My Asho was the first e-commerce site exclusively dedicated to African fashion. Founded by former Shell employee-turned-fashionpreneur Dolapo Shobanjo (pictured), My Asho sources its merchandise from top designers across the continent. The brand has managed to stay distinctive in an increasingly competitive environment while staying true to its sustainable roots.
Last year, My Asho relaunched in London officially hosting two sites: MyAsho.com for luxury upscale goods from top designers and its sister site MyAshoMarketPlace.com, featuring striking takes on everyday fashion. From Wole Soyinka emblazoned sweatshirts to ankara pencil skirts, the site has something for every unique take on “what to wear. Face2Face Africa, had the chance to chat with Dolapo on the history of the brand and its global direction.
Face2Face Africa: Why did you start My Asho?
Dolapo Shobanjo: I founded My Asho (derived from the Yoruba word “aso,” meaning cloth and pronounced “ash-awe”) in June 2009 after years of being approached on the street about where I bought my clothes. I was seeing beautiful pieces during travels across Africa and realized that there was no one connecting them to the rest of the world.
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My Asho’s aim is to continue to provide ease of access to otherwise hard-to-reach products, collaborate with talented designers from all over the world, give all visitors to our site a chance to learn more about our products and ethical sourcing policies (be it via our blogs, designer stories, or product stories), and most importantly, provide excellent shopping and service to all our customers.
F2FAfrica: What Makes My Asho innovative?
DS: MY Asho is a place for the individual. To indulge, learn, and see things they haven’t seen before.
Our goals for every visitor is to help everyone identify the “my” in My Asho, always be unique to the individual by having something cool for everyone, and be a place for people to see lots of things: images, products, stories.
My Asho works closely with its suppliers and has a deep understanding of the issues they face. The company collaborates with fabric manufacturers, finding innovative ways of bringing awareness to the fragile state of their industry.
F2FAfrica: How do you source and curate your collections?
DS: Since 2009, My Asho has curated collections every autumn/winter (A/W) and spring/summer season. The team travels around different countries, selecting pieces from multiple designers which are sold on the site. The A/W 2013 season marked the launch of My Asho Market, and we collaborated closely with all of our designers to create special collections for a particular consumer.
The company has also worked with fabric manufacturers across Africa, directly sourcing locally produced fabrics in order to support the African textiles industry. My Asho Market designers have used these fabrics to create pieces sold on MyAshoMarket.com.
For the luxury My Asho site, My Asho buyers have curated pieces from individual designer A/W13 collections, which are available to purchase online. This season, the focus is on designers who embody creativity in the use of locally produced fabrics (Christie Brown and her use of Bogolanfini fabric from Mali), detailed craftsmanship (Eredappa and her hand-beaded creations), and exquisite tailoring (Erzumah Ackerson and her structured silhouettes).
My Asho’s competitive advantage comes from the strong brand identity it has developed. My Asho is an international brand with roots in Africa, which reflects Dolapo’s own heritage. In the same way she celebrates her unique personality through the clothes she wears, My Asho caters to those who want to express themselves and stand out from the crowd. Understanding that people crave individuality lies at the heart of how we operate.
In 5 years, My Asho should be a truly global brand with a large customer base the world over. We want it to be the go-to destination for interesting, innovative, wearable fashion.