Hogoé Kpessou is the creator and founder of timeless luxury brand which inspires individuality, expression and style through innovative craftsmanship. Their designs are custom developed, unique and modern. The founder itself Hogoé Kpessou provides her own perspective in creating timeless designs, premium techniques to a progressive yet stylish woman.
Was it a lightbulb moment or gradual process to start Hogoè Kpessou?
There were many moments that became one which led to starting Hogoè Kpessou after getting tired of having to negotiate my prices with brands on Instagram for me to promo. I was told often I didn’t have the audience more so as an excuse to not have to pay me. So it was more of a “ I know I have the audience. At the time I was also paying for school so I found it needed to find something that would help me. To add to that I always had an inner goal to be one to change the dynamic of generations after me.
How did you get your first three customers?
I actually just made a post on twitter. With that tweet going viral I gained many customers overnight. About 50 orders. Issue was I was simply marketing with samples because I didn’t have the funds for a bulk set to be on hand. So I was not prepared once so ever for the influx of orders I would receive.
How did you validate the idea?
I can’t say I ever validate much before I go for it. More often than not I'm not usually thinking about something because I need validation to make it happen. It’s often because I know I should, so I start figuring out how to.
Did you have any experience/expertise in the area?
Not at all. I would say a lot of people followed me due to fashion purposes as it was so it only manifested that. Aside from that I am no marketing guru
Have you raised any money? How much?
I actually haven’t raised any money for my brand. What keeps my brand afloat are sales, and business loans on occasion. I quickly learn and am learning the more you grow the more money needed to expand. Raising money is something I'm starting to look into now.
What regulatory approvals did you have to go through?
More so legally, To become an operating business, learning the rules of designs, what I'm allowed and not allowed to do as a growing business. Protecting designs and so on.
Who is your target demographic?
My target demographic tends to be 23+ year old women. I get the occasional men buying messenger bags or items for themselves or a lover.
I plan on getting more mature designs so I can further expand my reach. I want to solidify myself as a luxury brand after all.
What is the funniest/most strange customer request you’ve had?
Answer: A customer once asked me for a discount after purchasing an item, because she said she worked with leather and knew the costs. I simply asked her if she would like a refund or to continue waiting for her order.
How did you fund the idea initially?
With 350 dollars. I made samples. With those samples I took phones and marketed. As orders came in I then used that money to get bulk orders. Which did make it that much harder due to the wait but my support has been more than a blessing.
Did you run any companies prior?
I’m actually studying psychology. Prior to my brand I sold my poetry books on amazon and some candles. Everyday I'm still learning about fashion.
What motivated you to start your own business?
I knew I could do it but wanted to know if I could. I hope that made sense. I come off rather confident in some ways I can say I am. Making about Half a million this far in a pandemic with plans to hit a million in the next 7-8 months.
I have proven to myself I can very much succeed but every choice I make even now I'm often still making the choice to prove to myself that I could do what I said I could.
What were your family and friends first thoughts on your company
My parents of course were supportive but wanted me to focus on school so they asked why not do it after I graduate. I am stubborn and just simply didn’t do so.
What motivates you when things go wrong? What is the end goal?
I’ve grown fond of mental health I'd say. As someone studying psychology I have to be. I joke and tell people I'm only studying it so I can be my own patient. So when things go wrong I can often be hard on myself. But in the end on a day like today when my bank account gets locked because I lost my phone. I have to be grateful that it isn’t worst and work out ways to fix it. It is never easy. I'm an emotional person. I usually sit in my own annoyance of the issue before I am calm but I always know I'll eventually be calm again.
The end goal for me is to be a legacy brand with a name generations know and that I shall be.
Do you have any advice for someone just starting out?
To not run away. I’ve spoken out loud “ I’m just going to stop this brand.” many times despite my written success. I know I never will but I allow myself the moment to want to. I have goals to help my people, my family, and goals to be a legacy to myself. You’re allowed to feel defeated, it’s just a matter of not confusing feeling defeated with actually being, because one never truly is. The troubles are promised but it will work out if you work to “ work it out.” .
What has driven the most sales?
Twitter has been the hallmark of driving sales, it’s just the right thing. You can see people not even following you engage with your posts. This is easier than Instagram and Facebook to me because those are more often worried about getting people to your page and staying. With twitter it’s just working to make sure the post spreads. They don’t have to come to your account or follow you to see it.
What is stopping you being 3x the size you are now?
Funding, for sure. I don’t want to sell off my business to people with money as I'm trying to become one with money and in control of how I want things to work. My business is less than a year old so business funding interests make heavy profit for them. So My goal is to keep doing what I do, generating sales and welcoming blessings as they come. I have to remind myself I'm doing better than many that started at the same time as me.
How do you protect yourself from competition?
I had to let myself know I am my own competition. Any brand in the industry more successful than I is an inspiration. I mean it in the least cheesy way. I will be bigger than Gucci one day. In the process of doing so I adore and learn afar what they do and how they do it.
What are the top 3-5 apps your business could not run without? Why are they essential?
Twitter, Zoho, Shopify, Instagram & Upwork. Twitter and Instagram for marketing, Shopify for my website, Zoho for email and Upwork for helping me find help when I need it from professionals .
What are the next products you’re working on?
I am currently working on more items. They have been asking on twitter for their moment. I have a Christmas capsule right now with a photoshoot in Europe on the 25th of this month. As well as a few clothing pieces being done in Italy.
Are there any releases you can tell us about?
I can say I have a few clothing items coming in for preorder at the end of this month for the holidays. And ‘22 I have 4 drops throughout the year I've been working on since march
Where do you see the company in 5 years?
On more celebrities and features in films. Essentially growing at a speed 10x what it’s done this far.
What is current revenue? If you don’t mind sharing
Almost half a million.
Would you ever sell?
No, I don’t plan to. I would write it in a business will for any future successor that I want the company kept in the family.