Introducing Design Thinking to Fashion Entrepreneurs with IBM

Design Thinking seeks to create a culture of creativity and innovation driven by radical collaboration and the re-framing of ideas.

On the 5th of July 2018, we held a pre Design Thinking session at the IBM Innovation Centre in Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria. The goal? Introduce fashion and beauty entrepreneurs to Design Thinking processes and how it can be used to think about how we approach our various business challenges and creating solutions to industry/consumer problems.

The Assembly IBM Design Thinking

We had the pleasure of hosting some fashion industry professionals and entrepreneurs including Yoanna “pepper” Chikezie, Kechi Loren of The 5K store, Okhai AkhigbeKemi Lewis of KL’s Naturals, Wonuola Okoye, business consultant and co-founder of L’Espace, Ezinne Alfa the founder of Beauty in Lagos, Godson Ukaegbu the Editor-in-Chief of StyleMania magazine and Olori Ajayi the CEO of the Katie Wang company. 

The Assembly IBM Design Thinking

Toyin Da-Costa, the Client Manager of the IBM Innovation Centre led the session, introducing us to three key techniques when wanting to begin thinking about challenges – Diverge, Converge and Cluster. We were then split into two teams in order to collect and share the problems and challenges each of us faced. 

After each team clustered their ideas, both teams came together and compared their ideas and picked up some major and common challenges faced as entrepreneurs and creatives in Nigeria’s fashion and beauty sector. 

Here were the main findings from the session;

  • Personal Development: Creatives often experience feelings that often cause them to doubt their abilities and accomplishments. Time management and public speaking was also some of the common items that were picked up. 
  • Government: All team members expressed displeasure with the country’s governance,  as all felt like they were working in isolation and a non-enabling environment for creatives to thrive. This related to poor infrastructure, too much but too little information, the lack of structure, power issues, logistics and transportation.
  • Pricing: Creatives found that they were often undervaluing themselves or their services. There was also the issue of trying to shift the mind set of Nigerian consumers into appreciating the value and cost of products and services offered. 
  • Consumers: We came to the realisation that not all creatives fully understand their customer’s needs and when they do are unable to meed demand. On the other hand, some entrepreneurs expressed that when they do meet the needs of their consumers, consumers in Nigeria are very explicit in negatively expressing their displeasure with an aspect of the service received.

The Assembly IBM Design Thinking The Assembly IBM Design Thinking

The Assembly IBM Design Thinking

The Assembly is always looking for opportunities to get creatives together to have conversations and share experiences. It’s also very important for us to inspire new ways of addressing our collective industry challenges and find collaborative partners to help us do so.

We are looking forward to host more Design Thinking Sessions in the future and hopefully see you at one of them.

Are there any major issues or challenges that you face with your business? Sound off in the comments below.

Words: Esosa Orumwese
Photography: Signature By Kam