and the biggest challenge?
Lool this, okay I can say that one of the biggest moments for me was when patoranking took notice of the brand and decided he wanted to be associated with it,then there was sheyi shay too, who also loved the pieces,everyone was talking about it, so yeah that felt really great, the biggest challenge for me was when retrocode trended on Nigerian twitter on new year's day, so there were like thousands of people reaching out for shirts and I had completely sold out, that was really challenging, having to tell these people that there was nothing available to buy at that time.
Why did you decide to launch largely on twitter on opposed to the traditional instagram platform used by other vendors?
yes this, I always get asked this a lot, for me, twitter just felt easier for me because it's a site I'm constantly on and I interact with more people there and I liked it because there on Twitter, people aren't scared to say how they feel about your brand and that was super important to me, I wanted to know what people felt about the brand, you can get away with selling wack stuff on Instagram but on Twitter someone's definitely ready to call you out, so I think that actually makes you more conscious about paying the littlest details to your brand and honestly twitter has been one of my hugest markets. So I'm grateful for that.
What and who are your influences?
This might sound ridiculous but I think old pictures of my parents, I even had this collection one time, "The Sylvia's Corner" collection it was mostly birthed by old pictures of my mum and her wardrobe because I am so obsessed with all of their style from the 70/80's and with retrocode I'm trying to bridge that gap between then and now like a cross between the style from the early times(70's - 90's)to the more contemporary style now.
What did you study and how did that lead into a fashion retail career?
I studied geology and that had nothing to do with my present career. Lol
Was your family supportive of your choice to pursue retrocode full time and if not at the beginning, how did they come around?
My parents were super supportive, my dad is actually one of my biggest supporters , when I started he always bought a lot of shirts for himself and even for his some of the staff, my mum also got a lot,my sisters and brother have been super supportive too, my sisters always patronized me a lot and told their friends about it, so it's been such a huge blessing.
managed to stay very affordable. And a lot of Nigerian designers often use infrastructure as an excuse for their high prices. How have you managed to overcome those problems and maintain affordability?
That has been one of the biggest challenges too, like I've had people who have literally screamed about how "affordable" the pieces are, they usually always think it's pretty expensive, but yeah it's really not been so easy but that was the mould(that most Nigerian designers sell
products at ridiculous prices) I actually wanted to break , I want people to understand that you can still have really great clothes with a nice quality that's not overpriced and it can be unique and exclusive, I think the fact that making money wasn't my original motive makes it all easy, retrocode is a very personal project that I'm very passionate about, so I still manage to find a way to manage all of that.
Do you love retrocode? Say why in the comments!