JOANNE OJI-CHUKWU: TALKS FASHION-SENSE, PASSION AND SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
February 12, 2019
It is said that before 2020 new jobs , that do not exist, will rise up to meet the growing needs of millennials. We are proud forerunners of this trend, with careers, that bring solutions to problems from the tech fields to the internet.
Joanne Oji-Chukwu, is a lawyer, prosecutor and an online entrepreneur/influencer. Her day job is with a government agency where she works as a lawyer.
In 2015 Joanne had an experience, that launched her into entrepreneurship. She had a mishap with her wedding dress three days to the wedding, that was when she realized that her wedding dress was totally different from her expectations. So she made plans to change it after the church ceremony into a second dress for the reception. She was determined not to wear the original dress any longer than courtesy required.
‘Back then, when I struggled with my mishap, I tried insistently to find a store that I could buy an off the rack reception dress or have one custom made for me. This was not to be because I searched all the hashtags and checked the big wedding pages for inspiration but couldn’t find any. That was the aha-moment; it was actually a huge eye opener. Inspiration for wedding gowns, décor and bridal party outfits were all over Instagram, but not one page, curated content for reception dresses’.
Second Dress Inspiration with the handle @seconddress.ng on Instagram was created on the 19th of July 2016 to solve this problem.
When she launched her page, it was revolutionary and interest immediately picked up and people started to follow it. Second dress inspiration quickly became the top destination for dress inspiration and wedding planning. She took online fashion a notch higher, the pages she admired started copying her strategy because, they had seen the reviews and the positive impact that second dress inspiration got.
Joanne’s business is a unique one. We needed to hear more, on her inspiration, thoughts on fashion and business tips especially for online entrepreneurs .
How do you define inspiration? Where do you draw inspiration from?
I would define inspiration, as where you would get an idea from. This could be as simple as knowing the trends at a particular point in time or a space that suggests ideas on what to make with your fabric. It differs from person to person as the case may be.
Inspiration isn’t a total copycat situation, where a style is replicated totally but a neckline, a sleeve style or flare of a dress may inspire another person to incorporate it into their own design.
We get inspiration for the designs we post, from Instagram itself. It all begins with designers, who share their work, to party guests and brides who tag our page to be featured. All these channels are harnessed, curated daily and shared for the viewing pleasure of our page followers and visitors.
‘You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.’ —Edith Head. Do you agree with this quote, what are your thoughts on it?
There’s a popular quote ‘You’ll be addressed the way you dress’. There is this confidence that comes from dressing well and looking good. So yeah, I agree with the quote.
Share a popular request from clients; it could be a reoccurring need that cuts across class, race and gender?
A popular request from page followers, would be for us to begin to sell dresses. Most of them assume that the dresses we post are for sale, however, that is far from the truth. We recently had to start including it in the caption that photos were for inspiration only and not for sale.
The purpose of the page is to inspire and not to sell. It is sustained through sponsored posts from brands, adverts, promotions and collaborations.
The fashion sphere is clouded with diverse options, why do you think people choose to support second dress?
I would say it is because of its uniqueness and how much we’ve remained true to the founding vision of the page.Which is to post dress designs for inspiration only. Through the years, there has been a slight pressure from some quarters to make us post asoebi inspiration, wedding gowns and celebrity fashion. In fact it was the belief that the above mentioned niches moved faster. Especially in terms of engagement on instagram, that we wouldn’t grow but, that has all proven not to be true at all. Consistency and hardwork has culminated into our recent milestone of a 100k followers.
What trends are your customers and readers looking out for in 2019?
In 2019 we have noticed that pastel coloured dresses are taking over both for the bridal party and as second dresses. Some bold colours reigned supreme in 2018, however it seems 2019 Brides are interested in subtle themes and we love that.
Also, it looks like fringes have gone with 2018, as we have noticed more fur trimmings being incorporated into recent styles. The wedding and style space is one that is always evolving, so we are excited about 2019 and what it will bring.
What do people who are trying to enter your line of business need to know? What’s challenging about your job and what’s rewarding?
Passion should come first. When I started the page a lot of people wondered how I would make money off it. But that wasn’t the goal, money should not be the focus in this niche – Instagram. You will be begging for failure even before takeoff.
Sell value, make people know you for, what you are giving to them, and the rest would naturally follow. If you start out as an inspiration page then you get followers, do not switch to buying and selling. Page followers would feel betrayed and engagement may drop and most would even un-follow.
Secondly, on Instagram and social media generally, people don’t take you seriously until your number of followers increase. I would say one great technique should be to get followers that connect with the brand and vision.
The challenging aspect would be DATA. The nature of the job demands that you stay online for long hours. Searching for inspiration to share, this consumes quite a lot of data and if the sponsored posts aren’t enough to cover that aspect of running the page, you may find out that you’re running at a loss.
The rewarding aspect will be when Brides to be tag their friends on a particular design posted and they carry on their conversation in the comments, totally oblivious to everything else.They would usually discuss the design, possible changes to the style, etc. We love, that it is one less worry for the Bride in the wedding planning process.
Some brides slide into our direct messages (DM ) to get helpful suggestions, either on where, they can buy off the rack . Or to look for second dresses or which designer to work with to have one custom made. It’s quite satisfying , offering helpful suggestions and linking them, with our partner designers/collaborators to work with.