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Africa Fashion by Lisa.

The fashion industry in Africa is slowly building a reputation for itself within Africa as around the global sphere. With this development comes a need for the brands within this industry to ensure they are seriously maximising their brand’s potential by first creating a solid branding and marketing strategy. So follow me while I take an analytical look at the biggest brand of the moment…Jewel by Lisa.

  • Brand Bio:

Created in 2005, Jewel by Lisa is a luxury fashion brand with a strong clientele that creates lifelong treasures encouraging its clients to wear over and over again. Their goal is to cater to the Nigerian market, creating desirable, one-of-a kind luxury pieces while establishing itself as an international label. It remains one of the true brands that people respect for re-inventing Ankara textiles into covetable pieces.

  • Designer Bio:

In 2005 Lisa Folawiyo a law graduate from the University of Lagos, Nigeria with no formal fashion education and her team of expert craftsmen stormed onto the Nigerian fashion scene with Jewel by Lisa.


  • Brand Personality:

“International Chic”

  • Brand Target:

The woman who wears Jewel by Lisa can be described as “a stylish, confident, city chic woman with a wardrobe filled with desirable eclectic pieces picked up from her travels; her youthful exuberance speaks effortless and unrehearsed style. She also understands fashion. (According to Lisa Folawiyo).

  • Brand Image:

One of a kind pieces – luxury

Intricate workmanship – quality

Handcrafted – luxury



  • How does Jewel by Lisa add Value?

By associating with many renowned international urban and mainstream stars as mentioned below. With the buying public striving hard to emulate what their adored celebrities are wearing or buying, it is evident that celebrity endorsement certainly adds value to a brand. However, the brand has to carefully vet the celebrities who they approach for endorsement so as not to lower the brand’s reputation.


Taking part in the debut Arise African Fashion Week in South Africa, New York Fashion Week as well as an exhibition at Paris Fashion Week, also adds value to the brand as the target demographic for the magazine and shows are women who are interested in high end fashion (and usually have the income to go with it!).

Their main point of sale being at Ribadu Street, Lagos, is their little treasure trove. Minimalist in design, charming and hidden in the heart of Lagos. The area seems to be an affluent area with offices, swanky restaurants and private hospitals. This adds value to the brand as the rather exclusive nature of the area sits perfectly with the branding of the label as one which is exclusive but yet affordable and attainable.

  • Competitive Advantage:

Brands create competitive advantage by perceiving or discovering new and better ways to compete in an industry and bringing them to the market. Thus a brand’s relative position within an industry is given by its choice of competitive advantage (cost leadership vs. differentiation) and its choice of competitive scope. Competitive scope distinguishes between brands targeting broad industry segments and those focusing on a narrow segment.

Fashion brands rely heavily on using their image to differentiate themselves from their competition.

  • Differentiation Strategy:

How is JBL using its brand’s image to differentiate itself from its competitors?

In the African fashion market, what is seemingly lacking with most of the brands is the perceived uniqueness existing in mainstream that allows one label to differ itself from another.

For some differentiation exists in their fabrics, their cut, their positioning (example, Ralph Lauren’s Polo is positioned as the “Preppy” look label) while others use their logo (example Louis Vuitton’s LV on handbags, Gucci’s GG on bags etc)

In the African fashion market, the brand differentiation is debatable however some of the existing brands are taking notice and are looking for better ways to bring out this differentiation. It is now easy to tell a Christie Brown or a Lola Faturoti piece from an Eki Orleans or an Ituen Basi for example.

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JBL are no exception. They saw the need to create differentiation from their competitors and they took heed; creating a unique selling point for the brand. The JBL global print is luxurious and custom made; their modern day approach to the Ankara fabric. According to the team, the JBL woman “loves her prints”. The collaboration with textile designer Banke Kuku enabled them to launch their “Global Minimalism” collection in style giving the brand a perceived uniqueness in the minds of their target market and creating a competitive advantage for the brand within the industry.

  • Product design:

The quality and upmarket fabrics used in creating Jewel by Lisa pieces puts emphasis on the brand’s desire to set itself apart from the rest and become a luxury yet affordable brand.

Within six years Lisa has perfected the art of turning Ankara into a coveted luxury wear through the embellishment of the fabric with sequins, Swarovski crystals, and beads.

This labour intensive production (it apparently takes up to 120 hours to make one JBL piece!) and only use of high quality embellishments demonstrates the label’s continuous strife to not compromise itself but to uphold the quality and luxury attributed to the brand.

  • Celebrity Endorsement

A favourite of celebrities including E! News correspondent Catt Sadler, Beyoncé, Kelis, Eve, Solange Knowles, Tasha Smith, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Kendall Jenner and Nneka. Also top fashion models including Freha Beja Erichsen, Liya Kebede, Alek Wek, and Oluchi have also been seen wearing Jewel by Lisa’s pieces.

  • Advertising and promotion

The main tools for informing the public about the existence of a product or service is by advertising and promotion. In 2010 alone, more than USD 500,000,000 was spent on advertising worldwide. However, I wonder how much this figure relates to Africa and especially the African fashion industry.

As such, advertising can therefore be defined as a form of communication used to persuade an audience to take some action with respect to products or services with the desired result being to drive consumer behaviour.

Various traditional media include mass media such as newspaper, magazines, television, radio, outdoor advertising (bill boards) and direct marketing. New media refers to online and text messages.

  • What Methods of Advertising and Promotion does JBL employ?

The advertising method widely used to put the JBL brand image out there has been through the use of online mediums such as social mediums (Twitter, Facebook) – the most cost effective and direct marketing strategy of the moment, blogs (One Nigerian Boy, Africa Style Daily, Style House Files) and online magazines (Ladybrille, Bella Naija, Haute Fashion Africa) – all these are very popular instruments within the Nigerian (African) entertainment and fashion industry.

It is no doubt that the JBL camp have more than clocked on the importance of and the viral nature of the world wide web in keeping their brand constant in the minds of their target market and in reaching and making contacts with new territories and markets. As Lisa commented, Jewel by Lisa’s goal is to cater to the Nigerian market whilst establishing itself as an international brand. Being ‘seen’ within the popular Nigerian blogs for example enables JBL to be on the right path to meeting its primary goal.

Using these mediums as well as creating its own branded short films such as “Life as a Jewelete”, featuring in high quality fashion events such as New York and Paris Fashion Weeks,  appearing in African publications such as Arise, Fab, True Love, ThisDay Style, Genevieve, Marie Claire(SA), Glamour (SA) coupled with features in a North American publication “IN New York magazine” and New York Post (when you talk fashion, you talk New York!) as well as appearing in the very popular Studio 53 showcased across Africa and the world over enables JBL to fulfil its primary goal of amassing a following within the Nigerian market while at the same time slowly establishing itself as a luxury international brand.

  • What other means of advertising and promotion could they employ?
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The lack of branded adverts and product placements is another seemingly unemployed means of promotion that most African fashion brands don’t use. Whilst some brands are making the effort to look for alternative ways to reach their target markets and expose themselves, most are still doing nothing and/or are relying heavily on word of mouth or only social networking sites.

Some suggestions which could be suitable for JBL’s image are as per below.

  • Television advertising (branded short videos are shown on TV). If JBL is not already doing so maybe this could be their biggest form of promotion for the brand. If they started airing in Nigeria and then slowly moving the advert to other strategic parts of Africa such as South Africa, Ghana, North Africa and then slowly to the Middle East and the Europe (UK, France, Netherlands, Italy – areas with large African population)
  • Infomercials – a long format television commercial typically 5 minutes or longer could be used to promote a new collection for example. The main objective in this would be to create an impulse purchase, so that the consumer sees the presentation and then can immediately buy the product through the company website maybe. This could also work well during a JBL sale.
  • Product placements – when a product or brand is embedded in entertainment and media. What JBL could do here is target some of the leading Nollywood actresses such as Omotola Ekeinde or Genevieve Nnaiji and dress them up (or provide some outfits) in big budget films for example Ije and Mirror Boy. JBL could also have the stars wear their accessories or the film set could be decorated with some JBL soft furnishings such as their scented candles for example.
  • Billboard & Mobile Board advertising – many mainstream brands are using these to ensure they target as many people as they can. JBL could also use the billboard located in an area that covers their target market in Nigeria to advertise their brand. They could also use appropriate intercity buses to plug especially their J Label products.
  • Celebrity branding – this type of advertising focuses upon using celebrity power, fame and popularity to gain recognition for their products. The brand specifically pays the celebrity to be seen in their product. In this case, the right celebrity has to be vetted to ensure that they are in keeping with the primary focus of the brand. Using rising Nollywood star, Genevieve Nnaiji or Stephanie Okereke could be ideal as they are building up an international appeal whilst still seeming Nigerian. For an international star, using Solange Knowles who is bold and edgy, Kim Kardashian who alludes to being the “girl next door” or maybe Julia Restoin Roitfeld, the current modern epitome of Parisian chic; could catapult the brand to another level.

By increasing its advertising and promotion mediums, Jewel by Lisa will definitely reap the benefits and totally differentiate itself from its competitors however funding/financial investment within the African fashion brands remains one of the biggest obstacles.

Nevertheless, like with any business startup it is essential that the business owner projects its total running cost within a certain period and raises that amount or has a way to raise that amount before releasing the business to the public. Most African fashion brands throw the brand out there without having a real business focus or a realistic business plan.

Should the brands be able to resolve the funding issue then advertising and promotion should be on the top of their marketing list.

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Product distribution is one of the four elements of the marketing mix. It is the organisation or a set of organisations (go-betweens) involved in the process of making a product available for use by a consumer.

The other three big P’s being product, pricing and promotion.

Distribution is a very important component of Logistics and Supply chain management. It refers to the distribution of a good from one business onto another. It is defined as a chain of intermediaries; each passing the product down the chain to the next organisation before it finally reaches the end user or consumer. Each of the elements in these chains will have their own specific needs, which the producer must take into account, along with those of the important end user.

What is JBL’s Marketing and Distribution Channels?

The brand seems to have gone with the typical pattern of “Selective distribution” suitable especially with fashion products. This is where suitable retailers are selected to stock their product as well as items from other competitors.

Resellers currently stocking Jewel by Lisa products are:-

  • Curve – high end multi clothing boutique located in Los Angeles. It also stocks labels including DVF and Jennifer Lopez has been seen shopping there.
  • Zainab – thought to be the best kept secret in Los Angeles according to Vogue.com. Stocks clothing and accessories by African designers including Azzedine Alaia.
  • African Mosaique – located in Jo’burg and founded by former Ethiopian model Anne Getaneh.
  • Eves Apple – an online retailer that also stock DVF, Halston etc
  • My Asho – an online store that stocks a wide range of clothing and accessories by African designers.
  • Temple Muse – located on the affluent Victoria Island in Lagos. A rather exclusive store that stocks other high end African and mainstream fashion labels.

For a brand that has been in existence for only 6 years, it is evident that Jewel by Lisa’s marketing channels are enabling the brand to slowly move into different market territory, creating a presence within that market, connecting with fashion followers and slowly building up a reputation and market share within that fashion market.

  • Website:

The importance of a functional website to any business is paramount. It serves as a first point of contact between your brand and potential customers. It advises (about brand), connects (contacts), displays (products – collections) and informs (events/press).

The label’s new look website depicting their autumn/winter 2011 collection completely befits its target image. Millen Magese, the Tanzanian model who is currently the face of the brand is also a perfect fit however her popularity within the target consumers’ minds isn’t as high as models such as Alek Wek, Oluchi and Liya Kebede.

The website is clean and carefully designed to ensure that the surfing experience is enjoyable and easy.

*Note: the JBL website has been updated since this original analysis.

  • Product Expansion:

J Label:

The J Label is a strong combination of urban cool, afro-pop, and cutting edge beautifully crafted clothes. It is affordable luxury at its best, according to Lisa.

J Label line is inspired by colour, print, pattern, lines and shapes all to bring about a fusion of African and Western fashion, which the typical JBL’s woman can relate to.

The J Label – by Jewel By Lisa

The J Label – by Jewel By Lisa

The J Label – by Jewel By Lisa

  • Fabrics:

Recently, the label has widened its business opportunities by producing its own fabrics ranging from Velvet, Crepe Silk, Satin, Chiffon, Shantung and Linen.

  • Accessories:

JBL has also ventured into making jewelled accessories such as belts, necklaces, and clutches as well as soft furnishings including scented candles

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