Fisayo Longe, The Emerging Nigerian Fashion Entrepreneur

Fisayo’s present reality as an iconic fashion entrepreneur was not her childhood dream. Fisayo Longe had always wanted to be a lawyer and had successfully secured a place in the UK to study law. Unfortunately, her legal dreams did not become a reality as her grades failed to meet the institution’s standards. She took a gap year and following her mother’s advice on getting a ‘real job’, she landed a role as an Apprentice Auditor at the top Tax and Audit firm, KPMG. During the year, Fisayo took to traveling and her flights led her to explore South-East Asia. As someone who loved journaling her trips, she started a blog that documented her adventures and allowed other people to see the world through her pen. The blog, Mirror me, evolved from only a travel blog to a Nigerian Fashion and Travel blog in 2012.

Graphic with a quote from an article about emerging Nigerian Fashion entrepreneur, Fisayo Longe

In late 2012, upon the realization of the value of her travel stories and fashion ideas, the writer began to monetize the blog. By partnering with other brands, Fisayo began to earn by becoming her own boss.

The Early Beginnings of Fisayo Longe

The creative designer did not give up on her educational journey despite already being self-employed. Upon the conclusion of her gap year, KPMG saw her as an asset and offered to award her a scholarship, on the condition that she goes on to study accounting. As Law was no longer a forthcoming path for her, the brilliant mind agreed, but could only go on for two years. She loved
the company but she did not see herself working in the finance sector for the rest of her life. Auditing was too boring a career for her creative mind. She took a bow out of the firm, and they, of course, withdrew her scholarship.

As she was no longer a student, she dedicated her focus to her fast-rising blog and became a full-time blogger. It was in the moment of blogging, writing about fashion, and traveling, she finally paid heed to her calling. The brand owner took the road not taken, by dropping the idea of
conventional school and taking a course at the London College of Fashion for a short duration. In 2016, Fisayo Longe started her fashion brand, KAI Collective.

The Birth of Kai Collection

Kai Collection
Source: Pinterest

Building a fashion brand needs the strongest bricks, and Fisayo was one. As the road to success is not one without bumps, the creative director had to go through some hassles. Sourcing for the perfect materials, getting across to the manufacturers, and launching her products were some of the difficulties she had to overcome. The Instagram influencer thought sales would be easier with her over 40,000 followers but was in for a shock. Fisayo, who had always been a resilient hard worker, did not let any of the difficulties hinder her growth as she continued her hustle. Finally, in 2019, Kai Collective began to receive the recognition it deserved. The brand got more media coverage, and influencers and other known personalities began to wear her brand. This was just the beginning of success for the fashion line.

The Gaia Dress

The Gaia Dress

While the Covid19 pandemic forced businesses to take a backseat, the Kai Collective brand kept rising. Luckily for Fisayo, her Asian manufacturers were able to bounce back from the pandemic after a few months of delay. In April 2020, the entrepreneur launched the design that would be the face of the fashion industry for a long time, the Gaia dress. The clothing which was co-created by print designer, Adebusola Adetona of Grapes Pattern Bank, is everything that includes elegance and sexy. And it is made for women of all shapes and sizes.

The sheer print design which broke the internet was worn by celebrities including Saweetie, Temi Otedola, Jackie Aina, and Tiwa Savage. 2021 was the year of Kai as the dresses were sold out shortly after it was launched.
“I genuinely and organically liked Kai Collective’s stuff,” says makeup artist Jackie Aina, who has about 3.6 million YouTube followers, and helped hype Kai Collective last summer. “When I found out it was Nigerian-owned, it was even more sentimental to me.” Kai also gained features including Elle’s September issue cover story and was mentioned by popular artist, Beyonce, as one of the black-owned brands to support in 2020.

The Future of Kai Collective

Fisayo’s growth from being a struggling law student, to an uncertain accountant, to a blogger, and currently, the sole owner of an international fashion brand is deserving of accolades. The Nigerian designer made a name in the fashion industry with her savings and an $11,000 loan from her mother. Kai Collective currently caters to the clothes of over 60,000 women globally and counting. She tells Forbes Europe in an interview, “The way women feel when they wear my clothes is really what keeps me going.” The Anthropologist is currently the face of the 2021 Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe Art & Culture list.

Fisayo Longe – A Role Model for Every Woman

The Nigerian designer has always been an advocate of independence and financial freedom. To her, marriage is not the end game for the girl child as every woman has the potential to become as successful as their male counterparts in their field. “The clothes are a love letter to women who grew up the way I grew up, which was very much going through life in a standard way: coming up in school, getting married, and deferring to a man. “I wanted to build something that would show Nigerian women that we can prioritize making money, not just relying on a man.” She tells Forbes Europe. Fisayo, with hard work, has made herself a name as she turned the $11,000 loan into a $550,000 global business.

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Omolade Madeenah

Madeenah is an undergraduate student of law, who is passionate about fiction writing. She loves writing about people, places, and poetry. When she isn't writing, she is sticking her head in legal textbooks and journals. She is passionate about skin and skincare and tries to educate people about it through her blog.