Lingerie shopping in Nigeria has never been better, thanks to online lingerie store, Brief Essentials. Seun Tayo-Balogun, its Founder/CEO, holds degrees in Political Science and Philosophy, and Economic Policy and Management. A lover of technology with diverse experiences in areas including business development, branding, graphic design and web development, economic research, investment banking, policy analysis/advocacy and event planning, she has worked mainly with the Nigerian Economic Summit Group Ltd/GTE, and Kakawa Discount House where she started as the technical assistant to the MD/CEO in 2006 and later became the Head of Research and Strategy Unit before resigning in 2015 to focus on Brief Essentials.
CN: What is the story behind Brief Essentials? Why lingerie?
The “aha” moment that led to the birth of Brief Essentials came in the year 2009 when I was looking to purchase high-quality underwear at prices that wouldn’t cost the earth. At that point, my husband and I realised that there were no major stores that focused on varieties of relatively affordable, good quality underwear that were conveniently available or accessible. Furthermore, e-commerce was just kicking off in Nigeria, and there was a desire for us to meet the need of Nigerians who had the same problems we had. The idea of Brief Essentials was birthed in 2011, making us the first full-fledged online focused store that revolutionised lingerie and underwear sale in Nigeria.
CN: How did you raise capital to start your business?
From inception, we have funded the business from personal funds and capital reinvestment.
CN: What exactly are the services your business offers?
From our experience, many fashion problems are caused by underwear related problems. Underwear is the foundation of fashion and the foundation needs to be right. Lingerie education is at the core of what we do because we realize that customers can get confused about what lingerie they want or need and the sizes they should come in. So whether our customers purchase our lingerie online, pick them up from our office, or meet us at any of our pop-up shops, our mandate is to ensure that each customer finds what fits and what works for their objectives. Equally important is the user education Brief Essentials provides to customers on how to care for their lingerie and keep it in the best possible shape for longer.
CN: What are the challenges of doing business online?
Doing business online encompasses the challenges of doing business in Nigeria, running a business, and lastly, running a business online (challenges of the Internet). Some of the challenges we faced were those common to nearly every business. Problems with staffing, theft, delivery logistics, power supply, lack of confidence from buyers (which was quite high at the initial stage), establishing a fitting centre, inventory management, sourcing for goods at the right price and quite recently, the depreciation of the Naira.
However, coupled with the Internet, we have had issues with people hacking into our site, exploiting security vulnerabilities in our e-commerce application, keeping up with the dynamic nature of the online marketplace and maintaining the online presence. We had to come up with a strategy to scale while also holding on to our standards and meeting customer needs for quick and efficient purchase and delivery. As a growing business, challenges will keep coming up; having the right mindset will help deal with challenges.
CN: What are the advantages of doing business online?
There are many advantages to doing business online, particularly in this day and age of the proliferation of the Internet. E-commerce has grown and more businesses are getting the reach and increasing their customer base wider than was previously possible. We have been able to cater to customers from all over Nigeria, making good quality and affordable lingerie and underwear accessible to people in all 36 states of the country and constantly receiving amazing reviews from customers everywhere about how we met their needs and solved their underwear problems bring so much joy. Doing business online also makes it possible for a business owner to manage a day job together with a new business (what I did for the first 4 years of the business) and more importantly it has given me time to be available for my family and to pursue other passions.
CN: How often do you update your website, and how quickly do you remove items that are not available?
We update our website almost on a daily basis. The process could be daunting. Despite the fact we operate an automated online inventory management system, we can’t completely rule out human errors, which accounts for 99 percent of stock management related issues.
CN: What is your unique selling point and why should shoppers choose Brief Essentials over competitors?
Our unique selling point is first our promise to solve your lingerie and underwear problems and secondly our prices. They are considerably lower especially in comparison to other stores both internationally and locally. Thirdly, we have a variety of options and boast of being able to cater to virtually every lingerie need. There is always something for everyone; shapewear up to size 15XL, bras up to 50 Band and KK cups, men’s items from XS to 4XL and a wide selection of various categories of panties, activewear, sleepwear, lingerie, swimwear, and so on. We offer these varieties not only with good prices but in good quality. And in addition to affordable and high-quality products, we constantly go a step further to help our customers solve their underwear related problems by offering free consultations and fitting. This is at the heart of what we do; not only selling lingerie but ensuring that customers get value for and pleasure from their undergarments.
Address: 8B Dipo Awolesi St, Magodo GRA 2, Shangisha, Lagos
Phone: 08071991751, 08071991753